There was a time, not that long ago, that the city of West Palm Beach wasn’t necessarily jazzed about the idea of a brewery in its pristine downtown locale.
These days are a little bit different now, and some months ago Palm Beach opened its first brewery, West Palm Brewery & Wine Vault, located at 332 Evernia Street. It’s a stone’s throw from the new BrightLine station, and just steps away from the city’s lively Clematis Street.
It’s the brainchild of local lawyer John Pankauski, a considerable wine enthusiast and bottler, owning 300 acres in Northern California and having his own label, Pankauski Cellars. After being introduced to craft beer by some of his buddies, he decided to invest almost $2 million to open up a place where his wines, in-house beers, and food could all be enjoyed in a relaxed, slightly upscale setting.
That setting is quite fun to play in. Outside, they’ve taken some old street parking and built a rather cozy Beer Garden, complete with your standard cornhole, giant Jenga, even some giant chess which I was particularly amused with.
If you look closely, one of the trees that’s right next to the building has a little hole inside of it. That’s where my wife and I placed one of those painted rocks that are all the rage these days. Instead of it resting comfortably on a tree branch, the rock fell in that hole. So if you’re good enough to find the rock and can somehow get it out of the tree, let me know. It’s yours for the taking.
Back to the converted former gym on Evernia St. Inside, the facility can really be split up into three areas. One is the Wine Vault, a 12,000 bottle cellar stocked nicely with Mr. Pankauski’s private label wines, including his Dad’s Blend Red, a best-seller.
On the other side is the Intracoastal kitchen, where Chef Charlie and his team keep their imported Italian Wood-Fired oven brimming with pizzas, baked cauliflower, and other goodies.
Taking up the most space, and rightly so, is the brewery. The system and fermentation tanks are very nicely displayed behind the bar, and are clearly meant to be a showpiece in the tap room. The equipment is in excellent hands, as their brewmaster is Joel Kodner.
Kodner, for those of you who have been reading the blog, is a particular favorite brewer of mine, having risen through the ranks and finally settling in as the former brewmaster at Due South Brewing before opening West Palm Brewing. I’ve been watching his Instagram posts since he got the job, and it’s been interesting to see the facility being built and he receiving and installing his new system.
Clearly, I did not need to have high hopes for the beer, since Joel knows exactly what he is doing and hit it well out of the park with a fantastic lineup of beers.
Evernia Saison (Saison, 8.2% ABV) – Clearly named for the street on which West Palm Brewery is on, this farmhouse ale has an incredibly light, crisp, and fruity flavor that I have not seen in a very long time. Incredibly drinkable and very refreshing.
Five Six One (Hefeweizen, 4.5% ABV) – The area code for most of Palm Beach County, for those of you that are not familiar. This Hefeweizen is classic and very by the book, with some nice banana Esters and just a hint of clove.
1-Star Dougie (Pale Ale, 6% ABV) – Mosiac hops are the star in this incredibly drinkable pale ale, just enough alpha acid kick to keep things interesting. Word has it that there is a keg on tap right now with edible glitter inside that is making beer purists go nuts.
Unfashionable (Oatmeal Brown Ale, 6% ABV) – The name of this beer is actually quite amazing for several reasons. First of all, brown ales are, if nothing else right now, completely unfashionable. Lot of breweries I know don’t have them at all, but they will stock their taps with 20 different IPAs. The name also speaks a lot for Joel, since he has never been one to brew beers strictly fashionably. He’s going to do what he thinks is right, not what some snobby beer blogger is going to say about him. By the way, it’s a fantastic brown ale, slightly nutty and Incredibly rich. As I was leaving he tapped a treatment with local Oceana coffee, and to this day I am sad that I was not able to try any.
Razz B4 (Blonde Ale, 4.9% ABV) – A treatment of their B4 Blonde Ale, taking a very buoyant and soft blond and giving it a nice, piquant kick of fresh, tart raspberries. Nice and sweet and ever so gently electric.
We ended up going on a Sunday, which was interesting since they have a particularly awesome deal: A full-size bottle of house Rose, coupled with a charcuterie plate, all for $25. Add in a flight of beers, because beer, and you have a very enjoyable afternoon. They’re very kid friendly and dog friendly, and you can even buy clothing for both at their merch area, something I rarely see him breweries.
There’s enough to see and do and eat and drink to spend a very long, leisurely, enjoyable afternoon at West Palm Brewery, and I intend to do so again fairly soon.
If you do the same, let me know if you find that rock.
Drink Florida Craft,