Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hello, Wicked Barley Brewing Company!

[Ed. Note: Since writing this story, Wicked Barley has expanded its hours, and  it is now open seven days a week, opening on Mondays & Tuesdays at 4pm.]

Jacksonville's newest brewpub and brewery, Wicked Barley Brewing Company, opened its doors to the public today at 5pm with a soft opening. While the full-service kitchen serves its complete housemade menu items, the bar currently features 20 guest taps of beer and cider (temporarily) until the Wicked Barley "Naughty Ales for Noble Souls" are ready to hit the taps. The pub hours on Wednesday and Thursday are 11am-11pm. Friday is a day of preparation for the Grand Opening on Saturday, July 30 at 11am. 

Photo by Small Business Development Center at UNF
Philip Maple and crew: a proud moment!

Wicked Barley Brewing held a preview night on July 22 to introduce the crew, the brewery, and the menu to attendees. Philip Maple, co-founder and brewmaster, did the honors at the ribbon cutting ceremony and also provided an entertaining summary of how the co-founders worked to achieve this dream, while also thanking the Small Business Development Center at UNF for its guidance. Attendees learned that the brewery has received its federal Brewer's Notice at long last, meaning that the brewers will be putting that shiny new brewhouse to work! Look for another celebration in September when the brewery anticipates pouring around 10 Wicked Barley house beers in the bar. 

visited the brewery in April during construction, attended the preview tastings in May, and visited again in early July as part of the Beer Bloggers Conference pre-conference tour in Jax. Check out those preview articles for background information, along with construction and brewhouse photos. It's all in place now... 

Dining Area: Check out the views!

The dining/bar area features an industrial/casual ambience, with an upscale touch. Oversized picture windows offer beautiful views of the surrounding wooded creek area. Inside, guests can sit at the bar, the center bar, or at tables. The outside covered deck and beer garden areas offer additional seating at picnic tables. And, as you've heard by now, there's that gorgeous 100-foot boat dock along Goodby's Creek (see prior article for photos!).

Get some cool Wicked Barley merch..... (not the kayak)

Your mouth will be watering with dishes like these:

Seasoned shoestring fries in ginger, garlic, cilantro;
with lemon aioli sauce

Hand-cut Vidalia Onion Rings; ranch or jalapeno ranch sauce
These are perfect!
Wisconsin Cheese Curds: ranch or jalapeno ranch sauce.
Ya, Hey, Cheesehead! 
Grilled Portobello -- for the veg heads
And, from the outside (brewery with a view):

This will be a fun place to grab a beer (or more), enjoy the high-quality housemade food, watch some TV, or just chill out.  The crew is passionate, and it's been fun watching these guys get here (although they may not agree with the "fun" part til now).

Cheers, Wicked Barley Brewing!

Wicked Barley Brewing Company is located at 4100 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville. Regular hours (starting Saturday, July 30) are 11am-11pm, Wednesday thru Sunday; closed Monday & Tuesday. 

Congrats, Wicked Barley Brewing, and we're looking ahead to those Naughty Ales! 



© 2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere, Beer is my Trademark, and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Neither Rain .. Nor Wind .. Nor Heat .. It's Time for Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest!

It's the third full week of July ... in South Florida: ahhh, Summer! If you're like a number of people, you might find it just a bit warm around the Sunshine State these days. So, if you're not thinking about the beach, you're likely thinking about air conditioning, and of course, BEER! And, that humidity and those pesky summer monsoons?  Forget about 'em ..... It's time for Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest!  (I hear the cheers). Get ready to party South Florida style.

