Friday, August 22, 2014

Veterans United Craft Brewery Now Open

Veterans United Craft Brewery has a big weekend set to kickoff their grand opening! The festivities begin on Friday and continue Saturday. This is sure to be an exciting opening, as Veterans United has lined up live music, food trucks, and (of course) plenty of beer! Owner, Ron Gamble will be on hand along with the rest of his staff to talk beer, pour beer, and drink beer. This opening is a must-attend event, and I highly recommend you make it out either Friday or Saturday. Or both!

I was fortunate enough to gain a sneak peak of the taproom and brewery on Thursday evening. There were dozens of members from the local press, including some of my favorite beer writers and contributors from the Jacksonville area. In addition to sampling some of VU's brews, the highlight of my night was touring the facility and listening to Gamble share his passion and vision for the brewery. With 30+ accounts already signed up, Jacksonville locals should expect to see his beer flowing from taps as soon as this coming Monday.

The festivities begin at 5pm on Friday. Check out VU's Facebook page for more details on this weekend's celebration.

Below are some of the sights and happenings from Thursday's media preview of the brewery:

Scout Dog 44 Amber Ale was the first beer I tried. It's a malt-forward ale with notes of nuts, biscuit, caramel, and earthy hops.

After the amber, I moved on to the Raging Blonde. It's an easy-to-drink ale that's light in color but doesn't skimp on the flavor. Notes: Malt-forward, doughy, crisp finish with slight bitterness.

The last beer I tried was the Hop Banshee IPA. My favorite beer of the night, this is an approachable IPA and one that I think will become a crowd-pleaser. At only 66 IBUs, this can be considered a mild IPA by modern standards. Notes: Strong hop aroma, Citrus flavors balanced by a malt sweetness. Clean and refreshing finish. Mild and drinkable.

Here are the rest of my photos from the night. Spread the word and visit Veteran's United Craft Brewery this weekend. And share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Cheers!

Owner, Ron Gamble, takes members of the media on a tour of his brand new facility
For more information about the brewery, please visit, or follow them on Facebook (/VUbrew) and Twitter (@VUbrew).

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sourcing Suds: Brew Five Points

Sourcing Suds is a column by the Beer Apostle, Brian Little, recognizing beer that’s served and brewed locally. Join him each month as he highlights different craft bars and brews! 

Source: Brew Five Points

Brew Five Points is a craft beer and espresso bar that recently opened in the historic Five Points area of Riverside. I recently sat down with owner, Jack Twachtman, who shared his philosophy around Brew. “Our concept is a reflection of this neighborhood. We are all about celebrating the craftsman—everything from our drinks to the art and even our furniture. We are all craft.”

Brew will focus on craft beer and espresso. “We are bringing an atmosphere that’s focused on community where you can try a local beer, or have a craft cup of espresso. We welcome everyone,” added Twachtman.

The focus on craft beer and espresso makes this the perfect spot to begin and end your day. Before work, stop by and try one of their espressos and pair it with one of their artisan breads and toast. After work, grab a local beer or try one of their hand-mixed beer cocktails.

Suds: Big John's Apricot Wheat, Bold City Brewing

Slightly cloudy, this beer gives off a nice yellow hue with a creamy head. The aroma is predominantly of grain and wheat with subtle notes of apricot and lemon. The flavors follow the nose, but the apricot is definitely more pronounced on the palate. There's a nice citrus spritz on the finish, which offers a clean and crisp feel. Light, drinkable, and refreshing. This is a perfect summer beer brewed and served locally.

Brew Five Points is located at 1024 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32204. Visit their Facebook page for special events and special tappings.

To see more from the Beer Apostle, visit Follow us on Twitter (@beerapostle) and Facebook (@beerapostle).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Veterans United Craft Brewery Set to Open

Here's some exciting news for the craft beer scene in Jacksonville!

