Monday, December 5, 2016

Jacksonville's First Mead and Cider Bar is Now Open

Jacksonville's first mead and cider bar is now open.

The Mazer, owned by Ed and Beth Stansel and Whit and Regina Heffington is located at 1508 King St. Jacksonville, FL 32204. The Mazer opened for the Jax By Jax literary festival a few weeks back on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Mazer features mead, cider, boutique wines and champagnes, craft beers and light fare.

Once federal and state licensing has been obtained by its wholly owned production arm, East Florida Fermentology LLC, The Mazer will be serving meads and ciders brewed in the bar’s in-house winery, with production estimated to start by mid-2017.Until then, the folks at The Mazer will be pouring a variety of hand-crafted meads, ciders and beers from across the country and abroad.

Co-owner, Ed Stansel, posing in front of brewing kettles

Ed Stansel, an award-winning home brewer and mead-maker whose beer recipes have been commercially brewed by several Jacksonville craft breweries, will be the creative genius of production, concocting mead and cider to be served in The Mazer’s taproom. Beth, his wifeserves as his muse and motivator.

Regina and Whit have owned and operated the Silver Cow for almost three years, bringing tap house management experience to the group.

The Mazer team’s goal is to provide Jacksonville with new tasteadventures in adult libations. Although mead – or honey wine --is believed to be the most ancient of alcoholic beverages and is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. craft beverage industry, Ed says many people are not familiar with it.

“The biggest misconception is that all mead is sweet,” he said. “Customers who come into the Mazer often are surprised to learn that mead can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet, still or sparkling, just like fine wine, and can be made with a variety of fruits, spices and herbs. There really are no limits to what you can do with mead.” He said some of his favorite meads are traditional – made only with raw honey, water and yeast. “Those really let the honey character shine through,” he said. Another favorite is cyser – a hybrid of honey wine and apple cider.

Meadmaking supports beekeepers, who in turn ensure a healthy population of these pollinators that are so essential to our food supply. The Mazer and East Florida Fermentology plan to partner with area beekeepers and source honey and other ingredients locally and regionally.

The Mazer gets its name from a Medieval drinking cuptraditionally used to serve honey wine and other alcoholic beverages, and also from the fact that meadmakers often are called mazers.

Hours of operation at The Mazer are:
Monday  Thursday: 5 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday:  4 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Closed Sundays

The Mazer will feature various events from tastings, food and dessert pairings; educational classes for mead, cider and wine;art classes; homebrew sharing events; and pollinatorconservation and awareness programs

The Mazer will be adding retail items to its menu featuring local honey, honey soap, candles, and bottled mead, cider and wine that will be available for purchase to go. Growler fills of select meads and ciders will be offered as well.

The Mazer's Happy Hour is daily until 7 pm with $4 wines by the glass and $1 off all meads, ciders and beers on tap and $2 off mead and cider flights. or the Mazer himself, Ed, at

You can also visit or follow mazerjax onFacebookInstagram and Twitter for all their upcoming events and classes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hourglass Brewing Announces Black Friday Basket

With Black Friday just a week away, many places have been promoting their specials and deals for weeks. There are plenty of deals out there, and one of those deals is this Holiday Gift Basket from Hourglass Brewing, a family-owned brewery just 20 minutes north of downtown Orlando, located in Longwood, FL.

The special holiday gift basket will include a 2016 bottle release of La Fée Dragée and Auld Clootie. This unique bundle will be sold exclusively at the brewery on Black Friday (November 25). Doors open at 11am.

Here's a closer look at the items included in the Hourglass Gift Basket:

La Fée Dragée is a 11.3% ABV Belgian Christmas Ale aged in rum barrels. This holiday beer includes a bevy of delicious dried fruits and spices and bursts with tasting notes of apricots, plums, and Turkish figs. This rich and dark ale is spiced with freshly grated nutmeg, allspice berries, ginger, and sweet orange peel to conjure up the holiday spirit.

Auld Clootie is a 12.2% ABV old ale brewed with copious amounts of barley and a touch of brown sugar that is then fermented with a blend of traditional English and Sherry yeasts.  Auld Clootie was split between bourbon and wine barrels and blended back together. The result is a rich and smooth brew with fruity esters that finishes with notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak.

Glassware: The gift baskets will include two 14oz Libbey Abbey goblets, each with a 14-karat gold trim and logo representing the two bottles. The goblets will not be sold separately and are offered exclusively in the gift baskets, priced at $45.

Hourglass is very active on social media and post updates to all their events frequently. Stay involved by following the Hourglass Black Friday Bottle and Basket event page.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fill My Cup: Anchor of Hope

Fill My Cup is a weekly Bible and Beer review where I share notes from a Scripture passage and a critical review of a featured beer. May this series spark discourse, reflection, and promote new learning about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and your musings!

