Jacksonville, at least to its beer apostles, is becoming a beer destination. Over the past few years the city has seen an explosion of craft beer venues ranging from modest neighborhood bars with a few craft taps to aggressive beer emporiums with 85 taps or more. The river city by the sea has also gone from having just one real craft brewery to a city boasting five active breweries and one more scheduled to open in the next month or so. And it’s not just the Jacksonville beer apostles that are noticing.
In a few weeks Jacksonville will host the RateBeer.com Winter Gathering. The event will bring beer enthusiasts to Jacksonville to tour our breweries, visit our beer bars, and generally absorb all that is beer in the River City. As if that were not enough, plans are well underway for the second annual Jacksonville Beer Week to be held April 1st through 6th. And, because Jacksonville is becoming a true Florida beer destination, one local tour operator has been invited to the Boston Globe Travel Show to be held at the Seaport World Trade Center February 8th through 10th.
William Tabone of Play Harder Tours along with Bob Meyer of Visit Jacksonville plan to add to Jacksonville’s beer cachet by marketing the First Coast as a Beer Destination that can provide beer lovers with a weekend or a week of quality beer entertainment.
“We are very excited to be able to draw attention to Jacksonville’s craft brewing scene,” said Tabone. “Together with Visit Jacksonville we have a great opportunity to bring tourism to our area.”
It seems the organizers of the show agree that craft beer is a worthy reason to promote tourism; this year’s event will feature a Craft Beer Pavilion with over 20 breweries featuring 50 different beers.
Play Harder Tours was the organizer of the wildly successful End of the World Pub Crawl that took revelers to three of Jacksonville’s operating breweries, one future brewery, one brew pub, and one of the best beer bars in the city. Coming up the company has tour packages in conjunction with the three time Division champion Jacksonville Sharks indoor football team. These tours include game tickets, a Jacksonville beer and brewery tour, a private catered dinner at Aardwolf Brewing Company and more.
Another upcoming tour from Paly Harder Tours is the World Golf Village Weekend that includes rounds of golf at both of the World Golf Village’s outstanding courses The King & The Bear and The Slammer & The Squire. When not on the course, guests will enjoy a tour of Jacksonville’s beer scene. The weekend, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend, also includes a private, catered dinner at Aardwolf.
But, Play Harder does not specialize in just local tours; they also have several out of the area tours to choose from including a trip to Savannah for their legendary St. Patrick’s Day party that includes a tour of the newest brewery in Georgia, Southbound Brewery. And, for those who want to get a little further away, a trip to Belgium and The Netherlands is planned for the fall that includes stops in Brugge and Amsterdam. The tour will include visits to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Trappist Abbey Koningshoevin, Brewery Steenberge Ertvelde, Brewery De Halve Maan in Brugge St Sixtus Abbey of Westvleteren – home of one of the rarest and most sought after beers in the world Westvleteren 12, and Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.
For more information on all these tours and more, visit the company’s website at www.playhardertours.com.