March 19 - March 22, 2022
Every time we mentioned taking a trip to Jacksonville, everyone’s first reaction was always “why there?” Our answer was the Jax Ale Trail. There are 22 breweries in the Jacksonville area and our goal was to hit as many as possible. Every Jacksonville brewery is stocked with passports that you can ask for and then at each brewery they will stamp it for you. If you collect a certain number of stamps you can send it in to the visitor’s center and they will mail you back your prize. We ended up visiting just over half the breweries listed - 12. Our top three were easily Strings Sports, Ruby Beach, and King Maker.
We drove in on a Saturday morning and after a quick hike to Black Rock Beach headed to Jax Beach to hit a few breweries out there. We first stopped at Engine 15 Brewing Company. The beer was good and it seemed like the locals’ brewery. We also ate lunch here and enjoyed it. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this brewery for us but if we wanted a bite and brew in the area again we would consider a stop.
Not even a couple of minutes drive away we stopped at Southern Swells Brewing Company. We really liked this location once we got inside but hated that it was located in a strip mall. They did make a little patio out front covering a couple of parking spots which helps but also still in a strip mall. The beer was good, the beertenders were nice, and March Madness was on the tv.
A bit closer to the beach we stopped at Ink Factory. Ink Factory Brewing is trying really hard to be cool and it’s evident. It is located in a large building that also hosts a co-working space and a coffee shop. I think the whole set-up is a cool idea but they had about 10 IPAs on tap, a pale ale or two, and maybe a couple of sours. I love IPAs but I was turned off by the fact they didn’t brew much else.
After Ink Factory, we drove to a block off the beach and visited Green Room Brewing. If you didn’t know this was a brewery, you would just think it was any other beach bar. Not my favorite atmosphere but the beer selection was large and I enjoyed a flight.
Next up was Reve Brewing, a highly recommended spot by beertenders previously in the day. One we talked to said to check out Reve if you’re truly into craft beer so of course, we had to check it out. By truly into craft beer he basically meant they had mostly IPAs and Sours and not a lot of options for Ray’s style of drinking. It was in a strip mall (boo) but the interior was cool and they house Bones pizza. We just ordered the house bread with pesto dipping sauce and it was incredible.
On Sunday we headed to brunch at Hoptingers for a mimosa flight and rooftop bar. After mixing every mimosa juice combo we could think of we headed to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. This was a beautiful art museum and gardens right on the river and we really enjoyed our visit.
Now back to the beer - our first stop on Sunday was to Lemonstreet Brewing Company. The major complaint for us here was the amount of kids running around. We could only hang out for one beer which was unfortunate because it was a cool space. They had a turf area where you could play bocce ball or cornhole plus a large darts area. The beer was good but they didn’t have any others we were dying to try so we headed out.
Just up the road we hit Tabula Rasa Brewing. This brewery was tucked back in a corner of town and featured a huge outdoor space with picnic tables and plenty of shade. The beer was good but nothing spectacular and honestly, I thought the space was a little boring. We enjoyed one beer here but couldn’t stick around long because we wanted to hit one more before dinner.
Our final brewery stop on Sunday was King Maker Brewing. This was our eighth stop so we locked in a Jax Ale Trail t-shirt with our brewery passports. This was a cool space in an old warehouse. They have a glass blowing studio popup in the back that was fun to watch. The inside where the actual bar was is tiny but most people take their beer outside or to the warehouse where there’s much more seating.
Monday we woke up and worked from the Airbnb for the morning. A little after lunch time we drove to downtown Jacksonville to visit Strings Sports Brewery. This is easily a top three breweries of all time for both of us and we ranked it at a whopping 4.9. We don’t know what it will take to hit a 5.0 but maybe someday. This place was huge and was an indoor-outdoor hybrid space. It had a patio but it was all covered and the garage doors to inside were open so the space just flowed. There was a basketball goal inside with a netted space to shoot around (I took a couple work breaks to enjoy that). They also had a darts area along with a couple arcade games. The bar was large and right next to the brewing area which was encased in glass so you could see them working on the next beers. The food was delicious and I had a grilled cheese and potato soup combo while Ray had a chicken tender melt. The beers were really solid and the majority of them were named with a sports theme in mind.
After Strings Sports we stayed downtown and visited the Bold City Brewery location there. It was alright and super basic. The beer was beer and it seemed like we were the only ones there that didn’t typically hangout there on a Monday evening. We chatted with the beertender a little bit and learned that his wife and son were co-owners. I wish we could have hit their main location but we couldn’t ever catch them when they were open.
Next up was Ruby Beach Brewing Company just a block away. This was a trendier spot with a super cute patio on the side. Inside was decorated in a modern-fashion which fit the beer styles too. We both had a flight here and they had a pretty wide selection of brews. They also had cider and mead on tap plus craft cocktails. We really liked this spot and would go back.
Finally, we headed to Tepeyolot Cerveceria. It seemed like most people were here for the food and beer was just a bonus point. We felt the same but only had chips and queso to snack on. They had a handful of house brews on tap plus basic Mexican beers like Modelo. Had we not eaten a late lunch, I would have liked to try more of their food. I think this spot is still fairly new so I’m curious to see their growth in the next few years.
We ended our Jacksonville trip back at Strings Sports Brewery. We couldn’t head back without stopping by one more time. We chatted with the beertender a lot this time around and he was very friendly and enjoyable. I’d drive an hour out of my way to go to this brewery if I’m ever anywhere near it again.
Overall, we had a good time in Jacksonville. Our Airbnb was located in the Riverside District and that is where we would recommend staying for anyone looking. If you do make the trip, you have to eat at Pattaya Thai Grille. It was so good and we had leftovers to eat the next day. Jacksonville food as a whole did not disappoint. The beer on the other hand left a bit to be desired. We have been spoiled by Atlanta beer because in comparison, Jacksonville brews were a bit subpar. The gems we found made it all worth it though.
Tuesday we woke up and worked our way back to Conyers. Bailey had to get back to see Justin Bieber with Ray's sister that night. Priorities. - B