Good News
"Hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." Hebrews 6:19
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and an assurance of what we do not see. Hope is the strong an trustworthy anchor of our faith--hope grounds us in Christ. Hope allows us to see past current circumstances because of our belief in Christ and trust in what is yet to come. If you're like me, maybe hope is the very thing that got you through this past election cycle.

While half of the country seems to be living in fear of what is yet to come, Christ-followers have an assurance that God is in control and can, therefore, hope for great things on the horizon despite (or in spite) of whatever the circumstances may be.

Hope transcends fear, worry, doubt. Regardless of whatever you're going through, remember the promise found in Hebrews 6:19-- Hope leads us through the curtain into God's inner Sanctuary. 

Craft Brews
Our Special Ale 2016, Anchor Brewing Co. 6.5% ABV

Our Special Ale is Anchor Brewing's annual seasonal release. Each year, the recipe changes ever so slightly to bring a nuanced flavor to close out the calendar year. This 2016 batch is Anchor's 42nd release of what has now become a seasonal tradition. Just as the recipe changes every year, so does the hand-drawn Christmas tree seen on label in the picture above.

While the craft beer "movement" in America is still fairly young, This California-based brewery brings decades of tradition to the shelves with this holiday release.
"[S]old only from early November to mid-January, the ale's recipe is different every year--as is the tree on the label--but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life."
Our Special Ale pours a picturesque dark brown, almost black, color with a light head that laces the glass beautifully. The beer gives off a semi-sweet aroma of molasses, caramel, and hints of pine and roasted malt. Spices and sweet molasses lead the initial charge of flavor, followed by caramel, dark fruits, burnt sugar and an earthy hop finish. As the beer warms, the holiday spices and wood notes become more dominate on the palate; the initial sweetness takes a backseat.

The 2016 release of Our Special Ale is one of the better recipes they've released in recent years. Layers of flavor and complex characteristics make this a fun beer to sip and enjoy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fill My Cup: Psalm 73 and Beck's Oktoberfest

Fill My Cup is a weekly Bible and Beer review where I share notes from a Scripture passage and a critical review of a featured beer. May this series spark discourse, reflection, and promote new learning about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and your musings!

Good News

The more I seek God and dig into the Word, the more I come to certain understandings about who I am and who God is. These epiphanies have led me to a place of gratitude and reflection. I'm thankful that God shares His truth through the Word. This passage from Psalm 73 underscores how important it is that we continue to seek and study the life applications that are found in Scripture, because the truth is: we are flawed.

We are flawed. You are flawed. I am flawed. Even when I'm at my best, I sometimes make some of my worst decisions. It's always a struggle not to give in to certain desires of the flesh and heart. Desires like potato chips. There may not be a better snack ever created.  They're deliciously greasy, salty, and flat out unhealthy. I am fully aware of the facts around potato chips, and yet I can't stay away. They pair well with everything. Literally--I can't think of a scenario that potato chips can't complement. While, I am being somewhat facetious, I think you get the point.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." While we know that we can't count on our own strength because failure people fail all the time, God's strength is guaranteed and everlasting. I recall being in high school as a new Christian. I had this newfound faith in Christ and had experienced an internal transformation that I couldn't fully explain or describe, but nothing else around me was all that different. I had the same friends, same plans, same habits. I was constantly struggling to navigate how to reconcile who I was becoming in Christ and who I was and had been up until that point. I failed countless times. Reverted to old behaviors. Gave in to old pleasures. But God's strength was unwavering, and no matter how many times I messed up, I was able to set my sights back on Him and try again.

I am thankful that God's strength and love is constant. He is our portion forever. He'll always satisfy. He's always going to be enough.

Craft Brews

Now that we are in full swing of the Fall season, there are plenty of choices when it comes to seasonal beer. Beck's beer isn't one that I would typically buy or praise. It's owned by Anheuser-Busch and comes in a green bottle. That's two red flags (and one is usually enough to keep my money in my wallet). Nonetheless, I found this at a local store for $12.99/12-pack and, at just over a dollar a beer, I thought I'd give it an honest try.

The beer pours a clear copper color with a decent head. Malt aromas and caramel notes with some subtle spices are easily detected on the nose. It's a pretty nice aroma. The taste follows suit: light bodied with malt characteristics up front, followed by a smooth caramel sweetness. The finish includes a touch of fall spices and a bready aftertaste. As the beer warms, I pick up some hop dryness as well.

Beck's Oktoberfest isn't as bad as I thought. It's light and easy to drink. Living in Florida, it's a nice alternative to some of the heavier and sweeter Marzens, but it lacks on overall flavor and complexity. It's a nice bargain beer, but won't knock your socks off.

As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Kidney Fest 2016

Kidney Fest, a Homebrew & Craft Beer fundraiser to benefit Jeannie's Kidney Fund, will take place this Saturday (9/24) from 3-8pm at Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee, FL. This is the third charity beer fest in two years to contribute to Jeannie's Kidney Fund.

