Tag Archives: breweries

Second craft brewery wins rezoning approval and green light to open in Jacksonville’s Springfield Historic District


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Last night, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, Hyperion Brewing Company officially became the second brewery to receive approval to open on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District. With a Jacksonville city counsel vote consisting of 18 yeas and one nay, the brewery helmed by Alexandra McKeown and brewer Troy Orton will open at 1740 Main Street.

As I have noted in the past, this is exactly the type of business needed to help revitalize the Main Street Business District and bring other, quality businesses to the area. Time after time other cities have seen breweries bring enormous boosts to areas in need of restoration.

And, I am not the only one that says breweries bring gentrification. James Fallows, a freelance writer who, and his wife Deborah spent three years working on a project for The Atlantic that sought to find out what factors lead to the success of American cities following the Recession of 2007-2008. In the article, Fallows created a list of items that indicated a city was bouncing back. The final item on his list is of particular interest to beer-lovers.

“One final marker,” Fallows wrote. “Perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries… A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young customers.”
Fallows was not the only advocate for craft breweries as economic engines for change. An article in USA Today published July 6, 2016 cites multiple examples of how craft breweries improved down-trodden and undesirable neighborhoods.

“The arrival of a craft brewery,” the article stated. “Was also often one of the first signs that a neighborhood was changing.”

One example cited by the article is the story of how Great Lakes Brewing Company transformed the downtown Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio from a decaying district, “Marred by abandoned buildings and boarded-up stores,” to a thriving market district complete with a renovated market, specialty shops, bars and restaurants.

The examples of what a craft brewery can do for a neighborhood are even visible right here in Jacksonville. To provide proof of the benefit craft breweries can have on a neighborhood at a Land Use and Zoning committee meeting, I looked at property values in the Silvertown neighborhood of Jacksonville where Intuition Ale Works maintains a brewery and Bold City Brewing Company has both a brewery and a tap room.

The results of my informal and unscientific study showed a staggering 18% increase in property values over the past eight years. It also showed an increase in home renovations and property sales. This is significant because Bold City opened in 2008 — eight years ago — followed by Intuition in 2010.

With Main & Six Brewing Company and now Hyperion Brewing Company coming within just a block of each other, Main Street is poised for rapid growth. This growth can only serve to increase property values for long-suffering Springfield residents who, though the neighborhood is growing and attracting younger families and professionals, have longed for a catalyst to spark the rejuvenation of the Main Street shopping district.

Only time will tell if the addition of Hyperion and Main & Six breweries will foster more interest in Main Street from other businesses. But, if the examples of other urban neighborhoods holds true, things are definitely looking up. In the meantime, Springfield residents will soon have the benefit of being able to walk to their own local breweries. And that ain’t bad.
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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Beer, Local Brewery


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Great American Beer Festival tickets to go on sale next week


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It is the time of year when all beer-lovers begin thinking about heading for the mountains. No, not the mountains referred to in the slogan for the famous macro-lager, the mountains of Denver, Colo. for the annual Great American Beer Festival. Now in its 34th year, the festival is considered by many to be the greatest in the world and with nearly 3,500 beers to taste from over 800 breweries, it is not hard to see why it has this distinction.

Tickets for the festival have sold out in minutes for each of the last six year, so organizers suggest you make your ticket-purchasing plans early. Tickets are priced at $80 for the general public and $75 for Brewers Association or Homebrewers Association members. Tickets for the members only session on Saturday, September 26 are $65. Member ticket sales begin Tuesday, July 28 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Public ticket sale begins Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Those seeking to attend this year’s festivities are instructed to go directly to to purchase tickets and expedite the sales process. It is also suggested that ticket-seekers log in to Ticketmaster early as tickets will undoubtedly go fast.

The festival is to be held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver on:

Thursday, September 24: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday, September 25: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 26*: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

*Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association members-only session

Saturday, September 26: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

This year the event is expanding by an additional 90,000 square feet to allow for greater attendance and an enhanced experience. New this year is a Meet the Brewers area with breweries that have commited to have brewery staff manning their booths for the entire festival. In addition, with more space, more breweries and more chefs in 2015, GABF’s Farm to Table Pavilion is getting a new name: paired. paired will feature 21 chefs from nine states, including five James Beard Award nominees and two Food and Wine Best New Chefs, each personally plating their dishes for guests and talking about their dynamic pairings. In addition, the exclusive craft beers served in paired are available only in this pavilion and not in the festival hall.  As in previous years, a separate ticket ($145) is required for entrance. paired tickets are available exclusively to members of the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association and as such, can only be purchased during the members only sale on July 28.

