Friday, February 17, 2017

making HEADlines:


Jax Brew Bus co-owners Wes Cain, Mike Maulsby, Jason Coats
with the new addition to the bus tour lineup
(photo by Linda Johnson)
Jacksonville, FL:  As the craft beer presence in Jacksonville continues to grow, so does local brewery tour company, Jax Brew Bus. The tour operator took its new 30-seat passenger tour bus out for a test ride last night and will put the bus to use tonight as it sets out for its inaugural tour of three local breweries. 

Co-owners Mike Maulsby, Jason Coats and Wes Cain had been thinking about adding seats to its tours for several months as demand for the brewery tours has steadily increased since the company's tours began in June 2016. The new bus, formerly an amusement park shuttle bus obtained from an Orlando tour company, made its way to Jacksonville last week. The larger bus complements the company's 14-seat passenger bus, and tours will now use both buses.  

The original 14-passenger bus (photo by Linda Johnson)
Co-owner Mike Maulsby started up the current Jax Brew Bus with the original 14-seater from a predecessor company (also called Jax Brew Bus) which he formerly co-owned a few years ago and ran until early 2014. Subsequently, a Tampa tour operator began offering tours, but after it exited the Jacksonville market in Spring 2016, Mike brought the original bus out of the garage and onto the local roads again.  Says Mike, "every good city needs a good [brewery] tour," and he's "passionate about promoting the craft beer culture in Jax."  The Jax Brew Bus educates riders about the Jacksonville breweries and their beers, while offering "personalized service," said Mike. The addition of the larger bus will enable Jax Brew Bus to accommodate corporate outings, convention groups and larger private groups, something that wasn't possible with only the original bus, even though the demand was there. Having two buses in the lineup will also allow for scheduling flexibility, and the possibility of offering staggered start times for public tours on the weekends. The larger bus will also be used when scheduled public tours have bookings over 14 passengers. Seating layouts encourage socializing with other riders.

The new bus.... outside....
...and, inside.
(photos by Linda Johnson)
The owners are currently exploring ideas for wrapping the bus with Jacksonville and beer-themed artwork.  

Each Jax Brew Bus tour includes stops at three local breweries, where tour guides pour 3-5 samples of house beers for riders to experience. Several of the breweries also offer food options, which passengers can purchase separately. The bus provides empty half-gallon growlers, which can be filled by riders with beer of their choice at the breweries and then enjoyed on the bus in between stops. The Jax Brew Bus encourages riders to drink Jacksonville beer. Recently, Jax Brew Bus added a guided tour of the brewhouse at Engine 15 Brewing Company's downtown production facility, led by the Jax Brew Bus staff, after a training session with Sean Bielman, co-owner of Engine 15.

For more information about the Jax Brew Bus tours and to reserve a seat, see its website

Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

Disclosure: Please note that this writer is employed part-time by Jax Brew Bus as a tour guide. This story is intended to be factual, informational and newsworthy in nature. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On a Wing and A Beer: Florida Craft Brew & Wing Fest Set to Host Thousands in Vero Beach Saturday, February 18

Hungry?  .... Wings. 
Thirsty?  .... Beer.

Back for its 6th year, the Florida Craft Brew and Wing Fest is again set to take over Royal Palm Pointe Park in Vero Beach on Saturday, February 18. Presented by Sunrise Rotary Club Vero Beach, the fest will feature 17 local wing vendors, over 200 craft beers, and two stages of live music all afternoon. Wanna bring the kids? No problem: it's also a family-friendly event, featuring a new root beer tasting contest for the kids this year. In addition to the many different types of wings, you'll also find pizza, burgers and snacks. Sodas are also available. 

One of the notable things about this annual fest is the attendance. Each year, the numbers of hungry and thirsty attendees has grown, from 3000 to 5000, then to 8000, and an estimated 12,000 last year, says Debbie Avery, Fest spokesperson. The venue at Royal Palm Pointe Park includes two music stages, one at each end. In between, rows of vendors offering tasty wings and tasty beers line the park. Lots of messy fingers will be sampling those wings, as the title of Best Wings is up for grabs. 

