Great ideas are often the result of a few beers, better ideas sometimes come from a few more than a few. Mike Fierro and Vance Joy came up with an excellent idea while imbibing on a few beers — why not leverage Fierro’s knowledge of the beverage industry with Joy’s love of brewing beer? From these beer-fueled questions came Mile Marker Brewing the newest brewery to grace the First Coast.
While not yet open for business, Mile Marker is well on its way to claiming its place in the north Florida beer landscape. With the help of another friend, Dennis Grune, manning the brewhouse and fermentors, Mile Marker will be taking St. Augustine by storm in a few short weeks. As a matter of fact, as I stood there talking to the brewery trio, Vance announced that they should have all licenses in place in less than a week.
Mile Marker promises to be a laid-back, casual place to drink a few pints and shoot the breeze with friends. The bar is beautiful golden, varnished wood with blue to give it a feel of being underwater. The brewery’s logo sea turtle is evident in several places throughout the room – in the original painting hanging behind the bar that will grace the Mile Marker Zero Kolsch-style Ale label, burned into the wood of the swinging doors behind the bar, on the coasters, hanging on the wall. This place will definitely be comfortable.
The brewery is a cavernous area with more than enough room for expansion. The partners plan to host events both public and private in the huge space. They will also conduct brewery tours to help educate the curious on how their beers are brewed. But possibly the most striking features of the brewery area are the huge wooden doors to the cold room. Thick, dark wood, hanging on overhead rails that Mike and Vance made and hung themselves.
With a name like Mile Marker and a sea turtle on their logo you might think that this brewery is eco-friendly. And that would be a good assumption since Mike and Vance plan to support many animal-centric charities. Spent grains will be donated to Diamonds in the Rough, an animal rescue charity that specializes in saving work animals — particularly horses — and nursing them back to health. They also plan to align themselves with sea turtle rescue agencies in keeping with the spirit of their logo.
When the brewery opens, three beers will be served, with plans for several more to arrive soon after. All three were offered for tasting and all passed muster admirably. The beers will be named for the Florida Keys and their mile markers. The name Mile Marker came to just sort of came to Mike one day. Little did he know that the big boys up the highway had just let that name go. But, AB’s loss was Mile Marker’s gain.
Mile Marker Zero Kolsch-style Ale is a refreshing, easy-drinking version of the classic German style. It is mild and supremely sessionable displaying hints of sweet malts, mild hops, and lemon zest. This is also going to be the first beer to be bottled by the brewery for distribution.
Marathon Key Red is auburn-colored brew that smells of roasty malts and mild orange or tangerine citrus. The flavor is an explosion of caramel malts and medium bodied hops. This is a very approachable red that can still stand up to the expectations of a serious beer aficionado.
The third beer offered was Islamorada IPA. This is also a very approachable brew with slightly more aggressive hops than the red and a pleasant grapefruit aroma. The flavor reveals good hop character that is upfront enough for an IPA lover, but not so in your face that a novice would run screaming from it. The hops are balanced by a sweet malty backbone and an almost buttery aftertaste.
Mile Marker is a worthy and welcome addition to the North Florida brewery scene. With the amount of quality beer that will soon be available on the First Coast, one may never need to travel far for something new and exciting. And if the beer at Mile Marker continues to taste as good as those tasted, St. Augustine may find itself as a beer destination in and of itself.
Until next time,
Long Live the Brewers!