Showing posts with label Jax Ale Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jax Ale Trail. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Engine 15 Brewing Seventh Anniversary: Annual Chupacabra Three Ways

Last week, Engine 15 Brewing Co. hosted a Vertical Tasting of its annual Imperial Chupacabra Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout, an event which leads into its Seventh Anniversary party and bottle release on Saturday, July 1 at its Jacksonville Beach brewpub. Masters of Ceremonies and Brewery Co-owners Luch Scremin and Sean Bielman imparted some humorous anecdotes much to the delight of the event attendees (picture bourbon barrels so fresh that they contained "charcoal black liquid" in 2014). The pre-anniversary event featured tastings of Chupacabra from 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, along with this year's 2017 versions (yes, that last one is plural). 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

making HEADlines:


Jacksonville Beach FL: Next week,  Engine 15 Brewing Co. officially releases bottles of its annual "Imperial Chupacabra" Russian Imperial Stout at its seven-year anniversary party.  Brewery fans won't have to wait until July 1 to taste it, though, as co-owners Luch Scremin and Sean Bielman present the 2017 version at a special pre-anniversary Vertical Tasting featuring five years of the house anniversary brew on Thursday, June 22, at 6:30pm. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Green Room Brewing Barrels Into Sixth Anniversary

With its laid-back beach and surfing vibe and named after one of surfing's most sought-after wave actions, Green Room Brewing in Jacksonville Beach is heading into its Sixth Anniversary on Saturday, June 17 with a quiet intensity. Much like being in the barrel of a wave for surfers, the brewery on Third Street will be the place to be when it releases its annual Secret Spot Imperial Stout aged in Dominican rum barrels for the special occasion. Festivities will begin at noon on Saturday, with limited bottles of the annual anniversary beer available for purchase. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Making HEADlines: 


Jacksonville Beach, FL: Green Room Brewing is set to release the 2016 version of its Quetzalcoatl Imperial Mayan Red Ale, made with cassava root, poblano and serrano peppers and chocolate. Since 2012, each December, Green Room offers the unique beer on tap and through a limited bottle release in its tap room. The occasion calls for a day-long party, featuring special treatments of the red ale available on draft in the special events "brewery bar." This year, the event will also include newly-tapped Christmas beers. Bottles of the Quetzalcoatl ale - limited to 500 - will go on sale to the general public at noon on Saturday, December 17 only at the brewery.

This past May, the brewers went one further, with a special limited edition of the ale aged in tequila barrels. That release party also included a separate brewery bar taplist featuring the Quetzalcoatl in Horchata, Java, Mango & Cocoa, Datil & Lime, and Lime Salt Brett treatments. If that bottle release is any indication, be forewarned: these bottles go fast. The May bottle release sold out in about an hour and a half. The ale is inspired by Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind and learning, which translates as "feathered serpent." [source: Wikipedia].

The Just Doggin It food truck will be at the brewery, and Firewater Tent Revival will provide live entertainment in the evening. 

Green Room Brewing, a surfing-themed brewery in the heart of Jax Beach, celebrated its fifth anniversary in June.  Read the anniversary story here.

Green Room Brewing is located at 228  - 3rd St. North in Jax Beach. 

(NOTE: This story also appears on Jacksonville BUZZ at the "Beer Buzzed" tab under the "Nightlife" Section of

Certified Cicerone®

Monday, November 14, 2016

Intuition Ale Works Sixth Anniversary "Week" is Here

The week before Thanksgiving means lots of things. Around the Jax craft beer community, it means Intuition Ale Works hosts an Anniversary Party. And, not "just" a party -- an entire week of beer events leading up to an Anniversary Bash. This year marks Intuition's Sixth Anniversary, and the week-long celebration starts November 15. So, mark those calendars and join the party!

First of all, by now, you know that Intuition opened its new brewery and tap room on East Bay St. in Downtown Jacksonville adjacent to the Sports Complex in September, and closed its original Riverside location. (Just making sure. And, if you didn't know that, check out the preview story here.)

The Anniversary Week starts off on Tuesday, November 15, with a Food & Beer Pairing Dinner with Black Sheep Restaurant, featuring an opening reception followed by five chef-created culinary courses paired with five limited-release and/or new Intuition beers. Featured at the Reception is the "Backyard Brawl" Berliner Weisse (light, tart beer with peaches and oranges), the collaboration with Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville) and Terrapin Beer Co. Athens GA) for the Florida-Georgia festivities. The courses will be complemented by these brews: AWC SMaSH ("Single Malt and Single Hop"), Barrel Rested Saison (session saison aged in red wine barrels), Stateline IPA (IPA with Georgia peaches), All Night Diner BBQ Breakfast Stout (featuring smoked malts, maple syrup and coffee), and 
Underdark 2016 (Underdark is an annual Imperial Stout release that occurs in February; the 2016 version was aged in Rye Whiskey barrels). You'll need a ticket to attend ($50), which you can purchase here (view the full menu, too). The event will be held at Intuition Ale Works.

