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Riverside Craft Beer Fest, Jax: From Hazy to Dark to Clear

New beer release from a fest first-timer:
Blume Bier Lager from Bog Brewing, St. Augustine
(all photos: Linda Johnson)

February 26, 2019: That headline could be a weather forecast (and, actually, that's how the day went), but in the end, the 6th Annual Riverside Craft Beer Fest presented by Riverside Rotary in Jacksonville was all about the beer forecast ... and charity! 

The Riverside Craft Beer Fest took place on Saturday, February 23, once again at the Riverside Arts Market under the Fuller-Warren Bridge. Skies were hazy and overcast while crews set up for the late afternoon event, with a 3pm start for the VIP entry. Behind the scenes, tents and tables went up, ice buckets were filled, beer delivered, jockey boxes prepped, and brewery swag was displayed before the clock ticked to 3pm.


Colorful brewery tents lined up in rows and set-up before the fest

Happy and eager volunteers checked in and received their new bright orange event shirts. 


Anyone thirsty? Almost time for a beer! 


The Riverside Rotary staffed a table for merchandise and organization awareness. Great bunch right here!




Speaking of the VIP entry, volunteers and thirsty attendees alike were ready to get this party on the river started: 








For those who have attended this fest in the past, last year featured a new layout with brewery tents arranged by geographic region. The setup was similar this year, with a noticeable increase in the number of breweries -- over 80. The venue is a good fit for a beerfest, with space for the 10 food trucks and picnic tables at the front, open areas to roam around the brewery tent aisles, and a music stage along the river at the rear, with tall tables and tiered seating.


All is calm right before the fest entry (hold that thought)


A look down the main aisle, which featured
local Jax-St Augustine area breweries and Florida breweries.
And, this wasn't all -- breweries to the right and to the left, too!

The first hour, reserved for VIP ticketholders, was fairly calm, and allowed the early attendees a first chance to sample beers. As is the current trend, there were a number of hazy options to fill the souvenir fest glass. It didn't matter which beer style might be sought, because they were all here, from, well, hazy to dark to clear. Yes, sounds like a beer forecast! Beers included new releases, tried-and-true varieties, and new beers to the Jacksonville market (think Wicked Weed Brewing). The top photo, above, is a recently-released lager from Bog Brewing in St. Augustine. 


Welcome to Riverside Craft Beer Fest!

Several local breweries made it to Riverside Craft Beer Fest for the first time, and it was awesome to see them get the word out at this major local fest. It's always a great time chatting with Old Coast Ales (St. Augustine), and here's what co-owner Matt Hooker thought about his inaugural RCBF (and, there's a brief appearance by fest neighbor Bog Brewing, too). Check out the VIDEO:




Following General Admission entry at 4pm, things definitely became more lively, with more people filling the tent areas. Still, lines were a non-issue, and it was easy to walk right up, get a beer, and talk to the brewery rep behind the table. 

Remember that photo, above? Here it is again, a couple of hours later:



Another brewery making its first appearance was Tabula Rasa Brewing, located in the Railyard District of Jacksonville. Tabula Rasa only opened last fall, and father-son team Randy and Ryan Peterson already had the beerfest thing down, including offering some flying disc swag. They were busy pouring beer and introducing themselves to the thirsty crowd. After a quick visit with them, take a a look at what the fest looked like more than halfway through (VIDEO):




And, a still photo, too:


Congrats again to Tabula Rasa Brewing!
Crazy Mona Coconut Porter on the table: 
made with real coconut cream

Beer flowed, more people seemed to be moving around, and things got louder as the afternoon went on. 



Of course, where there's beer, there are more brewers. Taking a stroll by the Main & Six Brewing (Jacksonville) tent, the new Brut Box Hero IPA was touted as a must-taste, so let's indulge in that:


Admittedly, this style has been somewhat confusing,
other than the characteristic dry finish.
This one: fruity, bready, juicy, and dry finish (got that?), and
it just may have been the best one of this style I've tasted.
The photo is cool, too.
Right next door, were the guys from Wicked Barley Brewing (Jacksonville). It was one fun corner, to be sure.


It wasn't this quiet when I walked over here, but
they were able to stand still for a group photo!

What's that? More new beer? 


A very social corner, indeed! The beer?
Jeans in the Pool: Strawberry Kiwi Milkshake IPA
Pretty much like it sounds: yeah, that works!

With a short window of opportunity remaining before heading to volunteer beer-pouring duties, there was time to catch up with some of the Tallahassee contingent, also with news. You may have heard something(?) about Proof Brewing and its brand-spanking-new location that recently opened in downtown Tallahassee. The all-new facility features an 8000sf beer garden, capacity to produce about 5 times more in beer can production (you guys must be really thirsty out there), and has an on-site kitchen. That's gonna be a road trip!


Getting the low-down on the new Proof Brewing location
from head brewer David
Making his first trek to RCBF was also Gabe Grass from GrassLands Brewing in Tally. Stay tuned for some more beer news from these guys, too! (Shhhhhh)


Guava Gold in the glass! Great seeing Gabe in Jax again!

There were a few other characters wandering around, too, but that's not too surprising at a beerfest. And, they were dressed for the part!


Beads and mega pretzels
Beer Dirndls after my own heart!
Just like that, it was then time to get under a tent and behind a table and pour some beer! 


Had a blast pouring for Central 28 Beer Co. (DeBary, FL)
with the Cavalier Distributing crew til the end of the fest. Yes,
I was already familiar with both of the beers and the brewery!
Having worked a bunch of beerfests, it was awesome pouring again!

 
Before the 7pm closing hour, folks were scrambling for that last beer, and then tents and tables came down as darkness rolled in. 







and, every beerfest must come to an end...


Riverside Craft Beer Fest is not only a major beerfest event in Jacksonville, but it should definitely be one that finds its way to your Florida beerfest calendar. With a friendly, spacious layout and a wide variety of beers, it's one to add to your list for next year. Maybe most importantly, it's all for a wonderful and worthwhile charitable cause. The fest beneficiary is Community Peds Care, a local organization that serves children with life-threatening conditions and their families throughout Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns Counties. 

See you at the 7th Annual Riverside Craft Beer Fest in 2020!

It was another fantastic afternoon at Riverside Craft Beer Fest. I've seen this fest evolve over the years, and even though it's getting bigger each year, the organizers find a way to keep it comfortable and friendly in a venue that is not only scenic, but functional. Thanks to Riverside Rotary for another awesome event!

Til next time,














Linda
Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

Escapades, Brews and Running Shoes
www.brewnymph.com

(All photos: Linda Johnson/BrewNymph for BrewNymph.com)



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