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BARFLY ON THE WALL

O'Shy's Irish Tap House: Only a wee bit Irish, but great for beer lovers

Well, we managed to postpone the heat as long as possible, but Florida's springtime has finally arrived, with all of the summer weather that comes with it.

For better or worse, we have a few months of sweltering heat and spontaneous rainstorms to look forward to. I'm sure many will agree that there's no better remedy for warm days and stuffy nights than everyone's favorite barley-based beverage.

Fortunately, this is almost certainly the best year to date for the Floridian beer enthusiast, with new craft-beer bars popping up all over the bay area, and several local breweries putting our state on the map with world-class brews. But I've beaten the craft-beer explosion to death by now, so let's cut to the chase, shall we?

O'Shy's Irish Tap House in Largo is the latest entry into the scene, with 46 beers on rotating taps (with the exception of six or seven resident beers that stay in stock). That's enough to ensure that beer lovers won't be bored here. But as it turns out, the bar is quite a pleasant place to while away a few hours, too.

The bar is at Clearwater-Largo Road S and West Bay Drive, an odd location where you would expect to see a convenience store, or maybe an office complex. Instead, you'll find a building adorned with Irish, British and American flags, with a large courtyard and sliding glass doors bearing the name "O'Shy's Irish Tap House."

Inside, the setting is somewhat standard, if not a bit more comfortable than the usual beer joint. A few high-tops sit along the polished, wooden bar, and a small lounge area with a glass coffee table is to one side, next to a set of electronic dart boards. Each surface is lit by tea candles in small red holders, a nice atmospheric touch.

I think that the "Irish Pub" tag is a bit limiting in general, and this certainly applies to O'Shy's. Aside from an Irish flag here and an Irish trivia book there — did you know that Elvis Costello's real name is Declan MacManus? — O'Shy's is hardly reminiscent of the types of places you'll find in the Emerald Isle. No, this is more of a classic, American-style tap house, and that's not a bad thing at all. Even Thin Lizzy's Cowboy Song coming up on the jukebox didn't change that (although it certainly didn't hurt).

As a fairly new establishment, O'Shy's hasn't become completely crowded, but there's a steady stock of regulars. This gives the bar a laid-back feel not found at many similar bars, which can often be crowded and loud. Sitting in the large, outdoor courtyard while sharing a good conversation with friends is a great way to enjoy one of the many quality offerings here. On busier nights, live music is featured in the courtyard, and different drink specials each day keep things fresh for repeat visits.

Speaking of the drinks, you won't be surprised to learn that the 46 taps represent a fairly wide range of what the world of craft beer has to offer. Pale ales, stouts, pilsners, barleywines, lambics, Belgians and ciders are some of the many styles on draft, and several quality bottles are on hand as well. O'Shy's also has several creative beer cocktails, as well as wine-based frozen cocktails, dubbed "Shyritas."

As a new bar, O'Shy's has a lot of energy and enthusiasm built in. With the live music, daily specials and impressive beer selection, visitors will find much to like. To top it off, the service is also quite friendly and attentive. I'm interested to see how the place develops as time goes on, but as it stands now, O'Shy's is a welcome addition to the growing and thriving Tampa Bay beer scene.

— jg@saintbeat.com

O'Shy's Irish Tap House

80 Clearwater-Largo Road S, Largo; (727) 588-4444

The vibe: A relaxed, casual beer bar with a wide selection and roomy layout

Booze: Beer, $2.75 to $13; wine, $4.50 to $5.50. There are daily specials and discounts, with some drinks as low as $1. Nearly empty kegs are also marked down to $3 a pint to help "kill the keg."

Specialty: With 46 beers on tap, it's safe to say that good beer is a strong point, but if you want to venture into new territory, try one of the in-house beer cocktails, ranging from the Bloody Bloke—a Bloody Mary made with Billy's Chilies—to elaborate beer mixes garnished with fresh fruits.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to

3 a.m. Friday and Saturday;

1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday

O'Shy's Irish Tap House: Only a wee bit Irish, but great for beer lovers 04/28/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:13pm]
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