Talking craft beers with Regina from JaxBrewBitch.com

1. What led to your interest in beer?

“Companion” had pestered me into visiting Bold City Brewery a little over two years ago. This was my first experience with any beer other than the mass-produced “corporate” beer – which I didn’t like. This initial experience at Bold City opened my eyes to microbreweries. Later, I had just initiated an exercise/diet routine and we made a stop at Kickbacks Gastropub. I asked our server for a Michelob Ultra which he provided with a disdainful look. I thought his approach rather rude, so when he passed by again, I told him it was obvious he was disgusted with my selection and requested he bring me something that he could serve in a polite manner. That backfired on me – instead of “tucking tail” and offering apologies (my expectations), he returned, gleefully I might add, with some stout or porter. I took a sip – and I was hooked.

2. Is beer an occupation or hobby?

A hobby which occupies much of my day. My “immersion” into craft beer via Jax Brew Bitch has provided a blessing of many new wonderful friends – and led to some exciting opportunities. Although what folks see on Jax Brew Bitch has required a significant amount of time and money (companion gets light-headed at the amount), I cheerfully do my best to provide a useful resource to those in our community who enjoy craft beer and those who are considering making the jump from the mass-produced, mass-marketed brands.

3. Why did you decide to call your website Jax Brew Bitch?

If this means you could never think of me as a “Bitch”, I should thank you profusely! Seriously, when we started discussing domain names a couple of years ago, we certainly considered other nom de plumes. We felt using Jax Beer “something or other” would be confusing to folks who remembered there was actually a commercially produced beer by that name. Plus, “Brew” was much better suited to the flavor I wanted to create for my persona , so to speak. I know – the question is intended to shed light on the “Bitch” part. Casting a respectful glance in Donald Trump’s direction for saying something along the lines that even bad publicity is good, we figured “Bitch” would at least be remembered far longer than “Princess” (my home persona, by the way) , “Girl” or even “Maven”.

4. How long have you operated your website?

I established the domain name in October,2011 but I focused initially on a blog through Blogspot which published my first posts in November, 2011. I took www.jaxbrewbitch.com live in April 2012 but soon found the Flash components of it incompatible with iPads and iPhones. You live, you learn. So, it was back to the drawing board and that’s when I decided to migrate, kicking and screaming to Wordpress, bringing the current site to life in November, 2012.

5. What is the focus of your site? Is it beer in general, locally brewed beers, or beers of the world?

The focus is primarily craft beer from all over the world and craft beer events about which I feel our local beer-lovers would be interested.

6. Your website is subtitled BREWS, CHEWS and REVIEWS. Can you tell us about each of those?

I have started developing what I think will be a rather unique approach to brews reviews. The international beer review websites out there are very important resources for those whose palates have developed to appreciate parameters such as “mouthfeel”, “nose” and “finish”. However, the novice craft beer drinker and those who are just now considering trying craft beer will be intimidated by those review sites – not drawn to them – and those are the folks I’m after. My “Brews Reviews” system will be tailored to help these newbies approach an otherwise bewildering number of craft beer tap handles with confidence.

“Chews Reviews” is a section I took live earlier this year and stemmed from my usual practice of ordering food while doing my “craft beer research”. Poor companion has learned he can never take a bite of food before I take a photo of the unmolested dish. This section will certainly grow and evolve over time.

“Reviews” encompasses everything else and keeps me focused on the most basic reason for starting the website. I want Jacksonville to be recognized as a superior “Brews and Chews” community – envied for not only for our local craft beer and delicious food but also for top-rate customer service visitors to our area will remember when they go home.  Of course, for this to occur, I believe we must all work together – the purveyors and the consumers – by soliciting, providing and using feedback and supporting ($) our local establishments and their staff.

7. What do you like most about running the website?

I get to meet a lot of great people – both those involved in the “business” and those just going out to find something to eat or drink. Also, the website ultimately provided the opportunity of getting to work for Bold City Brewery, handling their social media and outside events, including some in Gainesville and Tampa. I have certainly been blessed and the Miller family at Bold City has been wonderful to me.

8. Do you have a favorite style of beer?

Wow! … that used to be an easy question. When I started Jax Brew Bitch, I was a Stout and Porter type girl. I felt the sharp hop flavor of IPAs was way too much for me. Now? … ironically, I tend to lean more toward IPAs than anything else – though I still love stouts, especially in the winter. My palate changed – as most all palates do given a steady exposure to various styles of craft beer.  FYI - that’s a roundabout way of saying I’ve had a lot of beer.

Engine 15 - flights

Flights at Engine 15. For when you can’t decide. Photo courtesy of Engine 15 Brewing Co.

9. What do you look for in a beer?

Full bodied flavor – regardless of the style. If that’s not there, I consider that beer to be at best, middle of the road. That said, there will be thousands of people across the country who’ll say that particular beer is the best they have had. Palates are different and preferences are all over the board – but that bodes well for the craft beer industry, in my opinion.

10. Do you have a favorite local beer?

Yes, at every one of our local microbreweries! 

11. What's your favorite beer, period?

Outside of our local breweries’ creations, it has to be Terrapin Beer Company’s Wake N Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout.

Terrapin - Wake-n-Bake

Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. Photo courtesy Terrapin Beer Co.

