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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Southern Swells Brewing Rollin' In at Jax Beach

[Ed Notes: 1/20/2017: Southern Swells announces the Grand Opening of its new Tap Room on 1/28/2017 at noon. 

11/6/2016: Southern Swells Brewing will hold its second preview Tasting at Beer:30 San Marco (Jax) on Saturday, 11/12, from 12-3pm. It is looking for a late November opening. It held its first Tasting Night on 9/22/2016 at Really Good Beer Stop, Jax Beach. I am thrilled to have been the first writer anywhere to break the story on this new brewery. Here's the original post from April 2016.]





North Florida social media was rockin' this past Monday, as word of another new brewery coming to the Jax area hit the cybermedia waves. Get ready, Jax Beach: Southern Swells Brewing Co. is rollin' in later this year. 



Corey (l) and Jay (r), co-founders
of Southern Swells Brewing Co.
If you're like me, the first thing that may have crossed your mind (after seeing the cool logo) is: who are these guys? So, last night (over a beer or two), I sat down with co-founders Corey Adams and Jay Varney to talk about their new venture. 

The former "Sway" Restaurant & Martini Bar at 1312 Beach Blvd. in Beach Plaza is now home to the new up-n-coming brewery and tap room. Last fall, Corey and Jay settled on the property, and, after working out various details and permitting matters, very recently signed a lease. The space has been vacant for a few years, and renovations are already underway.  Although the venue has a kitchen, that part of the property will be removed to make way for the new brewhouse. The 7500 SF space will feature an open-concept 1500-2000 SF family-friendly tap room area, with sightlines to the brewery equipment. There's also a private event room, which will stay in the plans to accommodate community groups and special events. The concept drawings are completed, and the final construction designs will be in place this week. The guys also plan to add on an outdoor patio in the front, so guests can enjoy beer outside. 

The new digs. 
One of the recurring themes during our conversation was that the new brewery will be a family-friendly and community-focused kind of place. Jay commented that they want their guests to "experience the taproom." The brewery name derives from a desire to resonate with the ocean and beach way of life that is Jax Beach, and you can expect a nautical, ocean and beach vibe here. And, look for community and active-lifestyle events such as brewery yoga and a run club to take shape. We even talked about how fitness and beer just seem to go together! (crazy, but true).

Speaking of beer .... it sounds like Corey and Jay will have some pretty cool equipment to handle the brew. They've already ordered a 10-barrel brewhouse system, complemented by six fermenters of the 10- and 20-barrel variety, with room to add on from there. Oh, and they're keeping their current half-barrel homebrew system, which will be the "pilot system" for small batches and experimental recipes. Admitted "hopheads" who love IPAs, the guys are planning to produce 6-8 "core" beers of different beer styles, along with continual experimentations, variations, and treatments featuring different ingredients and combinations. They plan on pouring from 20 taps, including core and rotating beers, one-offs, and guest taps. There will be a range of light-to-dark styles here, and it sounds like these guys are going to have a lot of fun creating new brews. And, yes, for those of you who know me, "stouts" were also discussed ... coffee, chocolate, vanilla, oh my! Distribution at retail isn't in the short-term plans, as the brewery will concentrate its efforts on providing quality beer in the tap room first, with eventual local distribution to bars and restaurants. 

Now that we know about what's in the works for the brewery, let's get back to my first question: Who are these guys? First of all, they're pretty fun and engaging, and I had a great time chatting with them. Corey and Jay are longtime high school friends from Rhode Island, and each of them decided to head south to the Jax area about eight years ago. They've been homebrewing for about 10 years, having started on homebrew kits and switching to all-grain shortly thereafter. Things "snowballed" from there, and they grew more and more passionate about brewing beer. Corey works in the branding/web design biz, and although he will continue to brew beer for the brewery, he will use his background mainly on the operations side of things. Jay has a "dayjob" in the financial services industry, and he will take on the role of head brewer. They have financial-backing in place and are ecstatic about turning their hobby and passion for craft beer into a business. 

They try to brew a new beer every week on their current homebrew system, and Jay acknowledged that there will be some trial-and-error to get the recipes just as they want them in transitioning to a much-larger commercial brewing system. But, that's part of the fun, right? Now that the initial phase of securing a property and ordering equipment has been checked off the list, look for Southern Swells Brewing to surface around the Jax area with samples of their beers. They're pretty excited about their new business cards, too!

You can keep track of the brewery's construction progress and samplings via its website and social media. They're planning to open the doors to the public by the end of 2016. Stay tuned as Southern Swells Brewing makes some waves. 

In the meantime, here are a few "before" photos from the brewery's website:






So, yeah, I really enjoyed talking to Corey and Jay about their new brewery. And, of course, I'm looking forward to checking out the new place as construction moves ahead, and again on opening day!  Congrats to them on making it happen. 

As always, I'll see you around "Florida somewhere" at a brewery, beer event, or other event. And, take a look at my two events pages for things to do -- I usually show up at some!

Til next time,
Cheers!

 Linda