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.
And now, on the other side of St. George Street is a new place, Auggie’s Draft Room. Previously home to Cruiser’s Grill, it has possibly the most amazing location in terms of proximity to some of the biggest places in the Old City. It takes maybe 5 minutes to walk from them to the municipal parking garage, Visitor Center, and the all-important Castillo de San Marcos.
How they got that location I will still never know, but they’ve been open for a handful of months now and have absolutely been killing it. What’s interesting about them is they are part of a growing trend of new craft beer bars where you pour your own beer. I haven’t seen one before, and if you haven’t either, you put a credit card on hold at the register, and they give you a card. You place that card and a special holder above the tap you want to pull, and the beers is unlocked for you. If you haven’t decided, each tap also has a touch screen with some details about the beer.
I spoke to owner John Felico and manager Corey Kernan and they said that, on the whole, the reception has been very positive and they have been extremely busy since they opened. With a few exceptions, they make sure to focus on craft beer and at least half of their taps seemed to come from either Duval or St. Johns counties.
They have a menu as well with a light selection of tap room favorites, and it seems that every days that we were in St. Augustine, they took a few of those baskets and would put them on sale for $5 as a lunch special. I didn’t try any of those, but one thing I did try of theirs was their brand new funnel cake fries, which were absolutely delicious. It’s funnel cake, how can it not be?
The beer selection is quite good, and you’re looking at about 80 to 87 cents per ounce. Interestingly enough, the system comes with a built-in safeguard against overconsumption. Each card is good for about 72 oz of beer. Once that limit is reached, you have to check in with the front to make sure that you are still okay and can get some more. This hasn’t been an issue, and they told me that since opening the only had to cut one person off on getting more beers.
Clearly, I was not looking to becoming their second. I grabbed a beer when I was there, settling on a Belgian Pale Ale (Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV) from Aardwolf Brewing in Jacksonville. The beer itself was very interesting, and straddled the line between being a Belgian and being a pale quite well.
It had a great body with a bright, effervescent feel and white floral hop character, but also contained a light funk and slight bubblegum note from a classic Belgian yeast. It was quite refreshing and was very simple to drink, being nicely unassuming but still very flavorful at the same time.
And for Aardwolf fans, which I assume there are many, this was not the only beer of theirs that Auggie’s had on tap. In fact, they rotate their taps very frequently, becoming one of the top beer consumers on St. George St. I believe they have even gone through more kegs then the restaurant Prohibition Kitchen further down the street.
It is worth it to take some time and check them out on social media, as Corey is very good about keeping readers up-to-date as to what is coming on their system. I would like to thank Corey and John for their hospitality and I can definitely say I am looking forward to coming back on my next visit.
We will have to see what they will have on tap.
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