The 2016 Fest: Want wings? Want beer?
This writer has attended the Fest for several years, including as a vendor and last year as a judge in the homebrew competition. See 2016 recap story. This time around, the homebrew competition judging took place ahead of the fest at last week's VIP Pre-Fest Party at Walking Tree Brewery, according to Rotary and Fest Committee member Justin Lefebure. 

There really is something for everyone at this event! Musicians will perform on both the West and East Stages all afternoon. Opening the fest from 11:30am til 1:30pm are The Jacks Band (West Stage) and Southern Exposure (East Stage). After a short break, the music returns at 2pm, when Dave Scott & The Reckless Shots take the West Stage, and Jeff Vitolo & the Quarter Mile Rebels appear on the East Stage, til 4pm. 

The 21+ crowd will enjoy unlimited beer samplings from local Florida breweries in addition to regional and national breweries, as various beer distributors (J.J. Taylor, Southern Eagle, Cavalier, MicroMan) will supply brews to go with those wings. Expect homebrewers and breweries-in-planning to also offer tastings of their beers. Brevard Ale Works is expected to pour several of its beers: Northeast IPA, Baltic Porter, Doppelbock, Sweet Stout and Coffee IPA, according to info on its social media pages. 

2016 Fest... With the crew from
Brevard Ale Works, opening soon. 
It's all fun, food and beer at the Florida Craft Brew & Wing Fest, but it's also all for a good cause. Sunrise Rotary, a club comprised of over 65 active and retired professionals, distributes funds raised from the Fest to a number of different charitable community projects. So far, in its current fiscal year, Sunrise Rotary has already assisted 53 such projects, says Debbie Avery. 

The fest runs from 11:30am to 4pm on Saturday, February 18. Admission to the event is free. Single beers will be available for purchase. Unlimited beer sampling is by beer wristband only: get tickets here. Beer sampling wristbands will also be available at the entry gate for $35.  Royal Palm Pointe Park is located off of Indian River Blvd., near the Merril P. Barber bridge. 

Come hungry and thirsty!

You just gotta love Florida Beerfest Season! So many breweries, so many new beers, and new friends! As always, see you around a beer in Florida Somewhere!

Til next time,


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

© 2017 BrewNymph, LLC. All text and photos. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Brewers For Clean Water Group Opposes EPA Nominee

making HEADlines:


A group of 32 brewers from across the U.S., members of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  "Brewers for Clean Water" partnership, has sent a letter to the U.S. Senate asking it to reject the EPA Nominee, Scott Pruitt. 

Citing Pruitt's "history of attacking and undermining protections upon which we depend," the brewers group stated "[o]ur breweries cannot operate without reliable, clean water supplies," and that "Pruitt's record of attacking clean water protections shows that he is the wrong choice to lead the agency." 

Read the NRDC summary and full letter here.

Breweries signing the letter urging the Senate to oppose Pruitt as the head of the EPA include large craft breweries such as: Allagash Brewing Company, Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., Half Acre Beer Co., Lakefront Brewery, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Smuttynose Brewing Company. 

Cheers to these breweries for standing up for clean water and the environment! 

Linda Johnson
Certified Cicerone®

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fun in the Sun: DeLand Craft Beer Fest

Mother Nature was smiling on the Sunshine State last Saturday, and it was fun in the sun for the attendees at the 8th Annual DeLand Craft Beer Fest on February 11. It was a perfect day for drinking beer from the 90 or so breweries represented (although, it's always a good day for some beer! See preview story and recap of last year). Temps held steady around 80°with abundant sunshine over a crisp blue sky all afternoon, from the minute the gates opened at 1pm until the last drop of beer was poured at 5pm. 

The fest featured a new location, layout and entry point this year on Indiana Avenue in downtown DeLand. Brewery tents dotted Indiana Avenue and Alabama Avenue in a T-format (the streets were closed to traffic), with plenty of space to move around and sample beers. 

