Welcome to the many flavors of Florida’s booming new craft beer phenomenon! Finally “good beer” can be found throughout the state, and enthusiasts are flocking to tasting rooms to meet friends for a pint or fill their growlers. From Destin to Key West, from award-winning breweries to hidden tasting rooms, from hefeweizens and pale ales to saisons and stouts, The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide is the perfect way to find local, distinctive beer anywhere in the Sunshine State.

“A thorough and practical guide to every beer producer in Florida, and a must-carry for visitors and natives alike.”—Jessica Daynor, DRAFT Magazine

“Fans of history will savor stories from the past, and readers can sample from the hit list and ‘insider tips’ while exploring the state’s growing craft beer scene.”—Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle, authors of Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Hub of the South

“A staple for any Florida beer lover’s collection.”—Mike Halker, president, Florida Brewers Guild

“Mark DeNote is your well-traveled guide to one of the country’s most inventive beer scenes.”—Ken Weaver, author of The Northern California Craft Beer Guide

Want to enjoy a pint of your favorite Florida-brewed beer while listening to author Mark DeNote talk about his book? Don’t miss one of these upcoming central Florida events:

Cigar City Brewing (3924 W Spruce Street, Tampa): Friday, October 10, 6:00pm

Cask & Larder (565 W Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park): Saturday, October 11, 3:00pm

Barley Mow Brewing Company (518 W Bay Drive, Largo): Wednesday, October 15, 7:00pm

Inkwood Books (216 S Armenia Avenue, Tampa): Tuesday, October 28, 7:00pm

Mark DeNote. Credit: Bara Miller photography.
Mark DeNote. Credit: Bara Miller photography.

Read our Q&A with Mark DeNote for a taste of the fascinating local history and insider information you’ll find in the book. Go to one of his book events to meet the author and learn more!

“Miami is on the verge of a brewery eruption, Tampa is in the midst of one, and Jacksonville is adding a few here and there. New breweries and brewpubs keep opening their doors all the time.”

How did you become interested in Florida’s craft beer industry?

I became locked in to this project after going on a tour of Miami’s craft breweries in 2010. After cataloging the stories of the people involved, I resolved to write an article about them. Once the article expanded to thirty pages, I began to consider writing a larger work. After researching Florida’s brewing history, I felt like it would make a juicy book. The thought occurred to me that even in Florida’s current brewery boom, bigger breweries existed before Prohibition and they faced hurdles just like today’s breweries.

You’ve been a craft beer columnist for quite some time. When did you know that you wanted to write this book?

The first inkling of writing this book came during my time at Rollins College in Winter Park. I needed a major project for my Master’s degree in Liberal Studies, and I wanted something I could really sink my teeth into—it would require months of work and I needed something I felt strongly about.

Swamp Head Brewery, Gainesville
Swamp Head Brewery, Gainesville. Courtesy of Stefanie Crockett.

From Destin to Key West is nearly a 12 hour drive on its own! How did you plan your travels and discover all of these locations around Florida?

I planned my travels around breaks that I had in my day job. I would travel from Tampa to other sections of Florida and hit as many breweries and historical societies as I could (I am so grateful for their understanding and hospitality). This is part of why the composition process took several years, but the in-between time gave me a chance to sift and compose all of my findings.

You’ve written about a ton of breweries and beers—is there one beer that stands out as your favorite?

Probably the toughest question I am asked! My favorite beers are those that challenge the limits of style and convention: Cigar City’s Zhukov’s Final Push (made with Kopi Luwak coffee), J. Wakefield Brewing’s Dragon Passion (brewed with so much fruit it is a pink color), Engine 15’s Citra Wet Hop IPA (you can smell the beer when the keg is tapped), Funky Buddha’s Last Snow Porter (more coconut flavor than a tropical island), Cycle Brewing’s Rare DOS with Chili Peppers (think chocolate, bourbon, and chili peppers), and the list goes on and on.

What was the most fascinating thing about Florida’s brewing history you learned while writing this book?

The most fascinating thing to me is that the earliest beer made in Florida was a lager. These are beers that need consistently cool temperatures to ferment, and this was a time where electricity was still being brought to every home. It is beyond belief to me that this was a profitable enterprise, but the Ybor Company made it that way.

Abbey Brewing Company
The Abbey Brewing Company, Miami Beach

What do you think readers will enjoy most about your book?

The part of my book that I am most proud of is the fact that it presents a complete picture of Florida’s craft beer growth. There are several cycles that Florida has gone through in its past, but its growth comes full circle in the present day when we see more breweries and brewpubs than ever before.

Do you have one sentence of advice for budding beer aficionados?

Don’t limit yourself: tasting beers is a journey and not a destination. Keep trying everything. Every new beer adds experience to the palate.

What are you working on next?

I have several beer-related history books I am currently working on in addition to my Cicerone and Beer Judge certification.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

The biggest challenge was finishing the book. I did my best, but Miami is on the verge of a brewery eruption, Tampa is in the midst of one, and Jacksonville is adding a few here and there. New breweries and brewpubs keep opening their doors all the time and the hardest part of this book was finding a cutoff point.

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