General admission tickets entitle guests to:

  • Commemorative tasting cup
  • One-ounce samples of your choice of more than 3,500 beers
  • Festival guide and free app to help attendees navigate the festival hall
  • Access to attend dozens of educational seminars across all four sessions, focused on beer appreciation

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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Beer Festival


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Sweetwater Brewing a Sweet Success

SweetWater Brewing Company

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As a great American success story, Sweetwater Brewing makes a pretty compelling case study. Founded in 1997 by two friends who met while studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the early 90’s, Sweetwater had humble beginnings. Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney discovered that brewing beer was more fun than attending classes. Yet, the duo, who shared living quarters as well as a passion for beer, persisted in their studies while taking on jobs as keg washers at a local brewery in exchange for free beer.

When graduation day came a sudden reality that in the real world you had to have a real job struck Freddy and Kevin so, in true beer-lover spirit, they headed out west to the prestigious American Brewers Guild in California to master the art of zymurgy. After that the boys took jobs brewing beer for breweries around the west coast.

In 1996, Freddy found himself in Atlanta amid the flash and crowds of the Olympics. As he wandered the town’s beer scene he became aware of the fact that Atlanta needed its own West Coast style brewery and he knew just the person to help him get one started. And so, the quest began for a location and the necessary start-up money to get an aggressive, in-your-face brewery off the ground.

By February 1997, enough money had been scraped together to get things rolling and Sweetwater – named for a nearby creek Freddy enjoyed kayaking – began producing the ales we now know and love. And what extraordinary beer it was. After only five years of operation, the Great American Beer Festival awarded Sweetwater the prestigious Small Brewing Company of the Year award making them the only brewery east of the Mississippi to ever win that award. As if that were not enough, Kevin was bestowed the Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year award. The two awards represented a major coup for the young brewery along with several gold and silver medals for their brews.

Monday night, November 28th, I had the opportunity to talk with Stuart Brown, Jacksonville sales representative for the company as he conducted a tasting at Kickback’s. This was not the first time Stuart and I had talked, but, as always, it was a pleasant conversation. That night the conversation was about the Dank Tank series beers he had brought with him. This series is a very limited supply of interesting beers created only a few times per year. I thoroughly enjoyed them as my notes below will attest.

Fresh Sticky Nugs

The name refers to Nugget Hops, a bittering hop with a heavy herbal aroma. This brew is a double red, dry hopped ale that will really kick you in the seat. It pours deep red with huge hoppy, pine, and citrus aroma. The flavor is almost that of an IPA with pine and a citrus tang that reminded me of orange peel and a bit of malt as a backbone. The finish on this one is long and bitter and thoroughly enjoyable.


As the Sweetwater website confesses, “Warning: We don’t even know what style it is either,” this brew is, as its name implies, a mixture of many parts. Utilizing three grains – two-row, black wheat, and Munich malt – and 14 hops, this brew is truly a brew stew. This mélange pours very dark brown, almost black and boasts aromas of coffee, pine, and citrus. The flavor is floral, citrus hops, and roasted malts with light carbonation. This is a smooth beer with very little bitterness or alcohol flavor even as it weighs in at 8.5% ABV.

Festive Ale

Sweetwater’s holiday entry is Festive Ale a dark, medium to full-bodied ale with subtle but wonderful aromas of chocolate and caramel malts along with spices and dark fruits. The taste reveals the chocolate flavor promised in the aroma and subtle spices you would expect from this style of brew.

In 2004 demand had outgrown brewery capacity and operations had to be moved to a larger and the current space. Currently listed in the top 50 American brewers in both the craft and overall sales categories by the Brewers Association, Sweetwater is set for success and ready for growth, but not at the expense of freshness. Sweetwater is fanatical about freshness and even employs a tester who drives their territory in the southeastern United States, tasting Sweetwater brews to ensure only top quality beer is served.

With their dedication to quality beers, this is a brewery that will surely stand the test of time. The brews are tasty and the philosophy is sound. Next time you are out and about, try one of their brews and, as their tag line says, “Don’t float the main stream!”

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery, Team Hopheads


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