Before 1pm, there was still much hustle and bustle behind the gates as prep work was completed. Standing outside of the entry tent, the double rows of brewery tents beckoned, and the crowd anxiously awaited the clock to tick to 1pm, when it looked like this: 


The new location and space was a hit with the crowd, as this writer heard many comments about how easy it was to move around. As this fest has grown each year, it looks like the venue has additional space to accommodate even more brewery tents next year. Tents were organized mostly according to geographical location, with local Volusia County and Central Florida breweries anchoring the spots along the entrance, followed by Florida breweries from across the state. National breweries were featured along Alabama Avenue. The open space and full use of the streets made for easy walking and talking, all while enjoying a diverse and wide selection of around 350-400 different types of beers. Many breweries brought favorites, while many also poured a few surprises. Sorry I can't mention each beer and brewery (that would take too long), but I enjoyed talking with everyone!

My first stop was at the Bold City Brewery (Jacksonville) tent to say Hello to some familiar faces from North Florida. 

Regina (aka Jax Brew Bitch) repping Bold City.
Whit was pouring beer all afternoon, too!
We may have been a bit much for him, though.

Beerfests present the opportunity to sample new beers from breweries that you may already know, as well as getting to know more breweries (think beertrip!) and ones in planning or under construction. Bayboro Brewing, a brewery in planning from St. Pete made its way to DeLand, and I liked the easy-drinking nature of its Wicked G'Day New England IPA, even at 7%. 

Key Lime Pie Ale from Bugnutty Brewing (Merritt Island):
One of my fest favorites: tastes of vanilla and graham cracker,
lime subtleness was a great flavor without being too "limey."
Hmmm.. it's been a while since I've been there
(they even mentioned that). Good to see them again!
The beerfest is the main event of Volusia Beer Week, during which many events were held around the Daytona-DeLand-Volusia County area. Earlier in the week, two local breweries, New Smyrna Beach Brewing and Daytona Beach Brewing, announced that their celebratory collaboration brew, Eureka Effect DIPA (9.5 ABV), had been tapped in their tap rooms. The beer was also served at the New Smyrna Beach Brewing tent. A smooth, citrusy brew, it was indeed popular, as the keg kicked just as we were able to take photos:

The collab beer, Eureka Effect DIPA, with Chris from
New Smyrna Beach Brewing on the far right.
Guys from Wolf Branch Brewing and Wop's Hops also
took the time to hang out for a bit!
Not sure why I have two glasses at this point.

I had a great time chatting with Chris from New Smyrna Beach Brewing, which is one of my regular stops along I-95 on the way back north from South Florida trips. Stay tuned for some news coming from NSB Brewing soon.

More beer, more talking, etc., etc., etc.

Ran into a couple of social media beer geeks, and got
photobombed by Jeremy, a rep from North Florida

Brewery tents along both sides of Indiana Ave.
Just look at that blue sky, too!

Look for new brewery SunCreek Brewery opening
later this year in Clermont in an old car dealership.
Moon Light Chocolate Stout (4.8 ABV).

And, did you see these guys?
Don't know what to make of that.
Tomoka Brewing even had a Randall with coffee beans!
The Raccoon Sheriff DIPA and Beach Please White IPA
featured Island Roasters coffee

With the Tomoka Brewing crew.
Ed Irvin, Tomoka Rep, and from the Fest Committee.
Always a fun time with this brewery.
And, it just had its Anniversary this weekend, too!
Stopped by there on Sunday for an Elvis!
And, sometimes, you just strike a pose for a photo...
...Before you do something crazy (that was on social media).
With Regina from Bold City, and Kyle, from Cigar City/Oskar Blues.

Intracoastal Brewing (Melbourne) hit another one
with its Espresso Vanilla Brown Ale: Coffee!

