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Helping brewers for almost 20 years, Florida Brewers Guild holds first conference

For updates and information from the Florida Brewers Conference, keep an eye on the Folio Weekly Pint-Sized Facebook page.

brewers_Guild_conferenceThe art of brewing beer is more than just combining a few ingredients, boiling them at the proper temperature for the appropriate amount of time and allowing the resulting liquid to ferment. Brewing requires knowledge of what is legally allowed to be brewed, of who can supply ingredients and packaging and how beer can be distributed. In addition, brewers must be savvy small businessmen with a handle on how to keep books, how to manage employees and who to turn to for legal assistance.

That is where the Florida Brewers Guild comes in.

“The Guild,” explained Florida Brewers Guild Executive Director, Sean Nordquist. “First and foremost, exists to help support Florida brewery’s rights and interests.”

Formed more than 20 years ago by Tampa area brewers, the Florida Brewers Guild is the trade organization for the state’s breweries. They exist to help brewers by promoting and sponsoring events, educating consumers and insuring the Florida legislature hears craft brewery’s voices over the thunderous din of macro-brewers, distributors and other special interest groups.

In a time when some experts and industry insiders are opining that the breakneck speed of craft beer’s growth is beginning to slow, Nordquist remains optimistic.

Statistics compiled by the Brewers Association, the national trade organizations that represents craft brewers, show that Florida is 10th in the nation for number of breweries, but only 43rd in breweries per 100,000 persons. That gap, Nordquist believes, leaves a lot of room for more breweries to open and thrive in the Sunshine State.

“We are going to continue to see new breweries popping up seemingly every week,” Nordquist enthused. “Some will make it, some will not. It’s going to come down to those that have a combination of a great product, good business practices and local consumer support.”

He also sees a trend for hyper-local nano-breweries like the recently opened Hyperion Brewing Company and the soon-to-open Main & Six Brewing Company, both in the Springfield National Historic District.

“If you are not packaging, your tasting room is your bread and butter,” Nordquist said of the nano trend. “You have to have a great product. And that extends to making community an extension of the brand. It brings in more local consumers who may not ordinarily go to a brewery by making it a local gathering place.”

This year, for the first time, the Guild is hosting a conference August 7-9 to bring the state’s brewers together in Orlando for three days. Activities include panel discussions on topics ranging from brewing with Florida ingredients to trademark law, guest speakers like Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing Company and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams Brewing Company and mingling with industry leaders in an expo hall filled with more than 30 vendors.

“Breweries in the state have grown exponentially,” said Nordquist of the conference. “Just a few years ago Florida only had something like 40 breweries. Now we have over 200. We want brewers to learn from each other, to learn about services that are out there and to have an opportunity to meet with their peers.”

Nordquist expects the Conference to draw as many as 300 attendees drawing brewers and others like distributer representatives, suppliers, legal and other allied brewing services.

“I think you’re going to see more companies wanting to do business with Florida brewing,” he says of what he expects to see after the conference. “I also hope we will see breweries taking the things they learn at the conference and adopt them to make better beer.”

That is a sentiment we can all get behind.

 

 

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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

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Craft beer: A catalyst for neighborhood revitalization

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Springfield building under renovation to house the Main & Six Brewing Company. Photo by MetroJacksonville.com

Just a few months ago, I stood before members of the Jacksonville City Council several times to express my support for breweries that wanted to open in the Springfield National Historic District. I used my three minutes of speaking time to hammer some facts about the benefits of breweries to re-emerging neighborhoods like Springfield. My goal was to impress upon the voting members of the Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) committee how breweries across the country have been instrumental in the revitalization of communities.

In its article, “Craft beer’s big impact on small towns and forgotten neighborhoods,” published, June 13, online housing news site Curbed captures the same information I spoke of in an in-depth article.

The article, by Patrick Sisson, weaves a compelling tale of how breweries have brought new life to forgotten towns and neighborhoods across the country. It even holds Jacksonville’s King Street Beer District out as an example of an abandoned commercial district that has seen an amazing turn around due to craft beer and craft beer breweries.

For my research, I dug up numerous stories of down-trodden areas that were brought back to life when a craft beer brewery moved in. Notably — and also mentioned in the Curbed article — is the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. Before Great Lakes Brewing Company set up shop in 1988, the neighborhood situated immediately west of the  Cuyahoga River, was a deteriorating district marred by abandoned buildings and plagued by drugs.

Today the Ohio City neighborhood is thriving with six breweries, shops, restaurants, night clubs and residential buildings. It is a prime example of the power or craft beer to bring people in to a neighborhood they would otherwise ignore. It illustrates how a brewery tap room can become a gathering spot that can serve as a catalyst for conversation about gentrification.

Today, in Jacksonville, we in the midst of a beer-fueled revitalization of multiple forgotten neighborhoods. The neighborhood known as Silvertown adjacent to Riverside and home of the city’s first craft brewery, Bold City Brewing Company, is seeing a rise in property values and an influx of new residents intent on restoring the historic homes and residing close to the bustling beer-centric nightlife hub of King Street.

Other local breweries such as Intuition Ale Works and Engine 15 Brewing Company have opted to utilize existing building stock in crumbling areas. Intuition took up residence in an old warehouse in the city’s Sports District nearly a year ago and has seen astounding success and growth because of the decision. Engine 15 bought a couple of warehouses in the crumbling LaVilla neighborhood. The addition of a small tap room at the brewery has seen an influx of suburbanites curious to visit the location.

In Springfield the addition of Hyperion Brewing Company on long neglected Main Street has already brought visitors from other parts of the city that had long eschewed the area. Soon, a new night club/restaurant, Crispy’s, will open providing another reason for outsiders to travel to the inner city. And, in late September or early October, Main & Six Brewing Company will join the other new-comers and older properties like Wafaa & Mike’s, Uptown Kitchen & Bar and  Tapas Old World.

