Hail the Ale

Submerge yourself in the Treasure Coast's stimulating craft beer scene

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Ever since the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia began brewing beer around 5,000 years ago—a magical beverage believed to endow the drinker with health, happiness, and peace of mind—mankind has been smitten with suds. Eventually, boatloads of ale crossed the pond to America (thank you, pilgrims!), and the first brewery, D.G. Yuengling & Son, was founded in 1829. In the 1960s, we saw the rise of the microbrewery, and by the late-1990s, many brewers were using nontraditional ingredients like herbs, spices, and fruit to produce super-flavored swills. In Florida, the first original craft brewery, McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin, opened its doors in 1988, and today there are more than 350 breweries across the state. Here, a list of some top-notch spots right here on the Treasure Coast that will send you to hops heaven.

Taps at Ocean Republic Brewing in Stuart
Taps at Ocean Republic Brewing in Stuart

Ocean Republic Brewing, Stuart

When Chris and Amanda Cischke started leasing the former Illuminati Gastropub in 2018, they imbued the space with a coastal cool/industrial vibe; added an 81-foot-long, wave-shaped counter in acid blue; and tapped Stuart artist Amber Moran to dot the walls with whimsical murals depicting marine life. A few months later, Ocean Republic Brewing opened its doors, becoming Martin County’s sole microbrewery at the time (others that had opened in the county had closed down by this time).
Mac and cheese egg rolls at Ocean Republic Brewing in Stuart
Mac and cheese egg rolls

Recipes are co-created by Chris and brewmaster Matt Webster, formerly of Tequesta Brewing Company, who also oversees the automated-brewing process that yields a slew of craft brews ranging from IPAs and Belgian tripels to pilsners and porters. Ocean Republic also offers elevated American pub-style dishes like mac and cheese egg rolls and fried Wisconsin cheese curds, and, on Sundays, traditional brunch essentials plus newer favorites like The Oller, a hangover-busting burger topped with brie, bacon jam, avocado, and a fried egg. Go ahead and overindulge—you can always join the running club that meets here on Monday nights for a 3-mile run, walk, or jog. 1630 SE Federal Hwy., Stuart; 772.600.5596

Must-try: Calice d’or, a smooth and elegant Belgian tripel with notes of citrus peel, coriander, and currant that should be savored slowly.

Hop Life Brewing Company, Port St. Lucie
Hop Life Brewing Company in Port St. Lucie

Hop Life Brewing Company, Port St. Lucie

From the American flags displayed around the taproom to free suds for anyone who brings in military patches or coins, Hop Life Brewing Company brims with patriotic spirit. The Port St. Lucie brewery and beer hall is the perfect go-to for kibitzing over a good pint. Among the plethora of IPAs, lagers, porters, and sours are two standouts: Zero Viz, a Florida-style IPA with heady, citrus notes, and Nut House Coffee, a nutty milk porter made with cold-brewed coffee sourced from Walking on Eggshells in Vero Beach. Outside, Scratch Kitchen food truck serves up fresh conch fritters and other handcrafted selections, and there are always a few fun activities going on (micro-wrestling, anyone?). Check the online schedule before heading over to see what’s happening. 679 NW Enterprise Drive, Port St. Lucie; 772.249.5055

Must-try: Puck’rd Mother Pucker, a sour Gose sweetened with mango and pineapple juice
that pairs perfectly with cheeseboards and seafood.

Pierced Ciderworks in Fort Pierce Photo by Chelsea Luper
Photo by Chelsea Luper

Pierced Ciderworks, Fort Pierce

Hard cider isn’t technically a “brew,” but the fruit-fermented libation has gained popularity among brewers as an alcoholic alternative to beer, wine, and hard liquor. Since opening its cidery and taproom in 2018, Pierced Ciderworks in Fort Pierce has been producing some of the state’s finest ciders. Proprietor Jon Nolli completely renovated the pair of landmark buildings Sailfish Brewery once called home, adding quirky touches like exposed pipework; a 20-seat, penny-top bar; and bar stools with tractor seats, all of which give the space an industrial-steampunk-farmhouse feel.

Concert at Pierced Ciderworks, Photo by Aaron Wells
Photo by Aaron Wells

Cidermaker Chelsea Luper developed three core ciders—including Purple Drank, a blackberry-spiked masterpiece—and releases weekly flavor profiles that balance the authentic, New Orleans–style staples the Ragin’ Cajun Cafe food truck prepares daily. Grab a seat outside at one of the picnic tables near the 1930 International pickup truck Nolli converted into a stage. Stop by on Sundays with a furry friend between 12 and 2 p.m. and your first drink is half-off. 411 N. 2nd St., Fort Pierce; 772.302.3863

Must-try: Piña coladas must have been on Chelsea Luper’s mind when she created the Coco Loconut, a coconut-forward cider that tastes like paradise in a glass.

