By Lissa Poirot
Boasting turquoise water and powdery sand, you may think of the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island as the first and last stop for any trip. But this area of southwest Florida, which hugs the Gulf of Mexico, is also big on craft beer culture. Try out these five breweries where you can get a taste of the most unique beers under the sun.
Playfully naming its brewery and beers around the macabre pirate tales of Southwest Florida, Bury Me Brewing opened in the heart of Fort Myers in 2015. You’ll find morbid yet delicious flavors like Creamation honey cream ale, 6 Ft Down oatmeal stout, Soulless Scottish red ale, Mortali Tea tea ale, and Bone Biter honey oat double IPA. Really looking for a punch? Try S.M.A.S.H. triple IPA, with a whopping 11.1% avb that will leave you, well, smashed. You can even have the beer on tap at your own private party through the brewery’s own hearse tap! 4224 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901, (239) 332-2337
The first brewery to sprout up in Fort Myers was founded by a Californian native who had relocated to the area and missed craft brews. Today, Fort Myers Brewing Company is the largest brewing in town and features live music and food trucks to enjoy while sampling the rotating seasonal, small batch brews, along with its eight flagship beers. Named the Best Large Brewery in Florida, sample Gateway Gold blonde ale, City of Palms Pils, High 5 India Pale Ale, Tamiami Tan chocolate malt, award-winning Red Tape American Amber, O.Y.A. double IPA, Cypress Strong and the jet-black Incognito IPA. 12811 Commerce Lakes Dr., Fort Myers, FL 33913, (239) 313-6576
This neighborhood brewery in Bonita Springs is family friendly and invites you to enjoy its craft brews while listening to live music, playing vintage arcade games, or trying your hand at corn hole and giant Jenga. Food trucks are on hand to pair international flavors with the brewery’s eight core beers – their favorites after experimenting with nearly 100 different recipes that you may get to sample in small batch offerings. There’s American Wheat, pale ale, brown ale, stout, IPA, and Imperial reds, along with 1 to 3 rotating taps with new flavors. 9786 Bonita Beach Rd. S.E., Bonita Springs, FL 34135, (239) 949-9945
Old Soul Brewing opened its doors in 2014 with brewmasters from Colorado. Its 2,000 square foot tap room offers 10 beers on tap, along with cider and wine. Try the R.O.U.S. – a Russian Of Unusual Size – which is a big beer with 9.2% abv, or stick to lighter pale ales and the Chai tea-infused brown ale, Chai How Are You? BTW, Old Soul is the sister brewery to South Florida’s Funky Buddha Brewery in Boca Raton. 10970 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33907, (239) 334-4334
With a seafaring captain at the helm of the brewing company named for the first lighthouse on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Point Ybel Brewing Company is all about “Island Hopping.” (Get it?!) When the couple couldn’t find good beer near their Sanibel Island home, they started to make their own, eventually growing into a brewery in Fort Myers. On tap in their tasting room, you’ll find pale ales, IPAs like the couple’s flagship Snook Bite IPA, lagers, reds, and sour ales like the Irish Red Sour (IRS). For an unusual treat, try the Full Breakfast milk stout with cocoa, bourbon vanilla beans, and espresso. 16120 San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33908 (239) 603-6535
And One to Grow On!
It may not be a brewery, but you can also visit a local distillery while visiting the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery has been making Florida rum since 2012. The 45- and 60-minute tour and tastings provide samples of its award-winning rums, including its popular coconut rum. 131 SW 3rd Place, Cape Coral, FL 33991, (239) 242-5244