URBAN Agenda

No one was really sure how the community would react when Bold City Brewery opened the first craft brewery in Jacksonville in October 2008. In the eight years since, Jacksonville’s craft beer scene has gone from nonexistent to full onslaught. Breweries have popped up in all corners of Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Nassau — from Jacksonville Beach to Orange Park and everywhere in between. At last count, nine breweries call Northeast Florida home, with at least three more planned to open in the near future.

One area of town that had previously not seen much in the way of brewery development has suddenly become the new hot spot: the urban core.

Currently, there are two craft breweries, Intuition Ale Works and Engine 15 Brewing Company, operating within the urban core; several others are planning to open facilities in the city’s center. These include Bold City Brewery, Hyperion Brewing Company, Main & Six Brewing Company and a brewpub project proposed by the owners of Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Que.

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Engine 15 Brewing Company
In 2013, Engine 15 Brewing Company announced that it had outgrown its Jax Beach facility and bought a couple of old warehouses on North Myrtle Avenue just south of West Beaver Street.

According to co-owner Luciano Scremin, the building that houses their new 20-barrel brewhouse and 60-barrel fermentation tanks used to be a warehouse for the Hotel Burbridge that was on the corner of Forsyth and Clay streets. In addition, the building also contains facilities for the production of hard ciders and mead.

By 2014, Scremin and partner Sean Bielman, began brewing operations at their new location, but due to zoning regulations, were not permitted to sell beer directly to the public, so they applied for a zoning variance in January 2016. It was granted in June.

“We’ve been working to get this for over two years,” said Kara Scremin, marketing maven for Engine 15.

The successful bid to rezone the property clears the way for Engine 15 to build a taproom and German-style outdoor beer garden. The taproom and beer garden, scheduled to open in coming months, will be operating Friday through Sunday and feature Engine 15 beers, ciders and meads, along with food from local food trucks, as well as horseshoe pits and a bocce ball court.

“It’s a family-friendly space where we hope to host bocce ball tournaments in the future,” said Scremin.

The rezoning also makes it easier for the company to utilize an adjacent building — an early 1900s factory where glass was once manufactured — as a space for special events and private rentals. The building is an industrial beauty, with a wall of opaque blue windows along the back and airy rafters with glass windows above. The culminating event of Jacksonville Beer Week — Mash In, a beer festival showcasing local breweries — is scheduled for the space on Saturday, Sept. 24.

“If all goes well,” Scremin said. “We hope to have an Oktoberfest celebration at both our Jacksonville Beach and Myrtle Street locations with the Jax Brew Bus shuttling attendees back and forth.”

Intuition Ale Works
In November 2010, when Ben Davis opened Intuition Ale Works, Jacksonville’s second craft brewery, in an old warehouse on King Street that a chain of pet stores had once used to house tropical fish, he thought he had plenty of space. But as time passed and demand grew, it became apparent he needed more room.

The search for a larger location led to several false starts, including a city-thwarted plan to build a waterfront facility on the Shipyards property.

Undeterred, in 2014, Davis settled on a building that had once housed a plumbing supply company a block from the Shipyards at the corner of A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and Bay Street near the sports complex.

“We can reach a larger audience,” said taproom manager Riley Leuthold. “And we can educate them about craft beer.”

On King Street, Intuition had capacity to produce about 8,000 barrels annually. The new facility affords Intuition a major increase in brewing space — more than triple the previous capacity — and offers an expanded taproom that can accommodate 300 enthusiasts. The facility boasts a ground-floor taproom, a rooftop beer garden and a spacious special events space. Though beer is not being brewed at the new location yet, Davis said that they plan to begin brewing there soon. In addition to beer, in the next month or so, the new digs will start offering food created by the team behind Riverside’s Black Sheep Restaurant.

Another unique aspect of the new location is that it is situated inside the boundaries of the sports and entertainment district. This means that they’re able to sell beer from a window to patrons on the street as long as they are within a time frame of starting the day before and ending the day after an event in the district.

“There are really only a few days out of the year that we will not be able to sell from the window,” Leuthold said.

Bold City Brewery
Since 2008, the mother-and-son team of Susan and Brian Miller has become increasingly successful at capturing the hearts and taste buds of local beer lovers. Most Friday and Saturday nights, their Rosselle Street brewery and taproom is so packed that guests spill out onto the parking lot.

“When we first designed the taproom,” Brian said, “we expected around 20 people per night.”

Now Bold City Brewery is also expanding Downtown.

It’s hard to miss the construction of Cowford Chophouse at the corner of Main and Bay streets. Look east of the soon-to-be eatery and you’ll notice several windows covered with paper that’s emblazoned with the Bold City logo.

With a smaller production system, just three barrels as opposed to the 15-barrel system at the main brewery, Bold City’s downtown brewery will focus on providing more varieties than the brewery’s core brands, allowing them to experiment and get creative.

“We plan to rotate our brewers out there every few months and let them brew whatever they want,” Brian explained. “This will give them the opportunity to go beyond being just ‘line cooks.’”

Bold City expects to have the taproom open for guests no later than December, and hopes to get into the new space in as little as six to eight weeks, depending on progress on the adjacent Cowford Chophouse.

Brian Miller said, “Being born and raised in Jacksonville, you always want to see Downtown live up to its potential. It was important to us to be part of Downtown’s revitalization. We just felt like it was where we needed to be.”

Hyperion Brewing Company
Alexandra McKeown is a dynamo packed in a very small package. (See “Sisters of the Suds,” p. 15) A graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and the University of Central Florida, she brings a strong creative background to her newest venture, Hyperion Brewing Company. Though McKeown is still working through myriad red tape required to open a brewery, she is confident that her brewery will make its big splash in Jacksonville’s beer scene very soon.

Together with former classmate Troy Orton who will serve as brewmaster, McKeown plans to bring a nano-brewery to Main Street in Springfield. Nano-breweries produce small batches of beer that are typically served to guests within feet of the production facility. Hyperion will employ a one-barrel brewing system to produce a wide variety of beers.

“Our goal is to never serve the same beer twice in our first year of operation,” McKeown said. “We are not planning on making any core beers.”

Main & Six Brewing Company
Still in its infancy, the concept for Main & Six is the brainchild of Dennis Espinosa. Espinosa, a prolific homebrewer who hopes to turn his hobby into a business, wants to open a nano-brewery just a block from where Hyperion is planning to open. Both breweries must win rezoning approval before their projects can move forward.

“Springfield offers us a few things,” Espinosa said. “It is affordable, in a historic district that is perfect for a brewery and has Main Street, which is perfect for breweries and restaurants.”

He plans for the brewery’s initial setup to include a 10-barrel brewing system, four fermenters and a bright tank.

“Our brewing equipment manufacturer does great low-footprint systems,” Espinosa said. “I am really not in favor of starting with anything smaller, for volume and
price reasons.”

Espinosa estimates that the brewery will be up and running in about 18 months if all zoning and building purchase plans go as planned.

Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Que Brew Pub/Restaurant/Theater
The details about this project aren’t completely public yet, but it certain to be quite different from Bono’s other restaurants. In May, Jacksonville Business Journal reported that Bono’s is planning to put in an entertainment complex which will include a brewpub, bar and theater, in Springfield’s Ninth & Main building. Sources have confirmed that the first phase of the project has been completed and the company is moving forward with phase two.

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021

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