On Wednesday, November 16, join in an epic pub crawl around downtown Jacksonville nightlife spots, with a cast of Intuition crew and enthusiastic revelers. The adventure starts at Intuition Ale Works at 4pm. From there, crawl your way around to Dos Gatos, Burrito Gallery Downtown, The Volstead, Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub & Restaurant, Spliff's Gastropub, and The Hourglass Pub & Coffee House (in that order).

Next up, on Thursday, take some time to "Detox/Retox" at Intuition, with Yoga by Yoga 4 Change at 6pm. Then, indulge with savory sweet treats and cold brew from BREW Five Points.

On Friday, the fun continues with Family Game Night -- featuring arcade games, a bounce house, face painting, and more activities.

The week culminates with the Anniversary Party! If you've never been to an Intuition Ale Works Anniversary Party, get ready to experience an all-out blitz of beer. Intuition will tap over 15 special one-off beers. The event also includes live music by Strangerwolf, Wise River, and West King Street Band, and on-site screenprinting by Shipyard Dog.

Follow all of that up on Sunday and call it a week at the Hangover Brunch. Enjoy special brunch items crafted by Black Sheep at Intuition, along with beermosas and special beers (there's something about a "Graham Boat" - hmmm). The brewery will release bottles of its Premonition No. 2 (Imperial Saison with Local Honey aged in Rum Barrels), so you can keep the party going.

Happy Anniversary (Week) to Intuition Ale Works! See you there!

Intuition Ale Works is located at 929 E. Bay St., downtown Jacksonville, adjacent to the Sports Complex. 

There's always something going on in the craft beer world, and so much right here in Florida! Be sure to take a look at the BeerSPHERE Page and the TAP THIS Page on this website for events, both state-wide and local (North Florida). It's getting tougher and tougher to figure out which one to go to!  (But, I'll try to do what I can!). 


Til next time, 


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

(story modified from original publication by Linda Johnson on the Beer Buzzed Page of the Nightlife section on

©2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hello, Wicked Barley Brewing Company!

[Ed. Note: Since writing this story, Wicked Barley has expanded its hours, and  it is now open seven days a week, opening on Mondays & Tuesdays at 4pm.]

Jacksonville's newest brewpub and brewery, Wicked Barley Brewing Company, opened its doors to the public today at 5pm with a soft opening. While the full-service kitchen serves its complete housemade menu items, the bar currently features 20 guest taps of beer and cider (temporarily) until the Wicked Barley "Naughty Ales for Noble Souls" are ready to hit the taps. The pub hours on Wednesday and Thursday are 11am-11pm. Friday is a day of preparation for the Grand Opening on Saturday, July 30 at 11am. 

Photo by Small Business Development Center at UNF
Philip Maple and crew: a proud moment!

Wicked Barley Brewing held a preview night on July 22 to introduce the crew, the brewery, and the menu to attendees. Philip Maple, co-founder and brewmaster, did the honors at the ribbon cutting ceremony and also provided an entertaining summary of how the co-founders worked to achieve this dream, while also thanking the Small Business Development Center at UNF for its guidance. Attendees learned that the brewery has received its federal Brewer's Notice at long last, meaning that the brewers will be putting that shiny new brewhouse to work! Look for another celebration in September when the brewery anticipates pouring around 10 Wicked Barley house beers in the bar. 

visited the brewery in April during construction, attended the preview tastings in May, and visited again in early July as part of the Beer Bloggers Conference pre-conference tour in Jax. Check out those preview articles for background information, along with construction and brewhouse photos. It's all in place now... 

Dining Area: Check out the views!

The dining/bar area features an industrial/casual ambience, with an upscale touch. Oversized picture windows offer beautiful views of the surrounding wooded creek area. Inside, guests can sit at the bar, the center bar, or at tables. The outside covered deck and beer garden areas offer additional seating at picnic tables. And, as you've heard by now, there's that gorgeous 100-foot boat dock along Goodby's Creek (see prior article for photos!).

Get some cool Wicked Barley merch..... (not the kayak)

Your mouth will be watering with dishes like these:

Seasoned shoestring fries in ginger, garlic, cilantro;
with lemon aioli sauce

Hand-cut Vidalia Onion Rings; ranch or jalapeno ranch sauce
These are perfect!
Wisconsin Cheese Curds: ranch or jalapeno ranch sauce.
Ya, Hey, Cheesehead! 
Grilled Portobello -- for the veg heads
And, from the outside (brewery with a view):

This will be a fun place to grab a beer (or more), enjoy the high-quality housemade food, watch some TV, or just chill out.  The crew is passionate, and it's been fun watching these guys get here (although they may not agree with the "fun" part til now).

Cheers, Wicked Barley Brewing!

Wicked Barley Brewing Company is located at 4100 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville. Regular hours (starting Saturday, July 30) are 11am-11pm, Wednesday thru Sunday; closed Monday & Tuesday. 

