Jacksonville has a robust and growing craft beer scene. We provide a guide to the local brewers and some of the great places to enjoy those beers. One of the amazing aspects of the new brewery culture in Jacksonville is that many brewers are bringing in small batches on a weekly basis so things are never dull.
Aardwolf is a converted ice house that opened in 2012 as a brewery. The tap room welcomes you to bring your own food or enjoy food from the food trucks parked onsite Friday and Saturday evenings. Michael Payne is the brewmaster and is responsible for a lineup that includes Belgian and German varieties, along with an American Stout, and multiple IPAs. In addition to his regular brews, Michael releases a pilot batch of craft beer every Wednesday. These sample brews are made in batches of 5 to 10 gallons and disappear quickly.
BJ’s is a California based chain that started by making deep dish pizza and later expanded into brewing its own beer, along with adding many items to its menu. The restaurants in Jacksonville do not brew on premise but they do carry the BJ’s line of craft beers. BJ’s describes itself as a family friendly environment providing a high quality experience for a moderate price. They do not want to be known as either a “sports bar” or a “brew pub” but " just a high-energy, casual dining restaurant that offers quality food and handcrafted beer at a good value to our guests."
Bold City Brewery operates a tap room and has a number of their beers available at local retailers such as Publix, and other bars around town. Popular brews include Killer Whale Cream Ale and Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale.
Tours are given Saturday afternoons between 2pm - 5pm, on the hour. A small menu is served Thursday - Saturday from 4 - 10pm. Growlers and kegs are available to take home.
Engine 15 features a wide range of craft beers, including those they brew themselves. For those who want to try their hand at brewing, Engine 15 even includes classes to teach you to brew your own.
Engine 15 has introduced the innovative What’s On Tap? beer menu. With a single entry Engine 15 can update what they’re pouring. Results are available in the bar, on the website and through an app viewable on any smart phone. The app provides tasting notes, pricing, descriptions of the beer, and information about the serving glass. With the extensive selection selection of beers available, the app is an indispensible guide.
Every Thursday Engine 15 unveils a “Tap 42” beer that is brewed using their single barrel brewer. This allows Engine 15 to experiment and customers to get a new brew weekly.
In addition to having a wide range of excellent beers, Engine 15 also features great food. You can read our food interview with Engine 15 here. Engine 15 can hold its own in the food department but they’re also located next door to the hugely popular Taco Lu. If you find yourself waiting for a seat at Taco Lu, head next door to Engine 15 and you’ll receive a text when your table’s ready.
The Green Room features its own brews and a number of guest taps. Pints are available in the tap room but food isn’t. You can bring your own though. The ambiance is relaxed and local. Dogs have been seen wandering about inside. A great place to meet friends, play a game or just hang out. If you’re really hungry, The Blind Rabbit across the street serves Green Room beer on tap and has excellent food. Growlers of beer are available to take home.
A downtown favorite, Intuition Ale Works features over 20 styles of in-house craft brews on tap. $5 will get you a pint and a tour Tuesday - Friday at 3pm. By appointment only, so call ahead.
You can chill out, meet friends, or get a little work done in the tap room. Free wi-fi is available, but you’ll need to bring your own food, which is encouraged. Carmine’s Pie House and Pele’s Wood Fire are close by and both offer great pizza to go.
One special treat available in the tap room is beer popsicles from The Hyppo. The Hyppo uses Intuition's brews to craft artisan popsicles with seasonal flavors that rotate weekly.
If you want to have a little Intuition at home, growlers, cans and kegs are available from the tap room and cans of People’s Pale Ale, Jon Boat Coastal Ale and I-10 IPA are available through local grocery stores such as Publix.
Pinglehead hails from Orange Park. Their brews are served at Brewer’s Pizza (14B Blanding Blvd., Orange Park. map> menu>) and at bars and restaurants around Florida. Beers include the namesake Pinglehead, which is an amber-red beer containing a "combination of mellow bitterness, candy sweetness and medium body result in a balanced, highly drinkable red ale."
Located in Atlantic Beach this restaurant-brewery is part of the organization that also brings us the Gordon Biersch restaurants, among others. Local sister-breweries include Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery and A1A Aleworks in St. Augustine. Ragtime Tavern started as a small brew pub and has grown into a sophisticated restaurant that also brews beer.
Ragtime regularly features live entertainment. And, in an increasingly busy neighborhood, they offer complimentary valet parking Thursday - Saturdary from 5pm to close.
River City Brewing Company has the best views in the city for a brewery. You can sit in the lounge, on the patio, or in the restaurant and enjoy fabulous river side views of Jacksonville. River City has also been brewing its own beer for a long time - over 20 years. If that isn’t enough, like Ragtime, the brewery is paired with a great restaurant serving a wide range of simple to sumptuous meals.
Seven Bridges is part of the same family as Ragtime Tavern and A1A Aleworks (St. Augustine). They brew beer in-house and pair it with a well-received menu.
Where to enjoy craft beers
There are a lot of great places to enjoy a craft beer and a lot of different reasons: selection, ambiance, food, staff knowledge, location, and a host of others. In alphabetical order, here are a few places in Jacksonville that stand out.
16. European Street Cafe menu> reviews>
… (904) 384-9999 … 2753 Park St. map>
… (904) 398-9500 … 1704 San Marco Blvd. map>
… (904) 398-1717 … 5500 Beach Blvd. map>
… (904) 249-3001 … 992 Beach Blvd., Jax Beach map>
Touring the Brewers
If you want to check out some local breweries with a knowledgeable guide, the Jax Brew Bus runs every Saturday from 1pm - 5:30pm and meets in the Tinseltown area (map). Three breweries are visited and sampled. Tours of the production areas are included. Group tours can also be arranged during the week. Interview with the Jax Brew Bus from Jacksonville Restaurant Reviews (read).
Budweiser brewery tour
… (904) 696-8373 … 111 Busch Drive, Jacksonville map>
Budweiser offers tours from 10am to 4pm Mondays through Saturdays on most days of the year except for New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. There’s even a special Brewmaster’s Tour that lets you get a little closer to the action. The standard tour is about 45 minutes long and ends in the tasting room where those of legal drinking age receive two tickets to sample the various Budweiser products.
Great local resources