The best pub crawls are those with a theme - there are two zombie ones Saturday, for instance. For the full effect, along with deals and a willing crowd, it's hard to beat organized crawls (Page 20W). But don't count out DIY, particularly if you have a specific area in mind. Inspired by the recent Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg film The World's End, we devised a few themed pub crawls of our own in Tampa Bay (okay, fine, we borrowed one from the Tampa Bay Brew Bus). Each one has stops within stumbling distance, plus a hotel in case you're too sloshed to drive. Ready to go?
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St. Pete: Craft beer, straight from the source
You've got your ear to the pint glass, and you know the score: St. Petersburg is quickly becoming one of the hottest areas in Tampa Bay for locally brewed craft beer.
Green Bench Brewing Co. (greenbench.com) With its huge, sunny beer garden, it's a perfect place to organize and warm up with a round of bocce ball and Green Bench IPA, a hop-heavy pale ale that registers on the low end of the alcohol scale.
Take the seven-block hike to downtown's first brewery, Cycle Brewing (pegscantina.com/cycle-brewing.html) featuring beers with bike-themed names, like Fixie and Freewheel pale ales, as well as Peddle Breaks, a limited, double dry-hopped blend of Freewheel and Fixie.
Work up an appetite as you walk to Mike's Tap and Tavern (mikestapandtavern.com), where you'll find pizza, sports, and a bevy of bay area beers from Cigar City and Cold Storage (Tampa), Big Storm (Odessa), Dunedin Brewery (guess), and Rapp Brewing (Seminole). Make sure to try St. Pete Orange Wheat, the flagship beer from St. Pete Brew, slated to open downtown later this fall.
Get a bite atBella Brava (bellabrava.com) and wash it down with the 2B beer, a rotating selection of in-house 10-gallon batches brewed by chef Ty Weaver. Selections range from ciders to IPAs; the current offering is a golden ale.
Wrap things up at The Ale and the Witch (thealeandthewitch.com). There's always something local on tap, like Cigar City's Tocabaga red ale, or 7venth Sun's Saison Extr'me. Stretch out in the large courtyard and listen to some live music, featured nightly.
Hotel: The Hollander Hotel (hollanderhotel.com) is just a short walk back up the road. Best of all, there are 21 beers on draft, including several local options, just in case you can stomach another pint at this point.
Justin Grant, Times correspondent
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Brew Bus: You drink, they drive
If you like your pub crawls informative, well-planned and complete with copious amounts of beer, then the Tampa Bay Brew Bus is for you. Whether you book a full bus for you and your friends ($115-$145 an hour, for a minimum of four hours, and you pick the stops) or hop on one of the prearranged tours, you'll be able to visit the local breweries, drink to your heart's content, and not once run afoul of the law (unless you try especially hard). Renting a party bus has never been so ... responsible? Here's a sample of one of the itineraries, which generally range from $25-$45 and feature complimentary Tampa Bay Brew Bus beers while onboard, as well as a tour and free pint at each brewery. This four-hour Brew Bus Halloween Bash (Oct. 26, $45 per person) is costume-themed, which we all know is perfect for pub crawling. For details on this and other Brew Bus happenings, see tampabaybrewbus.com.
Cigar City Brewing (cigarcitybrewing.com). The bus departs from CCB, which also happens to be where these are brewed: Rollin' Dirty red ale; Are Wheat There Yet? hoppy wheat ale; You're My Boy Blue blueberry ale; and Last Stop IPA. Get there early to enjoy a pint of one of CCB's many tasting room-only offerings before the bus departs.
Rapp Brewing (rappbrewing.com) in Seminole. Greg Rapp is known for his excellent recreations of obscure Eastern European styles, such as the ever-popular Gose (a wheat beer brewed with salt and coriander), Lichtenhainer (a Berliner Weisse spinoff brewed with smoked malts), and the smoked Marzen, a smoky, savory version of the Oktoberfest classic.
