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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

First Magnitude Brewing Springs onto the Florida Beer Map

When First Magnitude Brewing Co. in Gainesville sprang onto the Florida craft beer scene last year (opening in August 2014), you had to wonder what was behind the name and logo. That's a story in itself. 

Visit the brewery's website, or even better yet -- visit the brewery itself -- and you learn that North Central Florida is home to the "First Magnitude" Springs, some of the most dynamic freshwater springs in the world.   And, what's more, a glance up in the sky reveals the brightest star, called a "first magnitude" star. Drawing from these concepts, the brewery's mermaid logo combines the celestial with the marine. The brewery's website links to Florida's Springs, where you can learn more about the natural phenomenon. (Now, go back to my lead sentence....see what I did there?)


The poster on the wall:
Florida Springs
Never doubt that beer can be educational!  In fact, co-founder and Head Brewer John Denny has a PhD in Educational Administration and a Master's in Social Work. The story goes that John and the brewery co-founders wanted to open a place where they could promote the natural springs of Florida -- along with making some really good craft beer, of course!

I had met John several times before at beer fests, and I had taken a liking to First Magnitude's Siren Blonde Ale and Drift Mild Ale. The brewery is located close to downtown Gainesville, off of Main St., across from a city bus maintenance operations facility.  You can bike to the tap room, too, because the brewery is located close to the Gainesville-Hawthorne trail, and offers bike parking, too. 

The brewery and tap room is housed in a 21000 SF warehouse. Yup, warehouse, like many other craft breweries. A few big bay doors, and you can go inside or outside. The tap room is a large open indoor space with picnic tables and a bar. Very laid-back. If you want to play some games, try the giant Jenga or cornhole. 
The brewery is very relaxing and welcoming....



The tap room offers house brews (around 10 or so) as well as guest taps from around Florida. And, check out the flight:


I might have that upside down, but the beers
were definitely right side up! Back row:
Time Out Irish Stout, Big Shoals Brown Ale
Front row: Drift Mild Ale, Siren Blonde Ale


Siren Blonde Ale (this photo
from FBG Fest in March)
Drift English Mild Ale
Malty, toasty, relaxing
The Siren Blonde Ale (5% ABV)  (see photo, right) has turned into one of my favorites of this style. A beautiful light golden color, with a very nice blend of hops and malt. You'll get a bit of the hops on this one, but it's a very easy-drinking, pleasing brew. Better watch it, you could have a few of these. Ahem...

The Drift English Mild Ale (ABV 4.4%) (see photo, left) is just that...mild. It's malt-focused and dark in color. There's a nice toastiness and a hint of hops, but it's a beer that is great for relaxing.  I like this style, and this one's another one of my favorites from here. 


Big Shoals Brown Ale.
Yes, that's my pen, my notes were somewhere
The Big Shoals Brown Ale (ABV 4.8%) is a slightly nutty, toasty brown ale that is much like other brown ales (I think brown ales tend to get the short end of the review stick).  It's a nice balance of flavors, and just an all-around good-drinking beer. 







Time Out Irish Stout
Relax and enjoy the view
The Time Out Irish Stout (4.7% ABV) is very roasty, with a nice mix of coffee and chocolate, neither of which dominates.  I liked it. Again, you could really relax with this one.

Some of the other house beers include the 72 Pale Ale (ABV 5.5%). Named for the fact that the spring water holds at a temperature of 72°, this pale ale has an upfront hoppiness, with citrus and a bit of floral. A good pale ale, with a detection of malt, but a slant on the hops. I haven't had the Ursa IPA, but that one weighs in at a 7.3% ABV. Looking through the Untappd list, there are several porters, amber ales, Belgian ales, more IPAs, and other seasonal beers that these guys have brewed, so you can probably expect a pretty good variety on any given day. 

As you can see from several of the photos, there are pictures of the springs and nature on the walls of the tap room, and I think the brewery does a really nice job of calling attention to that aspect of the Florida landscape. It's clear that they have an appreciation for nature, and I think that's pretty cool stuff!  Some of those photos kinda made me want to go do a manatee dive!

The brewery is located at 1220 SE Veitch St. in Gainesville. The tap room is closed on Mondays. Food trucks are on site. Check out the brewery on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Unless you already live in Gainesville, a visit here is definitely worth a daytrip.  And, bring home a growler or two with that cool mermaid logo (not to mention some beer that you'll want to enjoy again when you get back)... (I did).


  
They say that "Good Things Spring From Here."  I think they got that right!  You can find First Magnitude beers at local places around Gainesville, as they distribute the Siren, 72 and Drift.  I've even had them on tap in St. Augustine. 

I have more posts on the way, but til then, see you around Florida Somewhere.....  Cheers!