ST. PETERSBURG — At 2 in the afternoon, Green Bench Brewing is empty but for a bearded bartender and a dark-brown dog named Porter. Within a few hours, though, this brewery transforms into a packed nightspot, with bartenders, over the din of a live band, serving pints and flights of craft brews made on-site.
Of the world's long-running, top-rated beers, most are surprisingly obtainable. You can often pick up the top beers on rating sites Beer Advocate and Rate Beer at retail locations, provided you live somewhere near the distribution area and can snatch them up quicker than the beer traders do.
When it comes to beer bars, I'm a fan of keeping things simple. Largo might be one of the best places around for no-frills, no-nonsense beer drinking, even if the options are a bit limited.
Much has been made of Budweiser's Super Bowl ad, which insisted that Bud was brewed the hard way, a process that is ostensibly more honest than that of the "pumpkin peach ale" that the commercial's bearded, flanneled hipsters are seen drinking.
I've seen some dramatic remodels, but rarely have I seen one so complete and thorough as the one that the Red Tiki Bar has pulled off, all but eliminating the traces of its predecessor, the Rusty Nail.
The Tampa Bay area is the new hotbed of craft beer as more than a dozen breweries and brewpubs have set up shop with another half dozen in the planning stages.