Tag Archives: Beer festival

Riverside Craft Beer Festival returns with new format, plenty of beer

cupsNow in its fourth year, the Riverside Craft Beer Festival presented by the Riverside Rotary Club continues its tradition of raising funds for worthy charitable causes. This year the event will benefit Community PedsCare® a nationally recognized program of Community Hospice which provides comfort, care, and support for children with life-threatening conditions, as well as the charitable causes of the Riverside Rotary Foundation. Last year the event raised nearly $95,000.

The event began several years ago, when Chris Croft, then the president of the Riverside Rotary Club, noted that the golf tournament they had been sponsoring to raise funds was becoming stale. He tossed out the idea of a beer festival and enlisted the help of Ben Davis, a member of the club and owner of Intuition Ale Works. The idea began to grow and the club approached the organizers of the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) about using their space under the Fuller Warren Bridge as a venue for the event. RAM officials liked the idea and agreed to allowing the festival to set up under the bridge.

“In the first year,” Co-Chairperson of the festival Matt McLauchlin explained. “We only had half the space and poured the beer ourselves because the festival was an unknown quantity. Now we have all the local distributors on board.”

Over the years, the format of the festival has changed. In the first few years, guests had to purchase beer tickets. This year, for the first time, the festival is going to a one price format that allows attendees to sample as many beers as they would like for a single price. General admission tickets purchased online before the day of the event are just $36 plus handling charge. If you wait until the day of the event, tickets are $40 at the gate.  VIP tickets are also available for $50, but are only sold online and are extremely limited. VIP tickets allow access to all beers an hour before General Admission guests.

“We are ahead in ticket sales this year,” McLauchlin said. “With the weather looking like it is going to be great. It’s almost like a Chamber of Commerce event. We expect to sell out.”

This year the festival has enlisted the help of all the major beer distributors in the Jacksonville area as well as some smaller distributors and entities. According to McLauchlin, there will be more than 150 beers available to festival guests for sampling. And, as capacity warrants, more may be put on tap.

“We were talking about it the other day,” said Croft, Co-Chairperson of the event. “Our event has grown to the point that is on the radar of distributors when they are planning out their year.”

What that means is that when ordering beers throughout the year, distributors are keeping the Riverside Beer Festival in mind.

“It has become a real thing,” Croft said.

Beer at the event this year ranges from hyper-nano brews from up-and-coming local breweries like Hyperion Brewing Company and Main & Six Brewing Company to imports like Delirium Nocturnum and Straffe Hendrik. For non-beer drinkers, Harris Meadery will be at the event serving their delicious mead along with several craft hard ciders.

“There are a lot of Bourbon Barrel Aged beers this year,” Croft said. “One I am particularly excited about is Boulevard Collaboration No. 6. It’s a collaboration blended beer between Boulevard and Firestone Walker with Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad and Imperial X Stout mixed with Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee and Velvet Merkin.”

In addition to great beer, the festival will feature music from Grandpa’s Cough Medicine making a return to Jacksonville from their new home in Asheville, N.C. The band’s first set is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m.

To help with the inevitable beer fest munchies, several of the area’s best food trucks will be on hand serving some of their best dishes.

“I think we are in sort of a golden age of craft beer right now.” McLauchlin said. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I think the event has staying power.”

The Riverside Craft Beer Festival takes place Saturday, February 25. The event opens to VIP ticket holders at 3:00 p.m. and General Admission guests at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $36 plus handling charge online and $40 at the gate for General admission. VIP tickets are only available online and are $50 plus handling charge. Online tickets can be purchased through the event website at The event ends at 7:00 p.m.

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival


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Riverside Craft Beer Festival opens Jax beer fest season

riverside_beer_festBeer festival season begins in Jacksonville this weekend, Saturday, February 27, with the Third Annual Riverside Craft Beer Festival. As in past years, the festival is being held under the Fuller Warren Bridge on the site of the Riverside Arts Market. In previous years, the event has drawn crowds of more than 4,000 attendees despite bad weather.

The event raises money for local charities. This year’s beneficiaries are Community PedsCare®, a pediatric program of Community Hospice, and the Riverside Rotary Foundation. Community PedsCare® is a palliative and hospice for children with life-threatening conditions. A program of Community Hospice of Northeast Florida in collaboration with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care and the University of Florida – Jacksonville, Community Peds Care offers support, comfort and care to these children.

This year the festival is doing things a bit differently, instead of purchasing beer tickets for samples of brews, the admission price includes all the samples attendees wish to try. Food from food trucks is not included, but there will be several on hand to feed the hungry crowds.  This year the festival will feature nearly 100 different beers to sample along with more than 10 food trucks.

