First Magnitude Brewing is unique. I know…. most craft breweries are unique in some ways. But First Magnitude is really unique in the atmosphere and the way the business is run. I’ll delve more into later.
As the second production craft brewery in Gainesville, FL (Swamphead being the first and the subject of my next blog) they have helped start what I hope is a trend in this town. Gainesville is located in North Central Florida and as their website says “Thanks to it’s unique geologic characteristics, North Central Florida has the highest concentration of freshwater springs in the world. First Magnitude springs are the most powerful over 100 cubic feet of water per second boils up from their limestone openings to form cool, clear pools that feed our rivers and lakes.” Sound like a logical and natural place to start a brewery to me.
Their tap room (thoughtfully and appropriately named The Source) is spacious and friendly. A lot of thought went into the atmosphere. If you are facing the front of the brewery from it’s location on Veitch Street the tap room is on the far right. Just outside of the tap room is a spacious beergarden with multiple picnic tables and a bandstand where local bands will come and play.
Inside the brewery, but before you get to the tap room, is a large open area with multiple tables and games for folks to play while they’re supping their suds (see what I did there). If you haven’t notice a theme by now let me point it out to you. Spaciousness. It seems these folks not only want to you to come and sample their brews but they’re inviting you to kick back and put your feet up a bit as well. Not a lot of tap rooms connected to breweries seem to do that, as a lot of them have overcrowded tap rooms with insufficient seating. But I do see it changing as the industry evolves.
And this brewery is very family oriented. I went with a couple of friends last night for happy hour and the place was more than packed with families with small children.
Now let’s discuss the beer. Being a resident of Gainesville, the natural tendency is to compare FM’s beer to Swamphead Brewery’s stable of brews. That would be natural but it would also be a mistake. Especially if you’ve never had craft beers from other breweries. The great thing about craft beers is that they all taste different, even the same styles have sometimes great variations in them. So with that in mind go and sample their beers with a clear palette, and remember your tastes will vary from others.
They have three year-round brews:
Siren Blonde Ale – This is one of my faves at FM. It’s light and refreshing and just what you need when the heat starts coming on, which in Florida isn’t that far away.
72 Pale Ale – Hoppy in flavor. You may have read my mention in previous blogs about not being a big fan of too much hops. For me this beer is okay. But it doesn’t have the balance that I like in a Pale Ale. But I have heard others exclaim they love.
Drift English Mild – This has been from the beginning and still is my absolute favorite at FM. This malty smooth beer isn’t heavy and is very refreshing.
They also have different seasonal brews they will throw in throughout the year as well as guest taps from other breweries, 18 taps in all.
Last night my friends the Doctor and the Maestro joined for me happy hour there. We hadn’t been there as a group in a while so I suggested FM. It was perfect weather for sitting outside in the beergarden so we did.
The Dr. got there first and started out with their Time Out Stout, which I have had before and really thought it was good. He enjoyed it as well. I started out with a limited batch they still had called Scott’s Session. You’ve heard me say above that I don’t like overly hoppy beers. This was hoppy, but not overly so, I thought it had a good balance and remember saying that I thought the Maestro would like this as he is a hops fan.
When the Maestro showed up he came walking out to the garden with an Ursa IPA, in honor of my return from my road trip. (Ursa is latin for bear, which is my animal totem but that’s a discussion for another time.) He thought that was pretty good. I recommended the Scott’s Session to the Maestro for his next round and when we finished with our first drafts the Dr. and I both had Ursa.
A perfect example of tastes varying is how the Maestro and I rated both Ursa and Scott’s Session on the Untappd phone app. Neither of us have ever rated a beer 5 stars. So for us, 3 stars is a good beer, 3.5 is a better beer, 4 stars is pretty frickin’ good, and 4.5 stars is out of this world.
I rated the Scott’s Session 3 stars and the Maestro rated it 4. He rated the Ursa 3 stars and I rated it 3.5. The Dr, rated the Ursa 4 stars. So, again, your tastes will vary.
The Maestro had a repeat of one of his earlier beers for his third and the Dr. and I had the Minnow Imperial Stout, which we both rated 4 stars, Smooth flavor and a great taste, with a little after taste that was different from a normal stout. Not a bad different, an I-can’t-quite-identify-the-flavor different. But it is differently one of their better brews.
While First Magnitude doesn’t have a kitchen, they do have food trucks out front any night the tap room is open. Last night the food truck was Humble Pie, who cooks stone fired pizza on the back of their trailer.
I had their Margherita which was very good and made me want to sample more of their offerings in the future, especially the calzone.
FM sponsors a lot of community oriented events, and puts out an environmentally responsible and community oriented vibe. A lot of businesses claim to be community oriented but when you look at them closely it can often be little more than lip service. First Magnitude is not only community oriented but they give back to the community. They even offer free yoga sessions on Sundays (no I have not attended, my mat is in the shop for repairs).
If you’re in the Gainesville area, you need to stop by First Magnitude. They have growlers available in the current allowable sizes in Florida (topic for another blog) . You’ll not only find a brew you like but you’ll also feel the relaxation seeping into your skin.
You can check out their website here:
and they also have a Facebook page.