New book documents Florida’s craft beer breweries

Florida Breweries by Gerard WalenNot too long ago Florida barely made a ripple in the ocean of the craft beer world. States like Colorado, Oregon, Washington and California saw the coming revolution and jumped in early while Florida languished in the heat of its own sunny climate. As recently as five years ago it was difficult to find more than a few taverns or pubs with more than a half dozen craft beer tap handles, most were filled with the mega lagers and a few of the more popular imports. But, there were always those who dreamed and believed in the untapped potential of the Sunshine State. One of those believers was Gerard Walen who saw the wave coming towards Florida and dedicated himself to documenting what is now a full-fledged tsunami.

Walen is a former writer for the Tampa Tribune and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and now edits the online travel magazine Road Trips for Beer and the website Recently, though, he completed his largest project to date; he compiled information and wrote a book about 66 of Florida’s breweries. Walen’s book, Florida Breweries, published by Stackpole Books, hit the book shelves last month and offers a glimpse into the history of craft beer in Florida along with insights into each brewery and picks on their best brews.

Looking through the book, one gets the feeling that Walen has spent his entire life researching, documenting and, yes, drinking craft beer. But, a quick read of the Acknowledgements section puts that belief aside. Walen, though now exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate about craft beer, is a convert to the world of IPAs and stouts, just like many of the rest of us. In 1999, as a copy editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Walen began hearing about the tastier cousins to fizzy yellow beer from others on the newspaper’s staff. After trying several craft beers, he confesses he was hooked.

Years later, as the result of editing and writing several beer blogs, Walen found himself deeply entrenched in the Florida beer scene. So much so that he set out on a year-long journey to visit all of Florida’s craft beer breweries and documenting what he found. In the book, he explains that his goal was to talk to a brewer, owner of manager of each brewery, taste their beers and find a compelling story to tell about it. Sometimes that story turned out to be something other than the beer itself, but it is always entertaining.

The book is broken up into sections that roughly cover the different regions of Florida; North Florida, Central Florida, Tampa Bay Area and South Florida. In addition, Walen tosses in information about the mega-producers that call Florida home and  tidbits about beer festivals, container laws and breweries that are still in their planning or build-out phases.

In the North Florida section, Walen talks about the explosive growth of craft beer in the Jacksonville metro area – including St. Augustine – that grew from a few brew pubs to eleven breweries and several more coming soon. In the section about Intuition Ale Works, Walen launches in to a discussion about the race to can beer and how, among all the breweries in Florida, Intuition was the first to put craft beer in cans.

The stories related by Walen in the book are fascinating, enlightening and often, just plain fun. His picks for signature beers at each brewery are spot on and are absolutely worth seeking out or at least adding to your beer-drinking bucket list. There is absolutely no doubt that, in the years since his conversion to craft beer, Walen has become a connoisseur, an advocate and an historian.

Florida Breweries is available on and at bookstores throughout Florida with a cover price of $19.95. You can read more of Walen’s observations and ruminations about beer at and his blog


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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Beer


St. Augustine pub crawl takes to the water

Pub crawls are a fun way to visit several bars and sample the drinks at each. On any given weekend, thirsty crawlers can find haunted pub crawls, beer-centric pub crawls, historic pub crawls or food-centric pub crawls in St. Augustine. But, until now, there was no pub crawl offered for those with a nautical inclination.

watertoursThe idea came to “Booze Director” Deana Paimes one day while she and her husband were relaxing at the Vilano Pier after a day out on the Matanzas River. Docked at the pier Paimes saw the Jax Water Tours boat and struck up a conversation with the owner Captain Brooks. The discussion came around to the topic of pub crawls and a light bulb went off in Paimes’ head; why not combine the beautiful sites that are only available from the water with music, laughter and a pub crawl?

After more talks and some logistical maneuvering, Paimes’ vision was brought to fruition. Guests board the Osprey at the Vilano Pier for a three and one half hour cruise that takes them to three pubs along the Matanzas. On board the Osprey guests are offered a beer and treated to music and breath-taking views.

“If you are looking for a relaxing boat ride filled with Debbie Downers,” Paimes says. “This is not the boat for you. We will be having fun, floating to each destination while listening to music and laughing along the way.”

Guests can board the Osprey at the Vilano Pier Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and enjoy a beer before the 2:00 p.m. departure. Once the party pontoon pushes off, guests can expect to make stops at The Conch House, Beaches Restaurant and the Kingfish Grill for drinks and food.  The cruise ends with the boat docking at Vilano Pier again at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for the cruises are $25 per person and are available at the Jax Water Tours website. Or contact Jax Water Tours at 904-322-7194.