Barley Mow Brewing Company (barleymowbrewingco.com), a Largo nanobrewery, is known for its Unkindness Black IPA, a roasty, rich beer bursting at the seams with fresh hops. Make sure to try some limited seasonal offerings, like Lord of the Gourd or Pumpkin Curry (both perfect for October), or Selkie Belgian Rye Pale Ale.
Dunedin Brewery (dunedinbrewery.com) is the last stop before heading back to Cigar City. This is your chance to get some food while matching flavors with some of the bold seasonal offerings, like the IPA Chronicle 10: Double Oatmeal Pale Ale. For a refreshing palate cleanser, try the excellent Apricot Peach Ale, or the seasonal Lemongrass Lemon Wit.
Justin Grant, Times correspondent
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St. Pete Beach: Fun (and rum) in the sun
You can't swing a snorkel in St. Pete Beach without hitting a sprawling waterside resort or hotel, and nearly all of them have some sort of straw-roofed hut where you can sip banana-flavored rum drinks while listening to a dude in flip-flops strum out Margaritaville. We combed the beach in search of five walkable waterfront bars.
Bongo's Beach Bar at the Grand Plaza Hotel (grandplazaflorida.com). The fuschia-tinted Zombie (dark rum, triple sec, almond liqueur and tropical juices) offers a candy-like tingle, but a nice, simple starter might be Suzie's Sunshine - Bacardi Limon, pineapple juice and lime juice. "An early afternoon favorite!" the menu calls it, and we can't disagree.
Harry's Beach Bar at the Sirata Beach Resort (sirata.com). If you want to keep it simple, try the rum runner; for something a little thicker, go with a Lava Flow, a frozen mix of light rum, strawberry daiquiri and pina colada mixes.
The TradeWinds Resort (tradewindsresort.com) serves the same drink menu at both Salty's Tiki Bar and the Flying Bridge by the pool. Frozen drinks are the specialty here, but the Bahama Mama - coconut, light and dark rums; pineapple and orange juices; and grenadine - is a solid rocks option.
The signature drink atJimmy B's Beach Bar, located at the Beachcomber Beach Resort and Hotel (beachcomberflorida.com), is a blueberry-tinged pina colada called the Wet Spot. If you feel silly ordering that, the Blue Hawaiian (coconut rum, blue curacao and pineapple juice) is an acceptable substitute.
End your night at the Postcard Inn on the Beach (postcardinn.com), where the PCI Beach Bar serves a perfectly dessert-like drink called the Bushwacker, a frozen drink made from vodka, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream and chocolate.
Hotel: C'mon, St. Pete Beach is stocked with like a million bajillion hotel rooms. Pick one and you're set for the night.
Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer
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Tampa: Ride the rails around town
Celebrate one of Tampa's under-used treasures by taking a daytime jaunt from bar to bar via the trusty TECO Streetcar Line. Conveniently located stops allow partiers to tour Tampa's downtown, Channelside District and Ybor City for a measly $5 all-day pass. Park in the Centro Ybor Garage or down at the Tampa Convention Center to make sure you've got a place to lay your head after a wild ride. Hop on the streetcar at the Convention Center stop and ride into Ybor, or park at Centro Ybor if you're going in reverse.
Take in some warm weather and chest-burning shots at Tequila's Restaurant and Bar (tequilasybor.com) at 1613 E Seventh Ave. Pad your tummy with a little Mexican fare before heading to the Centro Ybor Streetcar stop to make your next move.
Hop off at Channelside Drive between McKay and Madison streets and walk down to The Pour House (pourhousetampa.com) at 1208 E Kennedy Blvd. #112, inside the Grand Central at Kennedy. Enjoy a few of the 40 taps of craft beer and 65 craft bottle selections.
