Craft Beer Scene Grows in Naples and Marco Island

By JoNell Modys

The Naples and Marco Island, Florida area is rising in importance as a top Florida craft beer and foodie destination.

Four local breweries with dedicated local followings are open for business, a fifth brewery is on tap to open late summer 2017, and two annual Craft Beer Festivals are helping to quench the local thirst for craft brew in the region.

Naples Beach Brewery

Craft beer aficionado Will Lawson noticed a need in Naples for the culture and connectivity that a local brewery provides, something he grew to love while living in Michigan. In 2012 after years of study and preparation, he made the leap and opened Naples Beach Brewery, Naples’ first microbrewery. In those early days when laws still restricted retail sales of craft beer, he initiated weekend tour events that quickly drew an underserved local following thirsty for what he had to offer. He also established a solid following for his brews through distribution sales at over 70 Naples and Marco Island area restaurants and sports bars.

Naples Beach Brewery has grown now to include a tasting room that is open daily highlighted by a variety of delicious food truck cuisine Wednesday through Sunday. Twenty-four brews are on tap including the Beach House Belgian Blonde, the Naples Classic Light Hybrid, the Latitude Adjustment American IPA and plenty more, including half dozen specialty beers like Pineapple Express, Peanut Butter Cup Stout and the Liquid Moonshine apple pie wheat wine.

Naples Beach Brewery is tucked away in an industrial park just east of Naples Municipal Airport. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, and it’s pet friendly.

Riptide Brewing Company in downtown Naples

Inside the brew process at Riptide Brewing company.

Riptide Brewing Company

Riptide is the brainchild of three good friends whose hobby was home brewing in their garages. Their wives got tired of the hot water interruptions and other turmoil so they got the boot and had to find a new home for their hobby that was growing fast.

They established their private brewery in an industrial space that became their man cave. Gatherings at the cave with friends soon grew to ridiculous proportions, and from there, Riptide Brewing Company’s downtown Naples location was born. It opened in November 2015 in the Naples Design District serving their own brews and also selections on guest taps from other craft breweries. They also serve a selection of good wines.

Popular selections include Kraken DIPA, a monster IPA, the Jackman’s Abbey Belgian Triple, the Undertow IPA and the Paddlepuss Blonde Ale.

Riptide has a growing events calendar that includes the popular Taproom Trivia Tuesdays, food trucks on Thursdays and every other Friday, special fundraising events, live music, and craft beer pairing dinners at a variety of local locations.

Bone Hook Brewing

The newest brewery to open is Bone Hook Brewing Company, located in the Creekside Corners center in North Naples.

Bone Hook Beers are unique. The brewing process is highly dissected, measured, and tested using sophisticated analytical methods that are atypical in breweries of a similar size. In fact, Bone Hook Brewing Company is the only Southwest Florida craft brewery using an in-house spectrophometer to measure beer bitterness (IBU’s) and diacetyl, as well as microbiological analyses, which are key quality assurance and control parameters.

Basically, they say their beers are good because the Bone Hook team is made up of science nerds – three friends, all with engineering backgrounds, and with a passion for craft beer. The on-site lab lets the crew perfect each style of beer, thus producing only the highest quality product.

The Bone Hook tap room seat 50 to 60 patrons and will have room for 20 different beers produced on premises. The selection includes a range of styles – American and Belgian pale ales, an English golden ale, a German weissbier, several saison ales, an American IPA, stout and witbier.

Oil Well Craft Beer in Ave Maria

What's on tap at Oil Well Craft Beer

Oil Well Craft Beer

Oil Well Craft Beer is located in Ave Maria, the town area that has grown up around Ave Maria University. It’s located northeast of Naples and near Immokalee.Oil Well serves from 20 taps in its Tasting Bar taproom. Patrons are welcome to bring in food from neighboring restaurants.

Marco Island Brewery

The Marco Island Brewery is small on the brew side with three house brews – the Pelican Pilsner, Tigertail Red Ale named for popular Tigertail Beach on the island, and The Rock IPA. They feature 40 beers on tap offering their own brews plus the best seasonal selections from other breweries.

The only one of the local microbreweries in the region to include a full service restaurant, Marco Island Brewery has a great menu and has established itself as Marco Island’s largest sports bar. Everything is made fresh including pizzas, homemade meatballs, local fresh fish sandwiches, burgers and salads.

Ankrolab Brewing

A new microbrewery and garden, Ankrolab Brewing, is targeted for opening in early 2018 in the Bayshore neighborhood east of downtown Naples and a few blocks from Naples Botanical Garden. Plans include space for food truck parking and indoor and outdoor pet-friendly seating around a lush garden.

Bars and Restaurants for Brews

Bar Tulia in Naples, Florida

A look inside Bar Tulia in Naples, Florida.

Several bars and restaurants regularly have craft beer on tap. The Brass Tap Beer Bar – a chain with a location in in north Naples – offers 70 taps with almost all of them craft beer selections. Four house brews are usually introduced each month. There’s a good food menu serving burgers, flatbreads and more, along with live music.

South Street City Oven & Grill has 54 selections on tap. This is a great spot for live music throughout the week and reggae every Sunday night. Bar Tulia on Fifth Avenue South features several Italian craft beers, great craft cocktails and a good wine list. The highlight here is the Italian gastropub cuisine, with small plates and entrees served nightly until midnight.

As the popularity of local and regional craft beers continues to grow, more and more local restaurants and bars continue to add selections from the area’s hometown breweries.

Craft Beer Fests

In early March, the annual Naples Craft Beer Fest features beers from around the country. Local restaurants provide food pairings with select beers and the chefs compete to win the People’s Choice award for best pairing. Tickets always sell out in advance to this popular event usually held at the Bayfront shopping, dining and residential complex on Naples Bay.

In early November (November 5, 2017), the Marco Island Craft Beer & Fine Food Festival features a variety of craft beers from Florida brewers along with food pairings by six of Marco Island’s top restaurants.