Congrats, Wicked Barley Brewing, and we're looking ahead to those Naughty Ales! 



© 2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere, Beer is my Trademark, and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Of Bus Rides 'n Beer: From Bold City to Cigar City, Beer Bloggers Conference 2016 Covered It

Around this time last year, I was following the tweets from Asheville, NC as those attending the 2015 Beer Bloggers Conference energetically took to social media to report their real-time accounts of the activities. I noticed a blend of snippets about beer education and beer drinking -- not too surprising, I concluded. I thought that maybe I should attend one of these conferences in the future, and awaited the announcement of the 2016 Conference location. And, with a rising level of fanfare, there it was: TAMPA! WooHoo! That's only a 3.5 hour drive from my home base in North Florida, so I was immediately psyched. 

Around 51 weeks later, itinerary in hand, I prepared to attend my first Conference as a beer blogger/writer. But, it gets even better: let's start things off with a Pre-Conference Excursion to Jacksonville. Score again. I'm already familiar with the Jax breweries as a patron, blogger, and brewery tour guide, so I thought it would be cool to visit them from a different perspective as part of a group of inspired beer-lovers! The pre-con day, organized and hosted by Visit Jacksonville, gave the group an exciting look at downtown Jax and the nearby Riverside and San Marco areas. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Engine 15 Brewing Company: Enjoy the Ride!

When co-owners Luch Scremin and Sean Bielman opened Engine 15 Brewing Company six years ago in Jacksonville Beach, I wonder if they had any idea about the ride they would take: from homebrewing on a one-barrel system, to opening a brewpub in a shopping center on Beach Blvd. with a 5-barrel brewhouse system, to acquiring a warehouse production facility with a 20-barrel system and an outdoor beer garden, to a mead and cider operation. The brewery celebrated its Sixth Anniversary this past week (July 2), and it's clear that this Engine is on the move!

I'm no stranger to the Engine 15 brewpub, its beer and its events: I like the beer, and I like the people who work there and those who hang out there. It's the only brewery in Jacksonville to offer a huge 50-tap beer bar. One of the coolest things about this brewery (and there are more than a few) is that on any given day, you'll find around 15 to 20 Engine 15 house beers on tap: from the popular lighter J-Ville Lager to red ales to IPAs to stouts, and various treatments of brewery favorites along the way. 

But, let's start with the Sixth Anniversary party!

The brewery featured two events for its Anniversary: a four-year Vertical Tasting of its annual limited release bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Chupacabra Russian Imperial Stout on Thursday night, and the Chupacabra Bottle Release and Anniversary Party on Saturday. Although the bottle release started at 11am, a number of local beer aficionados who just had to have it began lining up as early as 7:30 am on Saturday, according to co-owner Sean Bielman. 

Photo by Engine 15 Brewing Company

And, speaking of the owners, sometimes it's tough to tell that they actually own the place, because they always seem to be working! Especially during busy times and events, Luch and Sean can be seen clearing glasses and tables and bringing those glasses back to the bar for washing and refilling. These are guys who don't mind rolling up those sleeves and getting to work. When I first saw Luch Saturday, he had his hands full (literally) with empty glasses from the large crowd.

Large crowds at the Engine 15 brewpub for the Anniversary Bottle Release and Party!

And, look at all those Engine 15 beers, and two ciders, on tap:

These are "just" the house beers on tap....

In addition to the Engine 15 beers and guest taps, the bar also featured additional timed releases all afternoon of new and limited E15 beers (such as Bloody Battle Axe Blood Orange IPA and Grapefruit Double Drop IPA) and favorites and new releases from other craft breweries, including several popular Funky Buddha Brewery beers. 

There was even a cake:

Luch and Sean with the
celebration Anniversary cake
(photo by Kara Phelps Scremin)
If you haven't been to Engine 15 Brewing in Jax Beach, be sure to mark this on your brewery visit or beertrip itinerary. The pub has the feel of a Bavarian beer garden. Those 50 taps are always pouring cold beer, and you can even get a brat, Cuban sandwich, or other pub food offerings. Visit the online menu here.  If you like video arcade games, head to the back of the pub and the arcade. Or, just sit at the bar or tables and watch some sports on TV. It seems that there are always more than a few friendly types here sipping on some beer, so you might even find someone to talk beer with! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Catch the Wave: Green Room Brewing in Jax Beach

Five years ago: After moving to North Florida from the Midwest (five years ago this past April), I began reading about Green Room Brewing, a new microbrewery opening in Jacksonville Beach. Not too surprisingly, this sounded like a pretty cool place! It ended up being the first craft brewery in the area that I visited, and, five years later, I'm drawn to the surf-and-beach-inspired tap room and some of the most creative beers you will find anywhere.

