Arkane Aleworks – Located in Largo, Florida
For those who aren’t aware there’s some really fantastic beer being brewed in the state of Florida. The Sunshine state has long been home to bigger name brewers such as Cigar City and Funky Buddha but like so many areas of the county craft beer is booming down south. My first introduction to Florida beer was about 3 years ago when I had the chance to visit a buddy that moved down south because he hates snow. Recently this bearded hockey loving boy from the northern state of Michigan decided that he was well overdue to make a pilgrimage back to the state of Florida. I hung out with the same buddy, now a representative of one of the craft beer distributors in Florida, and luckily for me he had a pretty good knowledge of some amazing spots to check out in the Tampa Bay area.
I first noticed Arkane Aleworks on Saturday October 29th; we pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall as we ventured into a chicken wing joint (Mugs and Jugs) to load up on chicken wings and watch the my college football team get smacked around by their biggest rival. When we pulled in I looked over and saw the Arkane Aleworks sign. Immediately I said to my friend “That brewery’s sign looks like it’s straight off a 1980’s hair metal album, please tell me were checking that place out!” He set the bar high, not only was I pumped that the place looked totally metal, but he also told me that although Arkane was new they’re totally focused on beer and that we’d be heading there after the game. So we headed in, housed 40ish wings and some fries, had a few pops then made our way to Arkane.
I felt immediately at home when we walked into Arkane, it’s the same feeling that I get when I go into Witch’s Hat or Dark Horse in my home state. Arkane is a smaller brewery who’s taproom has a warm and cozy feel that reinforces my earlier 1980’s thrash metal impression, in a good way. Unbeknownst to us the brewery was throwing their Halloween party that night so the staff was decked out in full Halloween costumes, which is great, who doesn’t love Halloween? We arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon so we were about an hour and a half before the Halloween party started and the special Halloween tap list would be available but more on that later.
Being a creature of habit the first thing I ordered was a “Double Talkin Java” Stout. It might be a by product of living in a state that spends half the year being buried in snow and ice but I love stouts, and normally the bigger and heavier the better in my opinion. Now, being in a tropical stat you can certainly still find a wide variety of stouts but the biggest difference in stout coming out of a warm weather state is that most stouts, although still plenty flavorful, are significantly lighter when it comes to the body of the beer. This beer found a really excellent balance of being a relatively bigger beer (8.5% ABV), being loaded with chocolate and coffee flavor, and not making me feel like a slug filled with chicken wings and beer. “Double Talkin Java” is remarkable smooth and easy to drink, in all honesty if I were ever to relocate to Florida I’d be getting growlers of this brew filled on a regular basis. It’s a really solid coffee stout that leaves you completely satisfied. After sampling a few other selections on the menu we decided to take a short break and return in time for that evening’s Halloween festivities.
Normally I don’t like to spend to much time on beers that are limited to the extent that even if you head into the brewery odds are that you won’t be able to find those beers. This is the exception and here’s why, the beers that were on this special Halloween tap list were so extremely well done and impressive that it would be downright reprehensible not to mention how delicious and inventive some of these beers are. It speaks to why I love craft beer in the first place and how creative an independent brewery really can be. It’s also a reminder that at the end of the day beer is supposed to be fun and some of the beers featured on this Halloween tap list definitely represent fun. Each one of the beers tapped for Halloween delivered a totally different experience, “Beer Nerds” managed to be sour and tart without making me pucker up and complain about sour beers (very well crafted beer, I’m just not big on sours personally), while “Taste the Rainbow”, a Skittels Gose, was tart fruity and refreshing. Then I got into the stouts.
Stating with “Sometimes you don’t”, this Mounds milk stout is a great offering and of course loaded with coconut. Coconut is a fruit I could normally care less about but more and more it’s popping up in stouts and porters and works out pretty well. This is no exception and a very solid beer, light and roasty while still being tropical and full flavored. After that we went for “Heathenly” a sweet milk stout brewed with Heath bars. The trick (or treat) with this beer was making sure that he toffee didn’t completely over power the beer and make a brew unbearably sweet. Mission accomplished, Heathenly was super malty and tasty and the toffee notes were balanced out flawlessly. The toffee was very noticeable but primarily because of how well it was balanced in the beer. I hesitate to call the toffee a note so much because it was more prominent than that, but the malts and chocolate were definitely more upfront with the beer which worked to it’s advantage. Last but certainly not least of these stouts was “Hangry? Why Wait?” a Snickers Milk Stout. To use metal bands for comparison, If the first two of these stouts were Manowar and Iced Earth this beer was Metallica in full force at the height of the “And Justice For All” world tour. Never in my life had I thought about what a Snickers bar smelled like before October 29th 2016, but the second this beer got near my nose I thought “that smells exactly like a Snickers”. The flavor was even more spot on, chocolate, caramel, nougat, and peanut each flavor from your standard Snickers bar is present in this beer and well represented. Snickers are one of the few candy bars that I eat and because of that I found myself considering chewing this beer because my brain was actually telling me a Snickers bar was in my mouth. “Hangry? Why Wait?”, like every stout in this article, is still on the light side when it comes to the body of the beer but I would hold this beer highly against any brooding heavy stout from my home state. This beer is not only exceptional but hands down the best beer I tried on a visit that included trips to 7 other local breweries in the Tampa Bay area.
But Halloween had one more treat in store!
As you probably noticed, included in the Halloween tap list were two beers appropriately named Unicorn Blood and Ecto Cooliner. Now maybe I’m wrong but if you go to any establishment and the option for Unicorn Blood and Ecto Cooliner are on the menu you don’t question it, you order it right up! Do so and you will be rewarded with a pair of Berliner Weisse’s one pinkish red and one funky green. Both these brews are well balanced and light while neither came off as exceptionally sour, and with a super low ABV (3.4% each) both are extremely approachable beers. Berliner Weisse is not normally a style of beer that I gravitate to but even if these beers were not red and green with fantastic names I would definitely drink these again.
I’m a big supporter of the “Drink Local” mentality, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid finding new places outside of what’s local for you. When I get the option to travel of course I like checking out some of the bigger breweries that are talked about in every corner of the country but the places that I really like are breweries like Arkane Aleworks. Arkane has only been open since July of 2016, but in that short period of time they have already developed into one of the most memorable breweries I’ve gotten to visit in the state of Florida. For me it might be a year or two before I can get back down there to make a return visit but regardless if you live in Florida or are just visiting add Arkane to your list of breweries to visit. With a tap list featuring a variety of hoppy ales, malty brews and sour creations they’re sure to have something for any beer lover.
2480 E Bay Dr. #23
Largo, FL 33771
Monday: 3pm – 10pm
Tuesday: 3pm – 10pm
Wednesday: 3pm – 10pm
Thursday: 3pm – 10pm
Friday: 3pm – Midnight
Saturday: 12pm – Midnight
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm