Tampa Bay is undergoing a craft beer explosion. That’s great news. We are choosing to drink good beer instead of bland, flavorless, watery macro brews from the big international beer conglomerates. However, with the good there is always some bad. Too many breweries are trying to cash in on the craze by stamping out the same line of tried and true boring beers coupled with pretentious service and paired with that horrible hipster attitude. The following three brewpubs have been selected by our panel of heavy beer drinkers as the most overrated, over-hyped, or just plain boring in the Tampa area. Keep in mind these places are not bad per se, especially when compared to macro beer one finds at a gas station. They are just the types of places that makes one ask “why did they bother brewing their own beer in the first place?”
St. Pete Brewing in St. Petersburg is new on the scene and has already been declared to be “the coolest in Tampa Bay“. The reason: beer is served in mason jars. They will even sell you an empty one for four bucks (not sure why anyone would buy one without beer inside). Patrons can also partake in such “cool” activities as playing an original Nintendo on premises. The entire thing is too gimmicky for our taste. The beer is okay but uninspired. The American Stout, for example, lacks body and head and the Summer Ale is drinkable but forgettable.
Sea Dog Brewing Co is an easy target. This multi-chain location stretches along the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida. Contrary to popular belief, we are not just picking this place because it’s a chain that crosses state lines. The beer is boring and unoriginal. From the Wheat Ale to the IPA to the seasonal and overdone pumpkin flavored ale, nothing is unique or worthy of a stand-alone brewing operation. The menu is even more generic: Buffalo Chicken sandwich, Caesar salad, you can probably guess the rest without even looking. The entire place is value-engineered and designed to appeal to the mass market: the antithesis of craft beer and everything it should be.
Coppertail Brewing Co in Ybor City is on the opposite side of Sea Dog on the brewery spectrum. Foregoing the restaurant concept altogether, Coppertail goes more for the “we are a beer factory” approach by featuring a “tasting room” in an industrial minimalist setting. It is the sort of place that beer snobs live for. It just so happens that beer snobbery annoys us almost as much as bad beer. Visitors are often greeted by a long night club-like line out the door in the middle of the afternoon, only to walk in and find empty tables. Some of the staff members have a “we are too good for you” aura. Most importantly, while the beer is good, it doesn’t warrant this level of artisanal snobbery. The Freedive IPA, for example, is a fairly standard take on a traditional beer and nothing worth standing in line for. On the plus side, they don’t accept Bitcoin.