It seemed like overnight downtown St. Pete went from having no breweries to being filled with them. Craft beer has become part of our culture in recent years and is a large part of what makes our city unique.
One brewery that has done a great job of setting themselves apart is Cage Brewing, located in the Grand Central District. There are neon-colored alien murals decorating the walls, exterior walls, a variety of arcade games, foosball, air hockey, and a lot of good vibes.
Chances are you have noticed the brewery on the rather large corner lot on 1st Ave S and 22nd St. It’s especially hard to miss at night when the hundreds of Christmas lights are illuminating the patio. About half of the outdoor area is covered, paved, and filled with picnic tables. Most recently, they added a brand new structure with more even more bathrooms. For entertainment, there is Cornhole (or “Bags” as some people call it) and human-size Connect Four. The remaining outside area is grassy and much less shaded. As with most breweries, they are dog (and kid) friendly inside and out.
There’s an actual inside bar but you’ll find that most people spend their time at the bar located in the warehouse. There are a couple of TVs, the arcade games (did I mention they are free?), a Florida State flag (Go Noles!), and plenty of local art. Look up and you’ll notice a sign that says ‘Brewery’ in large letters and just above it, “R Bar & Grille” Sign. The long-time casual seafood restaurant on Treasure Island was once owned by Cage Brewing owner, Bob Hughes.
The story behind the brewery goes like this: Once upon a time, a line-cook at R-Bar was brewing beer at the restaurant during his downtime. Then one day, owner says if you’are really going to do this, we’ve got to abide by the law. So he built a small “cage” that housed the brewing equipment so it was considered a designated brewing area. Owner decides to sell the restaurant and instead gives this brewery thing a shot. And line cook, Eric Richardson, becomes head brewer at owner’s new brewery. And that’s how Cage came to be, opening in January 2016.
That was the version I heard in my head when the bartender shared this sweet story with me. The brewing area is still behind a “cage” – it’s just now a much larger. Something that head-brewer, Eric, likely appreciates as someone who is almost 7ft tall as told to me by the bartender. I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but, I hope to soon.
The beers that Cage is most well-known for has to be the two versions of their mango beer, the Mango IPA, and the Queen Krush Double IPA. Galaxy Cat Pale Ale is another popular pint and goes along with the alien space theme they’ve got going on.
Many events are held here, including the annual “108 Sun Salutations” by the Body Electric Yoga Company. Since the brewery is located very close to the Warehouse Arts District, quite often they’re used as the venue to host the more artsy events. I recently saw that a local artist was doing a glow-in-the-dark canvas painting class there. How cool. Plenty of people also have birthdays, showers, etc. there.
Some may consider the brewery to be “hipster” but it’s more along the lines of hippie. There is even a dedicated stage for their weekly live music and frequent open mics. One musical act playing there regularly is Dead Set, a Grateful Dead cover band. They’re really good so if any of you out there are Dead Heads, you should probably make your way over to Cage next time they play. Another local favorite, Betty Fox Band, has played there a couple times and has another show in May. Any of the musical acts Cage books are great and the sound quality isn’t for the faint of heart. My fiancé and I live a few blocks from the brewery and we can often hear bands jamming out, which we love.
On the bars, you’ll see a menu for Urban Brews and BBQ, which is located across the street. For a minimum of $10, they will even deliver food to you.
Next time you pass by Cage Brewing, be sure to stop in for some game time and a pint on the patio.
Cage Brewing Beer Reviews
Queen Krush Mango Double IPA – Cage Brewing (Double IPA)
Queen Krush Mango Double IPA
Pour & Head: Cloudy with a small amount of head
Color: Tanagrine / Carrot / Apricot – depending how the light hits the glass.
Aroma: Citrus aroma with strong mango notes.
Flavor: Tropical fruit flavor from the mango and on the sweeter side with hints of honey. Lower bitterness with light malts. A strong and boozy beer that still tastes light and refreshing.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and soft-bodied
Finish: Light and crisp
Overall: A lot of citrus flavor and sweetness from the mango. Flavorful but not too hoppy or bitter. A crisp, clean beer that’s refreshing and drinkable despite its strength.
Galaxy Cat – Eric’s Pale Ale (APA - American Pale Ale)
Galaxy Cat – Eric’s Pale Ale
Pour & Head: Cloudy with a small amount of head
Aroma: Slight citrus and tropical notes. Some earthy notes.
Flavor: On the bitter and hoppier side. Some tropical notes but not too sweet. Slight pine flavor.
Finish: Lingering taste of bitterness
Overall: Full-flavored with bitterness and grassy elements. Slightly heavy and has a lot of flavor for how low alcohol it is.
Craft brewery known for their Mango IPA with a lot of games, two bars, and a sprawling outdoor patio.