After a great weekend of beer sometimes it is nice to sit back and reflect on the fun that was had and the memories that were made. Followers of this column have often read that beer is a social beverage. It started over 9,000 years ago as the driving force behind binding our nomadic ancestors in civilized communities and continues to bring people together. Whether it is family, friends, or date night, beer can – and often does – helps people connect.
This week I had the pleasure of conducting my sister and brother-in-law around to several of my favorite beer destination here in Jacksonville.
First, we dined at the always fun and delicious Kickbacks in the King Street Beer District. And, even though the draft list is truncated due to the on-going construction of Guttyworks & Goozelpipes – Kickbacks’ soon-to-open sister restaurant and beer bar, owner Steve Flores manages to keep excellent brews on the menu. I accompanied my perfectly cooked ribeye with garlic-cream sauce with the tasty Ipswich Dark Ale, a satisfyingly hoppy brown ale. Others at the table sampled Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen, a smooth and refreshing brew with delightful fruity notes.
Following Kickbacks we meandered over to Bold City Brewing Company where I sipped on their newest release Big John Miller’s Apricot Wheat. This is a worthy edition to the Bold City lineup and perfect for a warm summer evening sitting al fresco in the parking lot of the brewery. It is a golden hued, cloudy wheat beer with all the notes one expects in a well-crafted wheat – flavorful malts with just the right touch of sweetness and subdued bitterness. The edition of fruit provides a delightfully tart apricot bite that is perfect for drinking with friends and family while catching up.
The next night, Friday, was date night and my girlfriend and I decided a stop at Intuition Ale Works was in order. As most people who know me will tell you, I am not shy about talking of my love for this local gem of a brewery. The consistent quality and friendly servers – who I am proud to call my friends – make this a favorite tap room for nearly all who enter. I enjoyed their distinctive Belgian-style Golden Ale, Duuval first and enjoyed the unique twist given to this stalwart style of beer. But, the star of the night was their popular rye ale Shotgun Shack served on nitro. The addition of nitro lent a smooth creamy character to the beer that I had never experienced before – but, will definitely drink again!
Intuition was followed by Dahlia’s Pour House another King Street Beer District bar that is always adding interesting and difficult-to-get brews to their tap line. My girlfriend is on a bit of a lambic kick lately and went for the Framboise while I went for Dogfish Head’s fruity and hoppy seasonal Aprihop. While we enjoyed our drinks, a follower of the blog and his wife stopped in to chat and enjoy a beer or two. In all it was another very enjoyable evening.
And then on Saturday I had the pleasure of pouring beer at the funky and fun Green Man Gourmet store in Avondale. Pete, an advertiser on the television show I appear on, I Know Jax, and a friend had asked me to pour the new Belgian Trappist ales he is selling and talk to his customers about the brews. Of course I agreed and, as always had a great time pouring. The first brew on the pour list was Westmalle Tripel an elegant, fruity and exceptional ale that is perfect for special occasions or dinners at home. Next in order of lightest in color to darkest was the always delicious Orval that presents itself with a hop-forward character due to the dry-hopping done during fermentation and the slight tang of brett yeast added in secondary fermentation. The third brew that was offered for tasting was Westmalle Dubbel a slightly sweet beer with hints of toffee, dark fruits and chocolate. The final beer poured was the astoundingly luscious Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout. This heavy stout pours thick and rich and is redolent with chocolate balanced with subtle hints of coffee. It just begs to be drunk with desserts like cherry pie, raspberry tart, or even crème brulee.
For dinner I met my sister at Lola’s in the King Street Beer District and had the always amazing La Fin du Monde from Unibroue. This elegant Belgian-style triple is sweet and delightful with a floral bouquet that was a perfect accompaniment to the spicy jerked chicken burrito I ordered for dinner. Lola’s boasts over 50 drought beers and always has a great collection of brews from Unibroue.
The capper to the weekend was the Friends and Family soft opening of Jacksonville’s first World of Beer. The doors were opened to us because my daughter Taylor, aka The Beer Princess, will be working at this location. It was a who’s who of the Jacksonville beer industry with representatives from Champion Brands, Brown Distributing, Micro Man, North Florida Sales, Sierra Nevada, and Highland Brewing. On tap were some fantastic brews such as Petrus, World of Beer’s C’est la Vie brewed exclusively for them by Bavik, and a special firkin from Engine 15.
So, as you can see, the weekend was one full of great beers, great food and great family fun. We enjoyed our time together, chatting about the past as well as the future, and enjoyed good beers along the way. As a social lubricant, one could not ask for a better medium. So, as many archaeologists will tell you, beer brought civilization together, and in the case of my family, is an integral part of our gatherings. I would have it no other way.