CL Tampa Bay's Beer Issue 2019: The anti-IPA guide

Our news intern (and St. Pete beertender) runs down some full-bodied alternatives to the current king of craft.

click to enlarge Coppertail's in-house-only Day Swim is a sibling to this popular porter. - Scott Harrell
Scott Harrell
Coppertail's in-house-only Day Swim is a sibling to this popular porter.

It’s happened, folks: The India pale ale is no longer the hot beer of the season. 

Long gone are the days of sipping on an extra-dry, hoppy pint as you swore to your friends drinking anything else that they “just don’t understand good taste.” Because, well, I have some bad news for you — even they’re sipping on a Bimini Twist now. IPAs started to become overdone around the same time y’all realized that everybody loves Quentin Tarantino and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes doesn’t make you special. 

Can we even be surprised that IPAs have taken over? Everything good in life gets ruined by hipsters. 

In response, I present to you the anti-IPA guide. 

All differences aside, whether you prefer hoppy or sweet, good people drink good beer. Lucky for us, we live in Tampa Bay. Every time a spacious brick building with an abandoned parking lot closes, chances are a craft brewery will open in its spot. Seriously, guys, I could throw a rock and hit a brewery. I could wander blindfolded down any avenue and walk into a tasting room.

Coppertail Brewing  Co.

You’ve drunk Night Swim before. You probably picked it up from the gas station on a chilly night. But I’m here to tell you that Day Swim (ABV: 6%, IBU: 0) is even better. Primarily available in the Ybor City brewery’s taproom, this rich, dark porter is essentially Night Swim with a sweet twist. The chocolate and vanilla push this brew over the edge, making it even more luxurious. The rich porter has notes of coffee, so it makes for a good breakfast beer, and the brewery opens at 11 a.m. Oh, you don’t drink beer for breakfast? Yeah, neither do I... 

Flying Boat Brewing Co.

One of the three brews that are always on tap, the Pub Ale (ABV: 5%, IBU: 29) has a sweet caramel aroma right off the bat. It’s light and easy to drink, but you get a nice toasted toffee taste. A deceptively light color, this American mild ale is rich with taste.

It’s hard to stop at just one beer here, so let me go on a bit. The Batch 100 (ABV: 7.3%, IBU: 50) is heavy, but damn delicious. A milkshake beer, if you will. I’m ready to get made fun of by IPA lovers for loving milkshake beers, but here I am. Come at me. Learn from my mistakes and drink this one first instead of last. In keeping with me going on about coffee and chocolate notes, this beer has strong, delicious flavors of coconut, chocolate and vanilla. The sweet stout won’t be on tap forever, but for at least a month or so. Drink up while you can.

Pinellas Ale Works

If you’re looking for the best milk stout you can find, this is the place to go. The brewery’s flagship beer, Milk Bone (ABV: 5%, IBU: 24), won a silver medal from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 2017, and for good reason. Brewed with lactose in the boil (sorry, vegans), it has a residual sweetness and medium mouthfeel. With notes of chocolate, coffee and a slight hint of toffee in the aroma and flavor, it’s perfect for a chilly day. Or if you’re like me, you’ll drink it every day regardless. Even better, the brewer adds fun treatments to this sweet stout from time to time. My favorites have been chocolate covered orange and s’mores. 

Disclosure: I work here. Yes, I’m biased. But I work here because I love drinking Milk Bone every day. No, my boss didn’t tell me to write this, but he’ll probably be happy I did. Or pissed that I’m talking shit about IPAs because he brews a really good New England (sorry, Dennis). 

Cigar City Brewing

If you live in Tampa Bay, you’ve probably already been here, or at least picked up a six-pack of Jai Alai from Publix before. But the beer you need in your life is Maduro (ABV: 5.5%, IBU: 25). Always on tap, this northern English-style Brown Ale is silky and chocolatey. It’s dark and full-bodied, but still easy drinking. It’s available to-go, so you can bring it out to the beach (remember to pour it into a cup because drinking on most of our beaches is illegal). It won a gold medal from GABF in 2018. 

Angry Chair Brewing

This is the place to go if you’re looking for a dark beer and you don’t want to take any chances. Seriously, people line up out the door at 4 a.m. for their bottle releases. Recently making its debut, Reasonable Doubt (ABV: 9.5%, IBU: 0) is an imperial oatmeal porter with some oomph. Bonus: it’s also tapped on nitro for extra smoothness. Sweet and rich, this porter coats your mouth, leaving a delicious aftertaste. With a high ABV, this beer sneaks up up on you, so be careful. Or, if you’re like me, don’t. 

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