In addition to commercial breweries and breweries-in-planning, the Fest also included home brews from several local homebrewers clubs, such as Volusia County Home Brew Guild, Central Florida Home Brewers, and Brew Club of Seminole County. Earlier in February, the VCHBG had conducted the Mad Monks Belgian brew competition, and the results were announced last week. Tim Goodman (Hoods Up Brewery) took the overall Best in Show for his "Hush Money" Specialty Wood-Aged Beer. There were high fives all around, as I caught up with a couple of Seminole County medal winners:

Congrats! Darren Uner (Silver for Saison) and
Mark Davis (Bronze for Belgian Dark Strong Ale).
What a day in DeLand! If you're not familiar with DeLand, take a look at my preview story from last week. Although I didn't get over to Persimmon Hollow Brewing in downtown DeLand on this trip, check it out when you're in the area! (There's a story on this site, too, from my first visit there). 

Shout-out to the Fest Committee, including Ann-Marie Bays, Ed Irvin, and Vin Morrissey, for some great work on the fest layout and the awesome representation of breweries! And, thanks again to Mother Nature for the fun in the sun.  

You might want to mark this one of your calendars for next February!  And, thanks so much to the fellow beer-lovers who took the time to stop me and Say Hi! It was great talking beer with you, and I appreciate your support of this site. I hope to see you again!

That's it for now, but, hey, it IS Florida Beerfest season, and there's more beer down the road! Check out the BeerSPHERE page on, as beerfest events are constantly updated. See you around a beer in Florida Somewhere!

Til next time,


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

© 2017 BrewNymph, LLC. All text and photos. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

making HEADlines:


Box of Chocolates, 2016 (photo by Linda Johnson)
Jacksonville Beach, FL: Roses are red, violets are blue. Nothing says Valentine's Day, like Green Room's Box of Chocolates Brews.

A typical Valentine's Day treat? Chocolate, of course! Add that decadence to your beer, and taste the indulgence at the annual holiday of love tradition at Green Room Brewing on Tuesday, February 14.

The "Box of Chocolates" is back! If you like dark beers, you will LOVE the stouts served up on Green Room's Valentine's Day platter.  The set of six sample-sized dark beers will be available when the tap room opens at 4pm on Valentine's Day. 

(photo by Linda Johnson)
Owner and Head Brewer Eric Luman has put together a "lovely" ensemble this year. 

One of Green Room's most popular beers is the Count Shakula Oatmeal Chocolate Stout (6.2 ABV). Yes, it will be on the special menu, along with several flavorful variations .... (are you ready for this?):  Thin Mint Count Shakula (think mint cookie), Count PNut (peanuts 'n chocolate), Vanilla Count Shakula (vanilla is a lovely flavor),  Hazelnut Count Shakula (definitely a romantic touch).  And, there's more. Recently, Green Room tapped its "Galactic Cinnamon Buns" Imperial Stout (9.0 ABV), a delectable creation of cinnamon, vanilla and hazelnut, along with chocolate. How about adding another dose of chocolate for the special occasion? Yes, it's true, and it's the Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Buns, rounding out the "Box of Chocolates."  As Eric says, you "can't go wrong" on that last one.

This writer was on the precipice of chocolate beer nirvana at last year's Box of Chocolates Day, and it looks like this year promises much of the same heavenly delight. 

(Photo by Linda Johnson)
Whether you have a "significant other" or you're "on your own" this Valentine's Day, one thing is certain: your taste buds will love you for sampling these brews. 

If you're not already familiar with Green Room Brewing, take a look at a few of the prior stories on this site, including a look at last year's anniversary. 

Green Room recently added a new outdoor deck at the front entrance of its tap room, and the venue is also undergoing expansion of the brewery operations. Green Room Brewing is located at 228 - 3rd Street North, Jacksonville Beach, about a block away from the beach, and is open six days a week (closed Monday).

