Sunday, February 25, 2018
Features and More

Three below-the-radar beer bars worth a visit

Since my work requires me to visit many different bars on a regular basis, there are invariably a few that stay on my to-do list for a long while, always lingering in the back of my mind as I travel to and from the various watering holes of Tampa Bay.

Three beer bars in Pinellas have been on my list for months, so I decided that it was time to stop procrastinating and start doing my homework. I'd visited one (Clearwater's Brew Garden) around two years ago, but the others were new to me, so I paid a visit to all three.

The Westy Grille & Pub is a tiny beer bar in an improbable spot. Its Central Avenue strip-mall location in St. Pete belies its quality selection of craft beers and gastropub-style fare — the latter simple yet creative and with a focus on presentation; the former brief but very solid.

The modern, relaxed interior consists of a lively red-orange color scheme, long wall mirrors in frames made of colored tiles, some beer signs, and a few TVs for the sports crowd. A TV above the bar displays information about the beers on draft, including their Beer Advocate score — a really cool feature. The Westy is relatively new, having just celebrated its one-year anniversary last month.

Of 16 taps, most are dedicated to craft breweries like Southern Tier, Widmer, Dogfish Head and Cigar City, with a few held out for the big name domestic macros. This is consistent with an overall laid-back atmosphere, where folks from nearby Treasure Island come to eat dinner, watch the game, and have a cold pint, while beer nerds visit for the new craft brew being tapped every Tuesday, at half-off the price. If you don't want a full pint, 4-oz. samplers are available for $1.50 each, and for $7, you get a full flight of five. The Westy also serves a variety of wine and wine-based cocktails.

Next up was The Brew Garden, a European-style beer bar opened in 2009 that specializes in Belgian brews and light bistro fare. There are 32 beers on tap and several dozen more in the bottle, many of which are tough to find at local domestic-heavy craft beer joints. If the European-themed murals and rows of Belgian ale bottles lined up above the bar don't give you an idea of what the place is all about, take a trip to the bathroom, where the doors are decorated in large reproductions of Unibroue's Maudite and Éphémère labels. Guess which one belongs to which gender?

The Brew Garden also hosts nightly specials and events, including poker on Sundays, karaoke on Wednesdays, and trivia competitions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

My last visit was to Green, Central Café & Organics' courtyard craft beer bar. The small breezeway space also is occupied by Five Bucks Drinkery's outdoor bar, as well as the stairway leading to A Taste For Wine. Green's corner of the courtyard is minimal, with a small, makeshift DJ booth, a few sofas, chalkboard-topped café tables covered in patrons' doodles, and a bar with six taps and 100-odd beers in the bottle. Tinted lanterns fill the small space with green light.

For a low-key courtyard bar that's only open four nights a week, Green gets pretty packed. With little Web presence to speak of, the popularity is due to simple word of mouth, if that tells you anything. No gimmicks, little hype; just a chilled-out, open air courtyard bar with a few good drafts and a cooler full of quality beers.

[email protected]

Comments
Orchestra explores spirit of Florida and the U.S. with ‘Triptych’ and ‘New World’ Symphony

Orchestra explores spirit of Florida and the U.S. with ‘Triptych’ and ‘New World’ Symphony

ST. PETERSBURG — One of the more important programs in the Florida Orchestra’s season combined Antonin Dvorak’s best known symphony with the debut of a major commission. Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, better known as the "New World," reaches to the roots o...
Published: 02/24/18
Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

TAMPA — Could your 4-year-old be the next Lulu? A touring Broadway show wants to find out. Waitress, which runs April 24-29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is looking for a local 4- to 5-year old to play a small but c...
Published: 02/23/18
Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Blast Friday: The Romantics: The family-friendly food and craft vendor festival featuring a free live concert and a beer garden. 5:30 p.m., 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Free. (727) 464-7200. Pasco C...
Published: 02/23/18
The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

ST. PETERSBURG — The composer sat in semi-darkness, his hand drifting like a slow pendulum at his side. On the Mahaffey Theater stage, the violins led a creaking and mysterious journey through a cypress swamp, the inspiration for the first movement.T...
Published: 02/23/18
A look at new ships and trends in cruising for 2018

A look at new ships and trends in cruising for 2018

What’s new in cruising for 2018? As usual, there’s lots of razzle-dazzle — laser tag, water slides, zip lines and massive LED screens — along with a continued emphasis on healthy lifestyle options, from dining to fitness. But there are also changes u...
Published: 02/23/18
New play focuses on the dangers of seniors falling

New play focuses on the dangers of seniors falling

CLEARWATER — The actor is playing out a common moment. She is an elderly woman, one who cherishes simple possessions — her cat, a favorite rug, her own home. She loses her balance while leaning over. She tumbles to the ground. The stage fades to blac...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter started this month a new unit to target repeat offenders and nuisance properties.The Special Enforcement Unit consists of six police officers and a sergeant from within the department to focus on the small grou...
Published: 02/22/18
Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

CLEARWATER — Spring break kicked off this week with a program offering free rides on the Jolley Trolley between downtown and Clearwater Beach until April 29.The Park N Ride service will pick up riders at two lots downtown every 15 minutes and drop th...
Published: 02/22/18
Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall is requesting a $3 million grant from the city to help complete the $21 million renovation of its facility on McMullen Booth Road.The Expanding the Experience project began in 2015 with a renovation of the Murray Theatre...
Published: 02/22/18
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FEST On Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, that’s the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburg’...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18