12. Do you have a favorite local place to enjoy a beer?

“Craft Beer Central” – Kickbacks Gastropub on King Street. Owner Steve Flores dabbles daily in what I refer to as “Museum Beer”. The selection there right now is limited due to the construction of the expansion but once that is completed, the number of craft beer selections will be jaw-dropping huge.

13. Have you ever made your own beer? If so, how did it turn out? Was it worth the effort?

Oddly, I have brewed with the brewers at Mile Marker Brewing in St. Augustine, Intuition Ale Works, Bold City Brewing, Pinglehead Brewing in Orange Park, Engine 15 Brewing Co. and Green Room Brewing out at Jacksonville Beach.

The beers of which I have been involved in the brewing are:

Mile Marker Brewery - Mile Marker 1565 Ancient City Red Ale

Pinglehead Brewing Co - The Rawhide

Green Room Brewing - The Holla Ray

Engine 15 Brewing Co - Amber Waves Hoppy Red Ale

Intuition Ale Works - The Eleanor 

Bold City Brewery - The Mad Manatee IPA

I have not brewed anything at home – but I plan to. Visions of Lucy Ricardo dance in my head.

Intuition Ale Works - Brewery

Brewery at Intuition Ale Works.  Photo courtesy Intuition Ale Works.

14. Is there an area of the country that's dominant in terms of craft beer in the way that Silicon Valley dominates high tech?

In recent history, Asheville, NC has been the destination for craft beer focused pilgrimages from our area. We have a group of friends headed there right now as I am typing this. Seattle, Denver and certain areas of California also garner similar praise.

15. Can you tell us about a few of the more noteworthy beers being brewed locally?

I’m not trying to “blow sugar up a particular skirt”, but I would honestly say that we have very talented brewers in each of our seven local breweries. If they have beer available on tap, you can rest assured that the recipe was earlier tweaked over and over – sometimes causing the dumping of a significant volume of water, ingredients and time down the drain. Some folks may prefer only a certain style – but the Jacksonvillian craft beer collective palate has developed enough to support all the styles you see being slung out of the taps around town.

Aardwolf Brewery - Raspberry Black Sour from Pilot batch

Raspberry Black Sour from Pilot batch at Aardwolf. Photo courtesy Aardwolf Brewery.

16. What does it take to be a successful local brewer?

That’s easy! … support by Jacksonville-based craft beer lovers! Although  a little facetious , that answer is not too far off the mark because our local craft beer community is quite dedicated and willing to travel from brewery to brewery – sometimes multiple breweries during a single evening – to enjoy the various creations being offered at each establishment. I know that ‘cause “I are one”.

17. Are Jacksonville beers being sold around the country or are they mostly consumed locally?

Locally – but spreading to other parts of Florida. Two significant factors which will govern how fast this spread crosses over into other states will be our local breweries’ individual capacities and their distributor’s ability to match these capacities with new out-of-state markets potential absorption rates.

18. What makes for a great beer venue?

Knowledgeable servers, for sure. Craft beer lovers want “the skinny” on a new offering – the alcohol percentage by volume, bitterness units and a brief description.  Also, craft beer needs to be served in the appropriate glass for that particular style – no Red Solo Cup, please. A third thing would be offering something not readily available from grocery and convenience stores - though recently, I have been pleased to see that these types of businesses are also beginning to embrace the demand of our craft beer community.

Green Room Brewing - Belgian Tripel

Just tapped Belgian Tripel from Green Room Brewery. Photo courtesy Green Room Brewery.

19. There are some places that offer more and more taps to choose from. Is more usually better?

It somewhat depends on whether you are speaking from a consumer or business perspective. For a consumer, having a large number of taps available to them at a certain location will tend to make them “regulars” there.  Different story for the businesses themselves. There is a risk in having a large number of craft beer selections – a failure to sell enough of some of the beer will result in wasted ($) product.

20. Are more women starting to drink beer, or is it still mostly a male beverage?

There is no doubt that male far outweighs female consumption – however, the “rumbling” you hear is a growing number of women stampeding into the craft beer scene from consumption, production, promotion and distribution perspectives.

21. Has craft beer been more popular with women?

Yes. The days of cryin’ in your beer at a honky-tonk are numbered. Brewery taprooms are happy places where the patrons are not there seeking a “hook-up” – the goal is drinking “for fellowship” – not “effect”. Women love that – not to say that many current blossoming relationships have not started over a pint or two of a Winter Warmer.

22. What is Girls’ Pint Out?

Girls’ Pint Out is a national craft beer organization for women. With chapters all over the country, Girls’ Pint Out brings together women who are interested in craft beer.

23. Who can join?

Any and all women who enjoy or are interested in craft beer! … there is NO membership fee or monthly dues. Just come prepared to pay for the beer/food you order.

24. Who's the audience?

Even women who are not interested in beer are welcome! … the fellowship is genuine and no one cares if you have a glass of wine or water in your hand in lieu of an IPA.

Our local chapter for Girls Pint Out is at jaxgirlspintout.com

We're also on facebook at: facebook.com/GirlsPintOutJacksonville

During the construction phase of Silver Cow (an establishment I am opening soon on King Street) and madness from the holidays, we have not had as many events listed. However, this will pick back up shortly and we have lots of exciting events planned for 2014!

I’d like to thank Gerry from EatDrinkJax.com for this opportunity of being spotlighted on this impressive website and blog. 

 

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