Love and Cheers!
Linda Johnson
Certified Cicerone®

It'll Be Pouring Beer at DeLand Craft Beer Fest

As of now, Mother Nature is indicating that the only thing that will be pouring at Saturday's upcoming DeLand Craft Beer Festival is BEER! The forecast calls for a near 80°day with sunny skies, so you just might be able to swap that rain poncho for some sunscreen this time around (you had to be there; see recap of last year's fest). 

Back for its 8th year, the DeLand Craft Beer Fest will once again be held in historic Downtown DeLand, but at a new location. According to Fest Organizer Ann-Marie Bays, the fest has simply "outgrown" the previous site along Georgia Ave. As much as the Fest Committee "loves that part of town," the fest is being moved "a couple of blocks north, to Indiana Ave., still in the heart of downtown." The fest venue runs along East Indiana Ave. from North Woodland Blvd. to and including North Alabama Ave. Those streets will be closed to accommodate the brewery tents and foot traffic. 

Fest attendees huddled up inside
Persimmon Hollow Brewing at the 2016 Fest
The fest will feature 85-90 breweries, pouring about 350-400 different beers. Fest attendees will find local Volusia County breweries, of course, along with a large contingent of breweries representing Central Florida and the Tampa area. Breweries from Space Coast, North Florida and South Florida will also be under the tents, in addition to a number of national and regional breweries. Also on site will be three area homebrew clubs: Volusia County Homebrew Guild, Central Florida Home Brewers, and Brew Club of Seminole County.  New this year is the addition of local restaurant vendors with food booths setup throughout the fest venue. 

Singin in the Rain? Maybe slingin' in the rain last year.
But, there was beer!
DeLand Craft Beer Fest is the main event of Volusia Beer Week, which began on February 3 and concludes with a Hangover Brunch on Sunday (see the "Tap This" page of for a daily listing of the events). The Week's events are a celebration of beer and include: East Meets West, Drink Volusia Bus Tour, Canal Street Craft Beer Walk, History by the Pint, Beer Geek Trivia, Weyerbacher Wednesday, Brews and Bowties, Vendor Party, Brooklyn Brewing presents Volusia Brew-Con, and various tastings at Total Wine Daytona.

Two local Volusia County breweries, Daytona Beach Brewing and New Smyrna Beach Brewing, brewed a Volusia Beer Week Collab Beer, the Eureka Effect DIPA (9.1 ABV, 90 IBU), which is available now at those tap rooms and is expected to be poured at the Fest. 

The second signature event of Volusia Beer Week is the "Brews & Bow Ties" 10-course beer pairing dinner held at the Artisan Alley, on Thursday, February 9 from 7-10pm. The dinner is a cocktail-formal event and pairs 10 unique and/or rare beers with dishes prepared by local chefs. As of this writing, limited tickets are available

If you aren't familiar with DeLand, it's the Volusia County Seat, home of Stetson University (the oldest private college in Florida), and host of a number of 19th-century historic buildings. 

Downtown DeLand might be described as "quaint," and it certainly has a small-town feel. Indiana Avenue is dotted with shops and eating/drinking establishments under lampposts. Proceeds from DeLand Craft Beer Fest benefit Main Street DeLand to help support historical preservation efforts and funding of events presented by the organization to protect and promote DeLand's historic heritage. In addition, a portion of proceeds from the Brews & Bow Ties and Bus Tour events are directed to the Children's Home Society of Florida (seeking to protect abused children) and Drink Safe Florida (community awareness program designed to advance safe environments in bars and restaurants). 

The DeLand Craft Beer Fest runs from 1-5pm on Saturday, February 11. Limited tickets are available here

Hey, Mother Nature, get that sunscreen ready! Because the forecast calls for sunny and 100% chance of pouring beer!

It was a crazy afternoon in DeLand last year! For one of the smaller fests around the state, this one packs a lot of beer. It's likely that you will find a new brewery at this fest!  

See you around a beer .... in Florida Somewhere! And, if you see me, stop and say Hi! 

Til next time,


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

© 2017 BrewNymph, LLC. All text and photos. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC