So last Friday (November 13th) our group of Craft Beer enthusiasts decided to gather together at the BrassTap on Archer Road for our regular Friday Happy Hour. The Maestro and the Doctor both made it there first. They talked Allen (the owner) into taunting me with a picture of a beer (see below), saying “Here’s looking at you.” Now I was already on my way and didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t reply. By the time I arrived they had started to head for the patio and claim a table outside. Not long after me Rowdy showed up and our Philosophying began for the evening.
My first craft beer that night was a Dunkles Hefe Weizen from Tucher Brau. It was a very good example of a Dunkel with a nice roasted malt flavor and a smooth aftertaste.
Allen pulled up a chair and joined us and not long after the Deck-Orator arrived as well. So we put another table alongside ours so discussion was not hindered by any inter-table distances. We began catching up with each other and finding out what was new.
My second draft of the evening was a Hop Nosh IPA from Uinta Brewing. The IPA lovers in the group thought this was pretty good and while I thought it was okay with a nice smooth aftertaste it was a little hoppier than I care for.
My third choice of drafts was the Jefferson Stout from Lazy Magnolia Brewing. It was supposedly going to have a little sweet potato flavor but I couldn’t taste any. I did taste a light stout flavor but that was all.
As we were working on our last round I mentioned that I was going to Florida Brewer’s Guild Barrel-Aged & Sour Beer Festival the next day and asked if anyone wanted to go with me. Rowdy said she would go but I had to agree to go to the PJ Pub crawl for the Gainesville Roller Rebels.
I agreed, though I was reluctant to do so because the idea of wearing PJs in public bothers me. But I agreed at any rate and said I would text her in the morning and let her know where we would meet up for the trip. Everyone else in the group had other plans.
So I met up with Rowdy at Hogan’s Heroes Sandwich Shop on NW 13th Street and found her paying attention to the most well-behaved dog I have ever seen in the back of a strange pick-up truck. This little guy was not chained or leashed and would not leave the bed of the truck, but he was happy to be getting the attention that Rowdy was giving him. And as we turned to go inside he stayed right where he was and ducked back down under the truck side to stay out of the sun.
We wandered inside the sandwich shop and walked back to the bar to order our sandwiches. If you have never been to either of Hogan’s Heroes locations then you owe it to yourself to do so. In my opinion, they have the best subs in Gainesville. Both of them have a sandwich shop in the front half of their respective buildings and a little bar at the back end. The décor is World War II related and being a Veteran feels nice to me. During the work week if I come in for lunch I never make it to the back, but after work or on the weekends nothing goes better with one of their sandwiches than a nice cold draft. Most of the draft beer selections are the normal American Lager variety, but they do have one or two local brewery fares along with Newcastle Brown and Guiness on tap as well as some European brews in bottles.
Rowdy and I each ordered a sandwich combo which included an 8 inch sub, choice of chips and a drink. We both ordered the same sandwich but she had a cider with hers and I ordered a Stump Knocker from Swamp Head with mine. It wasn’t long before our orders arrived and we enjoyed a nice little lunch before heading out to Jacksonville.
When we left I followed Rowdy back to her place and she retrieved her traveling accoutrement, jumped in my truck and we headed out to Jax. I decided to avoid the traffic associated with driving from Gainesville to Jax by the normal route of going through Starke and instead headed up 121/231 through Hidden Lake, Brooker, Lake Butler and Raiford until we reached I-10 and then headed east into Jax. It was a lot less traffic and much more scenic. We listened to the gator game as it was playing while we drove.
When we got into Jax I knew I had not been to Intuition Ale Works before and wondered what kind of area it was in as parts of Jax aren’t too bad and are in fact really nice and others you start looking for the fastest way to the interstate. As we left the interstate it started to look like we weren’t necessarily in the best part of town. Like most new craft breweries starting out, Intuition started their location in an industrial section of town in an older warehouse. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but sometimes these areas are surrounded by not so prosperous housing. As we headed down King Street we came upon a set of railroad tracks and literally, on the opposite (notice I didn’t say “wrong”) of the tracks was the warehouse where intuition is located. Right after you crossed the tracks they had the road closed off with a vendor truck and you could see a crowd back behind it.
I turned left there and found a parking spot not too far away where it looked like other attendees were parking as well. Then Rowdy and I grabbed our beer sampling gear and headed out. We went to the check in and received our sampling glass and the list of breweries and their available wares (see pics below)
Then we walked around and began sampling and talking with the various vendors on site. below are some pics from the event.
I can tell you that there were a lot of great barrel aged beers there. And I was really surprised at how good the sour beers were. Most of the sours beers I have had up until that event were so sour that you really couldn’t taste any other flavors. That was not true with most of these.