Side Door Brewing Company in Port St. Lucie, Verola Media_SDBC-36
Photo courtesy of Verola Media

Side Door Brewing Company, Port St. Lucie

Brewer Dwayne Buchholz has a soft spot for dark beers, which is evident from the many full-bodied porters and stouts on tap at Side Door Brewing Company. No stranger to the craft beer scene, the former Oregon resident began home-brewing long before he opened his brewery on the eighty-second anniversary of Repeal Day. Named partly after a Prohibition speakeasy entryway, the Side Door is, ironically, bereft of a side door. Once inside the taproom, thirsty patrons have a variety of sipping options, from hefeweizens to sours to stouts, many with door-themed monikers like Hinge Pin, an American hefe and one of the brewery’s longest-running beers; the deliciously sour Side Door Raspberry Wild Ale; and Painted Door, a sweet and roasty porter named after a Rolling Stones song. Buchholz prides himself on making his beers manually because he believes the process produces more consistent results even for more complex variations like Whiskey Jitters, a bronze medal–winning ale/porter aged in whiskey barrels for up to a year. Chef Jesse Phelps’ loaded tater tots are life around here, as is a quick pickup game of darts. There’s also live music on occasion. 1419 SE Village Green Drive, Port St. Lucie; 772.249.0065 

Must-try: Cafe Escalofrios, a zesty porter infused with caramel and puréed habanero peppers, is packed with sweetness and a punch of spice. 

Sailfish Brewing Company in Fort Pierce
Sailfish Brewing Company

Sailfish Brewing Company, Fort Pierce

When Sailfish Brewing Company opened in April 2013, it was lauded as the first commercial brewer on the Treasure Coast. After growing the company from a one-barrel system to three in four years, owner David BuShea moved the brewery from the historic Harry Hill House to its current perch on 2nd Street. Inside the “house of hops,” guests can work their way through an array of beers on tap in a sun-dappled tasting room filled with humorous works of nautical life by Pompano Beach artist Steve Diossy. An expansive, outdoor patio encourages plein air tippling along with games of cornhole and people-watching.

Sailfish Brewing Company lineupIn addition to Sunrise City IPA, White Marlin Wit, and other standards, head brewer David Cavasinni regularly rolls out new variations and treatments. The brewery partners with local farms and purveyors, including Hani Honey Company in Stuart, whose nectarous yields flavor the Flounder Pounder, a light-bodied double IPA brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops. If you get the munchies, there are plenty of options there too—tuck into a hand-tossed pie from the pizza oven or shareable starters like the 2nd Street Gorgonzola waffle fries topped with cheese, bacon, parsley, and balsamic drizzle. 130 N. 2nd St., Fort Pierce; 772.577.4382

Must-try: Oktoberfest Märzen, a rich and toasty German-style amber lager, is just
about the closest thing you’ll get to Munich’s legendary beer festival.

Islamorada Brewery North, Fort Pierce
Islamorada Brewery North

Islamorada Brewery North, Fort Pierce

Sometimes bigger is just plain better. When Islamorada Beer Company, a prominent brewery and distillery in the Florida Keys, opened Islamorada Brewery North in Fort Pierce, it became the biggest craft beer producer on the Treasure Coast. Four close friends hatched the idea of starting a beer-brewing business during a fishing trip in the Bahamas—and it paid off in a big way. Their innovative and light-bodied beers are now best sellers at bars, restaurants, and supermarkets across the Sunshine State. Awash in the same vivid hues of yellow and blue as its coastal counterpart, the 25,000-square-foot Fort Pierce outpost serves a rotation of beers with boating and beach-centric names like the wheat ales Sandbar Sunday and No Tan Lines, which are handwritten daily on a chalkboard in the tasting room. The brewery lacks a  kitchen, but there is always great gourmet fare to be found at food trucks outside. There’s also shuffleboard and beer pong inside, plus a variety of monthly activities like axe-throwing and soap-making. 3200 St. Lucie Blvd., Fort. Pierce; 772.882.4155  

Must-try: No Wake Zone, a coconut and key lime ale that’s so refreshing it will immediately put you on island time. 

Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail
Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail

Trail Blazers

Hit all of the hottest local breweries in one fell swoop

A great way to fully immerse yourself in the local craft beer scene is to head down the Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail. Launched in 2016 by Gary Roberts of Summer Crush Winery and Pareidolia Brewing Company’s Peter Anderson, the self-guided tour is a great way to discover and support local breweries between Stuart and Sebastian. Before you go, download an official map from the website or pick one up at any of the participating taprooms. Sip brews, wine, and cider at all 11 locations and collect stamps along the way. At the final stop, turn in your stamped map and receive a complimentary keepsake. And be sure to check out the annual Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail Festival November 20. The event will take place 1 to 5 p.m. at Summer Crush Winery in Fort Pierce and feature offerings from all of the vendors along the Wine & Ale Trail, food trucks, live music, interactive games like lawn Jenga and giant checkers, and more. Tickets are $5 for standard admission (or $30 for unlimited tastings; $25 if purchased in advance). 

Setting the Bar

11 local watering holes totally on top of their craft beer game

2nd Street Bistro

122 2nd St., Fort Pierce; 772.239.9191

Bottom’s Up Public House

208 Avenue A, Fort Pierce; 772.446.3099

Castaways Gastropub

911 NE Jensen Beach Blvd., Jensen Beach; 772.618.3838

Miller’s Ale House

2220 SW Gatlin Blvd., Port St. Lucie; 772.206.3201

St. Lucie Draft House

6630 S. U.S. Hwy. 1, Port St. Lucie; 772.460.2338

Terra Fermata

26 SE 6th St., Stuart; 772.286.5252

The Crafted Keg

555 S. Colorado Ave., Stuart; 772.600.8218

The House of Brews

3311 NW Main Ave., Jensen Beach; 772.692.6999

The Vine & Barley

1680 SW St. Lucie W. Blvd., Port St. Lucie; 772.446.7550

Tidehouse

915 NW Flagler Ave., Stuart; 772.444.3166

Twisted Craft & Creamery

4745 SE Desoto Ave., Stuart; 772.600.7239

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