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FLORIDA AND LOCAL JAX, JAX BEACH, ST. AUGUSTINE, interviews, events, travel

St Augustine Craft Brewers Fest: A Beerfest Flowed Thru the Fountain of Youth

First fest beer: Dog Rose Brewing Lincolnville Lager
(photo: Linda Johnson/BrewNymph)
May 15, 2019: It's unknown whether the attendees at last Saturday's inaugural St Augustine Craft Brewers' Fest streamed into the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park seeking rejuvenation and a quest for youth (yeah, the fact that it was a "beerfest" was definitely enticing in its own right). However, one thing appeared certain even before it was all said and done: this was indeed a "feel-good" fest. Last fall, the organizers embarked on a journey of their own, found an historic and community venue with an abundance of nature, and fit a beerfest into the scenic site. 

The small, intimate fest brought 26 mostly-Florida breweries together, along with several food trucks, under a tree-lined parcel of land bordering gorgeous marshlands. Add continuous foot-tapping live music, an enclosed climate-controlled VIP event space, and some stunning feathered species roaming the grounds, and it all added up to a relaxed and highly enjoyable event for all. 



This website is an admitted nature lover, and the first hour was spent conversing with the resident peacocks wandering the grounds. If you've never been to the Fountain of Youth before, the loud "wailing" sounds coming from the other side of the fest area may have been somewhat surprising, especially when the source of the sounds came into view. 


Yep, that could've been him making some of that ruckus.
He was actually quite friendly, especially when I got down
on the ground to ask him to cooperate.

He may have had his eye on the beer, though.



The park is also home to several white peacocks, both male and female. This one was rather curious and seemed intrigued by a fascination for a photo. 


And, another successful collaboration for a photo! 


After engaging with the peafowl, it was time for more beer sampling! 


Brewery tents generally lined the perimeter of the fest area under large trees, which provided plenty of natural shade. The setup offered ample space to move around and in between the tents, along with generous placements of picnic tables and standing tables throughout the grounds. Food trucks dotted one side. Cornhole boards were also onsite. On occasion, the calm may have been broken by the firing of the cannons, which appeared to cause more than a few fest-goers to jump. 



A stage with the marshlands as a backdrop hosted live bands all afternoon, leading off with Lonesome Bert and the Skinny Lizards. 


Adjacent to the tree-lined section was the archaeological digging areas, and a walkway over the marshes. 


Of course, there was beer! The invitational beerfest included the four St Augustine breweries (Dog Rose Brewing, Old Coast Ales, Ancient City Brewing and Bog Brewing), a Jacksonville contingent, breweries from across the state and several newer breweries, which may have been a "first look" for many attendees. 

Rockpit Brewing (Orlando) has only been open since February of this year, but owner Jeremy and head brewer Danny drew a crowd (and a number of positive comments) with their Yudu Yuzu Citrus Berliner with lemon lime notes, and a Sour IPA and New England IPA. This new brewery in the DeSoto District, south of downtown Orlando, brews a variety of beer, served on its 20 taps. 

All fun and games with Rockpit Brewing's Owner Jeremy, and
Head Brewer Danny. And, Matt from St Augustine's Old Coast Ales
also got in on things!

Another new-ish brewery making an appearance was Swan Brewing (Lakeland). Having been open for approximately one year, the brewery features a 10-barrel system, and just added two more 20-barrel tanks. The tap room serves about 15 house beers on its 30 taps. It might be worth the trip just for The Bean Coconut Coffee Blonde! It just so happens to be the brewery's most popular beer, according to Justin, Head Brewer. 

The girl can brew, with Meghin, Assistant Brewer, and
Justin, Head Brewer, of Swan Brewing
Another story under the tents was the sneak peek of GrassLands Brewing's (Tallahassee) new can release -- which wasn't released at the time (it was a secret). Word of the brewery's first canned beer circulated about a week ago, but the name and description remained unannounced until earlier this week. In the spirit of suspense, we took a photo of the subject can with the identity hidden.

