There was a point in time where St. Petersburg, Florida was known as “The City of Green Benches.” The first benches began lining the streets around 1908. Eventually thousands of benches could be found around the city making them a symbol of St. Pete’s welcoming vibe. By 1969 the iconic benches were retired, but the hospitality of the city remains. The first brewery in the area opened in September of 2013 and is a direct reflection of the image of the green bench. Green Bench Brewing, located at 1133 Baum Avenue North, Downtown St. Pete, brings people together everyday – just like the benches once did.
Tap Room Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
When Nathan Stonecipher, who was born and raised in St. Pete, graduated college, he purchased a silly book on how to start a brewery. He found the entire idea intriguing and began brewing from home. Quickly realizing that he needed the right team of people around him to properly open up a brewery, he teamed up with Steven Duffy and head brewer Khris Johnson.
It took the team about two years to officially open the doors to Green Bench Brewing (the city had to change the zoning laws for the first microbrewery and that alone was a six month process).
Aside from being the first craft microbrewery in Downtown St. Pete, affectionately called DTSP, what makes Green Bench Brewing Co. different than the other breweries in town? Number one is the type of beer the team produces. They focus on quality over quantity and Stonecipher laughed as he said they probably do “too much lab work.” Besides the extensive lab work and taste tests, Green Bench Brewing also uses Oak Foeders in their brewing process. Foeders allow the beer to mature at a slower rate, which leads to less acidification before the beer is fully developed. The first gold medal that they received was for a beer brewed with the oak fermentation process and they are the only brewery in the Southeast United States that uses Oak Foeders!
If you are not sure what to order when you visit, the team radiates world-class service. According to one of the owners, Nathan Stonecipher,
“We try to welcome beer geeks and as well as novice beer drinkers who may not know much. The job of our staff here is to educate them on what they’re drinking and why it tastes that way.”
The crowd favorite changes overtime, but right now the Sunshine City IPA is by far one of their best sellers. It is a tropical hoppy beer that is less bitter with more aroma. Stonecipher’s current go-to brew is the Les Grisettes. It is an old school Belgian style table beer that is both refreshing and complex at the same time. (I am not a huge beer drinker, but he sent me home with a bottle of the Les Grisettes and I fell in love with the delicious taste – it’s well worth trying this beer when you visit Green Bench).
The craft beer created comes first, but Green Bench also helps with community connection. Their Tap Room and Beer Garden has become a favorite place in Downtown St. Pete where folks can meet and hang out. When I first opened the gate to the garden, I immediately felt relaxed and as if it were an extension to my own backyard, with green grass and communal tables for people to get together for a good time. They are dog-friendly and kid-friendly and the owners love how comfortable people feel at Green Bench!
With numerous weekly events held at the brewery, Green Bench is a popular meeting place within the community. You can find the Indie Market here along with the Craft Film Festival and many other larger events. If you are looking for a venue for a memorable occasion, they also accommodate private parties in the actual brewery, Tap Room and Beer Garden.
“I am most proud of the beer we are making right now,” Stonecipher said as he reflected on the growth of Green Bench. “It’s really envelope pushing. We do things the hard way and I love it… and it continues to get better! We weren’t in this to make subpar beer, we are here to make high quality beer.”
Green Bench Brewing is undoubtedly a 5-star place to visit in Downtown St. Pete. To find out more amazing places to visit, wonderful things to do in DTSP and more unique personalities to meet (did you know that Nathan’s wife, Sara, owns MISRED – a fabulous boutique on Central Avenue?) in DTSP, create a profile on DowntownStPete.com! We only feature the best of the best; and you can also interact with other cool people who work, live or play in the area. Post a picture of you and your friends having a good time at Green Bench Brewing onto Downtown Now, and share with our members.