If you’re visiting the Sarasota area, you’ll want to know where you can get the best craft-brewed beer that incorporates distinctive local tastes. After all, that’s one of the reasons we drink craft beer!

Best of the Best

Calusa Brewing is the place to go for absolute devotion to the craft beer art. Owned by two brothers-in-law who learned the joys of craft beer while stationed in San Diego, Calusa doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment: nothing to distract you from its complete commitment to beer. The owners love Florida’s history, and that’s reflected in their popular Battle Brew DIPA. Tuesday through Thursday, you can walk in from 2-10 p.m. and on Friday until midnight. On Saturday, Calusa is open from noon to midnight, and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Look for Calusa on the north end of Derek Avenue off Route 72.

The pioneer of craft brewing in Sarasota, JDub’s Brewing Company belongs to a Californian transplant who jumped the hurdles to get craft brewing to this part of Florida. Be sure to try the flagship Poolside Kolsch style ale, and bring Fido along if you like. It’s open from 11 a.m. to midnight most days, though on Sunday it closes at 10 p.m. On Monday, hours are 2-8 p.m. Find them on Mango Avenue, just off 12th Street in Sarasota.

Farther Afield

If you want to get away, head north to East Bradenton. On Manatee Avenue East you’ll find 3Keys Brewing. You can’t go wrong with this family brewpub. The locals rave about the warm malt smell and the waffle sandwiches. On the weekends they’re open from noon to midnight, and on weekdays from noon to 10 p.m. Get there in time to sample the Pizza Dreams and Time Machines pale ale for a taste of Florida fruit.

If you’re staying at one of the hotels in the Longboat Key area and want to stick around the beach, try the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill on Gulf of Mexico Drive across from the Longboat Key Golf Club. You might see a manatee from the outdoor dining area that overlooks the marina, and while there’s a great selection of craft beers on tap, locals will tell you to bring your appetite, too. Come for the craft beer: stay for the lobster roll.

The Wild Card

Want something unusual? Try the Darwin Brewing Company. It’s right across the street from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training field on 17th Avenue West in Bradenton, so you can watch some baseball and then head over for some unique South American flavors. Try the Ayawasca or the Chicha Morada. Darwin is open Thursday to Saturday. It’s open from 4 -10 p.m. Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Sun and surf aren’t the only things that Sarasota has to offer. Don’t miss some of the finest craft brews around in the thriving Sarasota brewing scene.