Veterans United Craft Brewery’s Founder and Brewmaster, Ron Gamble, has announced that the grand opening date for the taproom will be Friday, August 22nd, 2014. Veterans United is one of the newest microbreweries headquartered in Jacksonville, and the first packaging operation on the

The opening of the taproom and brewery is a welcome addition to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Jacksonville. “We have already experienced a big surge of support from the community for what we are brewing and for our plans to reinvest our time and effort in local causes here. I really hope people will see our passion and excitement for both,” said Gamble.

Taproom festivities will be from 5pm until 10pm on Friday, and continue on Saturday from 1pm until 10pm. Dirty Birds Wings on the Fly and Driftwood BBQ food trucks will be on site Friday and Saturday evenings. Shawn Lightfoot and Arvid Smith will be the featured musicians. Tours of the premises begin at 1:00pm on Saturday, and will be available on the hour through 4:00pm. Branded
apparel and glassware are available for purchase at the bar.

About Veterans United Craft Brewery
Founded in 2013 by a diverse group of military veterans, Veterans United Craft Brewery is a microbrewery located in Jacksonville, Florida. At the helm is Ron Gamble, Brewmaster and former Naval Flight Officer, who is set on pouring his enthusiasm and dedication to the art of craft brewing into the creation of unique, flavorful beers. Pints, kegs, and growlers of flagship styles, Raging
Blonde Ale and HopBanshee India Pale Ale—as well as seasonal and special edition brews—may be found at the taproom located in the heart of the Baymeadows area, at 8999 Western Way #104, Jacksonville, Florida.

For more information about the brewery, please visit, or follow them on Facebook (/VUbrew) and Twitter (@VUbrew).

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Belgium Beer Dinner at Whole Foods, Jacksonville

Last week, my wife and I attended the New Belgium beer pairing dinner at Whole Foods, Jacksonville. I received the tickets from Mike over at Floribrew. com, and was excited to attend my first beer pairing dinner. Coincidentally, this was also my first night out with the wife since we had Ezri three weeks ago. The two of us were due for an evening out, and this was the perfect event for us.

The dinner featured several beers from New Belgium that were paired with five different dishes prepared by the Whole Foods culinary staff.

Beer Ranger, Kirsten Kelley, kicks things off with an anecdote about New Belgium's flagship, Fat Tire
When we arrived, the tabled were set up with the evening's menu, a complimentary New Belgium pint glass, and a cold Fat Tire. Once everyone was seated, the event started with an introduction from Kirsten Kelley, the local New Belgium Beer Ranger.

Kelley did a superb job of sharing the beer story behind each brew that was paired throughout the night. Starting with Fat Tire, Kelley shared the story of how New Belgium's flagship was named after the co-founder's bike trip across Europe.

After we enjoyed our Fat Tire, we were served with our first course: Moroccan chicken meatballs with preserved lemon yogurt sauce, paired with Snapshot Wheat Beer. The meatballs were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The meatballs were heavily spiced and the yogurt sauce was a nice companion. Snapshot Wheat served as a delicious palate cleanser. The light wheat flavor of the beer helped to tame the exotic flavors of the meatballs. Snapshot also happened to be my wife's favorite beer of the night.

The second course was a fresh Arugula salad with crispy avocado, marcona almonds and smoked cherry vinaigrette. The salad paired with a 2012 Biere De Mars. While I am not really a salad guy, I loved the crispy avocado. Any time you can throw something fried on top of a salad, I'm a fan. The arugula provided a slightly bitter flavor, which paired well with the sour and slightly tart notes from the Biere De Mars.

In between courses, I took the opportunity to mingle and take some pictures. Sitting right next to me was Regina, of Also, Mark Wisdom (The Jax Beer Guy) was on hand to give Regina bunny ears. Real mature, Mark. Real mature.

Big Smiles with Regina
Before long, the third course arrived. This course was the one I was most unsure of going into the dinner. It was a smoked duck spring roll with sweet and spicy Thai vinaigrette. The rolls were paired with Gratzer, another in the Lips of Faith series, which also happens to be brewed in collaboration with 3 Floyds Brewing.

The duck was flavorful and gave off a nice smokiness. Duck isn't something I have consumed much, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed this. The Thai sauce brought a tangy/sweet touch to the duck that I enjoyed. Gratzer, which is an old Polish style of beer, provided an oaky, smoky, and but overall light beer to wash down the duck with. Gratzer was easily one of my favorite beers of the night!

