EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.
Innovation is brewing in North Florida.
But it’s not a typical high-tech creation or some new healthcare procedure. Instead, this takes on the unconventional forms of lagers and pilsners and IPAs.
More importantly, this innovation is following a tried pathway to success, demonstrated time and time again in other locations. With similar levels of prosperity.
This innovation is packaged inside microbreweries. And these funky brew pubs are forming in our area as quickly as a foamy head on a freshly poured beer.
Already in Jacksonville, some eight microbreweries have opened (local restaurants like Seven Bridges and Ragtime also brew their own beers). They are popular and successful. And others are expected.
New Brew Pub Coming to Centre Street, Fernandina Beach
Even in historic Fernandina Beach, several entrepreneurs are planning to open a microbrewery on Centre Street in the heart of downtown. The microbrewery will inhabit the old O’Kane’s Irish Pub location.
The owners of two tremendously successful operations — Espana and Salty Pelican — will team up to launch the new brewery. They have involved the community in the heralded launch by asking residents to suggest creative names.
New Distillery To Open in Fernandina Beach
Also in Fernandina Beach, a distillery is targeted to open on the outside of downtown. Reportedly, the distillery (Marlin & Barrel) will eventually produce several local-label liquors.
The microbrewery concept has exploded across the U.S. And the towns that have welcomed the onslaught are reporting remarkable successes.
The entire state of North Carolina has embraced the cutting-edge trend. The innovative Tar Heel state is the “hottest emerging state for craft beer right now,” according to a company that tracks these things.
The numbers are enough to make your eyes blur (similar to a couple pints of high-octane micro brew). North Carolina now boasts 110 microbreweries and produces more than 260,000 barrels of craft beer.
The mountains of western North Carolina have truly become microbrewery capitals. The charming city of Asheville now has 18 microbreweries, and centered its revitalizations efforts in the 1990s through attracting brew pubs.
North Carolina readily leaped into the microbrewery phase by adopting a “Pop the Cap” law, allowing for higher alcohol content in beers. This opened the door for many private-label micro brews, which contain more alcohol than traditional beers (as much as 15 percent by volume).
Within the U.S., there are now 3,000 microbreweries — and the number is skyrocketing. Several new breweries are targeted for Jacksonville, to complement an impressive lineup already.
Bold City, Intuition, Engine 15 and Green Room Brewing have already established themselves as premier microbreweries in Jacksonville. The numbers are likely to continue to grow here (as they are in trendy Charlotte, N.C.) — considering the popularity of the craze.
In Jacksonville, three college buddies have formed an enterprising company to capitalize on the newfound brewing industry here. The “Jax Brew Bus” provides tours to the various microbreweries, and incorporates samples of the colorfully named libations as part of the experience.
Now, that’s plain and simple innovation.