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Gulf & Main Magazine

Brewing up Craft beer, Friendships, and Community

Mar 08, 2023 08:00AM ● By Emily Benson

Fort Myers Brewing’s Chocolate Stout has earned many accolades, most recently including gold medals at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival. Photo courtesy of Fort Myers Brewing Company

When husband-and-wife duo Rob and Jen Whyte opened the doors of Fort Myers Brewing Co. in
2013, they didn’t have grandiose expectations. Having just moved to Southwest Florida, they hoped their brewery would help them make a few new friends.
The couple’s idea for the business sparked upon settling in the Gateway community of Fort Myers, where they soon found that their neighborhood was missing something that they enjoyed dearly: a craft brewery.
With a desire to fill this need, the Whytes soon secured space in a nearly vacant industrial park and began the hard work of building a brewing system and creating their first beers.
Rob, a software engineer and longtime homebrewer hobbyist, built a handmade brew system and developed brewing software while Jen focused on establishing the business. Once they were ready to open to the public, they posted a few yard signs around the community that simply stated, “Brewery this way.” They planned to start small, pouring a few brews from a 400-square-foot taproom.
On opening day, the Whytes were floored when more than 150 people lined their way to the door to try their craft brews. Fort Myers Brewing Co. was officially launched as Lee County’s
first microbrewery.
“We were open only two days over the weekend while working our day jobs and brewing during the week. We hoped to have a handful of locals come out and enjoy our brews. Never in our
wildest dreams did we expect the turnout of people who kept coming back for more,” Jen recalls of the brewery’s first days.
Fast-forward 10 years and the brewery continues to lead the region’s surging craft beer movement with award-winning, signature brews available on tap, to go, and at more than 1,000
restaurants and retailers across Southwest Florida. Operations have expanded to more than 22,000 square feet of taproom and production space that churns out hundreds of thousands of gallons of craft beer each year.
Over the past decade, Fort Myers Brewing Co. has pleased the palates of local beer lovers with new, unique, and award-winning flavors. The Whytes developed the brewery’s beer menu slowly over time, starting with Gateway Blonde—a light blonde ale—and gradually introducing heftier brews, like the brewery’s popular High 5 IPA, along with a signature lineup of ales, lagers,
stouts, and other out-of-the-box flavors.
These brews have been a labor of love, taking weeks, months, and even years to develop and perfect. Many have gone on to receive national and international accolades. The brewery’s
Chocolate Stout was recently named best in the nation at the Great American Beer Festival competition, and the business was named best hard seltzer brewer in the nation for the second
consecutive year at the U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship.
“Our brew crew has grown from just me and Jen to an entire team of more than 20 brewers and bartenders that share our love for what we do,” Rob says. “It means a lot to see our beers recognized at a global level, but it’s all about creating new flavors for our regulars and community to enjoy.”
Beer isn’t the only drink you’ll find on the brewery’s tasting menu. In recent years, Fort Myers Brewing launched the region’s first line of locally crafted hard seltzer beverages, Spyk’d Hard Seltzers.
“We pride ourselves on being a place to gather with friends and have always provided options for those who might prefer wine over beer,” Rob says. “Our hard seltzers further expanded our offerings for our traditional beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike.”
Beyond the brews, Fort Myers Brewing is known for its family-and pet-friendly atmosphere and robust lineup of food trucks, live music, and events that draw crowds time after time. A busy weekly schedule features highlights such as Burger Night, Trivia Night, and Food Truck Rallies in addition to special events and several major beer festivals held throughout the year, such as the annual Anniversary Party, Summer Beer Fest, Oktoberfest, and Winter Wonderland.
The brewery is also a leader in the community, contributing and hosting fundraisers for many local causes, nonprofits, and families while championing the region’s small business community and craft beer industry.
“We’ve made incredible friendships over the years, which is exactly what we set out to do,” Jen says. “This community is the reason we’ve been able to do what we do for the past decade, and we’re proud to grow alongside Southwest Florida’s thriving craft beer scene.”

Fort Myers Brewing Co.
12811 Commerce Lakes Drive, Suite 28, Fort Myers
Find latest event details, daily food trucks, and live music lineups at

Upcoming events at Fort Myers Brewing Co.
Fort Myers Brewing’s 10th
Anniversary Party: Feb. 23-26
St. Patrick’s Day: March 17
Halfway to Oktoberfest: April 1
National Beer Day: April 7
Cinco de Mayo: May 5
Mother’s Day: May 14
American Craft Beer Week: May 15-21
Memorial Day: May 29

Emily Benson is a native Southwest Floridian who enjoys writing about the people and organizations who call this region home.