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Riverside Craft Beer Fest: Picture Perfect in Downtown Jacksonville

J'Ville on Jacksonville: Engine 15 Brewing J'Ville Lager with
Downtown Jacksonville in the background at Riverside Craft Beer Fest
With the downtown Jacksonville skyline looming in the background, the Fuller-Warren Bridge providing shade along the St. Johns River, and the amazing blue sky overhead, beers flowed on a picture-perfect day at the Riverside Arts Market for the Fifth Annual Riverside Craft Beer Festival, presented by Rotary Club of Riverside, on Saturday, February 24.* 


Planning for this year's fest began around 50 weeks ago, said Fest Chair Chris Croft in an earlier interview with this site. Once again, fest proceeds benefit Community Peds Care, a local pediatric hospice program. 




Fest set-up was well underway in the early afternoon before the 3pm VIP early entry. Tents, trucks and crew were scattered around the grounds as beer kegs, cans, and ice found their way to designated tables. Anxious (and probably thirsty) attendees were already wandering around outside of the gates early on. 


Nice truck, Wicked Barley Brewing and Cavalier Distributing

It's time! 



Rotary Club members were ready to answer questions about the organization and offer fest merchandise for sale. It was a pleasure speaking with them for a while! 


Rotarians at the ready: Dale, Kevin, and Mike
Early entry was a breeze! And, yes, the grounds (and beer glasses) filled up as the afternoon gave way to evening ... 




Fest setup allowed for elbow room and space to move around to enjoy all those beers! Speaking of beer, there was plenty of beer flowing: from over 80 beer vendors, including breweries and several distributors, and over 150 beers and ciders. 

New this year was the arrangement of breweries into geographic regions (rather than by distributor): Florida (approximately 40 vendors), Southeast (around 7), Northeast (around 14), Midwest (around 13), West Coast (around 11), and International (around 6). All of the regions were popular all afternoon, but this being a local fest, starting things out in the Florida section seemed the way to go!




After filling the souvenir fest glass with a J'Ville Lager at the Engine 15 Brewing tent (see above cover photo), it was time to move around and explore. Two local Jax breweries-in-planning sampled beers: Fishweir Brewing with three, and Legacy Ale Works with two. Be on the lookout for these new ones sometime in 2018. 


Legacy Ale Works, with owners Matt and Liz, center
Co-owners Tim Thompson and Broc Flores were on hand pouring
Glendale Pale Ale, Bait & Switch Coffee Blonde (photo), and Pucker Factor Kettle Sour.
I should've taken that group photo early on: they must've been taking turns making the rounds
and soaking in the first beerfest. Next time!

With at least 10 food trucks and a separate seating area, beerfest munchies were solved!



What about music? Grandpa's Cough Medicine rocked the beerfest from the end stage by the river all afternoon: 



Fest first-timers Southern Swells Brewing (Jax Beach) poured two popular house beers: Karate in the Garage IPA and the Imperial version, and Kate and Corey were all smiles behind the pretty cool brewery setup.


Yeah, but don't take my glass!
Of course, then you start to find those fun and lovable rowdy brewery types: let's face it, it happens at every beerfest, especially on this site. 


Never a dull moment when you stop at the Bold City Brewery (Jax) table
with Regina and Whit! That Goombay Smash made us do this!
Tallahassee friends from Proof Brewing Co. were the usual amiable fellows, while pouring two classic brews: La La Land IPA and Creatures in the Dark Sweet Stout -- no matter how many times you've had these beers, there's always room for more!


Always crazy with Proof Brewing!
The crowds by this time began to grow: 



The members of CASK Homebrewing club (Jax) brought three beers and a cider, too: 


Looking all beerfest-like
Although Main & Six Brewing attended the fest last year as a brewery-in-planning, Dennis and crew seemed to have some fun behind the table as an official operating brewery this time around. If this wasn't a perfect time for some video, I don't know what was. Can you say Superbloom IPA? I think the crowd got into it, too! 




Fest beers ran the range from favorites to "that's a new one!" One of the rare finds was the "No Rules Vietnamese Porter" from Perrin Brewing (Michigan). CCB-Oskar Blues-Perrin Central Florida rep Eric (didn't I just see him at DeLand a couple of weeks ago?) poured the once-a-year beer. Only six kegs made it to Florida, with three landing in the Jax area. At 15%, it's a sippin' beer, made with coconut, sugar, and aged in bourbon barrels, with a very smooth taste. (Heads up: you'll be able to try it at Engine 15's Stoutageddon on March 3). 


No Rules, just Eric ... and, my beer

That was a pretty good (?) first couple of hours, and then, it was time for me to head over to my beer-pouring duties for the remainder of the fest. I may have gotten sidetracked with another stop at Engine 15 on the way: 


Double Drop IPA the second time around

I've worked many beerfests behind the jockey box, and it's always a great way to connect with fellow beer-lovers! And, educational, too: I was pouring two beers that I hadn't tried before! Oh, just more beerfest fun! 


At The Bruery table: Mash & Coconut Barleywine. Works for me!
Then, seemingly just like that, evening arrived, and another beerfest came to an end.


That's a wrap on another great Riverside Craft Beer Fest!

It was a picture-perfect day for a beerfest, and the first major beer event of the year in Jacksonville was a rockin' time along the river. With an attendee-friendly set-up and a top-notch selection of breweries and beers, Riverside Craft Beer Fest is one to put on your to-do list for next year! 

Huge shout-out to fest organizers for an awesome fest! And, let's give some credit to Mother Nature who couldn't have scripted it any better! Organizers will probably start working on the 2019 fest in about a week or so. Mark it on your calendar! 

Hey, that's it for now. And, just want to say "Thanks" to everyone who took some time to talk beer (and other stuff) with me at the fest!  Your kind words were much appreciated! 

See you with a beer around Florida Somewhere ... Thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Til next time, 





Linda



Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com

(all photos by Linda Johnson)

* Note: Ah, yes, great minds must think alike! Shortly after entering the beerfest, I looked for a photo op that would be my cover photo for this article. When I looked at the view of downtown Jacksonville from across the river, I knew that I had the perfect photo, and that's when I took my empty fest glass to the Engine 15 tent for a pour of J'Ville Lager - J'Ville on Jacksonville. While taking the photos, I thought to myself that it's "picture perfect" on this gorgeous day. After I wrote this story, I saw that the Riverside Craft Beer Fest had used the term "picture perfect" in a Facebook post during the fest on Saturday. I hadn't seen that post beforehand, and use of the phrase was purely coincidental. That said, I'm known to use weather references fairly frequently, and this fest dealt with some severe weather a few years ago. 


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