I’ve said it to his face as well, but Nick Moench is to beer what Ferrari is to cars.
Here’s the reason why: Ferrari really doesn’t want to make cars. They do, and sell them, but it’s not their true passion. That true passion lies in racing, and the car sales finance the racing team. It just so happens that, because they are so good at racing, they make awesome cars.
Nick’s passion is in microbiology. Seriously, the man is incredibly knowledgeable about the subject. And what he does to collect, study, and utilize microbes is nothing short of amazing. He would definitely be the ‘cool’ professor at a college in his later years. Beer is sort of his blow-off valve, allowing him to experiment and really push the boundaries of what has been achieved and achievable in modern beer making.
Naturally, that beer is fantastic.
His brewery, Inoculum, is starting to distribute around the Central Florida area. Which is good, because even if you managed to find his Spring Hill headquarters, they are not open to the public. Yet.
Find them I did, maybe 10 or so minutes from Weeki Watchee State Park (yes, the one with the mermaids), in the building that formerly housed Brooksville Brewing. The restaurant is long gone, and Nick has an absolute ton of space to play with.
He has three full dining rooms of floorspace, each one in the process of being converted into an almost Frankensteinian labyrinth of wood barrels and more. The overflow room in the back was recently converted into a growing lab, housing huge hydroponic tubes from which will grow enough strawberries to supplant his incredible seasonal release Kuebiko.
Up front, and easily spottable from State Road 19, is their showcase brewing system. Intended to be a premier, fully automated system from a Belgian manufacturer, the plans were never fully realized. Nick’s made some changes to it and it currently feeds a small but growing number of fermentation tanks, currently churning out beers like Spectrally Macabre (Gose, 4.1% ABV, 10 IBU).
It’s a black watermelon gose made with British sea salt, watermelon, basil, and a bitterless black malt. It is delicious, it is incredibly different, it is one of the best and deepest beers I have ever tasted.
The fact that I got it fresh from the tank in an authentic glass beaker is not only par for the course but absolutely epic.
Nick has some great plans, not only for the Spring Hill location, but also a new tap room opening soon in Downtown St. Petersburg, taking advantage of the incredible boom in craft beer coming to the city. They’ll be a few doors down from St. Pete Brewing and, true to his nature, will house a massive on-stage laboratory right when you come in.
For an honestly entertaining and enjoyable time, Inoculum’s Instagram feed is essential. Nick is posting a lot of great things there. While a lot of what I was told must remain top secret (for now), it’s something to keep on top of. And definitely visit Inoculum when they open in St. Pete.
It will be much easier to get into than the current location.
Drink Florida Craft,