Though the staff at The Brass Tap take beer very seriously, they've nevertheless turned drinking it into a game. Customers get a single point for each of the pub's 300 craft beers that they try. At certain milestones, they'll receive gift cards or a t-shirt with a new title, all the way from rookie to beer guru?and, if they conquer the challenge three times, they can win the coveted Repeat Offender 900 shirt.
Thankfully, the bar makes it easy to sort through its 300 beers. The menu is divided up into different beer types, which go deeper than the basic delineation of ale vs. lager vs. water that's been dyed amber. Guests can peruse listings of bottled barleywines and porters, or have a resident beer aficionado fill their mug with an imported brew on draft. Beer even permeates the food: the chipotle mustard on the house-baked pretzels is made with pale ale, just as the cheese dip is made with Samuel Adams. All of the burgers, sandwiches, and pretzel pizzas also have recommended drink pairings.
As for entertainment, each Brass Tap books a variety of local bands throughout the week. Trivia, bingo, and happy hours find regular spots on the schedule, and some locations have outdoor patios and cigars for purchase.
At Koozie's Sports Pub, the clack of pool balls commingles with the clink of beer mugs and the laughter of friends and neighbors. Guests sip on domestic and imported beers and snack on loaded fries or nachos before digging into entrees main dishes of Cuban sandwiches, burgers, wings, or Friday-night fish fries. Throughout the week, the bar hosts entertainments such as karaoke, pool tournaments, or TV broadcasts of Miami sports games' thrilling commercials.
It's not exactly 100 bottles of beer on the wall?in fact, it's more than three times that. Sourced from locations scattered across the globe, The Brass Tap boasts more than 40 brews on tap and hundreds upon hundreds of bottled craft beers. The selection ranges from Chimay Cinq Cents Tripel, a Belgian White imported straight from Baileux, to local brews like Cigar City's citrusy Jai Alai IPA. The drinks pair nicely with the down-home decor and toe-tapping lineup of musical acts, as well as the menu of premium cigars, sourced from places like Nicaragua, the Dominican, and Milton Berle's old sport coats.
While House of Brews prides itself on its beer selection, it also features a hearty, upscale food menu. Find yourself appetized after polishing off a plate of drunken cheesy bread topped with tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives, and blue-cheese crumbles ($8.99). Move on to a fresh salad ($3.99–$7.99, add chicken for $2) or one of the friendly sandwiches ($4.99–$9.99), such as mom’s homemade chicken salad on multi-grain bread with melty provolone ($8.99). On tap, the House of Brews collection includes familiar domestics such as Miller Lite ($3) and Blue Moon ($5), as well as some more adventurous varieties, such as Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale ($5) and heavier brews including Bell’s Two Hearted Ale ($7). The bottled beer assortment features 50 different domestics, microbrews, and imports, including the mighty 9.5% ABV Victory Golden Monkey ($6.50).
Where there's smoke, there's a fiery Groupon. Fill your lungs with one night of unlimited fruity deliciousness at the plush and swanky Meridian Hookah Lounge (a $12 value). Meridian is an intimate and relaxing lounge that's open until 3 a.m. and has live music several nights a week.
The independent Evolution stimulates the Lakeland scene by selling an eclectic selection of both mainstream and underground music while providing an intimate venue for local and touring musicians to present their craft. Evolution's stock consists of T-shirts ($10+), CDs and vinyl records ($1+), and posters for music fans to coat their empty walls with artist admiration. Peruse Evolution's thousands of vinyls, from timeless classics, including The Beatles and AC/DC, to exciting new artists (though Bob Dole's ambient-metal album is currently sold out). Evolution hosts shows nearly every weekend, featuring artists advancing the cause of rock, hip-hop, folk, and more.