Category Archives: Beer Bars

Beer: The ultimate social lubricant

bus2Since I began writing on the subject, I have maintained that beer is the ultimate social beverage. Indeed, beer is commonly attributed to be the catalyst that led to the beginnings of civilization. In a study created by the Social Issues Research Center for the European Commission in 1998, the author cites several renowned researchers and concludes, “…that the attractions of mild inebriation provided the true motive for developments which, coincidentally, led to a selective advantage among beer drinking groups and their immediate descendants.” In other words, ancient Mesopotamian opted to band together and cultivate grains for the sole purpose of producing beer. And then, the beer they produced was consumed in social settings, often as a tribute to their various gods.

Throughout history there are examples of how beer has served as a means of bringing people together. Even Shakespeare commented on it by writing that alehouses were, “… sites … where people of disparate status mixed…[which] brought men, high born and low, into relation, fostering a propinquity that might secure, adjust or threaten hierarchies.”

That’s some flowery writing that seems to say, alehouses were the height of social gathering places for men of all means.

According to Eric Burns in his book, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol, even the forefathers of the United States understood the social engineering opportunities afforded by beer. In 1757, after having suffered a discouraging defeat for a seat in the Virginia Assembly two years earlier, George Washington again made a bid for a seat. To help win over voters, he had barrels of beer and other alcoholic beverages placed near polling sites. His supporters were stationed at the barrels and encouraged voters to imbibe before casting their votes. Washington won his seat that year.

Prof. Matthias Liechti, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues, came to the conclusion that very little research had been done on how beer affected social tendencies and emotions. To fill this gap, they studied the effect of beer on 60 subjects – 30 men and 30 women. The goal was to see how beer effected their ability to identify happy faces and empathy. The results overwhelmingly showed that subjects who were given alcoholic beer were able to choose images of people with happy faces better than those given non-alcoholic beer. They were also much more likely to want to join those happy people in a social group.

In the study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, Prof. Liechti concluded, “These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”

So, if we weren’t already convinced that beer was a social lubricant, this study seems to put all speculation to bed. Beer is indeed a factor in fostering the desire for social interaction.

Practice some of your social skills at these beer-centric locations around Jacksonville:

Silver Cow, 931 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville

Cozy and comfortable, The Cow as it is known by its patrons, is perfect for socializing with a small group of friends. The extensive tap and bottle selection of craft and import beers provide even more reason to get chatty.

Hoptinger, 333 1st Street North, Jacksonville Beach

On weekend evenings this German beer hall themed watering hole is packed with happy drinkers looking to socialize. Expect crowds, lots of cold German and craft beer and plenty of lively socializing.

European Street Café, 2753 Park Street, Jacksonville

The Happy Hour scene at E-Street is the height of social interaction. On a nice day you can find plenty of interesting beer-lovers laughing and enjoying the weather on the outdoor patio. Two-for-one 22-ounce beers help the conversations flow.


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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer Bars


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Dahlia’s Pour House owner opening new pub in Murray Hill

murray_hillFans of the popular craft beer bar Dahlia’s Pour House in the King Street Beer District will soon have another watering hole to frequent. The owner of Dahlia’s has announced that her new venture will be located in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Jacksonville. The new establishment is to be called Magnolia’s Pub and will grace the retail district on Edgewood Avenue near Roosevelt Boulevard.

This time around, owner Andrea Dahlia wants to include a restaurant component to compliment her robust beer and wine programs. Described as a family friendly restaurant, the menu will include eclectic items such as waffle sandwiches such as the waffle BLT, Fruit Loop waffles, salads and pub fare.  A Saturday and Sunday brunch menu is also planned featuring French Toast Waffles, Hash Brown Egg Waffles, and create-your-own waffles.

Among the improvements planned for the location is a renovation of the outdoor seating area.

“We (want) to expand and up-date the back patio,” Dahlia enthused. “To make the outside parking lot and patio more appealing and enjoyable.”

Before Magnolia’s can open however, the requisite hearings must take place and the owners are asking for beer-lovers to show their support. According to Jacksonville parking code, the establishment requires 61 off-street parking spots. The problem is that there are only 16 spots available behind the building.

“I am not hearing of any problems with the requests for a parking reduction or outside sales and service,” said Dahlia. “But showing I have community support never hurts.”

The current parking determination includes several other businesses into account nor does it consider shared parking facilities on Plymouth Street.  Dahlia is asking Murray Hill and surrounding area residents to take a moment to complete a short form indicating support for a parking requirement reduction from the city. The hearing for this request is currently scheduled for Thursday, October 8th at 1:00 p.m. The form can be found on Magnolia’s website at:

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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Beer Bars


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UPDATE: Shanty Town Pub in Historic Springfield shut down, owner vows to reopen soon


August 7, 2015: Only 36 hours after the cease and desist commerce order was levied, Shanty Town Pub has been approved to reopen by Jacksonville city inspectors. In an emotional note on Facebook, owner Ian Ranne thanked his patrons and promised to keep the pub the gathering place that it has become. He has also pledged to keep beer prices low (the pub is famous for its $2 a pint happy hour) and to use the Go Fund Me funds to improve the watering hole. 

The news broke on the morning of Wednesday, August 5; sub-culture and neighborhood hangout Shanty Town Pub had been closed by the Fire Marshall for alleged violation to fire code. While the closure is only temporary, the dive bar has become such a intricate part of the culture in the Historic Springfield neighborhood of Jacksonville that it sent ripples throughout the community. For years the pub has been a neighborhood hub used to meet friends, host meetings or just relax with a cold pint of good beer.

The notification came via facebook from owner Ian Ranne and sparked multiple comments offering help and expressing dismay. A fellow bar owner, Shannon Willow of downtown Jacksonville’s Hourglass Pub said, “Hate to hear this. Shanty is Hourglass’s spirit animal. We love you. If I can help in any way please let me know!”

Ranne recounts his experience and emotions as he was being cited, “When I was sitting at the bar by myself… just me and the marshall and a beat cop, in uncomfortable silence for 2 hours, I was bored and I pulled out my phone and said [to myself], ‘You know Ian, you should make a big deal out of this on the internet…..’

According to Ranne in his facebook post, the Fire Marshall entered a cease and desist all commerce order until the bar proves occupancy is safe with affidavits from an architect and an electrician. The main problem cited by the Marshall, according to Ranne, was that there were more than 51 occupants of the building. In addition, apparently electrical upgrades are needed and, while likely to be costly, Ranne has said that he is hoping to have the bar open again by Monday, August 10. He has meetings planned with both an architect and electrician for Thursday, August 6.

In the mean time, a Go Fund Me account has been set up to help get Shanty back in the good graces of the powers that be. In less than two days more than $2,000 of the estimated $5,000 has been raised. The hopes are that the entire amount can be raised to defray the cost of reopening.

“Anything collected will go into building improvements, promise,” Ranne says of the Go Fund Me account. “I am not trying to “cash in” on this. I have 6 jobs already.”

In addition to the costs of upgrading  Shanty, $780 in fines were levied against Ranne.

“Just gonna put on a collared shirt,” Ranne said. “…go into the office myself. …handle it and pay them their money.”

At the conclusion of his statement, Ranne expressed his thanks to his patrons.

“Again, thanks so much for caring ya’ll.” He said. “Its a bit overwhelming….”

To contribute to the Save Shanty Town Go Fund Me campaign, click the link below:

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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Beer Bars


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