Now in its fourth year, the annual Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest has grown steadily each year, in terms of brewery representation and attendance. And, yes, I really can attest to that, because I've been there each of the past three years (proof is in last year's recap story). Why should you go? Sure, for starters, this fest is in South Florida (which sounds pretty sexy in its own right). It's a trendy place to visit, and it has an exploding craft beer scene. The fest itself will feature over 40 breweries and more than 150 craft beers to taste. Ten food trucks will be on site to cure your hunger symptoms. You'll be entertained by live bands and the participants in the silent disco (especially after a few beers set in). If you like whiskey, you'll even be able to take part in the whiskey tasting. But, maybe, just maybe, the biggest draw is that this beerfest is indoors, as in under a roof -- with air conditioning -- at the Expo Center of the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach. You'll hardly notice whether it's raining or sweltering outside, because you'll be keeping your cool inside with a cold one in your hand. 

It's always crazy at the Due South Brewing booth

For those reasons, this is one popular fest, and last year's attendance of over 4,000 may have stretched the limits of the venue. Blame it on insatiable thirst of Floridians and all the breweries!  But, not to worry, because the organizers of the Fest have responded by offering TWO sessions of the Fest this year. So, for the first time, you'll have your choice of either an afternoon (12-4pm) or an evening (5-9pm) session. Other than various timed tappings throughout the fest hours, the breweries and the beer will be the same at each session. Better get your tickets, though, because even at 2500 available tickets per timeslot this year, it's likely that the fest will again sell out of tickets!  Tickets are available at two levels: General Admission (unlimited beer tastings, silent disco, bourbon tastings, corn hole games) or VIP. Only 250 VIP tickets will be available per session, and VIP perks include private lounge access with private craft beer offerings, food buffet, commemorative beer mug, VIP shirt, and cigar. 

You'll find your South Florida favorites here!
According to Jennifer Cartwright of the Fest organizers, based on feedback from attendees of last year's Fest, it was decided to split the event into two sessions, making it a more comfortable experience for everyone: "We listened to the attendees and they wanted less lines and less crowds ... and, we wanted to make the attendees happy." And, if you can't attend the afternoon festivities, make it a date night! Sounds good to me! I'm looking forward to checking out the first night session! 

For the third year, Saltwater Brewery will sponsor the main stage. Depending on which session you attend, live music will be provided by one of two bands: Chemradery, featuring pop/rock/soul during the afternoon, or The People Upstairs, with the sounds of funk/rock/reggae/alternative "sexy-time" party music in the evening. Hey, let's all get ready to get this party going! 

Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest 2015:
A few of the 4000 people who attended

And, if you're from the South Florida area, you may have heard of the "KVJ Beers" brewed by Tequesta Brewing Company for the local morning KVJ Show (Kevin, Virginia, Jason and Denny). The four seasonal beers will be poured at the Burger & Beer Joint fest booth (by the way, Burger & Beer Joint is also hosting an after-party following the evening session of the fest, so the party will keep going). Virginia's "Vicious V" is a watermelon saison, which might (or might not, based on the name) cool things down in the South Florida heat.

No vicious beers from Tequesta Brewing last year!
Last but not least, proceeds from the Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest will benefit Little Smiles, an organization dedicated to helping kids in need in hospitals, hospices, shelters and similar facilities. I always like the charity aspect of beerfests, and we beerfest attendees do our part to help out these organizations!

I'm always up for a trip to South Florida (as you know from prior posts on this blog), and I've had this fest marked on my calendar since I attended Fest No. 3 last July. The fest always features the usual South Florida brewery suspects, along with great representation from additional Florida, regional and national breweries and cideries. Look for my "live" social media feed, too, as it promises to be another rockin' beerfest, and you never know who I might run into!

It actually did rain last year, but I didn't notice!
As I'm getting ready to head south on I-95 to West Palm Beach, I'll leave this post the same way I ended last year's fest summary: I'm looking forward to coming back for No. 5 next year!

Hey, I always run into interesting beer people at beerfests, and Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest won't be any different!  Stop and say Hi!

Cheers, and see ya in Palm Beach!