Tickets are $25 prior to the event ($30 at the door) and include unlimited samples of over 60 different homebrew & craft beers. To purchase tickets visit, or stop into Marker 48.

This year's festival includes a SMaSH (Single Malt, Single Hop) beer competition in which participating brewers will have their SMaSH concoctions judged by a panel of judges (of which I have the pleasure of being a part) and the winning beer will be awarded a hand-carved wooden trophy signifying their smashing success (see image below)!

The festival will also include raffle prizes, auctions, food trucks, and live music! 

All proceeds from this event will help with ongoing medical costs resulting from Jeannie's kidney transplant surgery.

Join in on the discussion and receive updates on the beers and special auction items by viewing the Facebook Event Page for Kidney Fest.

Kidney Fest Beer/Brewery List

Jeannie’s Kidney Fund Summary

Jeannie was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease aka Kidney Failure and was on daily dialysis for 9 hours a day, every day.

While waiting for a transplant donor, Jeannie's son,Eric, bravely signed up to donate his kidney to another family in exchange for one given to Jeannie. Thankfully, Jeannie received a successful transplant on March 4th, 2015!

This fund for Jeannie is established to help offset some of the expenses incurred with the transplant procedure and lifelong recovery.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fill My Cup: Sincere Love and Highland's Oktoberfest

Fill My Cup is a weekly Bible and Beer review where I share notes from a Scripture passage and a critical review of a featured beer. May this series spark discourse, reflection, and promote new learning about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and your musings!

Good News

Sincere love is a recurring theme of the Bible. It's rare in man but constant in Christ. He sets the example for us countless times. Christ leads like a servant and humbles Himself while elevating others. He loves in a way that, to be honest, sometimes feels impossible to emulate.

Fortunately for us, God commands us to love and also calls us to repent...probably because he knows we'll fail frequently on the first part. Romans 12:9-10 establishes a bar of excellence not only in regards to how we should show love, but how we should cling to love. Christ epitomizes love. To cling to love is to cling to Christ.

Romans 12:9-10 paints the ultimate picture of Christ's self-sacrificing love on the cross; 
He loved and died so that we may be loved and live.

Craft Brews

I've been reluctant to try any Oktoberfest beers prior to now, but I recently received a bottle of Clawhammer from Highland Brewing and wanted to give it a try. With college and professional football starting back this week, it's a bit easier to transition into the autumn beers.

The aroma is pretty mild with a faint malt sweetness. Clawhammer provides a smooth taste that starts with malt sugars on the front of the palate followed by caramel, toasted grains, and light hops. It's a clean beer--a nice malty marzen that is a solid representation of the style. This not my favorite Oktoberfest, but certainly one I enjoyed.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fill My Cup: Abram and Intuition

Fill My Cup is a weekly Bible and Beer review where I share notes from a Scripture passage and a critical review of a featured beer. May this series spark discourse, reflection, and promote new learning about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and your musings!

Good News

Last week, I talked about how much we are a culture of people who value directions and "how-to" instructions. Genesis 12 begins with God telling Abram to leave everything and everyone he knows and go to a place that God will eventually show Abram. Can you imagine the conversation that must have taken place between Abram and every other rational person around? Abram is about to set out towards a destination that hasn't even been revealed to him yet!

God provides a great promise to Abram, but demands faith and obedience in return. It would have been easy for Abram to be talked out of going. He could have easily talked himself out of going! If nothing else, it certainly would have been a whole lot less inconvenient for Abram to simply stay put where he was settled and comfortable.

Stepping out in faith is uncomfortable. It's risky. Yet it's also rewarding. In this scenario, God not only promises Abram a great nation and a blessing upon his name, but God goes as far to say, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." God's promises and His blessings have a broad reach. and often have an overflowing impact that extends beyond us. When we are willing to listen to God's direction for our lives and take steps in our faith, we can be assured that God will honor our faithful obedience.

In what way is God calling you to step out in faith?

Craft Brews

I took a trip back to Jacksonville this past week and picked up a can of Easy on the Eyes from Intuition Ale Works. This is a session IPA which simply mostly means it's a lighter IPA with a lower ABV (4.7%). Often, session IPAs (and session beers in general) are made for easy drinkin'.

There's a big aroma that comes with this beer--bright citrus notes and a slight dankness. Easy on the Eyes is also easy on the palate. There are flavors of bitter orange peel, melon, and a nice tropical juiciness that I enjoyed. It's a medium bodied beer--a bit more than I expected--that ends with a very crisp and slightly cloying finish.

Easy on the Eyes is no chump. While it is a session IPA, Intuition did not skimp on the hop flavors, but it's balanced just enough to make this a nice summer-time IPA. The aroma oversells the beer just a tad and was definitely my favorite part about the beer, but it's still a nice choice and lighter alternative to Intuition's flagship I-10 IPA.