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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wicked Barley Brewing "Just Getting Started" With First Anniversary

When Wicked Barley Brewing Company celebrates its First Anniversary Saturday, July 29, the beer-lovin' crowd will enjoy a huge party, a bottle release, outdoor activities, an outdoor beer garden with a covered tent, food specials, games and music. The brewpub has a lot to celebrate, and it's "just getting started," says Co-Founder/Brewmaster Philip Maple. 

Just about a year ago, the doors opened after building the brewery from the ground up along the banks of Goodby's Creek in Jacksonville




Although the tap room served all guest beers at the beginning, the brewery’s own house beers and mead made their way to the menu and are now consistently offered. (By the way, have you heard of that "Mead Slushie?" Or, better yet, tasted it? Just putting that out there.).  Earlier in the year, Wicked Barley took home the medal for Best Brewpub at the Best Florida Beer Championships, along with several individual medals for beer and mead. It also brewed the first Jacksonville-area beer made with all-Florida grown hops. Just last month, the brewery held its first bottle release, the "Isolated Incident" Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. 


That paragraph alone might be reason enough to celebrate. What's the first year been like for the co-founders? "This has been the fastest year of my life hands down," says Philip, and he's pretty sure he speaks for everyone. There's been a learning curve along the way, though. Initially, he says, the owners weren't completely prepared for essentially running two businesses at once -- a brewery and a restaurant. "Getting our food costs in line, labor costs and food consistency was a challenge," he adds. Further, "on the brewery side of things, we are still learning our systems and procedures." The beers are "still a work in progress," as Wicked Barley "continue[s] to chase the perfect beer brewed daily. ... Overall, we are in a good place now, and are truly proud of everyone involved with Wicked Barley."  


Event flyer by Wicked Barley Brewing
Fast forward to what's sure to be a memorable Anniversary Party for all on Saturday. First things first: the first 50 people who enter will receive one free beer in the beer garden. The brewery will sell bottles of its new Jaw Breaker Imperial IPA (11 % ABV) for $20 each (cash only, no limit). Like the first bottle release, there’s also a story with the second one: two of the brewers broke their jaws around the same time, so it became the inspiration for this beer. Says Philip, it's "one of the more challenging beers we have produced," as it went through "a billion" pilot batches (probably not really that many). The beer clocks in at 120 IBUs, and had a 120-minute boil, and a 30-minute whirlpool. The beer is dry-hopped with over 5 pounds of hops per barrel, with multiple additions over a month's time, he explains. "Knowing how hard it was to get the brewery open, and how hard this year has been, sharing a beer that was equally difficult to make with our friends, family and supporters seemed to mesh well." For those wondering how the new Imperial IPA compares to the Eradicator IPA, the difference is mainly in the hops, with JawBreaker featuring Mosaic, whereas Eradicator has Simcoe. That, and the ABV and IBU numbers (8% ABV, 80 IBU for Eradicator). 

Anniversary festivities include live music by Ryan Campbell from Split Tone from 1-5pm, followed by Who Rescued Who from 6-10pm. While the dining room will offer a limited menu, there will be a pig roast in the beer garden. Yard games will also be set up, including Mega Connect Four, Giant Beer Pong, and Inflatable Darts, provided by Jax Play Day. For those who live in Jacksonville Beach, transportation via round-trip shuttle bus will be provided by Jax Brew Bus for $15. To reserve a seat, contact Mike at Jax Brew Bus at (904) 500-2739.

There is no entry fee to attend the party. However, for anyone looking for a behind-the-scenes brewery experience, the crew offers a VIP package from 5-11pm, which includes partying with the brewery owners, a private brewery bar, two drink tickets, one meal ticket, a bottle of the Imperial IPA, and several special beer releases. The VIP ticket ($60) may be purchased ahead of time online.

Wicked Barley looks to continually improve going forward. Look for bottle releases regularly (a sour barrel-aged beer, perhaps?). Plans include renovating the beer garden with hardscape, and adding weather-proof seating and a permanent outdoor bar. When asked whether there have been any unexpected occurrences during the first year (the "didn't-see-that-coming" type of thing), Phil merely responded "too many to list." Generally, for Year 2, Wicked Barley is focused on progressing as a brewery and restaurant. "Seeing customers enjoy our beer, cider and meads along with our food is humbling." The hard work is rewarding, and there's a sense of pride "because you put everything in your soul into the glass."  

Obviously being named "Best Brewpub" was extremely gratifying as an accomplishment over the first year, but just "staying open" has been rewarding in itself. Apparently, a number of people told the crew that they were "crazy" by going with a restaurant concept. "We are still here, and we are just getting started!"

Congratulations to Wicked Barley Brewing!

Wicked Barley Brewing Company is located at 4100 Baymeadows Rd., Jacksonville. Hours are 4-10pm, Monday-Thursday; 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday, with outdoor beer garden open 4-11pm); and 11am-9pm Sunday. There is a parking lot on site, and the place is also accessible by boat or kayak, so feel free to paddle up to the dock!

As you can tell from the previous stories on this site, this writer is no stranger to Wicked Barley and its beers. The tap list generally includes new beers on tap, with a variety of styles to appeal to all. You never know when you'll find something completely unexpected, too (Kottbusser, anyone?). Thanks to Philip Maple for the insights. See you Saturday!

That's it this time around. Stay tuned, as this is just the calm before the storm, so to speak .... 

Cheers! Thanks for reading....

Til next time, 



Linda









Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®

All photos by Linda Johnson


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