Music for the vent will be provided by Firewater Tent Revival and Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.

General admission hours for the festival are from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., VIPs get in an hour earlier at 3:00 p.m. With their ticket, attendees receive a commemorative cup/mug to use for the event. Tickets are available online until Thursday, February 25 at Tickets purchased online cost $35 for general admission and $50 for VIP. Tickets at the gate are $40 for general admission and $50 for VIP. In addition to getting in early, VIP guests will have an exclusive VIP area with special beers not available to general admission guests. More information is available at:

Brews available to general admission guests include:

  • Terrapin Beer Co. High 5 & Liquid Bliss
  • Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Grapefruit Sculpin & Habanero Sculpin
  • Lagunitas Brewing Co Brown Shugga & Pilsner…
  • Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Toasted Coconut & Back in the Day
  • Miami Brewing Company Shark Bait & Little Havana
  • Aardwolf Brewery Belgian Pale Ale & Styro Foam Pony
  • Zeta Brewing Brown Ale & Twinn Fin Lager
  • Intuition Ale Works Easy on the Eyes & SS Minnow
  • Veterans United Craft Brewery Grunch & Scout Dog 44
  • Green Man Brewery IPA & Porter
  • Big Storm Brewing Co. Arcus & Wavemaker
  • 21st Amendment Brewery Seasonal & He Said She Said Baltic Porter
  • Tomoka Brewing Co Oceanside IPA & Apple Tart Sour
  • Bold City Brewery Barrel Aged Dukes
  • Green Room Brewing Count Shak-U-La
  • First Magnitude Brewing Company Drift English Mild
  • Ancient City Brewing Mantanzas Red
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. Tangerine Soul Style
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company SMaSH IPA
  • Goose Island Four Star Pils
  • RJ Rockers Brewery Son of a Peach
  • 3 Daughters Brewing Stern Line Stout
  • Victory Beer Hop Ranch Imperial IPA
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Whiplash IPA
  • Kona Brewing Company Big Wave
  • Central 28 Beer Co. Trekker & Up River Ale
  • Coastal Empire Beer Co. Southern Delite & Inshore Slam IPA
  • Darwin Brewing Company Circa 1926 Tangerine Wheat & Pirata Pils
  • JDub’s Brewing Company & Tap Room Up Top IPA & Poolside Kolsch
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Nut Sack & Old Battle Axe
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Floridian & Hop Gun
  • Cigar City Brewing Invasion Pale Ale & Tampa Style Lager
  • Barley Mow Brewing Company Quackalope IPA & Maven Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Highland Brewing Company Gaelic Ale and Saw-Wheat Saison
  • Sonoma Cider Anvil Cider & Hatchet Cider
  • Ace Cider Pineapple Cider & Perry Cider
  • Due South Brewing Hopicana & Caramel Cream 13.2
  • Uinta Brewing Pale Ale & Ready Set Gose
  • Brew Bus Brewing Last Stop IPA & You’re My Boy Blue
  • Proof Brewing Company La La Land & . . .
  • Green Bench Brewing Co. Sunshine City IPA & Happy Hermit Pale
  • Swamp Head Brewery Stump Knocker & Midnight Oil
  • Left Hand Brewing Company Mile Stout & Ambidextrous VIII Old Ale

Brews available to VIP guests include:

  • Bell’s Brewery Imperial Red
  • Intuition Ale Works a special release CASK
  • Dogfish Head Beer Higher Math
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Double Drop
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Mad Max
  • Cigar City Brewing Key Lime IPA
  • Uinta Brewing Flamingose Pineapple Gose
  • Proof Brewing Company Coffee Creatures in the Dark
  • Green Bench Brewing Co. Saison de Banc Vert
  • Swamp Head Brewery Hoggetown Irish Red
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Last Snow Porter
  • Coastal Empire Beer Co. Dawn Patrol
  • Central 28 Beer Co. El Bulli
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
  • Goose Island Lolita
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. Cellar 3 (style TBD)
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Cranberry Brown (CASK)
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Happy Ending w/ Peppermint (CASK)

Food trucks scheduled to be on-site include:

  • Funkadelic
  • Blue Pacific Tacos
  • Delish Kebabs
  • On The Fly
  • Pele’s Wood Fire
  • Rockstar Burgers
  • Butt Hutt
  • Dagwood’s
  • Say Cheese
  • The Cupcake Truck
  • The Loving Cup

One last thing, if you attend the festival and have too much to drink, PLEASE DO NOT DRIVE! Even if you are only slightly tipsy. Read my eight-part series on what could happen if you are stopped and arrested for Driving Under the Influence. Please take a cab or Uber (use code “l2jkr” for $20 off your first Uber trip). Do not take a chance.

