Get a Taste of Jacksonville Beer on the Jax Ale Trail
By Stephen Kubiak
If you appreciate good craft beer, sightseeing and a little adventure along the way, Jacksonville has a tour that will keep you hopping.
Craft breweries keep bubbling up in all parts of Florida. Jacksonville, home to the one of the largest concentrations of craft breweries in Florida, has started a program that celebrates the local brewing boom.
The Jax Ale Trail, a self-guided tour of area breweries, has locals and visitors exploring the breweries that serve the massive city of Jacksonville. The Jax Ale Trail Brewery Passport is free, and can be picked up at any of the participating breweries as well as these locations. Get your passport stamped at four breweries to win a beer koozie. Visit all the breweries on the list to win a koozie and a Jax Ale Trail T-shirt. Here’s a look at the breweries on the Jax Ale Trail.
Engine 15 Brewing Company
Located just a few minutes from the beach, you’ll easily find Engine 15 with its namesake yellow 1970 Ford fire truck out in the parking lot. While the fire truck may have seen better days, the beer inside is plenty fresh. From the tap handles hung like chandeliers from the ceiling to the smell of Frito pie simmering in the kitchen, Engine 15 feels like that old go-to brew pub -- warm, inviting, and full of great Jacksonville beer.
Insider Tip: Fresh Florida orange juice is used in the production of their Orange Cream Ale.
What: Engine 15 Brewing Company
Where: 1500 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach
Aardwolf Brewing Company
In a building that has morphed from railway ice house to tile store to craft brewery, Aardwolf Brewing Company is doing sophisticated suds in the historic San Marco neighborhood. Within the beautiful brick walls of the brewery, adventurous beer drinkers can sample concoctions seemingly inspired by Willy Wonka himself -- with flavors such as White Russian Imperial Stout, with coffee, cream and mocha notes, to Hipster Popsicle, a Gose-style beer with lime, cherry and hibiscus.
Insider Tip: While Aardwolf doesn’t serve food, they occasionally have a local food truck parked in the lot. Check the Aardwolf Facebook page for updates.
What: Aardwolf Brewing Company
Where: 1461 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville
Green Room Brewing
Looking for great Jacksonville beer at the beach? Take a break from the surf and head over to Green Room Brewing. Upon entering, you might be greeted by a dog or two -- this is a laid-back joint where four-legged family members are welcome. With a casual vibe and creative pours, Green Room is a great way to end a day at Jacksonville Beach.
Insider Tip: Count Shakula, a chocolate oatmeal stout, is not to be missed.
What: Green Room Brewing
Where: 228 3rd St North, Jacksonville Beach
Veterans United Craft Brewery
With nearby military bases Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville NAS, Jacksonville is home to many active duty and retired service members -- making it no surprise that a veteran would open a brewery. Founded by a former naval flight officer, Veterans United Craft Brewery is on a mission to make good beer. In the tasting room, you’ll find a friendly staff (some also veterans) and limited release selection of beers as well as their flagship brews, Raging Blonde Ale and Hopbanshee IPA.
Insider Tip: If you take a tour of Veterans United, be sure to check out the bucket that owner Ron Gamble used to make his first batch of Jacksonville beer.
What: Veterans United Craft Brewery
Where: 8999 Western Way, Jacksonville
Pinglehead Brewing Company
A little off the beaten path but certainly worth the drive, Pinglehead Brewing Company is located in Orange Park. Pinglehead takes its slogan of “Beer with Attitude” to heart with many of its beers over 7 percent ABV. (This stuff isn’t what your father drank.). Pinglehead is actually located in Brewer’s Pizza, so be sure to try their famous pan pizza, “The Florida Smacker,” with a pint. You’ll need something to soak up these strong suds.
Insider Tip: If you collect tap handles, Pinglehead has one, available for purchase, unlike anything you’ve seen before.
What: Pinglehead Brewing Company
Where: 14B Blanding Blvd, Orange Park
Intuition Ale Works
Arguably the most well-known craft brewery in Jacksonville, as well as one of the oldest, Intuition Ale Works is now canning their beers and shipping them around the Sunshine State. But there’s nothing like a fresh brew straight from the tap with the brewery in sight. Owner Ben Davis and crew are creating just about every kind of beer you can think of and the massive size of the flights reflects that variety.
Insider Tip: If you’re looking for food, check out Goozlepipe & Guttyworks, a steampunk-inspired eatery with a great selection of beer just down the street from Intuition.
What: Intuition Ale Works
Where: 720 King Street, Jacksonville
Bold City Brewing
What started as a homebrew hobby turned into the Bold City Brewing. A family-owned operation, it’s common to see most of the Miller family around the tap room and offices when you visit -- and they’re always happy to share a story or two while serving up some tasty beer. Be sure to try the bestselling Duke’s Brown Ale -- named after a late family dog.
Insider Tip: Bold City will sometimes have live music at the tap room. Check their Facebook page for the schedule.
What: Bold City Brewing
Where: 2670-7 Rosselle Street, Jacksonville
Zeta Brewing Company
Located just a few blocks away from the beach, Zeta Brewing Company is a gastropub that’s brewing, and feeding, locals and travelers alike. Grab a bite, a beer, and go hit the beach.
What: Zeta Brewing Company
Where: 131 1st Ave N., Jacksonville Beach