When we initially hit the road we had visions of beautiful scenery, beer, and beaches in our heads. While we have had plenty of beautiful scenery and beer over the last several months we were missing the beaches. With Florida in our sites we were excited for a little sand time and sure enough our first stop was in Pensacola.
Pensacola is a coastal city in the panhandle of Florida. We were able to find a national park with RV camping on Santa Rosa Island which was just a short bridge ride off of the main land where we spent a couple days working, playing and enjoying the beautiful white sandy beaches.
After a few days in the park we were anxious to explore the local beer scene… hoping there was one. I was a little surprised to learn Pensacola has two breweries and an excellent beer bar, Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen and Taproom. Fortunately a visit to one brewery netted us a serendipitous experience at the other one.
We started at Pensacola Bay Brewery located in Historic Pensacola Village in what we thought would be our last day in the area. PBBrew is a small brewery with a tasting room that has sample tastings when you purchase a PBB Pint Glass. Kegs and Half-Kegs, 1 Gallon Growlers, and 32 oz Bombers are also available to-go.
Similar to the strategy Texas breweries employ to serve beer in their tasting rooms you are not actually buying beer at the tasting room, rather a glass which is filled with a “free” sample. However you technically need to buy a new glass with each beer you drink which can create a rather heavy load if you enjoy several pints. Luckily they will let you donate your glass back to the brewery for a discount on your tab. Schwing! Glass in Stanley is no fun, and we’ve tried to give them away in the past but not many people seemed to want them!
We decided to go the sampler route with our glass purchase. Maria was still in throws of a wicked cold and couldn’t taste any of the beers so for the good of the team I drank all of them (life is rough, right?). While I was working on a nice buzz we chatted it up with Lauren, the bartender, and learned of an event that would keep us in town for one more day.
The Pensacola St. Patrick’s Day 5k prediction run is put on by McGuire’s Irish Pub and Brewery for the last 34 years. Oddly enough we had visited the brewery several days earlier and did not hear one mention of the event which is pretty amazing consider it attracts nearly 15,000 participants and closes down a good section of the city for several hours. The run is so big that by the time the last people are crossing the starting line the first runners are making their final turn to the finish!
The run is not so much a competition as it is a big party. Costumes are encouraged and the winners are determined not by shortest time to completion but by who comes closest to the time predicted on their registration form. We could hear music and cheering a from a mile away several hours before the race started. Luckily we thought ahead and parked a few blocks from the brewery the night before, because parking was crazy Saturday morning. Little did we know, we ended up parking on the race route!The actual race is just a precursor to the party though, the next two hours are filled with food, drinks, and music for paying participants. McGuire’s provided their signature beer the Irish Red and also served Irish Wakes which are a concoction of three kinds of Bacardi rum, Blue Curacao liquor and freshly squeezed Florida orange juice. Just the thing to whet your whistle after a 3.1 mile run.
The actual restaurant part of McGuire’s is filled with over 1,000,000 dollar bills and is a very big building, full of things to look at all over the walls. They have very old looking bars and big grand rooms that look like they are full of history, if not a many, many stories of debauchery. When you go, make sure you take time to walk through it all and stop to read some of the articles on the wall. None of the beers blew us away but the food was quite tasty and the run was just the fun we needed to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day away from all our friends!