You might have seen a recent online article by Forbes magazine with the headline "No one laughs anymore at the Florida Beer Scene." The article interviewed a Florida blogger about his favorite places in Florida.
The closest place to Jacksonville mentioned is Halpatter Brewing in Lake City.
I love Halpatter's beers, having sampled them at the Florida Brewers Guild Barrel-Aged, Sour and Cider Festival last November and again at Croctoberfest last week. So I do agree with the article on that point.
What I don't agree with is the lack of any other northeast Florida breweries. It actually made me downright angry. In fact so angry it took me a week to cool down.
Where was the mention of Aardwolf Brewery? Their foeder aged and sour beers that are amazing. They also have fantastic barrel-aged beers, stouts that make you fall to your knees, and IPA's that bring all the 'Beards to the Bar'. And let us not forget that award-winning BPA, the cornerstone of their Belgian style beers. I mean seriously, is there anything that Aardwolf can't brew?
I did a quick look through Untappd to see how Aardwolf compares to the others on the Forbes list. Aardwolf has higher overall ratings than a good portion of them. Furthermore, Aardwolf has in some cases triple the check-ins.
Translation: More people drinking it and liking it!
So I thought, well maybe this blogger doesn't know gems like Aardwolf because their beer doesn't make it out of the First Coast except for during bottle shares and trades.
What about Engine 15 Brewing? That amazing J'ville Lager. C'mon it's everywhere!
Reve brewing has quickly become a fan favorite. Eric Lumen's mastery of sours is mind-boggling. His stouts are creative and unusual. The IPA's knock it out of the park. Originally Reve was open for three days a week, now they are open five.
Their FIRST Anniversary party had a line out the door, just like their opening day!
Don't even get me going on the four brilliant breweries in St. Johns County or the two amazing ones in Nassau County.
So that makes me think, what is it about Jacksonville and the rest of the First Coast that makes us invisible to the rest of the state and country?
Years ago, as the joke went, you knew you were in Jacksonville by the smell. The paper mills emitted a sulfurous smell that was like rotten eggs. Us locals were nearly immune to the smell, it was as regular as Big Jim blowing his whistle four times a day.
Jacksonville was that place they drove through, to get to "better" tourist destinations. We lacked an identity. I thought the Super Bowl game here would make us more of a destination but unfortunately it gave us a bad reputation... we didn't have the hotel space, we didn't have the nightlife, there was no reason for people to be here except for the game.
There was a meme recently that follows that thought. It listed various Florida locations and followed with an attribute specific to that area. The joke was that Jacksonville had no attribute.
But I have news for all those folks that are ignoring our town. We rock. Our nightlife is amazing. We've so many top restaurants, it's hard to pick just one.
There are 20 independent craft breweries within Duval county, not counting our fantastic brewpubs. Amazing, award-winning, fiercely independent breweries. Twenty, with easily as many craft beer bars and taprooms.
Not ONE mention of a Jacksonville brewery? That's bull.
On the upside, just means more of that delicious DUUVAL beer for us.
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