February In Florida, Day 1 - Jacksonville's Bold City Brewery
The first night of the February Florida run was at the Bold City Brewery, in Jacksonville. We had tried to line up a date back on the November run but couldn't get our schedules to line up, so it was nice to get it on the books as the start to this run.
Jacksonville is on Florida's east coast, just south of the Georgia border. On this run we were starting here, then heading south, then across to the Gulf coast about midstate, then further south, then back across to the East Coast, and then home.... so really covering a lot of the state this time except the Miami area and panhandle (which is part of the April New Orleans/Gulf Coast trip).
Bold City Brewery – Jacksonville, FL
Beers are available on tap and in cans at the taproom, and can be found throughout much of Florida
When I first arrived in town my GPS took me to a Bold City location just outside of downtown which is in a sort of warehouse district. This was a bigger brewing facility, and while it also had a taproom it was the wrong one... I was scheduled to play a the Bold City Downtown location, which luckily was only about 10 minutes away. The downtown location was just around the corner from the Florida Theatre, and had nice overflow traffic from the theatre. The site is in an historic looking brick building, giving it the feel of an old pub that had been around for much longer than the brewery actually has. As you enter from the street there is a place for music immediately to the right, some casual seating and darts, etc. to the left, the bar right in front of you running much the length of the space, and a smaller brewing operation for specialty runs, etc. towards the back.
While Bold City brews a healthy variety of beers, they tend to lean more towards the traditional varieties rather than the current trendies... you'll find more ales, browns, etc. than gose or fruited hazes... which is refreshing change. As such, I started with a couple of their flagship brews, the first one being Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale (5%). Probably due to the season, I have really been enjoying a lot of brown ales lately, and Duke's was no exception (in fact I also grabbed a sixer of it to go, and enjoyed it on the beach the next day). Like the best browns, Duke's was a crisp brown pour, medium carbonation to keep it crisp and refreshing, with just the right balance of caramel and nutty goodness that I'm looking for in a brown. What it didn't have was that sort of sappy finish that some lesser browns have, so we had instead here a nice clean finish that while combined with the well balanced flavor and the right level of carbonation made it quite crushable for any time. I can testify to that, as I had one in the taproom, and a few more on the beach in the hot sun... and it hit the spot in both circumstances.
Another Bold City favorite is their Killer Whale Cream Ale (4%), which I had, but not its own, as it was recommended that I have a blended pint of Duke's and the Killer Whale... so I did. This was also quite enjoyable, as it gave just a touch more creaminess to the brown, giving it a texture not unlike a stout, which was a nice variation on an already great beer.
Another interesting departure from the norm was the Sumo Cicerone (8.4%), which is a New England (haze) style IPA fermented with Japanese Sake yeast, and dry hopped with Citra and Sorachi Ace hops. Yellow and a bit hazy on the pour with a fluffy white head, the citra provides quite the fruity aroma and upfront taste, with a little sour on the finish. Quite refreshing, and it didn't drink like an 8.4% (so be warned!).
Being a smaller room, the crowd was cozy, and both the staff and several of the barflies were either musicians or music enthusiasts, which made for not only a fun night of playing, but great conversation before and between sets. I would definitely summarize the vibe of the taproom as a neighborhood taproom that was open and friendly to strangers (which pans out nicely, as I'd say the crowd was usually about half regulars and half tourists from an event at the nearby convention center).
This was the tour's second visit to Jacksonville, and I'd highly recommend Bold City as a place to stop should you find yourself in or passing through town. I should also mention that this show was filmed, so keep your eye out for footage floating around soon (I haven't seen it yet myself).
Next stop: Wop's Hop's in Sanford, FL....