Let me put this right out there. I am not a beer drinker. Never liked the stuff, tried quite a few, supposedly “great” beers and they all taste like dirty sock water to me.
Besides, I’ve got enough of a gut without adding a beer belly on top of it. So, I’m not here to rate the beers available at Holy Mackerel brewing company, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by Old Florida Seafood House. I will tell you that my beer drinking friends were impressed by the breadth of the menu and really enjoyed what they tasted. They enjoyed it so much that two non-drinkers in the crowd ended up driving the car home.
To give you an idea of what the brew selection is like, the menu identifies the beers as malty, hoppy, dark and specialty. There’s a wide variety to sample. Among the brew options under the “malty” category are Holy Mackerel’s Panic Attack, a strong, golden, Belgian ale, and its Special Golden Ale. The “hoppy” section includes Holy Mackerel’s Pink Froyd Rosé IPA and Luau Krunkles IPA from Terrapin Beer in Athens, Georgia. Light beers include Tarpon River Brewing’s Good As Gold lager and Wizard Witbier from Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton. Dark beers are represented Holy Mackerel’s Shoc-A-Lot bock and Liquid Bliss porter from Terrapin which offers hints of chocolate and peanut butter (still not enough to make me like beer) and a Caffè Americano stout from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. A specialty brew, which I may try on my next visit, is Holy Mackerel’s Rabbit Hole cider.
My area of expertise is the restaurant aspect of the business and on that I can report from first-hand experience. They’ve kept the campy mural from the bar area of Old Florida Seafood House, but the rest of the décor looks like what you might expect a bunch of straight guys to decorate a place to look like. Let’s say it recalls all the basement rec rooms we hung out in as teenagers. That’s not a complaint, it has a nice nostalgic feeling. Adding to the atmosphere are all the board games from our youth, Candyland, Operation, Battleship, checkers, Connect Four.
If you’ve got a large party, try the giant pretzel as an appetizer. The $14 behemoth weighs in at more than a pound and a half and comes with tangy mustard and warm beer-cheese dipping sauces. It’s easily enough for 6-8 to share.
Other appetizer selections include onion rings, loaded potato skins and fries, and smoked chicken wings. The main menu showcases BBQ comfort food taken to a new level. Meats can be ordered individually (brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork, spareribs, chicken and sausage) or in combos, all served with a choice of two sides and cornbread. All were perfectly prepared and offered plentiful portions (the beef rib is almost like a steak on a stick).
Side dishes, including mac and cheese, brussels sprouts (served with or without bacon), baked beans, cole slaw, fries and corn on the cob were uniformly excellent (although the corn on the cob could have been hotter). The only disappointment were the little cornbread discs. I don’t think I’ve ever said this about corn bread before, but they were too moist, it was almost like eating a spoonful of creamed corn.
For those that prefer something a little less filling (just a littleless) there’s a pork sundae and a variety of sandwich options featuring BBQ meats solo or in combos.
If you’ve got room for dessert, the Swear Jar is a mason jar filled with brownie pieces, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream and whipped cream. The peach cobbler was fine, but not something I would order again.