On Saturday, June 18, Green Room Brewing will celebrate its 5th Anniversary, with its annual 
Photo by Green Room Brewing
bottle release of the "Secret Spot" Imperial Stout. This year's version of the special brew (11% ABV) has been aged in Dominican Republic rum barrels for six months. And, as if that weren't enough to tempt your taste buds, the brewery will also have several other treatments of the stout on tap, including variations with coconut, vanilla and coffee. In addition, a small batch of the brew was also aged a second time in Palm Ridge Reserve whisky barrels (the "Double Barrel Secret Spot"). And, while Green Room's anniversary has become synonymous with the Secret Spot stout, that's not all that awaits. The brewery will also release bottles of its 1000th batch, appropriately named "Thousand Beer Storm," a triple IPA with gallberry honey and dry-hopped with Citra hops. Also on tap will be the Tequila Barrel Quetzalcoatl, Green Room's imperial Mayan red ale (11% ABV) and the Triple Overhead triple IPA (13% ABV). About 600 bottles each of the Secret Spot and Thousand Beer Storm will be available, and Mug Club members get first dibs on it on Friday night. If you're looking to purchase one of these prized bottles, history suggests that you get over to Green Room early on Saturday, because the supply is highly likely to be wiped out quickly. The anniversary party starts at noon, and the food truck Just Doggin' It will be onsite all day. Popular local band Firewater Tent Revival takes the stage Saturday night. Whew, that sounds like a party!

Haven't been to Green Room Brewing? Walk in the front door, and you'll immediately sense the laid-back, chill, surfing vibe. The brewery takes its name from the barrel of the wave that surfers strive to find. And that "Secret Spot" name? According to co-owner and Director of Brewing Operations, Eric Luman, the name for the annual beer is a reference to one of the most popular local surfing spots, The Poles (well, it might not be so secret any more). Eric runs Green Room Brewing along with co-owner/President and uncle Mark Stillman. Before they opened the brewery in 2011, each of them had hands-on experience in breweries, with Mark on the business side, and Eric on the brewing side.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

So Close, You Can Taste It (This Weekend): Preview of Wicked Barley Brewing Company

[Ed. Note, 5/29/2016: So as not to confuse anyone, these tastings occurred Friday/Saturday, May 27 & 28, 2016. But, read on, because you're going to want to go here when it opens. The beers offered at the tastings were on point: A good mix of styles, and some creativity. I loved the Black Rye IPA (in fact, that was my new No. 1800 beer checkin, a special occasion!) See photos on social media sites. See also, my story on the Beer Bloggers Conference, which included a visit here. Yeah, this is gonna be good .....][Opening Day is July 30, 2016, at 11am. They'll be serving food, along with beer from 20 guest taps until they get their federal brewer's license.]

It started with an idea six years ago. Searches of existing business properties didn't quite yield the "a-ha, this-is-it" place. Then, the co-founders of Wicked Barley Brewing Company decided to do an original build. When they saw the undeveloped property along Goodby's Creek on Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville, they knew that they had found "it," and they purchased the land in 2013. After a not-so-fast-forward through various financing and permitting issues, the group cleared the property and broke ground last summer for what will soon be Jacksonville's newest craft brewery.  

Signs point to the progress at the
construction site of
Wicked Barley Brewing, Jacksonville
Gearing up for a mid-summer opening, co-founders Philip Maple, Tobin Turney and Brett Baker are more than ready to open the doors and start serving craft beer and pub fare to the Jacksonville public at the brand new venue. While taking the project from creation through endless paperwork, and from groundbreaking through construction may be exciting (??), they're eagerly anticipating putting that chapter behind them, and starting the next phase of running the brewpub. I met with the guys and toured the property a few weeks ago, and I can tell you that it is an impressive venture (more on that below).  

There has been significant local press lately about the brewery, as it nears completion and generates more interest. Further, Wicked Barley recently made a pretty big-news announcement that it hired Fred Thibodeaux, lead brewer at Cigar City Brewing since April 2013, as its new production manager. And, while construction appears to be winding down, what you might not have heard much about is the beer!  

Just in time for the long holiday weekend, the brewers from Wicked Barley Brewing will do a two-part "tour" around Jacksonville, where you will be able to sample some of the beers that they have been brewing and intend to offer at the brewpub once its permitting process is complete. Because the brewery is awaiting notice of its federal brewer's permit from the government, it is unable to sell its beer at this time. 

One look at the Wicked Barley website, and you'll immediately notice the tagline "Naughty Ales for Noble Souls." Even the logo expresses the concept: a devil with a halo. It looks like the brewers will be taking some chances on the beer and delivering up some creative recipes that may be a bit different from the norm. I think we'll all be OK with that! And, they're making mead and cider, too. So, what can you expect to taste this weekend?