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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Beer, Beer Festival


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Characters abound at GABF 2015

For many, dressing to attend the Great American Beer Festival is simply a matter of pulling on a pair of jeans and slipping on a favorite brewery t-shirt. And, the majority of attendees to the festival are dressed in these mundane garments garnering little to no real attention. But, for those who crave the limelight, who seek attention and who have a bit of a wild side, the dress code extends to more exotic apparel.  For those brave and outrageous souls, a mere pair of lederhosen is something an amateur would wear.  Outlandish costumes range from Where’s Waldo garb to full mascot outfits.

Here are just a few of the characters I ran into at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

The answer to the eternal question,

the answer to the eternal question, “Where’s Waldo?” is answered; he is at GABF.


Shark infested waters?


Captain Hops


Even the Brits are stylin’ at GABF.


Bears, oh my!


The pope may have been in Philly, but St. Arnold was in Denver.


The kilted gang play their pipes.

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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Beer Festival


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Brew Hub hosting anniversary beer fest

brewhubA year ago an interesting concept in the craft beer community came to fruition. Brew Hub, an idea conceived of by a former Anhueser-Busch executive, opened for business. Billed as a “Where Craft Brewers Go to Grow,” Brew Hub was founded to provide brewers who are operating at or above capacity additional facilities to meet their expanding needs.

To celebrate their first year of collaborative brewing, Brew Hub is planning an inaugural craft beer fest  om Saturday, October 3 at its Lakeland, Fla. brewery. The event is dubbed Harbinger Fest and will feature more than 100 craft beers from across the country. In addition, guests will enjoy live music, food trucks and local retail vendors.

“We are fortunate to be a part of the Florida craft beer community, and Harbinger Fest will be a celebration of all things craft beer,” said Harbinger Fest director Bayé Perry. “We have an amazing lineup of craft beer from Florida and from brewers across the country, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

The festival begins at noon for VIP ticket holders and at 1 p.m. for general admission ticket holders. VIP tickets cost $75 ($80 day of) and will give participants unlimited sampling of more than 100 beers, access to the indoor Tasting Room and bottle-share event, light appetizers, a festival t-shirt and the ability to purchase limited release beers. General admission tickets cost $35 ($40 day of) and include unlimited sampling of more than 100 craft beers and access to the festival grounds. Designated driver tickets are available for $10. General admission/transportation tickets that include chartered bus transportation to and from Tampa Bay along with general admission to the festival are available for $60.

More than 25 local and national breweries will attend, including Cigar City, Orange Blossom Brewing, Toppling Goliath and Green Man Brewing. Live music will be performed by local bands The Dan Signor Project, Shevonne Philidor and Ben Prestage. Beer-themed concessions will be available for purchase from a variety of local food trucks, including Trucktoberfest, Mobile Munchiez and LizzieCakes.

A “harbinger” is someone who initiates a major change or a signal foreshadowing the future. The festival aims to be an annual event for beer enthusiasts and a harbinger of America’s next great beers and the brewers behind them.

Tickets are available at the fest’s official website:


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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Beer Festival


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An interview with Hemming Park Beer Festival organizer Jim Webb

hemmingbeerfestWith Hemming Park’s first beer festival just a little over a week away, we caught up with Jim Webb, the mastermind behind the event. In a park that has seen a number of high-profile events like the monthly Art Walk, the highly successful Gastrofest and, of course, One Spark, putting together a beer festival seemed only natural.

Jax Beer Guy: How did the festival come about? What was the impetus to its creation?

Jim Webb: This festival just kind of evolved.  I coordinate the alcohol in Hemming Park, but for the park and for DVI for Art Walk, and with the success of GastroFest, a bunch of us just figured an all beer festival would be fun.

JBG: What are you most excited about concerning the festival?

JW: I am most excited about bringing small brands to the festival that haven’t had much exposure here in Jacksonville yet.  Kind of a reverse local, e.g., I would think it would be fun for someone up in Virginia to bring in Bold City Beer to a festival and showcase that brand to a totally new set of customers and fans.

JBG: How will the proceeds from the festival be used?

JW: All of the proceeds of the festival will be donated to the Friends of Hemming Park.  Several breweries have sponsored a lot of the costs of the event (for example) Einstok from Iceland is sponsoring the four tons of ice that will be needed to keep everything cool.

JBG: What is your vision for the future of this festival and other beer festivals that may take place in the park in the future?

