With over 150 Craft Breweries (and counting) Florida is fast becoming a mecca for the craft beer aficionado and the Tampa Bay area is arguably the Capital of the craft beer scene in Florida. As both a long time resident and a craft beer lover, this makes a very desirable place to be indeed.
Most craft beer lovers have heard of the flagship brewery in Tampa Bay – Cigar City. A brewery known for its signature Jai Alai IPA. Although a trip to Tampa would never be complete without visiting Cigar City there are many more breweries in the area worth visiting including one that is fast becoming a personal favorite, Marker 48.
Marker 48 is exactly 54 miles north of Tampa and is an easy trip up the Suncoast Expressway. It is located in Weeki Wachee. Most people who are familiar with the area would consider Weeki Wachee as a place consisting of 70’s era retirement homes and someplace you might go to to wait to die. Dead is not what you would use to describe this brewery at all.
This was my third trip to the brewery so I knew what to expect. On my first trip however I didn’t expect much. I grew up in the area in the 70’s when it consisted of a grocery store, a pharmacy, a few convenience stores and a bar called the “Mermaid Lounge” named after the mermaid show at the Weeki Wachee attraction up the road. I was pleasantly surprised on my first two trips, so I made a third and I decided to let everyone know that it is a hidden gem.
When you pull up you can’t miss the giant red “Marker 48” logo on the front of the building. The building used to be an oil change place as is evident by the roll up doors front and back. There is ample seating indoors and a nice “beer garden” out back with artificial turf and a stage as well as games such as giant jenga and a ping pong table. Gas fire pits are plentiful for cooler nights…which are few and far between this year. The interior feels of “backwoods old Florida” with wood everywhere you look. They put a lot of time into the design of this of this place, right down to the refrigerated brass rail embedded in the bar to keep your beer cold as you sit and sip. Different food trucks were on hand at each visit and all had very good food.
The staff is extremely friendly, knowledgeable about the beer and helpful. You will not get bad service here. The service outside in the beer garden is also very good. Most breweries do not “serve” you but instead make you come to order then take your beer or flight to where you sit. This is appreciated and not often seen in the bustling craft brewery business.
On each occasion there was a decent crowd. It is nice to see a crowd at a new brewery and there was live music on all three occasions of my visit – two being on a Sunday, one a Friday evening. Marker 48 does seem to go out of their way to have events to make your visit special. I have seen their Facebook posts and events are a constant, especially on the weekends.
So what about the beer? After all …it is about the beer. You will not be disappointed there either. As an “IPA Guy” I tried their Pine Island (6.9%) on my first visit. Good solid IPA. It is not aggressively hoppy, but still has a nice flavor and you can taste the hops and malt as you should be able to. I am quite fond of the seasonal Pumpkin Ale (6.9%) Aunt TT’s, but then I am a fan of pumpkin beer when available. Smooth pumpkin flavor, but genuine not contrived as many pumpkin beers can be. The Mermaids Milk (6%) is a pleasant sweet milk stout that gives a nice roasted flavor and is well balanced but not too sweet, very drinkable. My fiancée agreed to accompany me on this last visit ( which is a big thing because she doesn’t drink beer and doesn’t quite get the “craft beer thing”). She tasted the Gulf Coast Blond and liked it so much she had a second. I too was fond of this tasty blond ale which finishes crisp and refreshing. So much beer so little time.
Visit this brewery for the atmosphere, but stay for the beer. You will be back for more! Marker 48 is closed Monday and Tuesday open 12- 10 Wednesday and Thursday 12-12 Friday and Saturday and 12 – 8:30 on Sunday. Tours are available on weekends. It is the first full production craft brewery in Hernando County, FL. They can be found on Facebook @marker48 Marker 48 was chosen by Beer Advocate in the 2015 list of 33 best new Breweries