It has been understandably slow, but Florida craft beer is finally getting taken up by Florida’s biggest industry, tourism.
At this point every theme park features not only local stuff, but has stuff contract brewed just for them. And if you’re not big enough to be a multi-billion-dollar park, there are still plenty of options creeping in for both in-state and out-of-state visitors to enjoy.
St Augustine, for example, traditionally did not have that much to offer in terms of local craft on their famous St. George Street. If you did find a restaurant serving something, it was mostly macro. But a couple years ago, St Augustine darling Ancient City opened up a nifty little tap room facing the Plaza de la Constitucion.
Not going to lie, this has been a long strange road for Bobby Gordash. In 1996, he was the winner of a Samuel Adams homebrewing contest. A decade later, he used the notoriety and his recipes to found Holy Mackerel beers, a contract-brewed series of beers that could be found in and around Florida. He eventually sold that, moving on to other things.
Eventually he made his way back to craft beer, working as a spokesman for a couple of other Florida breweries (This was the time that I met him, and I still have a great picture somewhere of him at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest in West Palm Beach).
The Mack was calling, so eventually he got back his IP and revived Holy Mackerel. This time, he settled on a facility in Pompano Beach, literally across a retention pond from Bangin’ Banjo. This he called The Garage Project, a living laboratory where he could make some of the beers he had been dreaming up all that time.
It seems like every major city has that one section of town that is both historic and trendy, older and up-and-coming. In Jacksonville, that district is Springfield.
Home to Jacksonville’s Main Street, it was the location of the main section of downtown before the city was ravaged in 1901 by a fire that burned many of its buildings to the ground.
On occasion, I will start to research a blog post and come up with much more detail and interesting tidbits than I had originally expected. This happened in reviewing the next release in Lauderale’s fantastic shipwreck series, named for the SS Sapona.
There are a lot of regions in Florida that have already taken hold of the craft beer scene, and are well on their way to becoming craft destinations in and of themselves.
Obviously I don’t need to talk any more about everything in Tampa-St. Pete, Jacksonville is doing quite nicely as I recently found out, and even the West Palm-Fort Lauderdale-Miami area is carving out its own niche.
But for all the discussion that’s going on, Southwest Florida seems to be left out of the talks. In a lot of ways, that area of the state is still in a pioneering phase of craft beer. Yes, they’ve got a fair amount of breweries in Fort Myers and below, and some are getting big with distribution, but it’s still not as wide and colorful as some other regions.
Situated along A1A on Anastasia Island, right across the Bridge of Lions from everything tourist that is downtown St. Augustine, is a nifty little building partially obscured by a ton of nifty little tropical foliage. You might see the taqueria first, but the majority of the space there is Old Coast Ales.
Having been to Bone Hook Brewing in Naples right before their grand opening, I feel more than a little proud to have watched this brewery grow up and expand into the massive 10,000 square-foot Brewpub that they currently are, with continued plans for growth well into 2019.
I got quite the run down from their head brewer Josh Deitner and managing partner Dan Bilzor, a tour whose resulting blog post I am currently putting finishing touches on. Before leaving, however, I did get a nice little going-away present from Josh, a bottle of their 2018 release of Repta Rage (Sour, 6.5% ABV).
True story, I have a friend who is quite the beer Enthusiast and has a small Instagram account by the name of The Great Beer Adventure. I swear I’ll make him post more someday.
I was recounting to him my recent visit to Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee. A few weeks ago, there was a holiday parade in Hernando County, and Marker 48 participated with a parade float that was, quite literally, a pile of kegs arranged and dressed up like a Christmas tree. It was at this time that my friend asked, without a moment’s hesitation, did they tap those kegs?