A brief trip to south Florida meant another chance to find some craft beer in an area I hadn’t explored much of, despite my Florida roots. My exploration brought me to Point Ybel Brewing Company in Ft. Myers, Florida, a microbrewery that has been creating unique beers in the south Florida area since 2012. With a name that pays homage to the original Spanish explorers of the area, the tap room itself it quintessential south Florida of today. Grab a beer, sit back, relax, and listen as I get to the point of this Ft. Myers gem.
- Beer – Though they claim to specialize in pale ales and IPAs, I think they deserve credit for providing lots of different options to drink, with a surprising number of sours and wild ales on tap. As for the quality, I would call it better than average. Utilizing a wide variety of hops and barrel aging they have created some well balanced and unique beers with clever names. My favorite was a tie between their American IPA and one of their saisons, thought I was pleasantly surprised by all of them. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – From the outside you wouldn’t know this was a brewery save for the sign. Step inside and there is no mistake. The tap room is small and heavily decorated in wood with walls a nice aquamarine, giving you the sense of being in an old three-mast schooner and looking up to see if that ship on the horizon is flying the Jolly Roger. A nautical, or maybe sea-life is more accurate, theme permeates the room with several paintings and carvings of various underwater denizens scattered throughout. The tasting room is divided into the seating area, with several tables and a large bar, and an area in the back that serves as a stage from live music. While they do not serve food, there was a food truck parked outside serving some damn good food, and it seems they have one or two there most Friday and Saturday nights. Compared to the west coast, their prices are shockingly lower, with a flight of beers costing me only $8. Your day can begin fairly early as they open in the early afternoon and remain open until late most days, giving you plenty of time to enjoy some beers and catch some live music. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance – If you have ever been to south Florida, you understand when I say that life moves just a little bit slower down there and everything feels just a bit more relaxed. That mindset is exactly what Point Ybel captures, creating a space to relax and hang out with friends while drinking good beer. A few televisions adorn the walls, providing a great spot to watch the all-important college football. Live music appears to be a regular occurrence here and makes perfect sense given the stage set up in the back. Weekly trivia and sporadic beer releases round out the well-rounded extra-curriculars at Point Ybel, enough to make this a regular in my rotation if I lived in the area. Score: 4/5
- Location – Having grown up in Florida, I say this with relative confidence: most of south Florida is one giant subdivision broken up by small shopping areas and swamps. It is in one of those shopping areas you find Point Ybel, tucked back from the road, partially hidden by the ubiquitous palm tree, and relatively invisible unless you are looking for it. Once found, you should have no issues with parking any time of day. The area is not what I would consider bike or walking friendly, so make sure to bring a designated driver or other plan to get home. A handful of other restaurants and bars are scattered in the immediate area should the food truck not be your thing, or you could wander down to the greatest grocery store ever, Publix, which is just down the street and has phenomenal sub sandwiches. While you are in the area, be sure to hop over to Sanibel Island to learn some of the history of the area, take a tour around the wildlife sanctuary, and check out the lighthouse on the original Point Ybel. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – I’m not certain if the guy behind the counter was the owner, but regardless he was one of the nicest fellows I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with. From giving me an extra taster glass of beer that he wanted me to try to passing around some free samples from the food truck (one of the best Cuban sandwiches I’ve ever eaten by the way), I thought the customer service here was top notch. Despite being the only person behind the bar for most of my visit, he kept things moving, served everyone quickly and accurately, and always had a smile on his face and some friendly words to pass along. Score: 4.5/5
Total Score: 18/25
Final Thoughts: This is a hidden gym of the craft beer scene in south Florida, combining well-crafted beers and excellent customer service to create a beer oasis. I would highly recommend making this a must stop spot if you are ever in the area.