What's up, Joey? Craft beer brewery opens in Bradenton

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- We definitely saw our fair share of new local restaurants and businesses opening this season. This weekend, we saw a local restaurateur open a new spot in the heart of Bradenton. The specialty of the house? Home-brewed beer.

When I think about beer trends, I don’t have to look too far back in pop culture to remember when your choices of brews were limited to a few bottle selections and a couple draughts.

Beer was a working class man’s drink, or so was the stereotype.

In the last decade or so, beer has started to come into its own, and in the last few years local breweries popping up in different cities across the country.

The idea of beer as a culinary item is evidenced in the recent trend in beer dinners. Multiple courses are paired with a different brew selection.

Restaurant and brewery owner Darwin Santa Maria has hosted his share of beer pairing dinners.

“You have good food and good beer, and mixing the two things together, you just make magic with it,” says Santa Maria, who recently opened a Darwin Brewing Company in Bradenton. “As a chef and brewer, I just love mixing those two things together, coming up with a great craft beer and coming up with great food.”

Gone are the days when bartenders warn you of the dangers of mixing beer and liquor. More and more restaurants are filling their menus with beer cocktails.

This new appreciation for craft beer also satisfies another trend among foodies.

“There’s been a movement toward locally-sourced foods,” says food blogger Jack Littman-Quinn. “You see it with produce. You see it with restaurants doing locally-sourced. And beer is one of those things that you can do locally-sourced. We have four breweries here in Sarasota that are making their own brews. They’ve got their own flavors. It complements the food that restaurants might be serving. They’re distributing it locally. They’ve got their own interesting local names that bring in a connection to the community.”

Regardless the reason, beer is coming into its own these days. And some may argue that we’re a little behind.

After all, it was Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, who said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

I’ll drink to that.

Now at Darwin’s new brewery, he isn’t serving food in-house just yet, but there is always a specialty food truck parked in front so you don’t have to enjoy on an empty stomach.

If you see any new trends or hot spots around town, send a photo to pix@mysuncoast.com.