Join Philip, Tobin, and the "new guy" Fred first on Friday night, May 27, in Jax Beach from 6-8pm at Really Good Beer Stop, a craft beer package store that also features 20 taps of local, regional and national craft beer available for filling in a growler or "Crowler." (In case you don't know about it yet, check out my story here). Here's what the tap list will look like:

Drink Me Copper Pale Ale, 4.9% ABV
White IPA, served through a randall with Cascade and Orange/Lemon Zest, 6% ABV
Left Leg Lager, a German style lager, 5.5% ABV
Tropical Saison Gold, 6.5% ABV
Strawberry Mango Mead, 9% ABV
Wicked Barley Cider, 7% ABV, brewed with local orange blossom honey

Follow that up on Saturday, May 28, from 12-6pm, in San Marco/Jax at Beer:30 San Marco, a craft beer package store that also offers beers on tap and holds some pretty impressive tappings of new and limited releases. The Wicked Barley guys are really bringing the beer, because there's a new beer list for this one:

Token Black Rye IPA, 7.8% ABV
Brierwood Brown Cask Ale, 5.75% ABV, dry hopped with Fuggle hops
Raspberry Berliner Weisse, 3.5% ABV
Belgian Blonde, 6% ABV
Wicked Barley Cider, 7% ABV, brewed with local orange blossom honey
Adults Only Hard Rootbeer Mead, 6.5% ABV, made with local Gallberry Honey

I'd say that the Wicked Barley crew has been pretty busy lately! 

Photo by Linda Johnson
When the brewpub opens, you'll be able to get there by boat or kayak, too. The brewpub property features a newly-built 100-ft dock along the creek, that makes for a stunning setting.

Photo by Linda Johnson
The exterior of the building offers a covered patio and beer garden:

Photo by Linda Johnson
This is what it looked like a few weeks ago
Even if you're dining and having a couple of beers inside, you'll be able to enjoy the picturesque setting through the oversized picture windows:

Photo by Linda Johnson
Photo by Linda Johnson

And, I am really looking forward to seeing the completed brewery and its transformation from the buildout phase.  Here's what the brewhouse area looked like a few weeks ago:

Photo by Linda Johnson

The property is around 7000 sf, and the tap room occupies around 2200 sf. The brewpub will seat around 200 people. A glass wall will separate the brewhouse from the bar and dining area, and there will be an open kitchen. You'll be able to purchase Wicked Barley merchandise and packaged beer to-go, too. The brewpub will be a family-friendly place, so feel free to bring the kids, and there's even a kids' menu. Wicked Barley will be open for lunch and dinner right from the get-go. All of the food will be made in-house. The bar will offer 20 taps, with the capability to expand to 40.  If necessary, while it awaits its federal permit, the brewpub will serve "guest" craft beers. The brewpub menu will satisfy your hunger by offering appetizers, sausages and pizzas - perfect with beer! The theme will be woodsy, drawing on the nearby creek and trees. Lastly, there's on-site parking.

The 15-barrel brewhouse equipment is in storage and awaiting its move to the brewery, along with six 15-barrel fermenters and two 3-barrel fermenters for mead and cider. The guys also have a 1-barrel system that they currently use for homebrewing. The brewhouse will include a reverse-osmosis water system to produce crisper tastes and a yeast lab. While the focus is on the brewpub and offering the highest-quality food and beer onsite, the facility also includes pre-planned space for expansion of the brewhouse and a canning line for the future. And, those "Naughty Ales?" The brewery will brew a line of "core" beers that you can expect regularly, and there will be a wide range of different styles offered. 

The brewhouse operations will be staffed by Philip as brewmaster, who has homebrewed for over six years. Philip will create new recipes, run the yeast lab and oversee overall quality control in addition to brewing. The commercial brewery will already have around 18-20 solid recipes that have been brewed consistently on the smaller system. Dad, Bob Maple, takes on the role of Head Brewer, after homebrewing since around 1995, and he will continue to create new recipes and brew. Tobin Turney is the brewery operations director, and while he will also brew beer, he'll attend to all of the daily operations and administrative paperwork, like making sure that the bills get paid so that the lights stay on, and the electricity keeps the beer cold. Brett Baker assumes the duties of Tap Room Operations Director, and Bradley Sueflohn is the Executive Chef. Philip and Tobin currently work in corporate IT "day jobs," and they are looking forward to concentrating on the brewpub and trading in the corporate life for the full-time brewery life (that may be understatement). 

As mentioned above, now added to the mix is Fred Thibodeaux, most recently of Cigar City Brewing. When I toured the property earlier, Philip stated that the brewery was bringing on a "high-profile" brewer with expertise (who he couldn't name yet), to assist with sour and barrel-aged products that Wicked Barley will offer. Currently, Fred and Philip are evaluating the recipes to bring them to scale to the new 15-barrel system. In an interesting approach, the two are having a "brew-off" type of activity, in which they will further examine the recipes and make some "tweaks" as necessary -- may the best recipe win!  As Production Manager, Fred will oversee brewery procedures and controls, as well as creating new recipes and getting the lab going. 

