Make us your home page
Instagram

Bar review: Beer, beer, beer at the Wheelhouse

At the Wheelhouse in St. Pete, flights arrive on a tiny skateboard.

Justin Grant/special to tbt*

At the Wheelhouse in St. Pete, flights arrive on a tiny skateboard.

You could say that beer bars are in my wheelhouse. Especially ones that are a little off the beaten path, and even more so ones that offer an eclectic selection. By that, I don't just mean varied, I mean a selection with a handful of picks that you absolutely wouldn't expect to find at a typical 41-tap beer bar.

The Wheelhouse in St. Petersburg falls in this territory, offering a quirky beer list to match its quirky decor. There's a roller derby skater painted on the front window, and the interior is decked out — pun intended — in boldly colored skateboards covering the walls.

Order a beer flight (five 4-ounce pours for $10), and it rolls up to your spot at the bar in the form of a tiny skateboard with holes cut into it for the taster glasses. Don't worry, there's also a longboard option with spaces for 20 tasters if you're especially thirsty.

I was too busy perusing the 40 beers on tap — No. 41 is a house sangria — to notice the obvious play on words in the name. In fact, it didn't even occur to me until I sat down to write this review. That's got to be a good thing: I was too busy enjoying quality brews and chatting with the bartender to put much thought into the overt theme.

Having a bunch of taps is the norm with beer bars these days, but the Wheelhouse has a few wildcard options that I wouldn't have expected. For example, there are $3 pints of Rolling Rock, which is fairly uncommon to find on draft at any bar, as well as Asahi Super Dry, which I don't believe I've seen on draft outside of Japan. Sure, these selections are more geared toward the macro crowd, but this is much more interesting than just having bottles of Miller Lite in the cooler.

Then there are beers that are less surprising at a craft beer bar but still welcome sights, like North Coast's phenomenal Old Rasputin on nitro, or Dogfish Head's refreshing spin on a gose, Sea Quench. Naturally, there are some local options from various breweries like Two Henrys and Cycle, as well as options from other Florida breweries, like Hourglass and Orange Blossom.

Tap takeovers and pint nights bring in some more interesting picks — Wheelhouse has what I'm guessing must be the last remaining keg of Green Bench's delicious cacao-and-vanilla Integrated blonde ale — with breweries like Lagunitas and Bells sending out some limited-release stuff that's well worth stopping in for (I'm looking at you, Black Note stout).

And for the finishing touches, Wheelhouse has a beer infuser pumping out one-offs, like the current offering of Magic Hat #9 infused with toasted coconut, dried apricots and homemade salted caramel.

It's good that Wheelhouse offers a little something different, considering its somewhat out-of-the-way location. Not quite Tyrone, not quite Treasure Island; this space has been home to two other beer bars in the span of time that I've been writing Barfly. Westy Grille and Pub and Britannia Arms were solid beer bars, but Wheelhouse may have the right formula to stick around.

Part of that is the dual emphasis on food and beer. The Wheelhouse is an unpretentious eatery with a focused menu — shared plates, salads, pizzas and sandwiches — that's served late, generally until 10 p.m. or later, depending on the night. There are a lot of folks in the surrounding areas to enjoy a solid beer list and some simple eats.

For those neighborhood folks, Wheelhouse offers the comprehensive beer bar experience without having to head downtown. There's a definite westward spread along Central Avenue when it comes to downtown hot spots, but I think it'll take a while to reach past Pasadena.

That said, I'm optimistic about the Wheelhouse's future. It's not reinventing the wheel (sorry), but it has enough cool features and small surprises to inspire repeat business. Heck, I'll be back, and not just for the Asahi, either.

Contact Justin Grant at jg@saintbeat.com. Follow @WordsWithJG.

beer and more beer

The Wheelhouse

7220 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 623-0589; thewheelhousestpete.com

The vibe: A colorful, casual gastropub with a huge beer selection.

Food: Shared plates, $6 to $8.50; entrees, $6 to $11.

Booze: Beer and wine. Beer, $3 to $7; wine, $6. Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, featuring $1 off select drafts and sangria, as well as $4 house wines.

Specialty: Take a look at the 41 taps: 40 are beer or cider, and the remaining one is a kegged version of the house sangria (Rachael's Not So Famous Sangria). The Wheelhouse crew likes to keep the draft list fresh, so expect to see options that few other places in town have, whether it's limited Bells or Lagunitas brews as part of a promotional pint night, or beers that you simply don't see on draft often. A Randall beer infuser connected to one of the taps expands the range even further.

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight daily.

Bar review: Beer, beer, beer at the Wheelhouse 08/24/17 [Last modified: Thursday, August 24, 2017 3:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2018 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Brooksville Raid returns with full slate of Civil War-era events

    Events

    SPRING HILL — History calls it a "skirmish" that included 240 Union soldiers who pillaged through Hernando County in July 1864, destroying farmland and homes. An advanced guard of 10 men overcame the Confederates, capturing seven "home guard" men and nine horses. A brief fight led to the slight wounding of a Union …

  2. Local craft beer of the week: Electric Wizard IPA from 7venth Sun Brewery

    Bars & Spirits

    The past six months have been kind to Dunedin's 7venth Sun Brewery. In August, the brewery's long-awaited Tampa expansion finally happened, with its much larger Seminole Heights facility and tasting room opening in a town eager to try its range of ultra-fresh IPAs and exotic, foeder-fermented brews.

  3. Bar review: Florida spirits and brews at the newest Local Draught House in Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    I don't consider myself "old" — though I have gotten into a bad habit of informing door people insistent on checking my ID that I'm halfway to 70. But I'm frequently made aware of how far removed my lifestyle is from that of my 20s.

  4. Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Jan. 19

    Events

    Festivals

    Florida Agriculture and Wildlife Expo and Rodeo: The three-day event will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Jan. 19, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 20 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Airport, 2495 Broad St., south of Brooksville. Features the 2018 Brooksville Rodeo with the Professional …

  5. Inside American Stage's plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG

    An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated the set of A Raisin in the Sun, opening Jan. 26 at American …