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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Pubs, Relaxing, Travel


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New Jaxsons Night Market to feature food and beer monthly downtown

jaxsons_night_festivalBeginning next week and continuing every third Thursday of the month, the parking lot at the corner of Main and Adams Streets downtown will be transformed into a food and beer lover’s paradise. At least that is the hopes of downtown advocate Mike Field. Field’s vision is to create another monthly destination event downtown like Art Walk. Thus, Jaxsons Night Market, a food-centric event is born.

Cities across the country and world have had night market traditions for decades, even centuries. Generally dedicated to casual browsing, socializing, eating and drinking, night markets are traditions that draw eclectic crowds of foodies and curiosity-seekers alike.

In San Francisco, the hugely popular ‘Underground Market’ is a monthly event that brings together foragers and as many as 35 of the Bay area’s best home cooks. In Richmond, BC, on weekend evenings, more than 200 vendors set up shop on a 10-acre site in the Vancouver suburb and get to work on Chinese, Thai, and Italian dishes. Families and foodies line up Thursday evenings all summer in the lower parking lot of Yamashiro Japanese restaurant in the Hollywood Hills to taste gourmet foods like Duck Confit and pulled pork sliders. Jacksonville now joins these cities with as many as 25 food booths and, of course, craft beer.
Several of the vendors guests can expect on the inaugural night of the event include the insanely popular Hawkers Asian Street Fare, The Hyppo makers of popsicles in flavors such as Strawberry Basil and pops made with Intuition Ale Works beer and several local food trucks. In addition, visitors can enjoy foods from the event’s sponsors: Black Hog Farms, Burrito Gallery and Intuition Ale Works.

In a recent article published in the Jacksonville Business Journal, Field says, “There’s a yearning for more stuff to do Downtown. Downtown needs more reasons for people to come down, and Art Walk is such a great excuse for people to come Downtown that normally wouldn’t come Downtown. This is a different kind of monthly event that has a different spin.”

Jaxsons Night Market will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 on the third Thursday of each month in the parking lot adjacent to the Burrito Gallery downtown.

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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Food


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One Spark features several beer-centric creators

one_sparkLast year Jacksonville played host city to a new and innovative event founded to help artists, inventors and innovators find funding for the projects they are so passionate about. That event, the first of its kind in the world, was a smashing success and brought thousands of people from all over the world to the downtown core of Jacksonville. That event was One Spark, a five-day festival that show-cased hundreds of hopeful participants vying for a piece of a purse that was distributed according to how visitors voted. Beginning Wednesday, April 9, the second annual One Spark festival will kick off over 20 square blocks of downtown. Among the creators this year are a number of beer-centric ventures that hope to garner some favor and walk away with their piece of this year’s $300,000 pot.

In addition to the creators, One Spark will feature a Craft Beer Village sponsored by Sea Best Seafood  that will highlight the delicious beers of Intuition Ale Works. For this year’s festival the Jacksonville brewery created to beers; One Spark Kolsch and One Spark Alt Ales. Both are examples of the only two German ales styles. Kolsch is a lighter, crisp brew that has a low hop profile and a refreshing, clean finish. The German Alt style is characterized by its amber color and malty flavors.

The festival will also feature a food village sponsored by San Marco Dining District. Attendees will be able to dine on gourmet cuisine from local restaurants such as Bistro Aix, BB’s, Matthew’s Taveran and the Grotto. But, if street food is more your style, a wide selection of local food trucks will be hawking their dishes in the two-block-long district.

Whether you go to One Spark to socialize with thousands of other attendees, to grab a cold beer and a great bite to eat or to browse the creators’ booths, you are sure to have a great time.

Some of the beer-centric booths you do not want to miss include:

Gastrofest 2015

The folks behind this idea – an eclectic group consisting of Erin Thursby, Kamron Perry and Nathaniel Price – want to bring the Jacksonville culinary scene to the forefront with a festival that incorporates craft beer, food truck fare and fine dining in a gastronomical festival; Gastrofest 2015. The group is seeking $24,000 in funding to market, promote and organize their event.

Placemaking Lager

Many who are aware of some of the major events that happen in downtown Jacksonville are certainly familiar with the name Tony Allegretti. Allegretti is the man whose vision started the popular first Wednesday of each month downtown event known as Art Walk. For One Spark Allegretti is seeking $20,000 to begin contract brewing, canning and distributing Placemaker Lager. In his description on the One Spark web site, Allegeretti says, “Placemaking Lager is a bit of a radical idea that goes beyond the excellent quality of local craft beer. It also forms a conduit between events and people and creates a way for non-profits to benefit directly.