The can is out of the bag now: it's the new To The Goal Session IPA,
brewed in collaboration with the Tallahassee Soccer Club,
being released on Thursday, May 16. Good sports, as always!
While the beerfest naturally appealed to the beer-minded, the younger set (literally) enjoyed the bounce house and face painting. Moms and Dads seemed to appreciate it. 


This fest also offered a few additional features not seen before. A photo booth! Sponsored by Leonard's Photography, what a fun addition! The photos even were emailed. 


Photos of photos!
One aspect of beer tastings is to actually taste the beer. When sampling glasses aren't rinsed, the result could be a sour-tinged imperial stout that tastes partly like an IPA (well, you get the point). Each tent was equipped with a water rinse bottle, while some brought their own rinse stations. Nice touch. And, how about drinking water? Gotta stay hydrated, right? The four-tap water station allowed people to fill their own water containers. Now, that's a great thought -- provide complementary water, and cut down on the use of plastic bottles at the same time. 

Or, just fill the glass with water in between beer tastings!
Water breaks allowed for more beer samplings! 

The crews from the St Augustine breweries seemed to be all over the place, especially this guy. Matt of Old Coast Ales was constantly on the move. 



As mentioned, a large contingent of neighboring Jacksonville breweries was on site, with a few new beers. Broc and Stacey of Fishweir Brewing with the Stout and the Sours. 



Aardwolf Brewing is always a favorite at beerfests, and the Little Hans Lager is on point. Look for more of it. But, the real question is: How does Lance's hair always look so good? 

Guess the wind kicked up on my side.
From Longwood, Hourglass Brewing even poured a beer made with marionberry (say what?)


Another beer that created a lot of interest was Deep Brewing's (Tallahassee) Subline Keylime Weiss. As usual, attendees commented on the commercial diver's helmet that makes its way around to beerfests, too! 


Another husband-and-wife brewery duo, John and Christine, of First Magnitude Brewing, made the trip from Gainesville. Not only was the Guava Passionfruit Saltwater Intrusion Gose refreshing, but they also brought information about how the brewery is positively impacting conservation and environmental efforts. 

Always a pleasure visiting with John and Christine!
From New Smyrna Beach Brewing, just a bit down the road on I-95, owner/brewer Chris took the ride to St Augustine. If you're looking for a daytrip, check out New Smyrna Beach for its monthly art walk and pub crawl, including a visit to the relocated and expanded New Smyrna Beach Brewing tap room. 


It wasn't all about commercial brewers, though. The St Augustine Home Brewers Club not only served up three beers (Mexican Lager, Schwarzbier, New England IPA), but they were also making a wheat beer. 

With Mexican Lager on the table - nicely done
Real-time activity!
It's always fun and interesting talking beer, and it was no exception when catching up with Roger, owner of local St Augustine bar and eatery, Brewz N Dawgz.


One hot table was under the A Frame Datil Sauce tent, which served bite-sized samples of Italian sausages and brats with Datil Sauce or Double Barrel Hot Sauce. Surfing friends in St Augustine created the sauce. 

Hot stuff!
The Fountain of Youth recently renovated and enclosed its event pavilion with glass panels. Those with VIP tickets gained access to the pavilion stocked with beverage samplings from the St Augustine Distillery and San Sebastian Winery and special food options. 

Inside the Pavilion, a scenic venue for special events.
As the fest neared the closing time, a few more locals wandered around. 


With tents coming down, fest organizer Doug from Dog Rose Brewing stood still just long enough, after moving around the grounds all afternoon. 



Nicely done, St Augustine Craft Brewers Fest, nicely done! 



This inaugural fest gave attendees a beautiful venue with a very attendee-friendly setup and some fun add-ons. It was a walk in the park -- with beer! 

Ponce de Leon would have approved! 

Overheard was talk about next year's fest, so stay tuned for more and be sure to look for it on the 2020 calendar.

And, that's a wrap for now.

Cheers! 
Til next time,













Linda
Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone ®

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(all photos by Linda Johnson/BrewNymph)

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