With more breweries planned for the coming year, Jacksonville is poised to become the next great beer destination in Florida. One can only hope that they decide to settle in one of Jacksonville’s other abandoned districts to breathe life once again in to the Bold New City of the South.

Read the entire Curbed article here.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Hyperion opens to huge crowds, outstanding neighborhood support

IMG_8417 (1)Last week something wonderful happened in my neighborhood; with the opening of our first neighborhood craft brewery, hope and pride swelled to overflowing.

For longer than I have lived in the district, Main Street has been a source of frustration in its inability to attract consumers from other areas of the city. Uptown Kitchen made inroads, but it alone was not enough to provide the spark Main Street needed to truly start on the road to recovery.

Then, a few months ago, when Hyperion Brewing Company announced that it would be setting up shop in the Springfield National Historic District, the neighborhood lit up. The combination of Hyperion, the soon-to-open Crispy’s restaurant and bar and another brewery — Main & Six Brewing Company — seems to have reawakened interest in the long neglected heart of Springfield.

From the beginning, Hyperion’s mission was to open in an emerging neighborhood. The goal was to help in the renaissance of the area and to become a draw to bring more people into the area and bring vibrancy. After a long search, several false starts, and a bit of a rezoning fight with the city of Jacksonville, a location on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District was chosen.

In a press release issued by Hyperion May 22, co-owner and CEO Alexandra McKeown estimated that more than 100 eager patrons attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening Friday, May  19. When I arrived I talked with numerous neighbors and others who were all excited for the new opportunities the brewery would bring to Main Street.

“All of us at Hyperion Brewing Company are overwhelmed by and so thankful for the support we received from the Jacksonville community, and especially our Springfield neighbors, at our Grand Opening and first weekend open for business,” McKeown said. “We look forward to adding more brews to our selection in the coming months and offering our customers a great experience at [our] historic Springfield’s first brewery.”

The new brewery will serve a variety of beer styles, traditional and innovative, on a 32-gallon 1-barrel system, ensuring plenty of variety for patrons to sample. The opening of Hyperion marks the first true nano brewery in Jacksonville with the aim of creating a large variety of beers while avoiding — at least initially — brewing “core beers” that are always on tap. The larger selection of beers provides patrons with a constantly changing selection that is meant to expose them to many different styles of beer.

Over the course of the weekend, Hyperion estimates that they served more than 900 patrons. I personally visited several times to find the taproom full of excited, laughing patrons eager to support the new business. Many expressed their enthusiasm for the direction and tone set by Hyperion.

Based on the response, it is easy to see that Hyperion touched a nerve within the historic district. And, if one can predict the response other new Main Street businesses like Common Grounds coffee shop, Block Skate Shop, Crispies and the forthcoming Main & Six Brewing company can expect from the outpouring of enthusiasm heaped on Hyperion, Springfield is about to become the next great entertainment and shopping district in Jacksonville.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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Hyperion sets grand opening date

hyperion_logoI first met Alexandra McKeown and Troy Orton of Hyperion Brewing Company at a kickoff event for the brewery at Community Loaves in Murray Hill more than a year ago. The event was low-key, but served to introduce Orton’s brewing skills and McKeown’s marketing skills. On those counts it was an unmitigated success.

Hyperion’s concept rests on Orton’s ability to craft a large number of tasty brews on the brewery’s one-barrel system and to askew the notion of having several core beers available on at all times. While that original concept may have changed a bit, the central idea remains. The brewery will serve a rotating

“We prefer flights to flagships,” said Hyperion owner McKeown. “We believe in freedom of choice. Our goal is to let the public decide what our core beers should be.”

Data from the brewery’s tap room point-of-sale system and guest feedback will be used to determine which brews will be brewed for distribution in the future.

Another aim for Hyperion was to open in an emerging neighborhood. The goal was to help in the renaissance of the area and to become a draw to bring more people into the area and bring vibrancy. After a long search, several false starts, and a bit of a rezoning fight with the city of Jacksonville, a location on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District was chosen.

At a preview of their facility afforded to residents of their new Springfield home, Orton and McKeown showed off blueprints and concept drawings for the space. The brewery will occupy two store fronts on Main Street, but only one will be utilized at first. The other side will be used for expansion in future as demand warrants.

Within just a few weeks of the preview, the façade of the store fronts were painted black and the company’s logo appeared above the roll up door. In addition, the words, “Bold, Rebellious Beer Coming Soon,” were painted on the door.

On May 19th, the hard work and preparation will come to its fruition as Hyperion Brewing Company holds its grand opening celebration and welcomes guests for the fits time. The celebration will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by the doors to the taproom opening to the public at 5:00 p.m. As an added bonus, the first 50 guests will receive a Hyperion branded tasting glass and a coupon for a free beer at a later date. To feed hungry beer-lovers, Hyperion has enlisted the help of Springfield-based Eddis and Sons food truck to serve legitimate Philly-style cheese steak sandwiches.

The taproom will boast 15 taps, but will only have limited Hyperion selections on opening day.

“We’ll be brewing at a break-neck pace to have as many of our beers ready for the grand opening as possible,” says head brewer Orton.

Crowlers – over-sized cans that can be filled and then sealed – will be offers in the taproom affording patrons the ability to take Hyperion brews home from the brewery. A limit of two crowlers per person will apply on the opening weekend.

Hyperion has also made arrangements with the Jax Brew Bus to shuttle beaches residents to the brewery with departures from Green Room Brewing Company at 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the round trip are $15 and all riders must be 21 years of age or older.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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

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Image by MetroJacksnville.com

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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