It's all a team effort, and each one of the brewhouse staff will be working in any number of capacities and "doing whatever needs to be done" as the brewpub opens. Eventually, they expect to divide out the responsibilities a bit more and work on individual jobs at the brewery, but they are also making sure that each of them is "cross-trained" to handle anything. That is, anything "except lifting the heavy stuff," according to Philip, because it appears that that's already been delegated to Tobin and Fred. Hear that, guys?   

Wicked Barley Brewing Company is an independent brewery/brewpub, located at 4100 Baymeadows Road, just east of San Jose Blvd., in Jacksonville. Stay tuned for more information about the opening of the newest brewery in Jax, coming at you this summer.  

It's so close now, the guys behind Wicked Barley can taste it. 

Have a great weekend, everyone! And, here's to Summer! It looks like the summer of 2016 will be rockin throughout Florida with a number of pretty cool events. Be sure to check out the BeerSphere Events and Tap This Calendar pages on this website so that you can keep your taste buds happy with all this awesome beer in the Sunshine State. Hey, I'll see you out there around Florida somewhere....

Til next time,


Let's Have a Beer .... in Jacksonville, Fla! (repeat trip)

[NOTE: I thought it was time to write about the Jacksonville breweries, and, really, it's been long overdue. I am thrilled to have written this story especially for the Beer Bloggers Conference (BBC) 2016, and it was posted recently on the Beer Bloggers Conference website as a lead story. The Conference is held in a different beer-centric city each year. This time around, it heads to Tampa July 8-10, along with a featured pre-con visit to Jacksonville. I'm excited to be a part of the BBC this year and want to say "Thanks" to the BBC for this opportunity. This is the first in a series of the Jax area breweries, so stay tuned.  And, by the way, a special "thank you" goes out to the Jax area breweries!] ....

[Edited from initial posting in April]

Where?  Craft beer popularity continues to grow all around the Sunshine State, and although the Tampa area may get the most attention, it’s time to take a look at the craft beer movement in Jacksonville that's been steadily gaining steam. After all, Jacksonville (known as "Jax") is home to eight craft breweries, a macro brewery, three established brewpubs, and at least two more breweries in the works. Jacksonville is the largest city in the US in terms of square miles. It's home to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the St. Johns River, one of only two northward-flowing rivers. And, nearby Jacksonville Beach provides the area with a laid-back, yet eclectic, beach and surfing scene. Generally, Jax is divided into different named sections. And, although they are separate municipalities, the cities of Jacksonville Beach and Orange Park are generally included in the Jax craft brewery mix, too. 

As a local beer blogger, beertender and brewery tour guide, I get to talk about beer and the area breweries, in addition to making regular visits ... and, doing some tasting! It's all part of the job (really, it's work; but, yeah, it's pretty cool). So, let's take a tour of what Jacksonville has to offer the craft beer enthusiast, beer traveler, and the craft beer newcomer alike. Each brewery is quite different from the other, and there’s something here for everyone!

If you're just getting to know the Jax breweries, you might want to start with an online visit to the Jax Ale Trail. An award-winning initiative of area tourism bureau Visit Jacksonville, the Jax Ale Trail provides an overview of the local breweries in an interactive way. Pick up your Jax Ale Trail Passport at any of the eight participating breweries or the downtown visitor center, and as you visit each brewery, get that passport stamped. Obtain four stamps, and you'll earn a specially-designed Jax Ale Trail koozie. Get all eight, and you'll be rewarded with a logoed t-shirt. 

So, buckle up, and let's get this tour rollin'.....

Riverside and San Marco Breweries

Just outside of downtown Jacksonville across the river are the Riverside, Five Points and San Marco areas, several of the "hottest" parts of town, featuring walkable sidewalks lined with shops, restaurants and bars.

BOLD CITY BREWERY   Riverside is home to Jax's "oldest" and largest craft brewery, Bold City BreweryInspired by the city's moniker "Bold New City of the South," the brewery urges everyone to "Be Bold." Walk into almost any local bar or restaurant around town, and you’re likely to find at least one of the three Bold City core beers: Killer Whale Cream Ale, Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale, Mad Manatee IPA. 

Duke’s Brown Ale (6%), a mildly nutty brown with a touch of caramel and chocolate, is
highly recognizable and extremely popular around Jax. The Duke’s label features a likeness of the family’s late beloved pet boxer, Duke. If a refreshing, lighter beer with no hop bitterness is more your style, check out Killer Whale Cream Ale (5.5%). It’s a go-to beer for many, and goes with anything. You can always find Killer Whale watching over things at the brewery. The Mad Manatee IPA (6.5%) offers a hop bite along with floral and citrus flavors. And, note the artwork here: it’s a tribute to the Florida manatee and its struggles with boats. 

