Pilsner, Stout, Porter and everything in between, Lakeland Beer Rev has a brew for even the pickiest craft beer aficionado. We sat down with owner Mike Dodge to talk Lakeland’s favorite craft beers, tasty pub cuisine, and video games.
Mike, a lifelong Lakeland resident was a school teacher for 11 years, teaching science and physical education. “I’ve always wanted to own my own business,” said Mike, “and I looked at a lot of different ideas over a decade. I fell in love with craft beer.”
Any time he and his wife and Beer Rev co-owner Deborah would travel somewhere, they noticed the ever-growing craft beer industry. They saw the young market in Lakeland and seized the opportunity to expand it.
The Lakeland Beer Rev started in another location as a package store with only a tiny bar. They were in that space for three years before moving to their current Florida Avenue location last year.
“My original vision was just to have a package store,” Mike explained. But, the people of Lakeland seemed unhappy with the craft beer bar scene, so he responded by opening his new space which allowed the Beer Rev to double the amount of taps they have, add a full bar, and grow seating from around 13 to now 60.
It wasn’t a turnkey operation though. The new store had sat empty for over a decade and everything had to be renovated from scratch. The project, which included the addition of a kitchen, took about eight months to complete.
Now, Lakeland’s Beer Rev, a full craft beer bar and bottle shop has kept their package business, offering hundreds of unique craft beers, and has 20 rotating taps.
With rotation of taps and about ten new beers coming out each week, Mike’s job is to decide what makes the cut while wife Deborah handles the accounting/ HR/ office admin side of the business.
So, what’s Lakeland been into lately? Mike says his patrons have been currently drinking plenty of New England IPA’s and sours. “New England IPA’s are hoppier beers, but they focus more on hop flavor and not so much bitterness,” he explained. According to Mike, sours can range in flavor from tense and sour to refreshing and tend to be a sort of a gateway beer for many wine and liquor drinkers.
The Beer Rev owner has a few favorites of his own. Currently with Autumn in full swing, he’s been enjoying Crown Valley Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout, saying, “It’s a big 10.6% roasty stout, but it has a lot of pumpkin spices added to it. It’s like that kind of Fall beer, but it’s not a light easy-drinking pumpkin. It’s a big heavy, thick, dark pumpkin beer.”
Grove Roots’ Slanted Ladders and Brew Hub’s Rome City are some of his top contenders as well. Every year though, around June, he looks out for his go-to Prairie Artisan’s Apple Brandy Noir.
Come for the beer, stay for the food? Yes! Beer Rev opened their kitchen in March and Mike says, “I think people really should start coming here just for our food. I think our food is that good.”
Their upscale pub fare is the perfect companion to any of their craft beers – gourmet grilled cheeses, hot dogs, flat breads, sandwiches and such. “My favorite thing on the menu is probably the Neapolitan goat cheese flatbread. It’s kind of like a margarita pizza, but with goat cheese added,” he said.
Their tacos are a best seller at the moment with chicken, pulled pork, and chorizo options. All of their chicken and pork are smoked right out back of the Beer Rev, and all of their ingredients are fresh, not frozen. The Rev even has vegetarian options and will substitute and customize based on dietary needs or preference.
Craft beers – Great.
Delicious food – Awesome.
But how are you with video games though? Well, not to brag or anything, but Mike admits he has spent the last three months mastering Contra without using the Konami cheat code. Since he loves the oldies, Mike is even thinking about putting together a weekly retro game night (but you didn’t hear that from me).
“I think we kind of hit everything when it comes to craft beer,” said the Lakeland Beer Rev owner. “If you like good beer, we have everything for you whether you want to take beer to go home, or if you like to hang out, or have a good meal.”
Lakeland’s Beer Rev
3234 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33803