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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Star-Gazing With a Mermaid: First Magnitude Brewing Springs to Second Anniversary

[Ed. note 8/21/2016: The Second Anniversary Party was an awesome event. Huge crowds attended all day long, and the tap list was phenomenal! Check out my photos on social media and in the Photos tab on this website. Congrats to the crew!]

It seems like ... well ... just last year about this time, I wrote about First Magnitude Brewing Company's first anniversary bash in Gainesville: an all-day party with special tappings, music, and a whole bunch of enthusiastic beer fans inside the tap room and outside in the beer garden. It's now a year later, and First Magnitude Brewing celebrates its Two-Year Anniversary on Saturday, August 20. What can you expect? How about an all-day party with special tappings, music, and a whole bunch of enthusiastic beer fans! So, let's get ready to do this again ......

First Magnitude Brewing sprang onto the Florida beer map in 2014 with a theme direct from two forces of nature: Central Florida's natural springs -- with the "first magnitude" springs being the strongest in terms of water volume -- and the brightest star in the sky visible by the naked eye, the "first magnitude" star. Not only did First Magnitude Brewing combine these elements into a cool brewery concept and logo, but the brewery also actively promotes the Florida habitat. (Take a look at articles about my first and my most recent visits for more background.)



Hey, we're here for the beer, so if you're wondering what might be filling your glasses at the brewery on Saturday, you'll be gazing at a special tap list that (as of now) looks like this (if you don't already know, the first five are the core beers):

Vega Blonde Ale
72 Pale Ale
Drift English Mild Ale
Ursa IPA
Wakulla Weizen
Devils Eye Double IPA
FM Oktoberfest
Saltwater Intrusion Gose
Lem-n-Ginger Wakulla Radler
West Coast Blonde
Vanilla Black Rye
Rye IPA
Nitro Double Cream Stout w/ SWO Coffee
Wheatwine
Saison w/ locally sourced lemongrass
Double Dry Hopped 72 w/ Citra and Chinook
Barrel Aged Belgian Style Tripel w/ Brettanomyces and Apricot

And, as if you're not already thirsty enough, be on the lookout for these timed tappings, staggered and each happening twice so there will be more to go around:

Barrel-Aged Ursa with Mosaic & Amarillo, 1pm & 6pm
Saltwater Intrusion Gose with Gummi Bears, 2pm & 7pm
Chestnut Brown Ale: 3pm & 8pm
Big Barrie's Triple IPA: 4pm & 9pm
Barrel-Aged Raspberry Nightfall, 5pm& 10pm


First Anniversary,  2015. The scene inside...

The brewery will have three pouring stations to help manage the anticipated crowd and keep things flowing (yes, more than a few people will attend, if last year is any indication). Music, you ask? Yeah, they've got that covered, too, with live music all day:

1-2:45pm: Boilin' Oil
3-4:45pm: Wax Wings
5-6:45pm: The Hard Luck Society
7-8:45pm: Thin Skins
9-11 (ish): Ramblin' Mutts

Don't worry about your hunger pains, because three onsite food trucks will keep those in check: Humble Wood Fire, Cilantro Texas, and Bubba Luigi's Roadtrip. 

One last thing: new at this year's party is a Dunk Tank! (I'm looking forward to photos). If you've got some game, bring your swimsuit and a towel!


First Magnitude Brewing has certainly grown during its short two years in existence. What may have seemed light-years away at the outset has happened rather quickly for the crew, as response to the brewery and its beers has been tremendous. The brewery opened with four 30-barrel fermenters and one 30-barrel brite tank to complement its 15-barrel brewhouse, and has already added two 60-barrel fermenters and another 30-barrel brite -- more than doubling capacity. It added a barrel-aging program and plans to offer limited bottle releases soon. 


Cans of First Magnitude's 72 Pale Ale and Drift English Mild Ale began hitting the local retail shelves last year, with the first cans of the pale ale rolling off the line right around last year's First Anniversary. The brewery has since added its Wakulla Hefeweizen to the retail distribution lineup. According to Meg The Losen, brewery President, the brewery's business plan anticipated a canning line during its second year, but as a result of its early success, the brewery was able to move that forward by having enough working capital to purchase and install the canning line last summer. Further, Head Brewer John Denny adds that cans of the brewery's core Blonde Ale, Vega, are anticipated to enter the market in September. 


I've visited the brewery a few times and always make a point to stop by the brewery's booth at beerfests to chat (and have some beer, of course). One thing I notice about the principals of First Magnitude Brewing is that they are very quick to embrace and show gratitude to the community for their success. This crew really gets it. As Meg summarized it: "We are eternally grateful to our local Gainesville community and the larger Florida craft beer community for helping us get off to such a great start and allow us to move canning ahead of schedule."  In addition, the community around the brewery is growing, with the Grand Opening of nearby Depot Park also taking place on Saturday, and the Cade Museum scheduled to open next year. "We are absolutely thrilled to see so many exciting community places to gather and spend time in our neighborhood," and "it's fun just to drive into work every day and see what is happening around here," says Meg. 


And, yes, I drank them last night to prepare for this article.
First Magnitude's beer names are generally inspired by references to the sky and water: Vega, a first magnitude star (recently rebranded from the "Siren" blonde ale, but no changes to the recipe); 72, the temperature of the first magnitude springs; Drift, a reference to drifting down the springs; Ursa, the brightest stars; and Wakulla, the largest of the first magnitude springs.


Drift Engilsh Mild Ale.
One of the brewery's most intriguing beers to me is the Drift English Mild Ale. I love the easy-drinking nature of this beer, along with its character of chocolate and toffee complemented with hints of coffee and nuttiness. It's not a beer style that you see too often, let alone as a core beer. Yet, as a young brewery, First Magnitude distributes this fairly unique style on draft and now in cans. When asked about that, Head Brewer John explained that the First Magnitude beers are designed to appeal to as many different craft beer drinkers as possible. With Vega being the "balanced, light, easy drinking" beer, and 72 a hop forward choice, he looked for a malt-forward option. With porters and stouts not always being a first choice in the Florida warmth, the Mild Ale was a nice fit, providing "darker" flavors in a good session beer for year-round enjoyment. 

Lastly, a word about the brewhouse crew at First Magnitude. From brewers John and Eric, to cellarmen Jim and Scott, to QA specialist Arthur, each is an accomplished homebrewer. Among their accomplishments, Jim won a gold medal at the 2015 AHA national competition for his pale ale, and Scott's Smoked Dunkelweizen earned a gold for the brewery earlier at this year's FBG Fest. Inspiration for all of the First Magnitude beers come from these guys, who also experiment on the brewery's 1.5-barrel pilot system. Once the tap room customers give their nod of approval, recipes may head to the main brewing system. Bar manager Steve also plays a part by suggesting different beers to brew and blending the barrel-aged beers. It's truly a team effort!

I need a refill.....
That's a lot to accomplish during two years, and I wonder what we'll see during year three. For the time being, it seems that the stars are aligned for First Magnitude Brewing Company. 

First Magnitude Brewing Company is located at 1220 SE Veitch St. just outside of downtown Gainesville. It's open six days a week, closed on Monday. 


Happy Two to First Magnitude Brewing Company! I'm looking forward to another visit to The Source (as the brewery's tap room is affectionately called), and I see a few special beers on that list that I must taste!  Special thanks to Meg and John for the additional background info for this article. You guys rock!





Cheers! Til next time, 



Linda









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