Bold City launched in 2008 when mother and son duo Susan and Brian Miller decided to say goodbye to their “day jobs” at an insurance company and pursue a life of malt and hops. Brian had also homebrewed since 2002 and realized his true calling.  When you drive up to the brewery, you may not immediately know what it is. Situated in a warehouse next to railroad tracks, the brewery now houses the biggest tanks in Jax. The 20-barrel brewhouse is complemented with these big boys: three 40-barrel fermenters, one 80-barrel fermenter and, one 120-barrel fermenter. Keeping those tanks company are three brite tanks, holding 40, 80 and another 120 barrels in each. The brewery took delivery of those 120’s last year. Look outside, and you’ll see the brewery’s two grain silos, the only ones in town. Demand for Bold City beer is high, as the brewery produces reliable and consistent beer, enjoyed by both craft newbies and regulars.

Bold City started canning its beers onsite in July 2013, and the three core beers are readily available in virtually every local grocery and liquor store. In addition to the Jax/North Florida area, the distribution also extends to Tampa, Sarasota, Daytona, Orlando and Gainesville.

If you want to taste the beers “at the source,” visit the Bold City tap room, open Thursday to Saturday. The tap room is reminiscent of a cozy inn.  It offers the core beers, plus additional house beers such as Archie’s Rhino Rye Pale Ale (one of my favorites), named after the white rhino at the Jacksonville Zoo. Be on the lookout for Roxy’s Finest Imperial Cream Ale, 1901 Red Ale (a roasty, smoky red ale named after the Great Fire of Jacksonville in 1901), Big John’s Apricot Wheat, Fritz Hefeweizen, Secret Stout, and seasonals like Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ale. Every so often, the brewers release a few surprises, such as cask beers or special treatments of Killer Whale or Duke’s (the almond coconut version last fall was a special treat). An onsite kitchen staffed by LaBodega features Cuban and finger foods. Stop by when one of the local bands plays in the brewhouse, and your feet will be tapping right along with that beer. “Firewater Fridays” are hugely popular once-a-month foot-stomping nights when local band Firewater Tent Revival appears. And, if you’d like to get a look at how the beer is made, take a brewery tour on Saturdays between 2-5pm.

In late 2015, Bold City announced plans to expand operations by building a new, smaller brewhouse and tap room in downtown Jax on Bay St. Anticipated to open in Fall 2016, the new digs will feature a 3-barrel brewhouse and will produce small and experimental batches.

All of the Jax breweries are active in charitable events, and Bold City is no exception.  The brewery regularly hosts events onsite and is a sponsor or featured brewery at other local fundraisers (many for animal welfare groups), such as the recent Toast to Conservation at the Jacksonville Zoo, which included the above-mentioned white rhino, Archie.

You’re sure to have a fun time at Bold City Brewery!

Next up, we only have a very short trek to our second brewery stop ….

INTUITION ALE WORKS  Literally just over the tracks in the Riverside area is Intuition Ale Works, founded in 2010 by local entrepreneur Ben Davis, who applied his coffee and wine background to the craft beer biz. Here’s another large production brewery that hasn’t had a shiny storefront, but it’s what’s inside that counts. The first time I visited, I drove right by. And, inside, Intuition has been producing a combination of popular core beers, one-offs, and its annual celebrated February release of the highly sought-after Underdark Imperial Stout (there’s even an annual all-day blockbuster of a party). The 2016 version of Underdark was aged in whiskey barrels.

The tap room is cozy and comfortable, and the bartending staff is friendly and knowledgeable. It’s always a popular stop on the bus. Find one of the 20 beers on tap on one of the two chalkboards on either side of the tap room. The four core beers are tried and true, and the brewers always seem to release new beers that are a bit out of the ordinary, from saisons to barrel-aged. Stop by the tap room on One-Off Wednesdays for a special treatment of one of the core beers or a special release.

 In February 2012, Intuition was the first brewery in the state to start canning its beers on its current 10-barrel system. The brewery has regularly canned four of its main beers, which are available just about everywhere in the Jax area: Jon Boat Coastal Ale (lager-like golden ale that’s a go-to lighter beer), People’s Pale Ale (citrusy and hoppy pale ale), I-10 IPA (a hoppy IPA featuring four hops), and King St. Stout (an oh-so-smooth imperial stout that’s one of my favorites here). Recently added to the canning line is Easy on the Eyes (citrusy Session IPA). Intuition’s beers are regularly found on draft all around town and are distributed throughout Central and North Florida. 

The tap room offers a variety of house beers, and at any given time, you’re likely to find a kolsch-style ale, several Belgian ales,  black, red and brown ales and others. Recently, Intuition tapped Knothead Alt, a malty, easy to drink altbier that I enjoyed so much I made a point of bringing it to the attention of the riders on my bus tour last weekend. Another new tapping you’ll want to try is the Wheelhouse Dark Brown Ale, a toasty and nutty ale made with rye for a bit of spiciness.

And, when Intuition throws an anniversary party, it does so on a grand scale. For its fifth anniversary all-day party last November, in addition to featuring two bands and food trucks, Intuition offered  just under 50 house beers on tap, including core beers, special treatments, familiar re-releases and more.

