First Coast Brews: New openings!

Hopefully you had a chance to check out Atlantic Beach Brewing Company during their grand opening last weekend. I gathered my intrepid crew of tasters and we went to check it out. For a Grand Opening day, I think ABBC did a great job!

We arrived around 4 and found a full house. There are a lot of tables and a huge bar counter. Even as crowded as it was, the service was fast and friendly. I opted for sample pours of Roxy's Raspberry Porter and 98th Street Stout. Ed had a full pour of the Bonfire Beach Brown. Bob, aka Dad, joined us a few minutes later with a full pour of Roxy's Raspberry Porter.

Since the front was crowded, I spied a sign that said Brewery at the back and followed it to another smaller and  more intimate space, with another bar and the brewery on display. We found seating along the windows that look out on Sailfish Drive and with a great view of the brewing facility.

The beers were good. I enjoyed the Raspberry Porter probably the most. I liked the chocolate and raspberry notes in the beer and at only 4.3 percent ABV, it was a great start to the day. The 'boys' got more fresh raspberry out of the brew than I did. I thought it was more dried fruit notes.  Either way we all liked it.

The Bonfire Beach Brown was hoppier than Ed expected, but I thought it was a hearty brown. Not sweet at all, I call it a strong solid brown, not at all light. I got mocha, coffee (bitterness) and a hop kick. Even though it was hoppier, Ed still enjoyed it. A nice sessionable 5.2 percent.

The 98th Street Stout is a whopping 9.8 percent ABV, so be careful. We all got coffee at first taste.  I found it to be very smooth, which means that 9.8 will sneak up on you since you don't taste that booziness (is that a word?). Overall a great stout.

We also tasted Mayport Red and Hop Farm Saison. The Red is a classic red ale, with caramel notes and some big hop bitterness. The Saison is true to its name of Hop Farm, the beer is a cloudy yellow with a bright citrus kick.  The undernotes are true Saison, with that funky yeast kick. If you normally don't like Farmhouse Ales because of the funky, this will be one you will enjoy. The hops balance out the funk. Both beers are sessionable with the Red at 5 percent ABV and the Saison at 4.3 percent.

Overall reviews are good for ABBC, I know we will be back soon to enjoy some more brews. Congratulations to Chuck, Spencer and Linda for a great opening! Next week we'll look at Hyperion's Grand Opening in Springfield.

It has been a full week of tasting for us, including one of my favorite Aardwolf beers back on tap. Here's some of what we have tried:

  • Veterans United CosmicKat Strong Golden Ale ABV 8.6 percent is recently back on tap and around town. This is a great beer, a touch sweet with some yeasty notes. Some malt and very smooth, don't let that ABV catch up to you!
  • Wicked Barley 32217 Hefeweizen ABV 5.6 percent is another great offering from WB. It is an unfiltered beer, bubble gum notes and a touch of citrus. This is a Florida version, not as heavy as say a German Hefe, but brings the flavor without the heaviness.
  • B. Nektar Slice of Life ABV 5.5 percent is a fantastic cider for TPC watching! Its tart and refreshing, with a kick of ginger in the finish. 
  • Aardwolf Sarah Lovely ABV 6.6 percent is one of my most favorites from Aardwolf! Smooth dark chocolate with tart raspberries. I went the day they announced it back on tap! This year's batch is perhaps even better than last year.
  • Also on tap at Aardwolf Papaya Lactic Zeppelin ABV 3.9 percent, Eater of Dreams ABV 6.8 percent, and Oud Bruin ABV 9.3 percent. I went on a sour fest! The Papaya LZ is a cloudy sour with tropical fruit notes. I like the plain Lactic Zeppelin, but love the Papaya varient. Eater of Dreams hit me with tobacco notes up front, followed by the tart. Just a touch of coffee on the finish. Oud Bruin is not for the faint of heart, its like vinegar, which is exactly what a Flanders style sour should be. If you are not a fan of the style, I would not recommend trying this, however if you like extreme sours, you'll love it.  Even Ed liked this one, but he prefers salt and vinegar chips and malt vinegar on his fish! 
  • Since it has been smoky, Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter ABV 8.8 percent and Aardwolf's Schattenparker ABV 4.6 percent. Left Hand's is a good porter with smoke notes throughout. Since it is a dark beer, the smoke is incorporated into the chocolate, coffee notes.  Schattenparker is German Lichtenhainer style beer, which is a tart wheat beer with strong smoke notes. The smoke is upfront, during and after on this one. The tart comes out in the finish, but it is big smoke.

Remember if you want to help the First Responders with drinks, snacks and basic toiletry items, Macclenny's Crooked Rooster Brewery is a drop off spot. 

Hyperion opens Friday, May 19, for the next new brews in town. Bottlenose Brewing is open with guest taps specific to Florida and Jacksonville. 

I constantly update the First Coast Brews Facebook page with events coming up around the area, including save the date information and what's new on tap. We've been talking about the recent Wicked Weed sale to AB/In Bev, so join us in the conversation

Cheers y'all!

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