Last Saturday, Colleen and I trekked up to St. Petersburg to take advantage of Bank of America’s monthly “Museums on Us” promotion and of course, review some of the many Tampa Bay area breweries for this blog. Tough job, I know! Our first stop was Pinellas Ale Works, a canine themed brewery in downtown St. Pete.
Pinellas Ale Works in located on 1st Ave S, a few blocks west of Cycle and Green Bench, and directly across the street from Cage Brewing. The building used to be an auto body repair shop and is pretty unremarkable except for some paint that was touched up in a non-matching shade.
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The tasting room is fairly compact with two long communal wooden tables and a small bar. There is a side room that has a couple more intimate tables, two dart boards, and a large selections of card games and board games. The remainder of the building is taken up by the 15 barrel brewing system which you can sorta glimpse through a poster-covered window in the taproom. Owing to the dog theme, there are mason jars filled with dog treats and water bowls scattered everywhere.
Outside, Pinellas Ale Works has a very inviting beer garden, complete with bitchin’ mural. Of course, the de rigueur giant jenga and cornhole are present too. Unfortunately, it was about 90° and blazing sun so we retreated inside, but I’ll bet this beer garden gets packed during “season”.
There are 24 permanent taps at the bar and a portable cooler housed another 4 Star Wars themed beers left over from the prior day’s May 4th event (“May the 4th be with you” – get it?). Check out both lists below and sorry for the glare!
We started with a flight consisting of 1888 Imperial Stout, Luke Dogwalker NE IPA, Thrill Hill DIPA, and Vaders Haterade Imperial Stout. And yes, I do feel ridiculous typing out the names of the Star Wars beers. I made Colleen order them.
1888 Imperial Stout: First up was the 1888 Imperial Stout, named after the year when the first train arrived in Pinellas County, the southernmost stop on the Orange Belt Railway. This stout took home a gold medal at March’s Best Florida Beer Championships and I can totally see why. I love big stouts with high IBU’s and this one delivers in spades (108 ibu’s). It reminded me alot of Oscar Blues Ten Fiddy which is a huge compliment.
Luke Dogwalker: This is a solid New England IPA, a style which is uber popular right now. The added pineapple is very subtle in a good way. It complements, not dominates.
Thrill Hill: Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that Thrill Hill had a discernible peach flavor, almost like canned peaches. It wasn’t unpleasant, just a bit of a surprise. Colleen and I both preferred the cedar-aged version which was sans peaches.
Vaders Haterade: In spite of its silly name, Vader Haterade totally floored me. Really a flawless treatment on the already-impressive 1888 Imperial Stout. Although I suspect this beer may have been kegged around Valentine’s day when making these chocolate cherry stouts is becoming tradition? Although still leaning toward being a desert beer, Vaders Haterade was not overly sweet or cloying at all. I could’ve drank a kiddie pool full of this stuff!
Cedar Thrill Hill: Lastly, we tried Cedar Thrill Hill, a double IPA aged on Spanish Cedar. With the limitless array available to craft beer drinkers these days, it’s difficult to find something new. But I have to say, this was the first time that I tried a beer aged in cedar rather than the ubiquitous oak and I thought it was a huge success. You can definitely taste the cedar (I kept thinking about a cedar closet in a home I once lived) although it’s not overwhelming. And the cedar doesn’t mellow out the hoppiness of the base beer as much as oak does.
So in summary, when you think of the best imperial stouts in the area, breweries like Cycle, Cigar City and Angry Chair quickly come to mind. But I am happy to report that Pinellas Ale Works is mounting some strong competition. I also really enjoyed their uncommon cedar aged IPA. Definitely add PAW to your short list of Tampa Bay breweries.
Pinellas Ale Work
1962 1st Avenue S
St. Petersburg, FL 33712