JW: As for the future of this and other festivals, we hope to grow them yearly and I would love to see a weekend event with a lot more food and other attractions, food demos, beer making talks etc.  But first year, we are keeping it simple.  We are also in talks with having a wine festival as well as a bourbon festival plus I am really trying to herd the various Florida distilleries into a festival of Florida liquors.

The festival takes place Saturday, August 15 from Tickets for the event are $40 for General Admission and $60 for VIP. Designated driver tickets are also available for $10 and include admission to the festival and unlimited soft drinks. VIP ticket-holders are admitted to the festival at 5:00 p.m. and have access to a special VIP lounge with seating and other surprises. To purchase tickets click the following link:

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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Beer Festival


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Hemming Park to host first beer fest

hemmingbeerfestHemming Park in the core of downtown Jacksonville has been home to a number of outstanding and highly successful festivals of late. Among them are the monthly Art Walk, Gastrofest and of course One Spark. The next festival that will call the park home will be the first Hemming Park Beer Festival on Saturday, August 15 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

According to the organizer’s Facebook page, the event will feature brews from nearly 50 breweries both domestic and imported. Food will be available on site from Bono’s Bar-B-Q Express, Super Food Truck, and Fusion Food Truck.

The current list of breweries participating in the event includes:

Affligem, Augustiner Brau, Banks, Butte Creek, Butternuts Beer and Ale, Casablanca Beer, Coopers, Corsendonk, Day of the Dead, Dixie Beer, Docs Draft, Efes, Einstok, Erdinger, Erie Brewing Company, Founding Fathers Brewing Company, Franziskaner, Fruli, Full Sail Brewing, Fuller Ale, Honor Brewing Company, Hourglass Brewery, Itaipava, James Boags, Julius Echter, Kalik, King Fisher, Left Coast Brewing, Lucky Buddha, McKenzie’s Cider, Mendocino Brewing, Moretti, Napa Smith, North Country, O’Haras, Ormond Brewing Company, San Miguel, Southampton, Spaten, Tiger, Tucher, Tusker, Unibroue and Wurzburger Hofbrau.

Tickets are $40 for general admission, $60 for VIP and $10 for designated driver. VIP tickets afford entry to the event at 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes before general admission.  Tickets may be purchased at the following link:




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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Beer Festival


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DUI, Part V: Incarceration, continued

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Read Part I of this series here , Part II here, Part III here and Part IV here.

jail2In the cold concrete and steel walls of the Duval County jail, every sound reverberates and is amplified. In the middle of the night, curled into a ball on my bunk those sounds were terrifying; a muffled moan, snoring from multiple sources, crying and the sound of another new inmate begging to be let out of his cell. In the semi-lit – it is never fully dark in jail – confines of my cell these sounds echoed in my ears and amplified my feeling of hopelessness.

For several hours, huddled there, trying to block out the sounds, ease my mind and relax my body. But, the events of the night and reality of my situation prevented any sort of relief. Scenarios ran through my mind. Clichés from prison movies and television programs insinuated themselves into my consciousness and insisted that I would be abused at best and violated at worst during my stay. But, in what seemed a complete contradiction to everything I thought I knew, none of the fears were founded.

Daily life begins early in jail. At 5:30 a.m. the lights transition from a low, twilight-like intensity to full brightness. The doors to each cell unlock and prisoners are expected to get up and begin moving around. On the outside a huge two-story, floor-to-ceiling window at the front of the common area, guards can be seen moving around an elevated observation and control room.  The raised vantage gives the guards views into each of the several cell blocks on the floor.

A door at the side of the cell block opened and the speaker mounted on the ceiling above the picture windows came to life.

“Lineup!” the voice on the speaker commanded.

At this all the inmates stood outside their cells as a two guards appeared from the opened door each using a mechanical clicker in their hand to count the inmates present. When all were counted the guards compared numbers announced their results and moved to a door opposite the one they had come in and moved to the next cell block.

Inmates who have earned the ability to work in the jail outside their cells – known as trustees – pushed large cabinets to the doors of each cell block and the prisoners inside line up on the inside. A guard stands with them and opens the door. The trustees open the cabinets and begin distributing the morning meal to those inside the door. As each prisoner takes a thick plastic tray, the guard uses a laser scanner to scan the bracelet and barcode issued to every “guest of the county” at booking and intake.

The meal consisted of a slice of white bread, grey and runny oatmeal, a piece of bruised and beaten fruit and a fruit drink. As my block mates carried their trays over to the stainless steel tables in the center of the common area, the bartering began. One inmate offered his oatmeal to the group in trade for fruit while another was collecting uneaten bread. Another was offering an item from his commissary allotment for fruit drinks. Life inside, it seems, is all about what you have and what you can trade.

