The Tomoka tribe never existed.
Believe it or not, the tribe never lived in Florida. They were never real to begin with. The name came about when early Eurpoean explorers met with the native Timucua tribe and spelled their name phonetically as best they could, coming up with this rather strange nomenclature.
That didn’t stop Volusia County from taking this name as the inspiration for both the Tomoka River and the Tomoka State Park through which it runs.
That river starts in the city of Port Orange, flowing north through neighboring Daytona Beach and Ormond before emptying into the Halifax River. It also passes by a regional airport and Norococo, an ancient Timucua encampment and historical site. The river and park are both home to bald eagles, wood storks, and the West Indian Manatee.
This river and park, as well as the history of the area, is what prompted Hungarian-born Pete Szunyogh and pizzeria-owner Jen Hawkins, a husband and wife team, to expand their homebrewing activities into what is now known today as Tomoka Brewing Co.
Jen and Pete are also incredibly wonderful people. I worked with them for Florida Craft Beer Day and met them both at Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter festival. They are both incredibly warm and excited as we all are for the future of Florida craft beer.
The original Tomoka brewpub opened in Ormond in July of 2013. After some great initial success, Pete and Jen partnered with another couple of craft beer aficionados, Rich McCarthy and his son Mike, to open their newer and larger brewpub and production brewhouse.
The cans from that production line are starting to pop up around the state. Because of this, I was able to sample my first Tomoka brew, Oceanside White IPA (IPA, 7% ABV, 75 IBU).
Oceanside actually started off life as a collaboration brew with Jacksonville’s Green Room Brewing. Due to a well-deserved positive reaction, the beer was put on a full-time schedule.
A white IPA is basically an IPA with the addition of wheat malt. This addition does a lot of good in making what could be a very aggressive IPA very palatable.
To be sure, the beer has a wide array of bright, hoppy citrus flavors. A lot of it is from generous, copious hopping. Some of it is also from the addition of juicy Florida grapefruit.
But in comes that wheat to mellow things out quite a bit. Instead to staying tongue-blisteringly bitter, there’s a softness to the brew, very much sweet with the faintest hint of a typical hefeweizen banana evident.
I’ve been waiting to try Tomoka for quite some time, and I’m happy that now I’m able to do so. There’s more coming, and that’s a good thing, since Jen and Pete are some excellent people making some excellent brews, very indicative of why Florida craft beer is so wonderful.
Even if the Tomoka tribe never really existed.
Drink Florida Craft,