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Tag Archives: Bar (establishment)

Jax Brew Bus Shuttling Beer Lovers to Local Breweries

Often when one door closes another opens. Three college buddies dreamt of owning their own brewery. After drinking the vapid brews put out the monster mega breweries, they had tasted craft beers and wanted to be a part of that exploding scene. They began home-brewing, but with capital being so hard to come by in this economy and a lack of extensive brewing knowledge, the three decided a brewery was out of the question.

But not long after the brewery door closed, the bus door opened. Yes, the bus door – the Jax Brew Bus door. The three — Josh Carpenter, Mike Maulsby and Glenn Vopper – found an old airport shuttle bus on foreclosure sale, pooled their money, and bought a bus. They had a snazzy wrap added to jazz up the outside and began working with local breweries to put together tours.

Now the bus operates on Saturdays visiting three local breweries and one brew pub. Riders purchase a ticket and are shuttled to Intuition Ale Works, Bold City Brewing, Engine 15 Brew Pub, and Green Room Brewery. Riders get tours at several of the breweries and beer samples at all of them included in the $50 ticket price.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to ride the bus and experience the service first hand. The ride begins at Tinseltown on the Southside and travels to Intuition Ale Works first. Manning the bus is a driver and a tour guide. Our guide for the day was Maulsby with Vopper driving. Along the way, Maulsby entertained us with interesting information about the local and national craft beer scene.

At Intuition we were ushered into the brewery bar to taste several of the breweries beers along with information about each. The tasting was followed by a tour of the brewing facilities and a visit to the Tap Room where we were encouraged to try other beers or fill growlers.

The next stop was Bold City Brewing where we were again treated to a tasting and a tour. Brian Miller, co-owner and Brewing Operations Manager, related several interesting stories and treated everyone to a taste of beer directly from the fermentation tanks.

A stop at Engine 15 at the beach yielded more tastes and some welcome food. The final stop was at Green Room Brewery where riders received a complimentary beer.

During the drive time an interesting thing happened, 14 strangers became fast friends. We were all drinking together, telling stories, and having the time of our lives. The Brew Bus became a matchmaker of sorts bringing together beer lovers and letting them learn from each other. It gave people the opportunity to share discoveries of great beers and it did it all in the span of just five hours. On these points alone the Jax Brew Bus is a smashing success.

As the craft brew scene in Jacksonville grows, the Jax Brew Bus will look to expand its route. For now it conducts tours every Saturday from 1:00 to approximately 6:00 PM. For more information or to make a reservation visit the Jax Brew Bus website at: www.jaxbrewbus.com.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Beer, Beer News, Relaxing

 

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Stop at this Redlight Redlight for Great Beer

When I was a child, my father, like many fathers in those days, had his favorite dive-bar hangout. His was located on a busy street corner in the northern suburbs of St. Louis. It was gritty and smoky; the walls were covered with dark wood paneling and beer posters and signs. Hand-written signs warning patrons to not upset the bartender, items for sale, and losers who had skipped out on their tab. Hanging above the bar was a fuzzy old Sylvania television broadcasting the Cardinals (baseball or football) or the Blues. Those were the good old, days when a bar was filled with working class men who just wanted to stop for a few cold ones before heading home.

Today it seems like most bars are much cleaner, more sanitized and, while maybe not corporate, they certainly have the aesthetic of a corporately run sports bar. Pubs have multiple big-screen televisions playing ESPN or one of dozens of other sports-centric programs or games. The crotchety old bartender has been replaced by a chipper young girl in bright orange hot pants, and local brews have been replaced by the brands marketed and produced by the mega brands for mass consumption.

This is why when I walked through the door at Redlight Redlight last Saturday evening while on a weekend get-away to Orlando I felt like I was stepping through a time portal. This unassuming pub located away from the beaten trail off of East Colonial Drive is a gem that brought an immediate smile to my face.

The sign is retro and, I say this with no malice whatsoever, slightly shabby looking. The interior is old-school pub with the requisite beer signs and hand-written notes. In addition there is a huge, full wall chalk board with listings of beers available.  The place is dark thanks to low lighting, but also due to the dark woods used throughout. The bar is a wooden masterpiece that belongs in a movie about old bars, it looks as though it is ancient and it fits perfectly with the vibe of the place. Behind the bar is a wall with several taps and appropriate glassware. On the bar itself are several more taps including two beer engines with real ale. Off to the side there is a stage and a screen that was showing the Alabama – LSU game while I was there. Also behind the bar are several hard-working and extremely knowledgeable bartenders. No tiny orange shorts on these guys, but if you want to know about beer, they know their stuff. This place is, as Guy Fieri would say, old school money.

I found the one empty barstool in the center of the bar and parked myself on it. Above the bar is another chalk board with the names of the beers on tap. Now, I have been to bars with many more choices than Redlight Redlight, but this place had some truly awesome beers on tap. Beers like The Companion by Brooklyn Brewing, Pangaea from Dogfish Head, Jai Alai from Cigar City, and Old Thumper Cask ESA.

The crowd was a friendly lot of young and old, beer novices and aficionados, and surprisingly a lot of ladies. I was nearly floored when a young lady who could not have been more than 22 or 23 ordered a gueuse right next to me. I asked her about it and she said she has loved it since the first time she tried it on the suggestion of one of the bartenders.

