Florida is quickly becoming an unexpected frontrunner in the craft beer scene, with tons of extremely well established breweries in cities like Tampa and Miami. Often from outside the state, and even inside of Florida, the thriving Jacksonville brewery scene isn’t even considered.
Finding the Best Beer in Jacksonville
Jacksonville has always been home to some larger breweries that were owned by companies outside of Jacksonville, but in the last ten years or so as the craft beer scene started to explode, so did the amount of craft breweries in Jax. Craft breweries in Jacksonville have been long neglected by those not living here, but these days you can find an extensive variety of cool breweries and beer spots all over the city.
If you live in northern Florida, you’ve probably seen some of these at the store and didn’t even know they were based in Jacksonville! We’ll go over some of the more well-known breweries in Jax, some perhaps lesser known ones, and some non-brewery places that still have an awesome atmosphere to sit back and enjoy.
This brewery and pub has been going strong since the 90s, when their first location opened up in Jax Beach. Since then, Engine 15 has opened another location in the heart of downtown Jacksonville. Engine 15 offers a pretty dizzying array of brews ranging from a very dark (and interestingly named) Nut Sack Double Brown Ale, to a sweet fruit beer, like J’ville Lemon Shandy.
Some are brewed by Engine 15 themselves, and others are local and regional beers brewed at other breweries in Florida. Whatever style you prefer, Engine 15 is sure to have a high quality local beer for you. If you go to the downtown location, you can relax in a nice biergarten, that was only put in within the past couple years, or you can grab lunch at their well-established pub in Jax Beach.
Green Room Brewing
Green Room Brewing is another local Jax Beach favorite. In fact, Green Room Brewing was the first local brewery in Jax Beach at all! Since they began, Green Room has been putting out a pretty huge variety of locally known beer. They have a permanent selection of 7 beers, with two stouts, four pale ales, and one blonde ale.
Green Room also has a huge seasonal rotation with some really interesting varieties. One of the most popular is “Quetzlcoatl”, a “Mayan Red Ale” as Green Room calls it. True to its name, it’s brewed with chocolate, peppers, and cassava root, lending to a rich and complex flavor. At 10% ABV it also packs way more of a punch than most! There are some other really tasty and unique seasonal offerings in the form of sours, porters, and many varieties of pale ale.
Some other perks that draw Jacksonville locals to Green Room: dogs are welcome, and you are encouraged to bring your own food in to enjoy with your beer. In Green Room there is a list of take-out restaurants that deliver to the address.
BREW Five Points
This unique café in the Five Points neighborhood of Jacksonville blends espresso spot and beer joint. They don’t brew their own beer, but they do operate with a creative twist. BREW offers coffee infused beers, such as an Intuition Ale Works stout with a shot of espresso. If not feeling quite so adventurous (though coffee with stouts or porters is extremely delicious) BREW also has four taps and over 70 varieties of beer available in cans or bottles.
BREW Five Points also has made an app that tailors your beer and coffee selection based on a few quiz questions, so that once confronted with a truly dizzying array of beers and coffee drinks, you don’t need to fear! This Jacksonville beer option is truly revolutionizing both the beer and coffee experience, and makes it much easier to find a brew that you like.
Aardwolf Brewing Company
Aardwolf certainly looks unassuming. It’s a dully colored brick building in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville, just south of downtown. The only indicator of what’s inside is “Aardwolf Brewing Company” loudly emblazoned on the side. Upon entering the building, visitors might be surprised to see a very spacious, modern-industrial bar. Aardwolf brews their own vast collection of beer, which can be served on tap and in bottle.
They also will bottle growlers and gallons of select favorites, so you can take the unique taste home with you. For a small brewery, their selection is pretty immense, and extremely diverse. They have lighter and darker beer, but they have a larger selection of light beers. Their lighter stuff tends towards sours and pale ales, but they have a wheat and a couple lagers as well. For darker beer they offer a hefty 9.2% Imperial Stout and a 7.3% American Stout. Aardwolf is only a few years old, but it’s proving itself to be a true gem of the San Marco neighborhood.
Hyperion Brewing Company
One of the absolute newest breweries on our list, Hyperion Brewing Company opened as recently as 2017! For such a new brewery, they’ve already begun making a name for themselves in the Jacksonville craft breweries scene for offering great-tasting beers and an excellent vibe right in the heart of downtown Jacksonville.
Hyperion Brewing states that they don’t believe in having a core group of offerings, so they have a constant rotation of brews. This brewery seems to have a fairly balanced selection of dark and light beers, and always has at least one cider on tap (rotating every week according to their website).
Hyperion also prides itself on developing interesting and new flavors (evidently this is true, at the time of this writing, they offer a “peanut butter porter” that they say is “dessert in a glass”). If you ever find yourself near downtown Jacksonville, Hyperion is an absolute must-try for a beer fan, especially if you love to try unique and not so common flavors.
Intuition Ale Works
Intuition Ale Works is among the biggest names in the Jacksonville beer world, and their products are offered in many bars and grocery stores in the southeast. They’ve been in business for a while, but only recently finished a new location located near EverBank field, making it the perfect stop after a long day at the Jaguars game.
At Intuition, you can expect a solid core group of beers, some new rotations, and some really solid local stuff from other breweries. Intuition has an astonishingly large selection on tap at any given time, with an extremely broad representation of varieties. Through all these varieties, Intuition remains extremely innovative. For a recent IPA they put out (State Line IPA), they pureed 600 pounds of peaches to brew an ale with some Georgia undertone. They also have an extremely dark imperial stout out with sturdy notes of coffee, whiskey, and oak.
Intuition is well known for some flagship brews as well, but sadly will be shuttering production of their excellent People’s Pale Ale this summer, so make sure you pick some up while you still can!
Bold City Brewery
Bold City Brewery is a staple of the Jacksonville beer scene. Their products can be found all over Florida, and they have established a reputation of consistently good beer in Jacksonville. Bold City Brewery was technically the first locally owned Jacksonville brewery, and it takes its name from Jacksonville’s nickname: Bold City.
The owner started home brewing back in 2002, and left a stable life to pursue his dream of establishing a brewery in Jacksonville. Today, Bold City Brewery is big enough that they do regular brewery tours, and have a separate production facility. Bold City Brewery has a very well established lineup. The newest addition is their Killer Whale Cream Ale. Not only is it delicious, frothy, and refreshing, but it manages to avoid the bitterness that that often comes standard with ales.
Bold City has less of a rotational model and more of a consistently produced output of perfected beer. Some other Bold City staples are the wheat-y Fritz Hefeweizen, bitter and juicy Mad Manatee IPA, the malty and smoky 1901 Roasted Red Ale, and Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale, named in memory of the owner’s dog.
Amidst the rapidly exploding craft beer scene, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Jacksonville is quickly establishing itself as a top competitor in producing some of Florida’s most solid craft beer. The city should by all means be considered with some other brewery hotspots like the Tampa Bay and Miami area.