After breakfast the daily routine of life inside the fortified walls of the Duval County Jail settled into a routine. Some inmates exercised, others went to one of the three telephones on the wall and made calls, still others sat around and talked. I sat at one of the tables trying not to draw the attention of anyone, but another inmate sat at the table with me and started a conversation.

Inside, other inmates are referred to by their last name or nickname. Within a few moments I learned that my conversation partner’s name was Squeak – I did not want to know why that was his name – and that he was in the middle of a four month stint for domestic battery. He told the story of how he hates the mistake he made and how he just wants to get back to his children. In fact, he said, it was his daughters fourth birthday that day and he could not wait to talk to her on the phone later in the day.

He looked rough, his arms heavily tattooed, his hair straggly and matted, his eyes just a bit wild. But, as I learned, you cannot judge a book by its cover. He was surprisingly verbose and sincere. He seemed genuinely sorry for what he did and was atoning by taking his punishment and learning from the experience.

Squeak was the person collecting uneaten bread that morning as well as packets of hot chocolate. He explained that he was going to make a prison-style birthday cake from the ingredients and anything he could salvage from lunch as dinner. The ‘cake’ consisted of the bread soaked in water and sprinkled with the hot chocolate mix then pressed tightly together between sheets of paper.

Over the course of the day I met many more of my fellow inmates through introductions by Squeak and others coming up to me out of curiosity. I did not look like them, whether for better or worse, I was more cleanly cut than most of the twenty or so others housed in my block. But, it did not seem to matter. I was treated with respect and even invited to join in a card game that is apparently universally played in jail.

Gradually, I learned the stories of many of the inmates in my block. Some were tragic others merely examples of being in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something that well, was wrong. One very large African-American man seemed to take delight in taunting and teasing the other inmate that had come in with me in the middle of the night before. The other new arrival was deep in the agony of alcohol withdrawal and was obviously an alcoholic. He was sweating profusely, shacking uncontrollably and moaning in pain. But, even his antagonizer did not go so far as to cause worry of physical abuse. It was more a sport for him.

As the day dragged on, I went to the phone and called home. My wife had already set up an account that billed my calls to our home. She had also already spoken with a bondsman who had agreed to post my bail as soon as I appeared before the judge later that afternoon. She assured me that the bondsman would get me out just a few hours after my court appearance.

Just after lunch – two slices of white bread, a grey-hued slice of bologna, a reasonably edible chocolate chip cookie and fruit cocktail – I was notified via the loud speaker that I should come to the block door to be taken to court. I was met at the door by a guard who took me to a hallway just outside of the cell block area. I was told to sit on a metal bench and not to talk to anyone else.

In a moment, several trustees arrived with two bins of chains attached to manacles. One by one, the other inmates in the hall with me were fitted with cuffs on their ankles and wrists. A chain was also placed around our waists and another connected to the waist chain was run between or wrists and ankles. The metal was cold and uncomfortable. The chains between or ankles were short and made it difficult to walk. I felt like an animal being herded to slaughter as the guards instructed us to walk to the in-jail court room.

The court room was as one would expect; paneled in dark wood with dark wooden pews for seating. In the front of the room the judge sat on a raised platform behind a large desk and an assortment of court reporters, lawyers and officials were seated in front of the judge. Instructions were given about plea choices and each prisoner was given an opportunity to speak directly to the judge.

There were at least a dozen there for the same reason as I was – DUI. The judge informed each that they could plead guilty and he would impose the minimum penalty of six-month’s license suspension, probation, community service and approximately $650 in fines. If a defendant wished to plead not guilty or not enter a plea he would set bail and a court date.

As each chained suspect took their turn before the judge, all of the DUI defendants plead guilty. When finally it was my turn the bailiff read my name and I stood to move before the judge.

“With your rights in mind and the plea offer I have provided,” the judge asked from his perch. “How do you plea?”

I considered what I had already seen and asked, “If I ask to speak to a lawyer before I make a plea what will happen?”

The judge seemed taken aback a moment then replied, “I’ll set bail for $2,500 and you will be released when bond is made.”

“Then,” I said. “I want to speak to a lawyer.”

After being returned to my cell block, I made a call to my wife and explained what needed to happen. She, in turn, called my bondsman and he promised to have me out that day.

Nearly six hours later at 9:30 p.m., after lockdown, my name was finally called over the loud-speaker along with the proclamation that I had made bail. My cell door unlocked and I walked to the cell block door. As I walked, my fellow inmates whistled and called out to me in congratulations.

One voice rose above all the others, though. It was Squeak.

“Don’t forget us,” he said.

I haven’t.

To read the next part of this series click here.

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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Beer News


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