The following is a small sampling of those that really stood out to me:
Darwin Brewing Co., Bourbon-barrel-aged big Deal; Due South Brewing, Barrel Aged Mariana Trench; Engine 15 Brewing Co., Barrel Aged Simcoe; Funky Buddha Brewing, Cabernet Barrel Aged Nikolai Vorlauf; Intuition Ale Works, Tres Brujas; Orchid Island Brewery, Citron – Cabernet Barrel Aged Saison; Proof Brewing Co., Fruit Punch Blind Fate – Berliner Weisse; Tampa Bay Brewing Moose Wood – Barrel Aged Barleywine & Capt. Skully – Rum barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale; Tomoka Brewing Mint Julip Southern Sour; Zeta Brewing, Cabernet Michaelmas and their Bourbon Michaelmas; an what I consider the two best examples at the fest, both from Wynwood Brewing, NSDLA – Barrel Aged Barleywine and BA 100 Barrel Aged American Strong Ale.
Please keep in mind that as we sampled more we were probably being a bit more lenient but the beers kept tasting better and better.
We decided to get some food before we left and stopped at the FunkaDelic Food Truck. Rowdy got a fish sandwich and I got a burger and we split an order of fried beets. The sandwiches were good but I have to say I have never enjoyed beets so much in my life as I did the ones they served.
We started our trek back to Gainesville around 5:30 and got back around 7:00.
After I dropped Rowdy off I headed back to the house to check on Tucker, my dog, and rest up a bit before heading out to meet her and the Doctor downtown for the PJ Pub Crawl. To be honest, after I took Tucker for a walk, I settled down in the recliner and he jumped up and snuggled with me. It was enough for me to fall asleep for a bit. Rowdy’s text telling me where to meet her and the Doctor is what woke me up.
So I jumped up, took off my clothes and put on my PJ’s and a robe (it was chilly out) and headed for downtown. Now the previous year’s Pub Crawl had a Lumberjack theme which I can slide into very easily. I’m a middle-aged white guy with a beard, work boots and jeans and all the plaid shirts I could want. I even own a couple of axes so Lumberjack is an easy theme for me to do. But PJs in public is not my cup-o-tea. So along with the t-shirt and PJ bottoms I wore my silk Kimono, going for the Hugh Hefner look. I actually got more than a few complements on it.
The pub crawl started at the Midnight on Main Street at 8:00 and we got there around 8:30. The Pub Crawl hits five downtown bars, with 45 minutes at each bar and one complimentary draft beer at each. So we got at the Midnight with enough time to check in with the group and finish a beer. As I recall we had three to choose from and I ordered the Shock Top Belgian White.
Our next stop was Tall Paul’s Brew House just up around the corner on 2nd Avenue. I had a little disagreement with a bouncer about whether or not I had to pay a cover charge to get in. I ended the disagreement by saying “Dude, I’m with the pub crawl! Look at the way I’m dressed! Would I put this crap on to go out on the town??!!” Luckily, he saw my point and we didn’t have to get any deeper into the disagreement. Unfortunately, the beer they selected for us at Tall Paul’s was the Narraganset Lager, or as Rowdy likes to call it, Nasty Ganset. I don’t know who chooses the beer for these things, but that one just has to go. And if you’re a Narragnaset fan good for you, but leave that in Boston where it belongs.
From Tall Paul’s we meandered over to Loosey’s where they were also having Karaoke. A couple of the roller derby gals and one of our gents tagging along sang a couple of renditions. At least here they served a decent draft beer in the form of a Yuengling Lager. Of course that is just my opinion. And being a PA boy it is only natural for me to like that beer.
The next stop on our tour was one of our old standbys, Gainesville House of Beer. HOB is also one of the gathering places for after the derby matches and one of the Meetup groups I belong to meets there after their monthly meeting as well. Not to mention our occasional treks to there (See last blog about Homecoming). I knew HOB would have a good beer available for the group. Especially since Rowdy had already discussed the beer list with Alex, the manager. I had a stout from local brewery First Magnitude, I believe it was the Drift but I’m not certain.
The next and last stop of the crawl was supposed to be the High Dive, which is where we ended up last year and a lot of dancing took place. But I looked at Rowdy and said, “I think I’m done.” She looked at me and nodded her head and I knew she was done too. With the all the beers we sampled earlier and the last few on top there was definitely no dancing in my future. The Doctor said, “See… That’s why I didn’t go the beer fest with you.”
Let me end this article by saying that I don’t regret going to either event, doing both in the same day can be taxing, especially when you get to my age. Next year I hope the Pub Crawl falls on a day when there is no nearby beer fest. But if it does it could be another long day.
I hope this little story is an entertaining Thanksgiving Eve respite. Enjoy your holiday and drinks some beers. I will write again after the weekend is over.