©2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All text and photos. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere, Beer is my Trademark, and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Of Bus Rides 'n Beer: From Bold City to Cigar City, Beer Bloggers Conference 2016 Covered It

Around this time last year, I was following the tweets from Asheville, NC as those attending the 2015 Beer Bloggers Conference energetically took to social media to report their real-time accounts of the activities. I noticed a blend of snippets about beer education and beer drinking -- not too surprising, I concluded. I thought that maybe I should attend one of these conferences in the future, and awaited the announcement of the 2016 Conference location. And, with a rising level of fanfare, there it was: TAMPA! WooHoo! That's only a 3.5 hour drive from my home base in North Florida, so I was immediately psyched. 

Around 51 weeks later, itinerary in hand, I prepared to attend my first Conference as a beer blogger/writer. But, it gets even better: let's start things off with a Pre-Conference Excursion to Jacksonville. Score again. I'm already familiar with the Jax breweries as a patron, blogger, and brewery tour guide, so I thought it would be cool to visit them from a different perspective as part of a group of inspired beer-lovers! The pre-con day, organized and hosted by Visit Jacksonville, gave the group an exciting look at downtown Jax and the nearby Riverside and San Marco areas. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Engine 15 Brewing Company: Enjoy the Ride!

When co-owners Luch Scremin and Sean Bielman opened Engine 15 Brewing Company six years ago in Jacksonville Beach, I wonder if they had any idea about the ride they would take: from homebrewing on a one-barrel system, to opening a brewpub in a shopping center on Beach Blvd. with a 5-barrel brewhouse system, to acquiring a warehouse production facility with a 20-barrel system and an outdoor beer garden, to a mead and cider operation. The brewery celebrated its Sixth Anniversary this past week (July 2), and it's clear that this Engine is on the move!

I'm no stranger to the Engine 15 brewpub, its beer and its events: I like the beer, and I like the people who work there and those who hang out there. It's the only brewery in Jacksonville to offer a huge 50-tap beer bar. One of the coolest things about this brewery (and there are more than a few) is that on any given day, you'll find around 15 to 20 Engine 15 house beers on tap: from the popular lighter J-Ville Lager to red ales to IPAs to stouts, and various treatments of brewery favorites along the way. 

But, let's start with the Sixth Anniversary party!

The brewery featured two events for its Anniversary: a four-year Vertical Tasting of its annual limited release bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Chupacabra Russian Imperial Stout on Thursday night, and the Chupacabra Bottle Release and Anniversary Party on Saturday. Although the bottle release started at 11am, a number of local beer aficionados who just had to have it began lining up as early as 7:30 am on Saturday, according to co-owner Sean Bielman. 

Photo by Engine 15 Brewing Company

And, speaking of the owners, sometimes it's tough to tell that they actually own the place, because they always seem to be working! Especially during busy times and events, Luch and Sean can be seen clearing glasses and tables and bringing those glasses back to the bar for washing and refilling. These are guys who don't mind rolling up those sleeves and getting to work. When I first saw Luch Saturday, he had his hands full (literally) with empty glasses from the large crowd.

Large crowds at the Engine 15 brewpub for the Anniversary Bottle Release and Party!

And, look at all those Engine 15 beers, and two ciders, on tap:

These are "just" the house beers on tap....

In addition to the Engine 15 beers and guest taps, the bar also featured additional timed releases all afternoon of new and limited E15 beers (such as Bloody Battle Axe Blood Orange IPA and Grapefruit Double Drop IPA) and favorites and new releases from other craft breweries, including several popular Funky Buddha Brewery beers. 

There was even a cake:

Luch and Sean with the
celebration Anniversary cake
(photo by Kara Phelps Scremin)
If you haven't been to Engine 15 Brewing in Jax Beach, be sure to mark this on your brewery visit or beertrip itinerary. The pub has the feel of a Bavarian beer garden. Those 50 taps are always pouring cold beer, and you can even get a brat, Cuban sandwich, or other pub food offerings. Visit the online menu here.  If you like video arcade games, head to the back of the pub and the arcade. Or, just sit at the bar or tables and watch some sports on TV. It seems that there are always more than a few friendly types here sipping on some beer, so you might even find someone to talk beer with!