American craft beer began decades ago as a small-time countercultural hobby, a poke in the eye to a beer culture dominated by watered-down, indistinguishable macro-brews, but all that has changed. America is now home to 6,300 breweries, 13 percent of which are small, independent brands producing 25.4 million barrels of beer a year worth $26 billion.

And while nationwide growth in the craft beer world has slowed, Sarasota and Manatee counties are seeing an explosion of interest. The number of breweries here has swelled to 11 since the first full-production operation opened in 2013, and an entire ecosystem of enthusiasts, clubs and restaurant beer-and-food pairings has grown up around it. Want to check out the scene? Hop to it.

In This Feature:

Our Craft Beer Scene Has Never Been Hotter

With 11 breweries, an active homebrewers club and thousands of beer fanatics, our region’s craft beer scene has never been better. Here's what's on tap.

05/30/2018 By Cooper Levey-Baker

The Beer-Obsessed Create Their Own Brews

The Homebrewers Association of Manatee & Sarasota boasts a thriving membership.

05/30/2018 By Cooper Levey-Baker

In Defense of Cheap Beer

I’m a fan, and not just because of the price.

05/30/2018 By Isaac Eger

Are Women Welcome in the Craft Beer World?

While 29 percent of employees in American breweries are women, just 4 percent of active breweries have a female brewmaster, according to one survey.

05/30/2018 By Cooper Levey-Baker