Again, I found myself mingling in between courses. I grabbed Kirsten for a photo op. This was my first time meeting her, but hope to attend another New Belgium event again. Kirsten was a great host and created a wonderful night for all of us in attendance.

Photo with Kirsten Kelley, Beer Ranger for New Belgium Brewing Co.
For our second to last course, we were served Bison. This made me very happy (I am a born and bred Buffalonian after all). The Bison was a beautifully prepared espresso-rubbed tenderloin with dark cherry demi glaze, paired with 1554 Black Lager. This was the best dish of the night in my opinion.

The bison was tender, cooked medium, and full of flavor. The demi glaze cherry sauce offered a sweet and slightly tart combination to the meaty goodness. The dish included multi-colored potatoes, which was just fun. Have you ever had a blue potato? I didn't even know there was such a thing!

1554 Black Lager was a real treat here. Kirsten shared that this is a beer not currently distributed in Florida. We all savored the opportunity to taste this well-crafted black lager. 1554 is malt-forward with strong notes of roast and hints of smoke.

All good things end with dessert. On this night, that meant a spicy ginger carrot cake with cream cheese icing, paired with Rampant IPA. My wife said this was the best carrot cake she had ever had, and I agreed. The ginger was spicy without being intense. And the icy, OH THE ICING! So sweet and creamy! Rampant IPA is a hop-forward beer that offers sweet fruit and floral notes. This was a nice pairing with the overtly sweet cake.

With full bellies and happy palates, my wife and I looked at each other and shared about how fun this was. In addition to the food and beer, the company was great. We sat with a couple we hadn't met before and talked about their love for home brewing and local beer happenings like this.

Before leaving, Kirsten pulled out one more surprise and offered giveaways based on a tiny sticker on the bottom of your pint glass. My glass happened to have the only green sticker, which meant I received a nice and shiny stainless steel vacuum insulated New Belgium growler!
The growler appropriately says, "Pairs well with beer-loving friends."
Visit New Belgium on Twitter to check out more events like this, and be sure to follow @Floribrew too!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Green Lion Festival Home Brew Competition

What: Home Brew Competition @ Green Lion Festival 2014
When: October 4th 10am-4pm
Where: Aardwolf Brewery

Mark your calendars, because this is going to be one heck of an event. The Green Lion Festival is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council and Aardwolf Brewing Co. The event if free for everyone and will include over 150 local businesses!

This year, the event is getting a pretty cool makeover. The Home Brew Competition will allow local brewers to get in on the action and share their home brew with people at the event. And like any competition, there will be winners and prizes.

The top three brewers (the winners will be chosen by popular-vote) will receive commemorative growlers, engraved for the event, and filled with 64oz of Aardworlf beer! If that's not the coolest trophy ever, then I don't know what is!

Home brewers can register for the competition by signing up below. Please note: registration is free, but brewers must be able to provide at least a 5 gallon batch to ensure there's enough beer for voters to sample. The beer does not need to be kegged; pouring from bottles is completely fine.

Registration ends September 15 and is limited to the first 20 home brewers who sign up.

Home Brew Competition Registration:

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers! Subscribe to receive every post directly to your email and you'll automatically be entered into every drawing and giveaway we run. Cheers!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ranking the beers from Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America

The Beer Camp series first debuted in May of 2011. Since, Sierra Nevada has released a different variety pack every year, with this year's edition featuring 12 collaboration brews with some of the most notable breweries across America (hence this year's title).

Before you commit to buying this year's Beer Camp, take a look at my quick review of each of the 12 brews that are featured in the pack. I have conveniently ranked them, based on my preferences, and have assigned each a letter grade. Feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section below. Don't be shy.

Here is the list of each beer in order of my preference, from worst to first.

Myron's Walk Belgian Style Pale Ale, Allagash Brewing Co.

