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Starting With a Clean Slate: Tabula Rasa Brewing, Jacksonville, Scripting a Future

Getting ready to write its future: Tabula Rasa Brewing
Sept. 11, 2018:  When a father and son have a collective thirty years of homebrewing experience between them, it might be accurate to say that they love beer. It's a family affair at Tabula Rasa Brewing, the newest brewery to open in Jacksonville, Florida, as the Peterson family is scripting its future and looking forward to sharing what they love to do with the community. 

The brewery welcomes the public with a Grand Opening on Friday, September 14 at 4pm. Situated along McCoy's Creek in what's known as the "Railyard District," the venue is housed in the former Mixon Art Studios. A large greenspace to the side and rear of the property provides a serene setting in an industrial area. 


Entrance along the greenspace at McCoy's Creek, Jacksonville


Co-owners Randy, Jackie and Ryan Peterson started planning the brewery in 2015, after Dad Randy and son Ryan spent 20 years and 10 years, respectively, homebrewing in their garage. "It's always been a dream," said Ryan. "We're excited to share what we love." With Randy's background in industrial refrigeration, there's a natural segue into the brewery business. The family previously called Kansas City and Omaha home and relocated to Jacksonville in 2012. Over the past few years, they visited over 40 properties, said Randy, in search of the perfect location to write the next chapter in their lives. While viewing ads for commercial spaces, the term "beer garden" at the former art studio building caught their eyes. Having signed a lease around Thanksgiving 2017, the family began the permitting, licensing and build-out process.


Measuring 8500 square feet, the site holds the 10-barrel brewhouse on one side, and a tap room approximately 1700sf in size on the other. And, there's plenty of room for expansion. 


Randy and Ryan Peterson on the brewdeck
at their 10-barrel brewhouse

Randy and Ryan seemed pretty laid back during an on-site interview this past weekend, even though they were busy putting final touches on the tap wall at the bar and overall getting ready for Opening Day. Going from a homebrew system to a commercial 10-barrel system has meant "learning to brew on a bigger scale," said Ryan. Randy was quick to add "automation," which the new system brings to the brewhouse.  


They're waiting .... shiny new things in the brewhouse
Supporting the brew system are two 10-barrel and two 20-barrel fermenters, with ample space to add more as the business progresses. The entire system was fabricated by American Beer Equipment in Nebraska. The brewers put that brewhouse to work on August 9, when they brewed the first beer, a Cream Ale. Since then, they have brewed three additional beers, and all four will be on tap when the doors open on September 14. Guests will have a chance to taste Jacksonville's newest house beers: Cream Ale, Scarlett Ibis IPA, Garcon de Soleil Belgian Ale, and a Tropical Ale made with Mosaic hops. 


Ready to pour house beers in the tap room!
While Opening Day will feature the first four brews, the list will increase to eight as additional rotating beers are added. As far as what types of beers the public can expect at Tabula Rasa Brewing, Ryan simply said "anything and everything." All styles will be brewed here, and a Porter and Scottish Ale are on the way to the taps soon. "We like doing all types of beers, and it's fun to try new things and new flavors," said Ryan. "We'll keep an open mind."

Future planning includes local distribution of the beers on draft around the Jacksonville area, perhaps as soon as within the first year, said Randy. Canning is also an option beyond that. 

The tap room is a large, open space, with an industrial backbone (to use a beer term), complemented by artistic and eclectic touches. Three large circular windows -- architectural salvage -- give guests a view of the brewhouse and what's going on behind the scenes (brewery cleanliness will be on display for all to see!).


Through the looking glass to the brewhouse


The industrial-vibed tap room includes a wraparound bar with a concrete top, and a number of tables and chairs, along with TVs. 



It's empty now ... but wait ...


And, take a look at that "Tabula Rasa" sign on the wall:
it's made from metal screws


The glassware is ready, too.
Beers will generally be poured in pint or short pours (4 oz), with a few exceptions for those higher gravity brews. Growlers and Crowlers will also be available to take home. 


Fill 'em up!  64 or 32 oz. growlers
If you're looking to enjoy a beer outside, just take your glass through the back door from the tap room, where a large, peaceful greenspace dotted with art pieces awaits. Lawn games will also provide activities to go with your beer.


Goin' outside ...







Last, but not least, what's the name "Tabula Rasa" all about? The name derives from the Latin phrase "Tabula Rasa," translated as "blank slate." The Roman "tabula" was a tablet used for notes, contemplating the emptiness of the slate before writing. There's also a philosophical meaning, dating back to Aristotle's writings of the "unscribed tablet." And, by the way, if you didn't know, it's pronounced "TAB' yew-la RAH-sah." If you didn't know the meaning of the logo before, it makes perfect sense: a Roman tablet ready to write something new. The name goes back to his school days, said Ryan, and it's indeed a reference to starting something new. It's also a great tie-in to craft beer with so many new concepts. Added Randy, "it's also fun to say!"


Along with Randy and Ryan handling the brewhouse duties, Mom Jackie will oversee the operations/ administration and retail side of things. Tap Room Manager Andrew Auster rounds out the managerial crew. 





The Peterson family is "excited" about the new venture and looking forward to "getting people in here," said Ryan. "It's a dream; it's surreal. Is it really happening?" It is, Ryan.

Tabula Rasa Brewing is taking that clean slate and scripting its new chapter, while looking ahead to growing the Railyard District, as it also develops. They may have been relatively quiet so far, but it seems like things are about to change.

Tabula Rasa Brewing is located at 2385 Corbett St., just off of Stockton St., north of I-10. Following the Grand Opening on Friday, September 14, expected hours of operation are: Tuesday-Saturday, noon-10pm; Sunday, noon-8pm; closed Monday. The tap room is family-friendly. 

UPDATE, 9/12/2018: A PRE-OPENING TASTING OF THE NEW BEERS! 


Left to right: Corbett St. Cream Ale (4.9 ABV), 
Garcon De Soleil Belgian Blonde Ale (4.9 ABV),
Scarlet Ibis Grapefruit IPA (5.9 ABV), 

Dancing Palms Tropical Ale (blonde ale-pale ale hybrid; 5.5 ABV)
Yeah, I think you'll like 'em (I did!)


UPDATE: 9/14/2018: Grand Opening Day! 



CHECK OUT WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE ON OPENING DAY, 9/14: SEE VIDEO!


Congrats to the Peterson family on starting their new chapter. Thanks so much to Randy and Ryan for taking some time to chat. It's an awesome space all the way around! Now, bring on the beer!

Cheers!

Til next time,













Linda

Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com

All photos by Linda Johnson
Additional source: Wikipedia

Published: September 11, 2018


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