Get off at Channelside Bay Plaza (channelsidebayplaza.com) and go crazy. If you're hungry and want more drinks, there's Hooters. If you're hot, there's Wet Willie's - dishing out alcohol-filled frozen drinks to add brain freeze to your buzz.
Step off on Old Water Street between Florida Avenue and Franklin Street and glide toward The Sail Pavilion (facebook.com/SailPavilion) on the Riverwalk at the Convention Center to take in the Hillsborough River's finer points as you sip your final drinks (and lots of water) before calling it an afternoon.
Hotel: If this is your route, you've got choices galore, but the hotels within stumbling distance are the Embassy Suites Tampa Convention Center or the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina. If you started in Ybor City, just hop back on the streetcar and hop off on N 13th Street at E Seventh Avenue and amble to the Hampton Inn and Suites Tampa Ybor and Downtown.
Robbyn Mitchell, Times staff writer
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Upcoming pub crawls
SoHo Zombie Pub Crawl
Dress like a zombie for this crawl benefitting Make-A-Wish Central & Northern Florida. Stops include Irish 31, the Lodge, the Dubliner, World of Beer, Yard of Ale, MacDinton's and more. It starts at 3 p.m. Saturday; tickets are $20 and up. sohozombiecrawl.com.
Starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, this zombie-themed crawl will hit Frenchy's Original Cafe, the Brown Boxer, Clear Sky Beachside Cafe and Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on Clearwater Beach. Each stop will have food and drink specials, games and prizes. (727) 446-3607. facebook.com/FrenchysOriginalCafe.
Tampa Bay Club Sport's second annual costumed pub crawl hits five bars in downtown St. Pete, starting at MacDinton's at 6 p.m. Saturday. Wear a costume for free drinks at each stop. Tickets are $20-$25 advance, $30 at the door. tampabayclubsport.com.
Urban Bike Pub Ride & Poker Run
This Vegas-themed crawl begins and ends at Wood Fired Pizza (344 First Ave S, St. Pete), where there will be an afterparty with free beer and food. Stops include the Burg Bar & Grill, O'Maddy's, Cycle Brewing and Green Bench Brewing. It's 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday; tickets are $25 advance, $35 the day of. tampabaytapped.com.
Taste Toast and Tailgate Bar Crawl
The Professional Philanthropy Network is hosting this event to benefit Wheels of Success, Big Brother Big Sisters Tampa Bay, Wheelchairs 4 Kids, March of Dimes, Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Crisis Center. The crawl will include four Hyde Park bars with a kick off breakfast at the Lodge followed by food, football and complimentary drink and appetizer specials at Soho Saloon, MacDintons and Yard of Ale. $40. The Lodge, 516 S Howard Ave., Tampa. (813) 251-5634. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Tampa Bay Tapped Pub Ride
Vegas-themed costumes are encouraged for this five stop bicycling pub ride with prizes for best costume and best poker hand. Stops include Wood Fired Pizza, The Burg, O'Maddy's, Green Bench Brewing and Cycle Brewing. Benefits the Smart Ride and Metro Wellness and Community Center. $25 advance, $35 day of. Wood Fired Pizza & Nightlife, 344 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (813) 416-3244. 2-7 p.m. Saturday.
Pints for Paws Pub Crawl
Crawl starts at The Ale and the Witch, ends at Wood Fire Pizza & Nightlife with a pet-friendly post-crawl party (9 p.m.) including snacks, live music, raffle and silent auction. Tickets include five raffle tickets and a Pints for Paws can koozie. Helps Senior Pet Connection provide pet food and services to low-income seniors. 21 and older only. $20-$25. The Ale and The Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 821-2533. 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday.
Halloween Pub Crawl
Tampa Pub Crawl's next local event starts at 8 p.m. Oct. 26, with a rolling costume contest and drink specials at Yard of Ale, Drynk, Mangroves and MacDinton's in SoHo. Tickets are $12 through Oct. 25, $15 at the door. Get info on Twitter at @tampapubcrawl.