Yeasty aroma mixed with some banana notes. Flavor starts and finishes with yeasty characteristics. Bread and biscuit flavors followed by a strong spice presence. Clove and coriander. I find the beginning of this beer to be better than the finish. The back end of this beer is underwhelming. Dry and flat finish.
Final Grade: C-

Canfusion Rye Bock, Oskar Blues Brewery

Canfusion is one of two cans that come in the variety pack. The first sip is an initial slap-in-the-face! Rye and pepper explosion. Malt and citrus notes follow the spicy ambush, but at this point, my palate is traumatized. There's definitely a lack of balance here. Overall, this beer is all over the place. Strong rye presence, minimal malt, and mild citrus notes from the hops, this beer leaves my palate pretty canfused. See what I did there?
Final Grade: C

Tater Ridge Scottish Ale, Asheville Brewers Alliance

Deep amber hues. The nose is biscuity with hints of smoke and roasted malts. Flavor is malt-forward with those roasted flavors following. Medium body with an almost syrupy texture. Finish is dry, spicy, and medicinal. I don't really taste any sweet potatoes, which is rather disappointing. Might be similar to 7venth Sun Root Down Stout, a beer in which I didn't detect the sweet potatoes until I tried it again 6 months later.
Final Grade: C+

Electric Ray India Pale Lager, Ballast Point Brewing

I am a lager fan, and this is one of the cross-over styles that has been hit or miss for me. And more often than not, it's been a miss. Electric Ray, on the other hand, does a nice job of nailing this style. The initial flavors are pungent, earthy, and fairly intense. But the payoff comes towards the back of the palate where this India Pale Lager showcases a nice malt body that comes with being a lager. It's a bit piney with a semi-sweet caramel malt finish. Surprisingly drinkable for 8.5%.
Final Grade: B- 

Alt Route Altbier, Victory Brewing Co.

Looks and smells like a dark lager. Nose contains nutty, bready, lager aromas. The taste is grainy with burnt malt flavors (there's really not a lot of sweet notes in this one), with a hoppy bitter taste. The hops bring an earthiness to this beer which go well with the grainy flavors that precede. Looks, smells, and tastes like a lager. This is a beer I could drink plenty of. Would be great with some wings and football!
Final Grade: B

Chico King Pale Ale, 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Nice malt aroma mixed with some herbal fragrances. The flavor is a complex balance of malt sugars (burnt sugars) and spicy yeast notes. The back end of this beer opens up into a floral bouquet of hop resin, citrus zest, and toasted malt. Dry finish.
Final Grade: B

There and Back English-Style Bitter, New Glarus Brewing Co.

Nice malt aroma to start things off. The taste follows the nose at first with caramel and toasted malt flavors, followed by an earthy hop notes that leave the a mild bitterness on the palate. The more I sipped on this, the more I could pick up some fruit flavors on the front of the palate. Not overly complex. Easy to drink. Pretty enjoyable.
Final Grade: B
Hoppy Pilsner, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

The beer gives an immediate hop-forward intensity that is citrus and floral. A nice earthy complexity follows the floral notes, and then this torpedo disengages, leaving a light, crisp, and dry finish. Fairly clean on the palate minus a dry bitterness that lingers just a touch too long in my opinion.
Final Grade: B+
Belgian-Style Blonde Ale, Russian River Brewing Co.

Strong Belgian aromas and flavors here. Nothing shy about this beer. The taste is dominated by strong pepper and coriander on the front of the palate. I pick up banana and bubble gum...lots of bubble gum as the beer travels towards the back of the palate. Overall, this is quite nice. Light and very drinkable. And bubble gum.
Final Grade: B+
Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock, Cigar City Brewing

Great scent coming from this one! Sweet malt and fruit aromas (peaches and mango, maybe). Flavor follows the nose. Taste starts off with sweet tropical flavors that are almost candy-like on the front of the palate. This is followed by mild spiciness and citrus hops. Light, easy to drink. Dry hop finish.
Final Grade: B+

Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale, Bell's Brewery

Nice rich chocolate malt aroma with hints of coffee. One of the more prominent aromas of any of the beers in the variety pack. The flavor is full of roasted/toasted goodness. Coffee, toffee , and bitter chocolate are easily detectable. Smooth finish with a touch of smoke. I could use a bit more substance on the body, but other than that I really enjoyed this.
Final Grade: A-

