There are a lot of good places to get a drink around Tallahassee, but each venue offers something different. The strip of bars on Tennessee Street caters to the younger college crowd that likes to get rowdy off cheap liquor and even cheaper beer. Then there are the bars in Midtown like Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub, Waterworks and The Filling Station that cultivate a higher caliber atmosphere.
For those of you who are into a great relaxed drinking environment with an adventurous palate for beer, I would whole-heartedly recommend The Fermentation Lounge and The Leon Pub. They are the beer Meccas of Tallahassee.
The Fermentation Lounge is tucked inside an apartment complex in the All Saints neighborhood just south of Gaines Street. It's a little hard to find at first but it's definitely one of the most interesting spots to drink around town. There are no televisions and no booming speakers. The 1940-1960 era American décor gives the bar a laid back vibe and the smaller size of the bar makes it a more intimate experience. The music that the bartenders choose is different every night. Some nights there are live musicians from genres that range between jazz and folk. The bands are a nice touch and they are not an overwhelming presence.
There are always new beers on tap and countless bottled brews. This was the first bar that started me on my journey away from the economic beers of the struggling college student. Within a few months of going here I found my first love-- the hoppy goodness of Abita's Two Hearted Ale. The gurus behind the bar aided me in my journey by offering their seemingly endless wisdom on everything beer. They offer a flight of five 3 oz portions of different beers so you can find your favorite beer for around $7. They also offer various wines and cheeses for those classy folks that want something else to please their palate.
The Leon Pub is a lot more rugged in its décor. It's a dive bar with a varied clientele that ranges from transient students to local residents. One thing that brings them all together is the promise of a great beer. Vintage beer signs cover the walls, and two "gently" used pool tables stand prominently in the middle of the main room. From the moment you enter the bar it is obvious that smoking is allowed. It fits the image of the bar and I couldn't imagine anyone at the bar complaining about it. If you enjoy a good smoke and a great beer, this is the perfect destination.
Leon Pub holds the crown for the largest variety of beers. I've read that they have around 250 different beers and a good portion of those are on tap. Since I've moved on from drinking Natural Light, I've noticed that I have been spending more each night for a drink. One thing about the Leon Pub is that you don't have to break the bank in order to enjoy a hearty stout or a deliciously hoppy IPA. The craft beers range from 3-5 dollars which would cost you 5+ at some other bars around town.
These two Tallahassee secrets are ones that I share with any of my friends that come to town. For those who like delicious beers or wines and classy ambiance, the Fermentation Lounge is the destination. For a place that has sheer beer power and is rough around the edges, the Leon Pub is the answer.