Makers come in all shapes and sizes. Founded in 2008, Bold City Brewery has become a big fish in Jax, but compared to the windmills it’s tilting against—multinational giants like Belgium’s AB InBev—this homegrown beer imprint is but a cottage industry. This week’s cover star, Alex Johnson, is one of a small handful of Bold City’s brewers. He had been crafting his own beer at home for eight years before joining the company in 2015.
“I happened to be at the right place at right time,” Johnson told Folio Weekly. “I already understood the dynamics, the chemistry and science, but didn’t know the industry equipment yet. So I worked my way up from the cellar man position, mostly moving tanks around, cleaning, carbonating.”
He is now responsible for Bold City’s marquee production beers like Mad Manatee IPA (brewed at the company’s main facility in Riverside); he also experiments with his own recipes at Bold City’s Downtown laboratory. That’s where he collaborates with local partners to produce limited-edition beers.
Johnson sees his work as an extension of the craft beer movement as a whole: “For me, personally, I think I was just tired of same ol’, same ol’. Our parents grew up with four beers to choose from. Variety and craft brewers’ ability to innovate and create new flavors, that’s what draws people.”
Health is also a factor.
“A lot of big breweries use high fructose corn syrup to bring up the ABV,” Johnson continued. “They also use a lot of cheaper ingredients, corn or rice, instead of barley, which should be the base of most beer. At the same time, I respect them for being able to replicate the same taste in such large quantity. There’s a time and a place for big beer, too.” GV