by Regina Heffington – the Jax Brew Bitch
Caterpillars. For me, that word brings back memories of elementary school, as my fellow classmates and I would make our daily inspection of the dry aquarium holding everything needed by the little creatures to confirm what our teacher said would happen in their development into adulthood.
The appearance of another chrysalis inside the aquarium brought preadolescent cheers – we were really pulling for each little caterpillar. They had a motivated audience providing encouragement for successful growth into an adult member of the species.
No better adaptation of this concept of metamorphosis applies to one of Jacksonville’s businesses: Aardwolf Brewery, which opened Friday, March 22 at 1461 Hendricks Avenue in San Marco. I have been pestering owners Preben Olsen and Michael Payne with questions about the status of their brewery for over a year. I realized permitting would be the biggest issue, and I am of the opinion that anyone wishing to invest time and money in a brewery must have the patience of Job and infinite perseverance.
In mid-April, Aardwolf had endured the permitting process enough to obtain their federal license, allowing them to sell their own handcrafted brews – and were then patiently waiting for the State of Florida to grant their blessing to do the same. During this waiting period, they can sell beer from other breweries (guest taps) as well as collaboration concoctions resulting from work with other local microbreweries.
But I have been pulling for them – as have many in the Greater Jacksonville Brews & Chews community – and they ALL showed up one special Friday night. The staff at Aardwolf Brewery that evening was slammed – a huge turnout on this, their opening night – and their motivated team did a remarkable job in maintaining order and doing their best to satisfy all customers. Any delays experienced that night were overlooked – this was, after all, the evening the newest Jacksonville “Brewery Butterfly” emerged from its chrysalis.
In subsequent discussions, Preben Olsen mentioned that Aardwolf Brewery expects the license from the State of Florida by the end of June, and once it is received, they will offer four of their own creations. Preben also confirms Aardwolf is currently in discussions with two other local microbreweries regarding future collaboration beers – a popular option for craft beer lovers here in Jacksonville.
Our newest butterfly is stretching its wings for the first time – and it is indeed beautiful to behold. We, as Jacksonvillians, have now been blessed with another outstanding brewery to add to all the others we are privileged to have – Bold City Brewery, Intuition Ale Works, Engine 15 Brewing Company, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Green Room Brewing and Mile Marker Brewing.
In the coming months, I will be excited to watch the development of Aardwolf Brewery and to witness the significant focus the team will have on their customers. We expect great things from Michael Payne and Preben Olsen, whom we craft beer lovers sincerely thank for sticking to it–for having that determined perseverance and faith to complete the beautiful metamorphosis which is Aardwolf Brewing. I’m confident it will be a consistent and enjoyable stop on future Jax Brew Bitch Prowls.
Aardwolf Brewery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 3 to 11 pm. Food trucks will be onsite on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well.
Other craft beer related events coming in May
May 1 Tapping of the Station Fly Beach Blonde Ale at Engine 15 Brewing Co.
May 3 Slow Down with Slow Food First Coast at Intuition Ale Works
May 4 Terra Jax Craft Beer and BBQ featuring Bold City Brewery to benefit the Daniel
Foundation. Tickets are $25. Call 388-9124
May 4 Hogtown Craft Beer Festival in Gainesville, FL
May 7 Southern Tier Brewing Night at Brewers Pizza in Orange Park
May 13-19 American Craft Beer Week: Several local breweries will be celebrating with special
tappings and events.
May 14 Bold City Brewery will be tapping the Bourbon Barrel Aged Roxy’s Finest Imperial
Cream Ale.
May 16 Dollars for Diamonds fundraiser for Friends of Jacksonville Animals at Green Room Brewery
Late May The ladies of Intuition Ale Works recently created a special brew, and it will be tapped later in the month. $1 from every pint sold will benefit Girls Rock Camp Jacksonville.