If it wasn’t for my good friend Mike at At the Bar Podcast, I’m not totally sure I would have ever figured out how to pronounce the name of Casselberry’s Bowegens Beer Co.
(It’s three syllables, accent on the second syllable. Bow as in bow and arrow, we as in We the People, and ginz with a hard G.)
It’s easy to drive on Interstate 95 and pass by Port St. Lucie without a second thought. But the city, and St. Lucie County as a whole, should not be readily counted out so easily.
There is a lot going on, including the brand new development known as Tradition (think Celebration in Osceola County, near Disney). They’re bringing in biotech companies, Major League Baseball spring training with the New York Mets, and, my favorite indicator for a blooming metropolitan area, breweries.
Some breweries in Jacksonville are known for pushing the envelope. They like to do the big, bold, crazy sours and desert forward porters that Florida beer is starting to become very well known for.
But when it comes to the big boys, Bold City is one of my favorites for sticking with the tried-and-true classics. They just celebrated their 10th anniversary, and their distribution reach has been as far as Orlando and Tampa for as long as I can remember.
The national image of Florida agriculture has long been relegated to the sole image of citrus, maybe some corn or sugar cane thrown in. In reality, the Sunshine State grows a wide variety of crops, including peanuts, tomatoes, watermelons, and much more.
One more crop is starting to show up in Florida’s farms: hops.
Much research and development is being done to acclimate this traditionally temperate climate plant to Florida’s tropical and subtropical weather. One such outfit is Florida Hops, and it’s Founder & CEO, Richard Smith.
I recently spoke to Richard concerning hop varietals, Florida sunshine, and the future of Florida hop growing.
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.
It is simply beyond me why, with all the styles of beers there are in the world, the aptly-titled Oktoberfest seems to be one of the most controversial.
I am not sure why, but because the beer has the word October in the title, people are steadfast in assuming that it can only be consumed in one month and must be completely avoided for the other 11. I have even had people tell me that once October 31st is over, this beer had better be off the taps.
And I don’t understand why.
The oldest and the side of the biggest Brewery in Gainesville is definitely Swamp Head. The beers from this mess of outfit can now be found around the state in six packs , all originating from their brand new 13000 foot Warehouse, just off Interstate 75. I had the pleasure of meeting with Owner/founder Luke Kemper recently, who took me on a guided tour through the facility to talk about the history of the brand, their focus on the state and the environment, and where they are going in the future.
Trust me, if I lived in Bradenton, I would be going to 3 Keys a lot more. They are genuinely nice people, with a wonderful facility and some utterly fantastic beers. Plus, they have this awesome growler and tap fountain out front. I mean, just look at it. It’s awesome.