Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sourcing Suds: Aardwolf Early Bird Special

'Sourcing Suds' is a monthly column I write for Buzz Magazine which acknowledges a locally brewed beer being served at a locally operated beer joint. The people and places pouring for us are what make the craft beer community what it is. Join me each month as I highlight some of the great places and beer found right here in Jacksonville!

Source: Aardwolf Brewing Co. (Taproom)

Aardwolf Brewing Company is located in Jacksonville's San Marco neighborhood, just minutes from the heart of downtown. The Taproom is an inviting space. There's exposed brick, plenty of seating, and a long bar that practically spans the length of the entire taproom.

It's been a full year since Aardwolf opened its taproom, and I recently sat down with co-owner, Preben Olsen, to talk about his initial vision for the space.

Beertender, Kevin, offers samples of beer to a customer
"Our taproom is a place to teach people about beer. We don't just have our beer, but we have great guest taps too. And our bar, you can see it's really long. We designed it to help people interact with others," said Olsen.

It's clear that Aardwolf's owners put a lot of thought and intentionality into the design of the taproom, and a year later, they are seeing the fruits of their efforts. The taproom is usually full of patrons, and it's not uncommon for a food truck or two to be stationed in the parking lot.  Aardwolf might be Jacksonville's youngest brewery, but it's quickly building a name for itself. 

Suds: Early Bird Special (Anniversary Breakfast Stout)

Aardwolf wanted to celebrate the one-year mark with a bold beer that has a lot going on. And Early Bird Special certainly fits the bill. This breakfast stout is brewed with generous portions of oats, vanilla, and cinnamon, and then aged on coffee beans. It's a dark beer that gives off an appetizing aroma of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon.

After taking one sip, I looked up at my server and said, "It's like drinking French toast!" The flavor profile is loaded with cinnamon and vanilla that provide a maple-syrup like essence. The coffee bean flavor is also there, giving a nice roasted flavor that mimics burnt toast a little. The finish is slightly bitter with some heat from the alcohol.

This is a great-tasting beer with a great aroma and some very complex flavors. It's a great beer to celebrate Aardwolf's taproom anniversary, and it's a beer that we might see again. According to Olsen, Aardwolf might consider brewing Early Bird Special again. September will mark the brewery's one-year mark for the brewing side of operations, and just maybe we will get some more of this breakfast stout for that celebration. But until then, stop by the taproom and check this one out. You won't regret it!

The Taproom is open Wednesday through Saturday at 3pm. My recommendation is to go on Wednesdays for their weekly tapping of a pilot batch. These are rare and extremely limited batches (sometimes only 5 gallons of beer), that highlight the brewery's experimental and riskier side.

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