It may not look like much, but there’s a lot of history and a lot of good happening in Jacksonville’s Railyard District. It’s a section of the town that experienced rapid growth after the fire that burned half of the city to the ground in 1901.
Driving its streets, you get an interesting mashup of houses in radically different architectural styles combined with standard spacious boxy warehouses. In one of these warehouses, right next to heavily wooded McCoy Creek, is Tabula Rasa Brewing, one of Jacksonville’s newest breweries.
Tabula Rasa, like so many other breweries, is a family affair. It started when co-owner and Tap Room manager Jackie Peterson bought her husband Randy a book on brewing. Both he and their son Ryan took up the hobby, and after much trial and experimentation, perfected their art into a solid lineup of beers.
So they found a space, a warehouse formerly home to an art studio, to set up shop. It’s a massive facility, with three giant portholes separating the taproom from their immense brewery floor area. Just outside and behind the taps is a substantially large green space, dotted with interesting colorful sculptures left over from the former owners.
It was due to be a long night, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay and try a ton of what they had. I was also knee deep in the realization that if Jacksonville has a style of beer that it prefers to the point of obsession, it’s the Cream Ale. It is amazing how much one city likes one specific style of beer as much as that. When in Rome…
Tabula Rasa’s Cream Ale is their Corbett Street Cream Ale (Cream Ale, 4.9% ABV, 20 IBU), named for the tiny side street that ends in their parking lot. It’s an excellently executed true to style Cream Ale, with a great buoyant body and a nice, unassuming sweetness with a lightly biscuity finish and just the tiniest hint of corn.
Noble Hops are kept very low, and this keeps the beer very light and refreshing, and easily accessible for a crowd used to the products made by the massive macro brewery just north of the city.
It was a shame that my adventure kept me from staying and trying more, but hopefully I will be able to get back there and see what else they have. Judging by what I was able to consume, there is a lot more goodness that comes from this brewing family.
Provided I decide to do something other than their great cream ale, of course.
Drink Florida Craft,