A Saunter to Inoculum
A cool spring breeze ran through the air as we made our way to Inoculum. Walking through downtown St. Petersburg is always a joy.
We started the day visiting a few local breweries having been amazed at the emptiness for a Saturday evening. Live art shows, music, and beer release parties were not enough to fill even a few chairs. Once again, I began to wonder where is everyone?
There are some amazing things happening with the local beer scene and nobody is there to share it with me and my wife. We journey from place to place contemplating the reasons. Even in small communities with a local stop, the neighborhood seems distant.
Scrolling through the phone, wondering where the action could be, we went to reliable St. Pete. I stumbled across a little place called Inoculum Ale Works. The name instantly grabbed my attention with curiosity.
I could not believe this place was practically next door to St. Pete Brewing. I frequented that locale on many occasions and yet had never heard of Inoculum.
We arrive in downtown St. Pete and instantly feel as if we arrived to another country. While so many places seem empty on this day, St. Pete is thriving. Restaurants are full, public parking is non-existent, and there is an energy that fills the air.
Our stroll requires a walk through a couple blocks due to parking. As we go we are greeted with the smells of Greek food, psychedelic tea shops, and liquid courage.
The walls of buildings covered in murals and artwork. In, fact artwork covers just about every aspect of real estate. Which for some this can seem dirty or lower the towns appeal. Although, it adds a unique touch to St. Pete.
Inoculum for Inoculation
Walking down 1st Ave, you will inevitably pass by a small sign that says, “all sour beer here.” Sure enough you have arrived at Inoculum.
Walking in was almost like going through a time machine. The menu is displayed on the wall by means of an old school projector. And not the fancy kind, this was the one from grade school.
The front entry has some nice chairs and a couch to sit back and relax. Plenty of books on display for your reading pleasure. Walk past the book shelf and you are greeted by a nice long bar and feel like you are in an industrial building.
As a whole while it may appear kind of thrown together with comfy chairs that don’t match, the bookshelf in the middle of the room, and the dark colors. However, it is quite the opposite. The feel inside is cozy and energetic.
I felt like this was a place I could just come in and feel at home any time.
They serve Beer
It is unfortunate but that is all they serve. No cider, mead, wine, or anything that is not beer. If you come here you come for the beer and stay for the beer.
Sadly, if anyone in your group can’t drink beer they only have water to wet their whistle. This is an unfortunate issue in many breweries tap rooms. Even one option opens the way for more people to at least walk in and give you a shot. This goes back to our original conversation of where is everybody. Too often there is not enough options to invite more people in.
If you are there for the beer though, they make some interesting stuff. They do sours only so you won’t find your A-typical stouts, IPA’s, Imperial Porters, or Pilsners.
Instead what you will find is plenty of Gose, Berliner Weisse, and Oud Bruin style beers. All of them are made with at least two species of Lactobicillus, and one strain of Saccharomyces. With an occasional inclusion of Brettanomyces but not common due to intense character. Then all beers are are aged in steel or oak for 6 months to 2 years.
After discussing the options with the beertender I ended up going for Aether Plus a Strawberry Popsicle Berliner.
It was very well balanced and had a sophistication to it. It was buttery with fresh strawberry flavors, and not over the top on sourness. The sour and funk was just right as in, you knew it was there but was not in your face.
Based on the recommendation of fellow beer drinker sitting at the bar, I went for a small pour of Spectrally Macabre. This Black Watermelon Gose was unique and extraordinary. Had all of your typical bitter coffee and tobacco flavors of a stout, but with a hint of sour pucker. At first I was not getting the watermelon but when I closed my eyes, and allowed my mouth to do the thinking the watermelon came through strong.
Interestingly, I typically hate watermelon in beer. I cringe every time I see a watermelon wheat beer hit the market. Makes me think of those nasty sour candies that get left in the car on a hot summer day and make everything sticky.
This was a good beer though and changed my perception to melon in beer. Perfectly balanced with sour and smooth.
Inoculum Ale Works is a neat place in among many great breweries. Probably the best part is they are unique to the area as well. There are plenty of downtown St. Pete places to get an IPA, yet Inoculum does sour and that’s it. It’s a statement place to be unique from the crowd. Even if you are not a sour fan, they have good options that are not overly sour and fit the bill for most any beer drinker.
We really enjoyed our time there and hope to be back again.