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Jacksonville’s King Street Beer District infographic

Lately I have been really into infographics. I love the way they can convey a lot of information in an easy to understand format. In the spirit of these fun graphics, I have created the image below for your enjoyment. I hope you like it and will share it with your friends.King_Street_Infographic

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Infographic

 

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Sweetwater Brewing Hosting Pub Crawl to Benefit St. Johns River Sunday

The St. Johns River Keepers are a group of concerned people who raise awareness for issues that affect the river that runs through the heart of Jacksonville. For ten years they have been responsible for many efforts to educate the public and stop the abuse of the city’s number one natural asset. To help in the cause, Sweetwater Brewing is hosting a pub crawl that begins at O’Brother’s in Riverside at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 3.

Sponsored by the young professionals group associated with the Riverkeepers, the Rising Tide, the pub crawl is meant to show support for the establishments that are supporting the organization’s cause. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend, restaurants and bars throughout the Jacksonville area began selling paper fish in $1.00, $5.00, or $10.00 denominations. Proceeds from the sale of the fish will go directly to help fund programs of the Riverkeepers. The contest will end on Independence Day.

The pub crawl will take crawlers to several of the establishments selling the fish in the Riverside/Avondale area. The crawl begins at O’Brother’s and visits Grassroots for a sampling table, Birdie’s on Park in 5 Points, then up to Kickbacks, European Street, The Rogue, and ends at The Garage.

A suggested donation to participate is $5.00 (free for dues paying members of Rising Tides). For your donation you will receive a wrist band and pick up a raffle ticket for every Sweetwater brew and paper fish you purchase during the crawl. A raffle for great prizes will be held at The Garage.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Craft Beer Brewery, Events

 

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Jax Beer Week Off to a Rollicking Start

A lively and raucous gathered at Kickback’s last night to get Jacksonville Beer Week underway. Congregated around the tables of the beer wonderland where luminaries from many of the local breweries including Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works, and Eric Luman of Green Room Brewing. Presiding over all was the omnipresent and always gracious Steve Flores, owner of Kickback’s.

Beers were drank, stories were told, and friends kept pouring in. It was one of the nights were brewery staff and brewery fans sat as equals and celebrated the Jacksonville’s good fortune to have such a vibrant and exciting beer scene. All of my favorite bartenders from Intuition were there; Lindsey, Hannah, Robin, and Tap Room manager Brian. Also from Intuition were brewer Andrew and business manager Cari. From Green Room, I briefly spoke with Bar Manager Jason, and the before mentioned brewer and owner, Eric.

The favored beer of the night was a craftily tucked away keg of Intuition Underdark. This delicious creation was first introduced for the first anniversary party or Intuition, but Steve – astute as he is – hid a keg away for a rainy day or exuberant Jax Beer Week crowd. The brew is nearly jet black with a wonderful brown head redolent with caramel, coffee, and bourbon aromas. The mouthfeel is thick and smooth as silk, flavored with roasty malts, coffee, chocolate, and bourbon. The brew is a rare treat that was perfectly appropriate for the celebration.

Jax Brew Week is definitely off to a good start and with at least a dozen more events before the close of the week, there is no reason you cannot get out and enjoy at least one. Now, go forth and enjoy good local beer!

 

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Kickback’s, Bold Bean Kick Off Jax Beer Week

Jacksonville Beer Week is finally here and there are a lot of unbelievably cool events taking place all over town. No longer do Jacksonvillians (Jacksonvillites?) have to travel to other cities for a quality beer week. From this moment on we can triumphantly pronounce that we, the people of Jacksonville have our own spectacular beer week, and we are darned proud of it!

Each day this week I will add a post with the events happening that day. Believe me when I say, there are some truly amazing events happening.

To kick things off tonight what better place is there than the beer capitol of Jacksonville, Kickback’s Gastropub in Riverside/Avondale? Steve Flores owner and beer connoisseur – freshly returned from Belgium — is putting 15 beers from local brewers on tap tonight for local beer night; five each from Intuition Ale Works, Bold City Brewing, and Green Room Brewery. And to top that, each will be sold at happy hour prices all day! Look for visits from brewery reps as well as distributors, too!

Not to be outdone, Bold Bean Coffee in Riverside is offering $4 pints of local and coffee-inspired beers all week. Look for the special series of beers brewed by Bold City Brewing, it’s a knockout!

