WHAT’S BREWING?: Craft Brewery Creations

You felt it. I know you did. The excitement your inner child experienced as you opened Christmas presents last month. Age doesn’t matter, does it?  It must be the combination of realizing someone cares enough about you to spend the time and money in selecting a special gift just for you and the mystery of what lies within the confines of the package. It could also be the anticipation of the enjoyment of your festively wrapped-up boon in the months to come.

Craft beer gives you the opportunity of experiencing this type of excitement every time you step into one of the “brews and chews” establishments in the Greater Jacksonville area or visit one of the purveyors of bottled and canned microbrews located throughout our community. There are many varieties from a multitude of sources, so make 2015 the year you try a different style – a different brewery’s creations – each time you get “out and about.”

Here are some establishments getting the new year off to a great start:

Bold City Brewery (2670 Rosselle St  – 904.379.6551) Sensory Saturday is now twice a month at Bold City – the 1st and 3rd Saturdays. Mark your calendars for food trucks, great beer and live music in the brewery. This month, the talented performers are: January 3rd: Patrick Evans & January 17th: Redneck Hummus.

Come see what all the fizz is about as the Jacksonville Zoo debuts a brand new batch of Bold City Brewery’s Rhino Rye Pale Ale on Sunday, February 8 from 6-9pm at the zoo! They will tap into the first keg of the special brew, named in honor of the Zoo’s oldest male rhino, Archie, before dinner. Then enjoy a totally unique beer-themed meal on Shaba Terrace! Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will go directly to Rhino Conservation! Tickets are limited – only 300 available ($35 adults/$10 kids). For more information, visit www.jacksonvillezoo.org.

The brewery will be tapping the Rhino Rye Pale Ale after the Zoo event, on Thursday, February 12 at 3pm. Also, look for the return of The Fritz later this month.

Dahlia’s Pour House (2695 Post Street – 904.738.7132) will be featuring five Cigar City brews hand-paired with fancy cheeses from Grassroots Natural Market on February 3! The current line-up includes CC Maduro with 5 year aged Vintage Gouda and CC Hotter Than Helles with Sweet Grass.

European Street Café (2752 Park St. – 904.384.9999) is having “The Black Night” at their Park Street location on January 25 billed as a dark beer tap takeover. There will be Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break, 2014 Intuition Underdark, Stone Coffee Milk Stout, Founders Breakfast, and Bold City Secret Stout, among others. There will also be giveaways and a beer raffle to benefit the JB Foundation providing a scholarship for a high school runner. Currently, the raffle includes Cigar City Hunuphu, a Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 12-pack, Evil Twin Biscotti Break and Intuition Underdark 2014. As if that weren’t enough, there will be a special s’mores and graham cracker dip and a black plate special. The black plate will feature charcoal black crackers, porter cheddar, burnt ends and black pudding. Lastly, they will show Monty Python’s Holy Grail on the patio at 7pm after which there will be a quiz with the winner taking home the movie!

Intuition Ale Works (720 King Street – 904.683.7720) is getting ready for the release of our 2015 vintage of UNDERDARK on Saturday, February 7. Mark your calendars!

Intuition also wants you to know that the big news in the local craft beer scene is the kickoff of the Jax Trail! This is a great way to try different styles from different local breweries! For more info about the Trail and their upcoming Brewery Tour on January 10, please visit jaxaletrail.com.

Engine 15 Brewing Company (1500 Beach Boulevard – Jax Beach – 904.249.2337) is really excited to be a sponsor for the Wolfson Children’s Challenge for the second year in a row! They have brewed the Challenge Pale Ale again and hope you will join them on Wednesday, Jan 7 from 6-8pm for the Tapping Party. For a $10 donation, Wolfson will give you a wristband that’s good for one FREE Challenge Pale Ale + $1 off additional pints Challenge Pale Ale plus a raffle ticket. Great cause, great beer. Be a part of this one!

Veterans United Craft Brewery (8999 Western Way #104 – 904.253.3326) has a lot going on. Every Wednesday is Beer & Board Game Night. Bring your favorite game (or borrow one of theirs) and kick back with your buddies for some friendly, beer-infused competition! Thursdays, they will host a couple great food trucks new to the taproom, so check their calendar for the schedule. After Hours Happy Hour with $1 off all pints is in effect from 7-10pm Wednesday and Thursday nights at Veterans United.

Every Friday, they will have another fabulous food truck and live music from local musicians to help you wind down for the weekend. During the month, they will also feature some great vocalists wielding instruments ranging from jazz piano to Spanish guitar to the silky sitar.

Saturdays are Brew Tour Days, featuring several guided brewery tours in the afternoon and a food truck on site. Learn how your beer gets crafted and sample the freshly-brewed wares as you take a spin around their big, shiny tanks.

Beer: 30 (1271 King Street – 904.388.0033) will be opening another location – a franchise located at 1543 San Marco Boulevard sometime in 2015 offering packaged beer, growler fills and a cozy little bar!

Silver Cow (1506 King Street – 904.379.6968) highlights “Beer Eddie’fication Thursdays”  from 8pm to close with special tappings and discussions of beer styles and characteristics. Featured beers are paired with a special dish for that evening along with a DJ spinning old school classics!

Mondays are “All Day Happy Hour” at Silver Cow. Visit the website for our calendar of upcoming events and download the mobile app, Silver Cow.

In 2015, if you’re already a craft beer drinker, I want you to do a couple of things. One, broaden your palate and try something new this year – a new style – a new brewery. Another is to invite a non-craft-beer-drinker to join you and help them tiptoe into the craft beer experience. It’s an exciting package just waiting for you to enjoy … so, what are you waiting for? OPEN IT!

About Regina Heffington