It has been awhile since last we posted on our blog and a recent family trip to St. Petersburg, Florida presented a great opportunity to share our beer and bicycle adventures.
Here in New Orleans, we ride our bikes everywhere - especially when brewery and bar hopping. However, when traveling, especially when flying, it is pretty inconvenient to bring our bikes along. Fortunately, there is an outfit called Social Bicycles, a high-tech bike sharing company operating in 30 cities worldwide. SoBi aims to “enhance personal mobility,” and they certainly did during our time in St. Pete!
At the recent Friends of Lafitte Greenway Hike, which ended at Second Line Brewing, I chatted briefly with Alan Ma, a representative of SoBi. SoBi is in the early stages of bringing their bike sharing operation to New Orleans (look out for their official launch in the Fall!). At the Greenway event, Alan was showcasing one of their bikes and, I’ll tell you, I was pretty impressed. Possessing a well-built frame, large front basket, front and rear lights, a built in GPS lock, multi-speed rear hub attached to a direct-drive system, a rear-rack with solar panel, digital display, keyboard…the list goes on!
Having been familiarized with Social Bicycles back home, we were excited to see them operating in St. Pete! After enlisting some local friends as tour guides, we located a SoBi kiosk, enrolled online to get our access codes and rode off to our first stop, coincidentally named Cycle Brewing.
Stop 1: Cycle Brewing
Cycle Brewing opened 10 years ago in nearby Gulfport before relocating to the up and coming downtown area of St. Petersburg about 4 years ago. With a large glass garage door opening to the sidewalk and plenty of street side seating, Cycle Brewing takes its design cues from its namesake with lots of brushed metal and bike-centric accents. We really enjoyed their Crank IPA and Sharrow DIPA (continuing on with the bike-theme, once again!), but the stand out, in my opinion, was the Cream and Sugar Please Stout brewed with coffee, lactose and hazelnuts.
Stop 2: St. Pete Brewing
From Cycle Brewing, we headed around the corner to an old store front turned brewery: St. Pete Brewing. Their open space and roll up doors enhances their already neighborhood/family oriented atmosphere. With games such as giant Jenga and cornhole, alongside their lineup of 13 beers and one cider (from Cigar City Cider and Mead), we could imagine spending the whole afternoon here. Their IPA, named for the late Chris Cornell, Black (berry) Hole Sun, provided great taste and refreshment for our bike gang! St. Pete Brewing offers cans-to-go of a selection of their offerings, as well as 12 ounce cans of their Milo IPA - which can also be found at local retailers.
The Scenic Route
After finishing up at St. Pete, we took the scenic route, a 15 minute bike ride, to 3 Daughters Brewery. While a bit longer, this route was well worth it as it was peppered with some really cool street art, which allowed us some fun photo ops. All of downtown St. Petersburg has undergone a fantastic revival over the past few years. I remember when half the buildings were boarded up, but now they are home to specialty shops, funky restaurants and a wonderfully vibrant and diverse community.
Stop 3: 3 Daughters Brewery
Founded in 2013, 3 Daughters occupies a massive piece of real estate and, judging from the 11,000 barrels they produced last year, they need it! We were really impressed by their use of the space which included a intimate and well-designed bar area, a gaming area with ping-pong, darts, shuffleboard and chess and, to top it off, a stage with a live band.
3 Daughters is distributed throughout Florida, but it was fun tasting their selection with A Wake Coffee Blonde Ale being a favorite of our group.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
As we prepared to leave 3 Daughters, the sky finally opened up, as it had been threatening to do all day. Fortunately, we had already parked our SoBi bikes at a nearby kiosk and were able to order a Lyft. That is one of the great conveniences of SoBi - you can leave a bike behind without worries and grab another one from a kiosk by your next destination!
Stop 4: Green Bench Brewing
Our Lyft driver took us to Green Bench, which has been a favorite of ours since they opened in 2013. Anytime we visit my mother, we also visit Green Bench having always been impressed with their beer, service and ability to connect with a diverse crowd. We saw families, first dates, third dates and groups of friends all enjoying some tasty beverages and a nice, laid back vibe. We love the staff over at this brewery - we received a recommendation for an awesome Mexican Restaurant (Nueva Cantina) from one of our servers. He was spot-on. We actually ate there twice!
Green Bench has been playing around with the latest craze in beer - the New England-style IPA. They had two options: Turbid 2 and Turbid 3. While #2 was delicious, #3 was definitely my favorite, Their Sunshine City IPA and Les Grisettes, a Saison-style beer, were equally enjoyable and a nice way to finish of a great day of beer and bikes with our friends.
The Wrap Up
You can’t always rely on the weather to cooperate, but with great beer and great company we still managed to have a fantastic time. The freedom afforded by the SoBi bike sharing system was really quite something and St. Petersburg, as a city, didn’t disappoint - I have to give a nod to all the small business owners, entrepreneurs, city agencies and, of course, the breweries that are keeping the city thriving. They have all done a superlative job of bringing the downtown area around and making it a real gem for beer-focused travelers - especially those who prefer to get around by bike.
We can’t wait for our next visit so that we can cross Cage Brewing, Pinellas Ale Works, Urban Comfort and Flying Boat Brewing off our bike and beer checklist!
Thanks for stopping by and remember to be kind, drink great beer and always keep your eyes out bicyclists!