I've been following the progress of Springfield's next brewery, Main & Six Brewing Company for several months now. Dennis and Danielle Espinosa have been active on Facebook posting updates of their progress and even set backs, like that evil Irma that stopped our lives for a while. I have to admit that on more than one occasion, I have stopped and peered through the windows on my way to Hyperion Brewing.
So it was very exciting to see their Grand Opening this past Saturday was a stellar kick off to Jacksonville Beer Week. Including the Brew Bus shuttling people from Springfield to Macclenny's Crooked Rooster Brewing,, which was celebrating their first Anniversary. It was already a big weekend in Springfield due to Porchfest.
Sadly, as I have said in the past, I work Saturdays plus we had tickets to see John Cleese at Florida Theater that evening, so I missed the Saturday festivities. So we set off Sunday after breakfast for a tour of some Jax Beer Week activities and to check out Main & Six.
There is a great renaissance going on in Springfield right now. Buildings that have been boarded up and abandoned along Main Street are being bought and revitalized. Last Spring, Hyperion Brewing opened on Main Street and since then, numerous other storefronts have opened, including restaurants, coffee shops and more. Main & Six is a block south of Hyperion, making for a very easy brewery crawl!
Main & Six has a modern, industrial feel to it. The bar space is wide open, bright and airy, the large U shaped bar dominates from the back of the room. While it's modern, there are hints to its old Springfield roots, hexagons are scattered throughout, reminiscent of the old sidewalks.
One side has large upholstered panels in a modern geometric pattern with banquette seating in front. The back bar area has lower ceilings, making it intimate and cozy with wood paneling and live edge wooden counters. Padded metal stools and chairs are extremely comfortable and outlets are scattered throughout the space.
There was a modest Sunday afternoon crowd there, others who had not made it the previous day. The Jaguars game was on a couple of TV sets. We suspect that many Springfielders and others were recovering from Porchfest. Dennis was behind the bar and gladly took some time to speak with us about the opening and the space.
All of the wood plank paneling and the live edge counters came from trees in his Mom's yard (she is his business partner in this). The trees came down during Hurricane Matthew last year. Instead of discarding the wood, they decided to utilize it in the interior spaces. They took large sections of the tree to be kiln dried and milled into planks for the walls and ceiling and the counters around the space.
The bar top itself is dark metal and offers both easy clean up and a cool surface to set your beer upon. The brewery is visible through large windows at the back of the bar. Dennis recounted that it takes some skill to go from home brewing to large tank brewing. He asked advice of numerous other brewers in town during the early brewing sessions.
It makes me happy to see that our breweries consider each other part of the same fraternity, as opposed to the competition. While we were there, Alex McKeown, Hyperion's owner, had stopped in for a beer. To be honest, for us, we are very likely to visit both locations when we go to one or the other. Seems silly with them so close together.
So enough of that, you want to know about the beers. They are great. In particular I was very fond of the Mix Tape Pale Ale. As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of massively hopped beers. I like hops, you sort of have to if you drink beer, but I pursue a more balanced flavor. Mix Tape does not kill your palate. It has lovely citrus notes and a background with a touch of resin. Refreshing grapefruit, perfect all around beer.
Big Jim, named after the Steam Whistle, is a steam beer appropriately. I'm not overly familiar with the style, but it was another well balanced beer, easy drinking with I thought a slight floral essence to it. Perhaps an earthiness under the malts. Its another one I will get again.
Irmafest is a Marzen beer that was Ed's favorite. It is malty, some light yeast notes, enough hops to balance that sweetness. I like the name too! I suspect this is a seasonal beer, so you might want to get out there soon to try it.
Hubbard Street Stout is a lighter, more hot weather stout. Ed calls them year rounders. It has a silky mouth feel that makes it feel lighter, not a 'chewy' stout. It has strong coffee notes with a touch of chocolate. A very solid stout that I intend to have more of in the future!
On the people front, every beertender came and spoke with us while we were there. They are a knowledgeable group from what I could see and we quite enjoyed talking about beer with them. A great boss makes for great employees, don't you think?
Parking is the trick in the area. We actually parked behind Hyperion on the lot off Eighth Street and walked to both breweries. There is street parking out front as well. As the area grows and more businesses move in, you might want to consider carpooling, Ubering or for Springfield folks, riding the bike, but for now there is parking available.
After we left Main and Six, we went down to Hyperion to sample the Strings Sports Brewery's collaboration beer. Trevor and Colby Abdeeb have purchased a building at Ninth and Main, just north of Hyperion. They hope to open early next year. Until then, they have been at Hyperion and Southern Swells in Jacksonville Beach, brewing beers. They had an a beer for sampling at Porchfest, as did Legacy Ale Works who hopes to move into the Mandarin area as soon as able.
The Strings/Hyperion collaboration is called Orange in the Brown and is a smoked sweet potato ale. If you are a fan of smoked beers, like Aardwolf's Schattenparker, you will love this one too. Smoky with a sweet finish. I think they will be a nice addition to the Springfield brewery zone!
There's a lot of Beer Week still left, if you want to find out what is going on, check out our Facebook page. I try to post about all the beer events in town and have a daily list of events for beer week. Check us out.