My first choice was St. Louis Gueuse Fond Tradition from Brouwerji Van Honsebrouck in Belgium on tap. The last time I had this beer on tap was when I was actually in Belgium earlier this year. As I recalled, the beer is refreshing sour with apple and vinegar notes. I finished the evening with something new that, hard as it may be to believe, I had never heard of before; mulled beer. My helpful bartender, in an effort to find brews I had not already tried, mentioned it to me and then brought me a taste. In the tradition of mulled wine, this brew was warmed and served hot. The beer is dark almost black with ruby highlights and smells very similar to mulled wine; cinnamon, cloves, anise, dark fruit like plums and raisins all enveloped in a lovely steam emanating from the glass.  First sip revealed the taste very much like the nose. On a blustery, cold evening in Orlando, that was just the thing to send me out the door.

As I said goodbye to my new friends at Redlight Redlight, I promised to return on my next visit south. I walked to my car and it struck me that many beer bars do it wrong, they dress themselves up to be something they are not. A good beer bar needs only three essential things; a bar, good beers on tap, and friendly, knowledgeable staff.  That’s it. No matter how you glam a place up if those three things are not there, it’s just not a good beer bar. Some of the corporate big boys should take note and go retro. I know that given the choice, that’s what I would want.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Beer, Pubs, Travel

 

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Intuition Ale Works Grand Opening

Yesterday Jacksonville’s newest brewery opened the doors of its tap room and event area to the public. From the size of the crowd and the smiles on everyone’s faces, it was a very welcome addition!

I got to the brewery early and red t-shirt clad employees were scurrying around completing last minutes tasks and adding finishing touches. The event area — essentially the warehouse area next to the brewery — is now decked out with a plank wood bar and a large chalkboard with the beers current available. The area is large and airy, a cool breeze blowing through the open dock doors kept it comfortable for the large crowd.

And then there is the Tap Room. A combination of old and new, brick and chrome, dark high-top tables and concrete floor make it a welcoming, eclectic area sure to become many beer afficianados favorite hang out. The addition of a few televisions with sporting events on them would make it a mecca for sports-loving Jacksonvillians looking for great beer.

Four beers were being served for the Grand Opening; People’s Pale Ale, King Street Stout (which was already good upon my last tasting a few weeks ago, but has now fully matured and is my favorite IAW beer), Riverside Red, and the as yet un-named wheat beer. In fact, they were having a contest to name the wheat beer. My entries; Wild Westside Wheat and Will “Wheat”on.

The crowd at the opening was huge, many lined up outside the gate to be one of the first to be in the Brewery Mug Club (I got number 11 — the frirst 10 numbers were reserved). With only a little over a hundred memberships available, it was obvious that the club would fill up quickly. And, by the time I left around 6:00 PM it looked as if it had.

Once inside, the crowd was animated and friendly. Everyone was enjoying themselves, discussing the beer in very positive and complimentary fashion. Groups of friends gathered around the tables set up in the warehouse, milled around and laughter filled the brewery.

The day was an unqualified success and a testiment to the hunger the Jacksonville area has for great beer. Now with Bold City and Inuition Ale Works only a few short blocks apart and Kickback’s just a few blocks as well, we have the makings of Jacksonville Brewery/Pub district. With luck we will see more great establishments like Intuition Ale Works poppin up soon!

Congratulations to Ben and the gang at Intuition. A job well done!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Champion Brands, Local Brewery

 

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Intuition Ale Works Preview Tour

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring the soon-to-be-open Intuition Ale Works. Grand Opening of the Tap Room is scheduled for November 20th and promises to be a great time for all if the preview is any indication.

A group of perhaps 25 beer lovers, including myself and two other Brew Crew members arrived at 1:00 PM yesterday for our preview and, more importantly, to be among the first to taste Intuition’s brews. Upon arrival we were welcomed and given an Intuition pint glass. The brewery is huge! At 12,000 square feet it offers plenty of room for expansion. Lined up on the far wall from where we entered were the fermentation and brew tanks.

We mosied on over where Ben Davis, the mastermind and brew master, awaited us with a cold keg of his signature brew, People’s Pale Ale.

The Ale is refreshing without being overly hopped. It has beautiful color and a very floral nose. Crew members agreed that it was a superior and drinkable ale perfect for a Saturday afternoon drink.

When the rest of the group had gathered in front of the tanks, Ben spoke for a few moments about his brewing philosophy and desire to brew a craft beer that Jacksonville can be proud to call its own. This man knows his beer and is passionate about his product. It shows in the the pale ale he served us first and the other two brews he tapped directly from the tanks.

The second beer we tasted was his red ale. The nose on this awesome brew is very citrus forward and the color is a deep red as the name implies.

Finally, we tasted Ben’s stout. Of the three this was my favorite. Where most stouts tend to be overly coffee or chocolate flavored, Intuition’s is mild, smooth and delicious. This is a brew that will become a very good friend of mine.

For the time-being, Intuition will only be available on tap. But, sometime in the future Ben plans to put in a bottling line. Until then, plan to look for Intuition in bars and pubs throughout the area and, of course, in the Tap Room.

We’ll be there November 20th to welcome this great new addition to the Jacksonville brewing scene.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Local Brewery

 

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