Bored by the selection of brews at local bars? Even some sports bars now have pomegranate martinis and sake cocktails, but those who love the suds usually can't find much more than the holy trinity of Corona, Heineken and Bud (with maybe some Guinness for good measure). Lucky for you, we've scouted out local spots with excellent beer - from Belgian ales to microbrews to rare British pours. Raise a glass and read on:
Wynwood Brewing Company
Wynwood is home to Miami's first craft production brewery featuring a 15-barrel brewhouse to distribute blond ale, IPA, Porter, barrel-aged Strong Ales and seasonal brews. Wynwood Brewing Company is family owned and operated by a father-and-son team with a Puerto Rican heritage. They chose Wynwood for its connection to creativity and to support its predominently Puerto Rican population. For hops lovers, try the Wynwood IPA at one of the bars one mentioned in this story - they all carry it. It's a great complement to a spicy meal. Or you can visit the tap room to taste it and the others in the portfolio. The tap room is open Tuesday - Thursday from 2 - 11 p.m.; Friday from 2 p.m. - midnight; Saturday - Sunday from noon to 12 p.m. Tours of the brewery are scheduled to begin in January 2014.
565 NW 24 St., Miami; 305-982-8732 or wynwoodbrewing.com. Closed Mondays.
The menu here boasts 48 bottles - with more than a dozen Belgian beers, such as St. Bernardus Witbier and Trappistes Rochefort nos. 8 and 10 - plus 10 drafts, including one rotating tap. Dimly lit and spacious, this well-loved Gables hangout is a great place to spend an evening. The Bar offers a selection of board games and a better-than-average bar menu that goes beyond burgers and fries. But back to the beer: You'll find Rogue Hazelnut, Left Hand Milk Stout and Dogfish Head IPA, among others. Tucher, Newcastle Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada and Köstritzer are always on tap, and best of all, bartenders will pour you a taste of any draft for free. Prices range from $4 for basic domestics to $11 for Trappistes Rochefort 10, a quadruple brewed by Belgian monks.
The Bar is good anytime (though you might want to bring earplugs on the weekend, when the noise ratchets up to 11) but don't miss the St. Patrick's Day festivities or the annual Octoberfest. And in December, the Bar's anniversary celebration is the stuff of local legend.
The Bar, 172 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-2730; gablesthebar.com.
The Abbey Brewing Company
On a side street one block south of Lincoln Road, you'll find something special at The Abbey. Among the 14 beers on tap are three house beers, Abbey Immaculate IPA (the brewpub's best seller), Father Theodore's Imperial Stout and Brother Aaron's Quadruple. Brew Master and President Raymond Rigazio created the palate-pleasing house selections. "You can go to any bar and get the other stuff, but people come here for our house beers," says bartender Frank MacBride. The Abbey also offers 22 bottled beers and ciders, including La Fin du Monde, St. Peter's Old Style Porter and Melbourne Bros. Strawberry Beer.
If you've never had a hot dog cooked in beer, stop by on a Sunday from 1-7 p.m. to try one for free during football season. Although the menu says food, such as empanadas and White Castle cheeseburgers, is "always available," don't be surprised if the only thing you can get on a busy night is chips or peanuts. Every June, The Abbey celebrates its anniversary with a $25 all-day, all-you-can-drink event. Mark your calendar.
The Abbey Brewing Company, 1115 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-538-8110; abbeybrewingcompany.com.
PRL Euro Café
Don't be fooled by the name. PRL Euro Café is a full-blown beer bar and growing part of the art and music scene in Hollywood. Just off Young Circle, this long and narrow hole-in-the-wall carries an impressive selection of more than 100 bottled beers arranged on three shelves according to price. On the bottom shelf, you'll find James Boag's, Hoegaarden and Kamenitza (a Bulgarian brew), all $5 each. On the middle shelf, for $6 each, are Three Philosophers, Belzebuth, (a French pale ale with a whopping 13% ABV) and PRL's most popular, Zywiec from Poland, owner Jaroslaw "Jay" Rottermund's home country. Top shelf selections are $10 and up and include Avery and a variety of Lindemans lambics and Rogue. Okocim, Old Rasputin and Holy Mackerel, a golden ale brewed in Florida, are among the drafts. And if you are a fan of Belgian beers, with more than 25 on the menu, this is the place for you.
There is always something going on here, thanks to bartender and event organizer Julie Rockholz. On the first Friday of every month, one or two local artists show off and sell their work while DJ Zebediah spins drum and bass from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Every third Saturday, DJ Rodrigo Z and friends serve up some eclectic beats. There is no food, but you can buy peanuts or chips for $1 or order from a nearby restaurant, including Mauro's Pizza next door. If you're really in the mood to try something special, for $5 you can get the bar's signature shot, the PRL Attack: Natural herb bitters mixed with Red Bull.
PRL Euro Café, 1904A Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 954-980-8945
A small bar with a big selection, The Room is for serious beer drinkers and posh party people. The vibe is dark and loud, with simple, chic décor. Arrive early to snag a coveted seat in the window nooks, or to get a seat, period. Early evenings you can pretty much have the bar to yourself, but manager and bartender Jimmy Ridao says that at 10:30, the crowds pour in.
It's easy to see why: you can choose from among 60 beers, plus a good number of quality wines. Popular picks include Lindemans Framboise Lambic, Warsteiner and Lost Coast Great White, a white ale from California. The eight drafts on offer include Magners Irish Cider, Boddingtons and the Great White, all $6 or less - a decent deal in this stylish South Beach neighborhood. The Room has bottles of beer for one, or bigger bottles priced for sharing ($10-$20). The super-sized suds include organic brews like Pinkus Organic Munster Alt from Germany and Samuel Smith's Organic Lager from England. No food served here, but local restaurant delivery menus are available, and Primo's Pizza, which sells New York flavor by the slice, is just next door. FYI: Smoking is allowed here.
The Room, 100 Collins Ave., #4, Miami Beach; 305-531-6061; theroommiamibeach.com
Titanic Restaurant and Brewery
You can watch beer being made at this restaurant near University of Miami. Titanic has nine of its own brews on tap, including three seasonal selections. For first-timers, the Porthole Sampler is a good choice; it's $4.50 to try Titanic's six regular house beers, including the award-winning Triple Screw Light Ale, Boiler Room Nut Brown Ale and Captain Smith's Rye Ale. Britannic Best Bitter, White Star India Pale Ale and Shipbuilders Oatmeal Stout round out the list. Titanic also offers non-house beers, but why bother?
If you can't stay away from the Canes game, come in and watch it on one of several TVs. There is a full bar with wine list and lots of good food to compliment your beer. For the most part, the menu has a Cajun-American theme, but there are some exceptions. An award-winning burger, Titanic's signature Gangplank Salmon or BBQ Roasted St. Louis Ribs will complement your brew nicely.
Titanic Restaurant and Brewery, 5813 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-667-ALES (2537) or 305-668-1742; titanicbrewery.com