Coffee Milk Stout, Ninkasi Brewing 

Wonderful coffee aroma. I probably couldn't detect that this was beer if I smelled this blindfolded. Flavor follows with a robust dose of coffee, bitter roastiness, and sweet cream notes. Finish lingers with a heavy coffee bitterness. By far the heaviest body in the variety pack. Great milkiness, thanks to the lactose. Hints of chocolate as the beer warms. Very solid tasting beer.
Final Grade: A

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hop on Board with Grasslands' Crowdfunding Campaign!

I have been writing about Grasslands Brewing Company for almost two years now! I've written over a dozen beer reviews, featured many of their pilot batches that will soon be flowing from the taproom, and now is the time to help Grasslands Brewing Co. open their doors (officially)!

Grasslands launched their crowdfunding campaign a few weeks ago with a goal of raising $30,000. The campaign currently has received over 100 backers (I am proud to be one of them) who have pledged a combined amount of more than $15,000! That's some great work, but it's not enough. That's where YOU come in!

Before I lay out my top reasons why you should hop on board with Grasslands' crowdfunding campaign, you must check out the video below!

Here are my top reasons for pledging today...

Reason #5: Rewards!
Who doesn't like to get rewards? The power of incentives is real, people. Remember those shiny gold stickers other people got for doing their homework? Well, here's your opportunity to finally get a reward for doing something right! When you pledge to Grasslands Brewing Co, you're not only helping them get their start, but you'll also receive unique rewards, which can include stickers, t-shirts, exclusive bottles, and even your very own tailgate party! Rewards start for pledges of just $10, and they get bigger and better the more you give. Check out all the rewards by clicking here!

Reason #4: Grasslands is good for the Earth!
Grasslands Brewing Company's slogan is "Earth First Ales." Grasslands is committed to using 100% natural malts, hops and adjuncts.  Additionally, Grasslands will use organic ingredients and recycled materials whenever and however possible. They're conscious of the environment and animal welfare and will utilize environment-friendly and sustainability/conservation-focused business and operation practices in all facets of the brewery. Now, doesn't that give you a whole-lotta warm and fuzzies?

Reason #3: How can you say no to these faces?

I mean look at this lovely couple! They easily win the cutest-couple-to-own-a-brewery award! And the rest of the crew isn't too shabby either!
In seriousness, you're looking at two people who are going all-in to make this company a success. By getting in on the crowdfunding campaign, you're not just giving to a company without a face, you're contributing to the ultimate goals and aspirations that Gabe and Saralynn have set out to accomplish through Grasslands Brewing Company. Think of it this way: If you help them be able to brew good beer, you'll get to drink good beer! It's simple logic.

Reason #2: Grasslands Keeps on Giving!
Hundreds of people have been tasting Grasslands' brews over the past 2 years thanks to the Grasshoppers Review Club! From day one, Grasslands has proven to be a company that puts the patrons and fans first. By joining their crowndfunding campaign, you have a chance to give to a company that's been giving to us. And by doing so, they'll be sure to give some more and send rewards (see reason #5).

Reason #1:You can become an Exclusive Member!
While there are several rewards that are pretty awesome, my favorite is the membership opportunity. For a pledge of just $250, you will be a part of the inaugural Grasshoppers Membership Club. This includes the following during the year of 2015:
  • Access to five limited/special release batches (including the Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout)
  • 10% off any draft purchases (16 oz or less) in the Grasslands taproom
  • GrassHoppers Membership Club workshirt
  • First right of refusal for 
Don't live in Tallahassee? No problem! One important component of the membership is that you may assign one "Trustee" to your account. This person will be able to pick up your special release bottles in the event you are out-of-town. This is a great option for folks like me who love Grasslands but do not live in Tallahassee!

Well there ya have it. There are plenty of other reasons to support this campaign, but these are my top 5! What are you waiting for? Get involved, pledge, and be a part of the foundational start of Grasslands Brewing Company!