Lately, however, the big news surrounding Intuition Ale Works has been the construction of its new brewery and tap room in downtown Jacksonville, adjacent to the sports complex and Veterans Memorial Arena. Work is underway, and when completed, Intuition will move its operations to the new location (over 20,000 square feet of leased space). With the new location also comes an increase in brewing capacity, in the form of a new 30-barrel brewhouse. The brewery will be neighbors with Manifest Distilling, also under construction on the property. An opening by Fall of this year is anticipated, much to the joy of sports fans and concert attendees (including yours truly). Get ready for that Sixth Anniversary party, because it promises to be one major event. And, about that shiny storefront? I don’t think anyone will have any trouble finding it.

Now, let’s head out for a short drive over to the San Marco area of Jacksonville …

AARDWOLF BREWING COMPANY  burst on the beer scene in early 2013, and its 15-barrel brewhouse produces a wide variety of beer styles, from sours to IPAs to Brown Ales to imperial stouts to barrel-aged and everything in between. In that short time, the brewery has earned eight competition medals, including a Bronze Medal at GABF 2015 (Great American Beer Fest) for its Belgian Pale Ale (malty pale ale with Belgian yeast), and a Bronze at this year’s Best Florida Beer Championships for its San Marco Sour (sour blonde ale). A couple of the most unique beers you’re likely to find in the city just may be Aardwolf’s Lactic Zeppelin, a Berliner Weisse with the funk of Brettanomyces, and Hipster Popsicle, a cherry lime gose.

The building was home to a municipal ice plant dating back to the 1920’s and then a tile factory. Each of these is evident: The interior includes the brick wall from the ice plant days, and the exterior features the brewery name in a brick and tile-like format. What about that name, anyway?

The “aardwolf” is an insectivorous, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. The name means “earth wolf,” or as the brewery explains it, “humulus lupulus,” for a hoppy beer connection. Need proof? Take a look at the brewery’s mascot, Alvin, who always is perched over the bar. Alvin is also known to sport apparel coincidental with holidays, so be on the lookout.

While you’re always likely to find a few Belgian style beers on tap, the variety among the 20 or so taps can be intriguing. Add to that a pilot batch released every Wednesday. I can’t really tag a favorite here, although I thought that the White Russian Imperial Stout, with coffee and vanilla, was undeniably worthy of all the positive comments and huge popularity that it enjoyed while on tap (in other  words, it was pretty damn awesome). Another popular brew is the Styrofoam Pony Stout (around 6% ABV), served in the tap room and around town.

While the Belgian Pale Ale is the most popular beer that Aardwolf distributes locally and serves in-house, co-owner Preben Olsen explains that Aardwolf brews a mix of what’s popular and what the brewers like to drink, rather than focus on any particular style, origin, or type of beer. That said, I have found that the tap list has indeed grown with respect to beer styles, and Aardwolf recently introduced a very refreshing Helles Lager that’s sure to keep the “lighter” and more conservative beer drinking crowds happy. If you’re the adventurous beer type, not to worry: there’s no shortage of beers for your taste buds to experience an array of different styles and flavors.

Aardwolf also brews up some traditional “old world” styles, too. Try The Pen is Mightier, a 4.2% ABV 80-shilling Scottish Ale, for a malty, toasty beer that you can repeat. You can even find a schwarzbier here, the Weltschmerz (easing the “world pain”), a 5.3% ABV, dark, malty and roasty beer that drinks very easy. On one of my recent bus tours, I persuaded one rider to try this beer (the “I don’t like dark beer” type), and as soon as she finished the taste test, her glass was raised for another (love when that happens!). Aardwolf has the IPAs covered for you hopheads, too, ranging from “regular” citrusy, piney IPAs to a session IPA to double IPAs.

Aardwolf’s tap room isn’t a “sports bar” themed type of place, although there is a TV in the back room that is often used for parties. Generally, the tap room is a mix of the modern and the industrial, with a long main bar and ample tables and chairs, along with that ice plant brick wall that holds the beer menu. Behind that is a cozy and quieter separate room, that can be used for private or special events, with plush sofas and a view of the brewhouse. Feel free to bring food with you or order from a food truck on site or one of the nearby restaurants.

Be sure to make a stop at Aardwolf Brewing when in Jacksonville!

Next, we head to the beach! Stay tuned for a tour of the Jacksonville Beach breweries: Engine 15 Brewing Company, Green Room Brewing, and Zeta Brewing. And, there's also an up-n-coming brewery that's included, too (news of that one just broke, and I met with the co-founders for one of my recent posts; so if you're curious or haven't seen that yet, take a look).  

Hey, there are lots of events going on around Florida, so be sure to check out my BeerSPHERE Events tab and the "Tap This" Calendar tab!  And, I'll see you at a brewery, event or beerfest around The Sunshine State.  

Til next time,