By: Gillian Birch
Visitors to Ireland or the UK will know how important pubs and microbreweries are as a social hub to each local community. Point Ybel Brewing Company in Fort Myers, Florida brings the same principles of brewing and serving good beer on tap in a friendly bar environment, accompanied by some live music or local entertainment.
The Story behind Point Ybel Brewing Company
If you drop into the Hurricane Hole bar at Point Ybel Brewery on San Carlos Blvd., it feels like it has been brewing and serving craft beers for decades. In fact, the brewing company only opened in December 2013 after mastering the art of brewing great beer from a home business on Sanibel Island.
Enterprising owner and Brewmaster, Walt Costello, started the business from a home brewing kit after becoming dissatisfied with the lack of good craft beer in the area. His first brews were made with the help of wife Amy in the kitchen of their Sanibel home. After some encouraging success, Walt moved from extract brewing to grain brewing, eventually investing in a state-of-the-art brew system. His dream was to start a small brew pub on the island. The idea quickly hit the wall when they discovered that Sanibel Island does not allow commercial manufacturing of beer. Walt was forced to move his enterprise further afield, eventually settling on a site on San Carlos Blvd. in Fort Myers.
Point Ybel History
Although the infant brewing business now operates off Sanibel Island, the company retained their name – Point Ybel Brewing Company as a nod to where the idea first started. Point Ybel is the easternmost point of Sanibel Island, where Sanibel Lighthouse stands.
Some say the name “Ybel” refers to Isabella (Ysabel), Queen of Spain in the late 15th century and patron of Christopher Columbus. However it came by its name, Point Ybel was the location of the first pioneer colony on Sanibel in 1832, although the island had long been inhabited by the Calusa Indians.
The Sanibel Light was erected at Point Ybel in 1884, the first lighthouse on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It marked the entrance to San Carlos Bay – another interesting connection with Point Ybel Brewing Company’s new location.
Tastings at Point Ybel Brewing Company
Joined by partner Peter Kendall, the business initially offered five craft beers, distributing them to local restaurants. It has since launched over 100 different brews, although only a small selection are on tap at any one time. In true brewing tradition, each ale is given a memorable name, generally linked to the locality.
Check out the chalkboard – although there’s no food, there is a full range of beers. There are new ales to try every week, often embracing Southwest Florida flavors such as orange blossom honey, key limes, or sea grapes. Look out for the flagship Snook Bite India Pale Ale (IPA), NoSeeUm Pale Ale, Sanibel Red Island Ale, an Irish red ale with a light toasted flavor, or try the Guinness-like Black Mangrove American Dark Ale.
Open daily from 2 p.m., (noon on Saturdays and Sundays), you can call in to the Hurricane Hole for a pint or a tasting before buying a Growler of your new favorite beer to take home. Linger at the bar and enjoy Open Mic Night on Tuesdays, Jazz and Bluegrass Jam on Thursdays, and live music on Fridays until 11p.m. Alternatively, look for Point Ybel Beers at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and other Fort Myers Beach bar and restaurant locations and see what made this local business such a success.
See more tips on Fort Myers nightlife from Must Do Visitor Guides at MustDo.com.