Brewing Up a Bier Garten

Jacksonville Beach beer-lovers are no doubt well aware of the fine craft beer brewed and served at Engine 15 Brewing Company. Kara Scremin wants to build a three-part brewery and rain-water recovery system that Engine 15 will use at their new brewery on Myrtle Avenue. The goal is to reuse waste water from the brewery’s operations along with rain-water to irrigate the on-site bier garten, clean equipment and eventually make beer. The group is seeking $20,000.

Golden Isles Brewing Supply

Joshua Austin is a man who loves beer. He is the owner of Risen Dead Brewing, LLC and the president of the Golden Isles Brewing Club in Brunswick, Ga. He and his peers in the home brewing community have noticed a distinct absence of quality brewing supplies in the Brunswick area. Austin’s goal is to raise enough money to open a brewing supply store that specializes in, “high quality ingredients, affordable equipment, apparel, and more. We plan to keep costs low through low overhead and great product selection.” He seeks $5,000.

I Know Jax Mobile Magazine

Joe Talentino has been bringing Jacksonville viewers fun and exciting information on local restaurants, events and – shameless plug – the Beer Guy, for over 100 episodes on his CW17 television show ‘I Know Jax.’ With this One Spark project he wants to take the same enthusiasm he has for his television show to mobile mediums. Of the project, Talentino says, “I Know Jax Mobile Magazine will focus on positive stories about fun things to do, food and dining, outdoor activities, sports, culture and much more.” To make his dream a reality, Talentino is seeking $7,500 for computer equipment and programming.

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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Beer Festival


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Infographic – The Business of Craft Beer

The folks over at have put together this infographic about the business of craft beer. And we all know how much I love infographics. Take a look at this interesting piece and then check out the other information available on the site where the original infographic is hosted. Check out the page here:





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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Infographic


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SweetWater 420 to be served on Delta flights to NYC

Photo courtesy of:

Photo courtesy of:

If you are flying from the Southeastern United States to just about anywhere else chances are you will have a stop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Located seven miles south of downtown Atlanta, Hartsfield has had the distinction of being the busiest airport in the world since 1998. Nearly 95 million people pass through the concourses of the airport every year to board nearly 1 million flights. By any accounting, that is a lot of traffic.

Hartsfield-Jackson is also the central hub for one of the nation’s largest airlines; Delta. With almost 1,000 flights per day Delta ushers over 59% of their passengers through the airport. And it is because of those numbers that Delta’s new partnership with another Atlanta icon; SweetWater Brewing Company.

In an announcement made through Facebook in Thursday, March 27, SweetWater announced that cans of their flagship 420 Pale Ale will be stocked on all Delta flights bound for LaGuardia Airport in New York beginning April 1, 2014.

Prior to just a few months ago, it was impossible for SweetWater’s beers to be made available on flights because they were only packaged in glass bottles. With the higher precautions do to the events of 9/11, glass and airplanes just doesn’t mix. But, cans are perfectly acceptable for aircraft.

420 is one of the first craft beers to make it on to Delta’s in-flight menu and the brewery could not be happier. In an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, SweetWater founder Freddie Bench said, “Our new cans eliminate the glass restrictions that previously held us back from offering our beer in great spots like airplanes, stadiums, beaches and more.”

In March, the brewery began canning 420 using a special can-conditioning process that produces a stable beer with a longer shelf life. The process is similar to the used by many brewers to “bottle-condition” beers. A small amount of sugar and yeast is added to the bottle before it is sealed, as the yeast eats the sugar it also removes any oxygen that may be in the can. By removing oxygen, the bane of all beer, the brewery extends the beer’s shelf life.

Delta will also serve SweetWater 420 on flights from Atlanta to Denver April 7-9 during the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Beer Cans, Beer News


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The Jax Beer Guy March Madness Beer Tourney — Awesome 8

beerguymarcmadness8The competition has been fierce and not without a few surprise upsets, but from a field of over 64 unbelievable craft and import beers, we are now down to the Awesome 8! This is also the round that determines the regional winners and, for those who made their predications prior to the tourney beginning, determines who will win the first prize!

In the Eastern Division we see Jacksonville hometown favorite Intuition Ale Works’ Underdark up against the Michigan powerhouse Bell’s Hopslam.

The Middle Division pits Chicago’s Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout against Colorado’s Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy.

In the Western Division Russian River’s legendary Pliney the Elder is pitted against San Diego’s Ballast Point Sculpin.

And finally, the Import Division is heating up overseas with the battle of the 12s; perennial favorite Westvleteren 12 battling St. Bernardus 12.

The Final 4 will be set by the end of this week! Be sure to follow the link below to be sure your favorite wins this round.

Follow this link to register your choices!

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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Beer


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