Watch for my post tomorrow with the events happening tomorrow night. You don’t want to miss a single one!

 

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Kickback’s a King Street Institution

Ten years ago your good beer choices in Jacksonville were restricted. You had a choice of going to any neighborhood bar and slugging back a bottle of watered-down, tasteless brews brought to you by the mega-breweries, or you could go to River City Brewing Company on the south bank for something a little better and definitely local brewed. Back then Ragtime was open in Atlantic Beach and Seven Bridges had beers on Southside Boulevard – but, they are corporately owned by the same company that runs the Gordon-Biersch restaurants. So, I say again, good beer was very hard to find in Jacksonville.

Fast forward to 2012 and your choices have literally exploded. There are literally scores of restaurants around the First Coast serving quality craft beer both on tap and by the bottle from the beaches to the west side. Nothing illustrates this explosion of craft beer goodness than the King Street district of Riverside/Avondale. This once blighted and crime-ridden area of Jacksonville was the home of corner drug dealers and prostitutes. But, over the past few years the area has been transformed by an influx of beer-centric, restaurant, and entertainment venues. It is no longer a scary area of town, it is now an area some are dubbing; The King Street Brewery District.

The area’s transition from drug-infested Hell hole to bustling entertainment district seemed to hit high gear when in 2005 Kickback’s appeared and a new standard was set for the area. At a recent city Land Use and Zoning committee hearing, the owners of Kickback’s emphasized the struggles they endured during the first months of the establishment being open. Steve Flores, one the owners, recounted tales of chasing drug dealers down alleys, over fences, and through streets to rid them from near his property.

Today Kickback’s serves as an anchor for the busy district. Most evenings you will find the establishment buzzing with conversation and full of patrons enjoying some of the 84 beers on tap and hundreds of bottled beers available. The food brings the crowds in too, though. With an eclectic mix of comfort foods (they have Ramen Noodles, Spaghetti O’s, and corn dogs on the menu along with more traditional fare) and pub fare all served with a home-cooked feel. But, it is not just the food and drink that pack the crowds into this King Street institution. People come for the ambience, the sense of belonging, the knowledgeable staff, and the cheerful attitudes.

On weekends, Kickback’s is a hive of activity and, at times, a challenge to get into. The packed interior is filled with a cacophony of voices all talking, laughing, and enjoying the weekend. Navigation from one side of the pub to the other is a bit of a challenge too, since the tables are so close together and always full. Around midnight, an influx of partiers arrives from nearby restaurants and breweries. Most are only open until 11:00 or midnight at the latest. And since the King Street community of workers, residents, and regulars is so tight knit, a new round of hellos, handshakes, and squeals of delight at seeing old friends follows the influx.

The interior of Kickback’s is a shrine to the marketing of the world’s favorite beverage, beer. The walls are lined with empty beer bottles hanging from eye-bolts and strung on rods. Other walls are festooned with metal beer signs, rock memorabilia, and a large chalkboard listing all the beers currently available on tap. From the rafters, hundreds of tap handles hang from threads embedded in the exposed wooden beams. The doors are heavy, carved wood reminiscent of the type of doors you would find in Europe’s oldest Public Houses. The bar is packed with the 84 tap handles and spigots that have made Kickback’s a favorite among beer freaks.

At any time one could enter into the beer Nirvana on King Street and find several hard-to-find brews such as HopSlam from Bell’s or Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. You may find an interesting import like Schneider Weisse Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin, a special edition brew created in Germany for ABT Cafes in Holland. Or, since Flores is a Belgian beer enthusiast, you might an exceptional Belgian like Kasteel Cuvee Du Chateau.

In the near future the owners of Kickback’s, Flores and business partner Ed Salem, are planning on building a new restaurant next door to the existing establishment. The new place will sport a Steam Punk theme and share an expanded kitchen with Kickback’s. In addition the restaurant, named Gooslepipes and Guttyworks, will feature a separate Belgian basement bar and beer storage catacombs.

In the long history of exceptional beer bas and pubs that have come and gone in the city of Jacksonville, Kickback’s has all the signs of being one with real staying power. Flores and Salem have built something special, a magical place that makes patrons feel welcome. If the enthusiastic crowds that pack into it are indication, the new restaurant will do just as well. We sure hope so.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Beer, Food, Pubs, Relaxing, Restaurant

 

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