With its large, airy space, including two levels inside and plenty of open-air seating outside, Vero Beach’s former diesel power plant is a great setting for enjoying craft brews and delicious food.
“We’re always going to have the staples: the IPAs, the lagers, and the ales,” says manager Adam Hernandez. “But we do see a lot of people who want to go for more adventurous beers.”
Power Plant, an American-style amber lager, is a popular traditional choice, as is Freedom Torch, a milk stout. Among the more exotic offerings is Florida Heat sour ale, made with Fresno peppers and blood oranges. It uses a milder pepper than is typical in a spicy beer, giving it a nice hot flavor, but without the burn. Two other sour beers of note are Strawberry Shortcake, a recent gold-medal winner in Florida, and Rainbow Sherbet. Those might sound as if they would be cloying, but I tasted the latter and was pleasantly surprised by its restrained flavors.
Of all of the county’s breweries, American Icon has the most complete food menu. It offers burgers and other handhelds, stone pizzas, and salads, as well as a nice array of appetizers, such as pub wings, buffalo cauliflower, and coconut shrimp.
“We just won best burger in Indian River County,” Hernandez says. “And almost everything on our menu is made in-house.”
Tuesday night is trivia night, an event held at other breweries as well, and the weekend features an ever-changing lineup of live bands. (1133 19th Place, Vero Beach)
Pareidolia Brewing Company is the kind of place where everybody knows your name. “People who have never been here,” says co-owner Pete Anderson, “walk in and say, ‘I don’t know what it is about this place, but I love it.’” The smiling-beer-barrel logo behind the bar does a good job of capturing that friendly vibe; people are here to enjoy a good beer, some hearty pub grub, and one another’s company. At any one moment, there might be a band playing, a wedding or a child’s birthday party going on, or Vero Cycling members gathering for a monthly “Beer and Dog Ride.”
Anderson and his co-owner and wife, Lynn, opened Pareidolia in 2014, making it the county’s longest-operating brewery. “32958 is still our best-selling beer, a New England hazy IPA,” Anderson says. “Everybody here calls it ‘Zip Code,’ because that’s our zip code and this building used to be the post office.” The second-most popular choice is Mel’s Gold, a refreshing, golden-hued ale that drinks like a lager.
Two other notable options, when they’re on tap, are Dubbeldolia, a Belgian strong ale that won a Florida bronze medal, and Hop Crop, a cream ale that uses 100 percent locally grown hops.
Pareidolia has a front porch with seating and umbrellas, and on the side is the Sunset Stage, a wooden deck for live entertainment. The construction of the stage was entirely crowdfunded. (712 Cleveland St., Sebastian)
Walking Tree’s building was originally an aviation supply warehouse, built in 1945 by the U.S. Navy. When renovating it, manager Brooke Malone says, “We purposely designed it to be very, very casual—a little bit gritty and raw.” The combination of high ceilings, exposed wood timbers, and two fully opened roll-up doors creates a cool space for kicking back.
“It’s not uncommon to see your grandma and grandpa in here right next to a family with kids,” Malone says. It’s also a popular destination for 20- and 30-somethings. “We have a broad scope,” she says. And with no table service, you’re free to do whatever you like: get a beer from the bar, order from a food truck outside, or just chill out.
“Our Walking Tree IPA has kind of that mid-zone flavor profile,” Malone says. “It’s not too hoppy, but just enough that people enjoy it. It’s on the shelf at Publix, and we move
a lot of it.” Another top choice is the Babycakes Oatmeal Stout, a national gold-medal winner. “My husband named it for me,” Malone says. “I’m Babycakes.” Her husband, Mike, is Walking Tree’s head brewer.
For something different, Malone suggests Barnacled Manatee Barleywine, a strong beer with a hint of dark fruit to it. “Between the barley wine and our sour beer,” Malone says. “I can win over a non-beer drinker about half the time.”
There’s always something going on at Walking Tree, including the brewery’s sixth-anniversary party July 16. (3209 Dodger Road, Vero Beach)
Walk into Mash Monkeys and you’ll likely be greeted with a welcoming nod from one of the regulars and a friendly hello from the brewpub’s do-everything manager, Angela Tuinman. A sweeping L-shaped bar is the central feature of the space, with 10 to 14 brews typically on tap, notably lagers and IPAs. There’s also a free pool table, unique among the county’s breweries.
“One of the reasons our lagers are so popular,” says co-founder Derek Gerry, “is because we have a large blue-collar demographic in town, and that’s what they gravitate towards.” Revenge Schwarzbier, a Florida bronze-medal winner, and The Old Man’s Vienna Lager are two favorites. Extra Pazza is a popular double IPA.
Although there’s no kitchen, food trucks usually show up on weekends. In addition, DoughBoyz Pizza is located right across the parking lot, and it, along with other nearby restaurants, will deliver right to your barstool. There are also several indoor tables and a few places to sit outside. Weekends often include live music.
Since Mash Monkeys doesn’t distribute its products, Patrick Kirchner, the other co-founder, says, “We can do a lot of experimental things without worrying about high volume.” For the past two years, Mash Monkeys has also served its quaffs at the Schacht Groves farm-to-table dinners in Vero Beach. (920 U.S. Hwy. 1, Sebastian)
Sailfish Brewing, headquartered in Fort Pierce, opened a small brewpub in Vero Beach just over a year ago. “This is our first satellite location,” says Tori Boyd, the taproom manager. “And we wanted to bridge the gap between a restaurant with good food and also have that brewery feel, so it feels kind of like home.” The space is intimate and relaxing, split equally between an indoor bar and table area and a covered patio with tables and two fire pits.
“We try to use as many local ingredients as we can,” Boyd says. One example is Don’t Poke the Bear, an imperial honey blonde ale. It has a definite orange-blossom honey taste to it, but in a refined way that’s subtly sweet and very drinkable.
Another notable brew is the South Florida PGA Pale Ale. “We partnered with the PGA, and we’re their official beer for South Florida,” Boyd says. That beverage, which debuted at the Honda Classic back in February, is available in takeout six-packs.
The food menu features a nice array of small plates, flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads. “It’s casual,” Boyd explains, “but a little elevated.” Boyd has also put together a nice wine list, leaning on the expertise she gained while working at Cobalt.
Sailfish hosts live entertainment on weekend afternoons, rents out part of its space for special events, and has recently introduced a once-a-month oyster night using farmed oysters from Sebastian. (2855 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach)
Alden and Valerie Bing opened Orchid Island Brewery in Vero Beach in 2014, the first craft brewery in the county. However, having outgrown their location on Ocean Drive, and with the pandemic and government shutdowns complicating matters, they closed the brewpub to the public in 2020. That space is now home to Sailfish Brewing.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Alden Bing says. “It created an opportunity to pursue the former Hogan & Sons packinghouse.” That 3-acre site is located just north of 27th Street next to U.S. 1 in Vero Beach. “While the public can’t visit the new location yet,” he says, “Orchid Island’s Star Ruby Double India Pale Ale and Indian River Grapefruit India Pale Ale can be found locally.” (2745 St. Lucie Ave., Vero Beach)