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HoptingerA Tasty Trend

by Kara Pound
photos by Tucker Joenz and Tammy Harrow

According to Miriam Webster, the definition of a brewpub is “a restaurant that sells beverages brewed on the premises.” Over the years though, that seems to have expanded considerably, in many ways. For instance, have you ever walked into a bar and been so overwhelmed by the beer menu that you didn’t know where to begin? Fortunate for those of us in St. Augustine, this is a relatively regular occurrence. The Nation’s Oldest City is brimming with brewpubs and classic British pubs offering up some pretty unique pints.

One of the first to make a mark on our area’s pub scene is Rendezvous Restaurant on St. George Street. Established in 1986, this quaint eatery offers about 320 different beers, give or take.

“The most rare beer we offer depends on what’s new and in season,” explains owner Bill Smith. “Currently, we carry the Sixpoint Hi-Res IPA, which is released to us once a year, and with a 10.5% ABV, it’s a treat amongst IPA drinkers. The most unique beer we carry, in my opinion, is the Samichlaus from Austria. It has a 14% ABV and is brewed once a year on December 6th.”

Smith says that when it comes to an unadventurous beer drinker looking to branch out, it’s best to allow the bartender to guide you. For example, a Bud Light drinker would most likely enjoy a Palma Louca from Brazil due to their similar properties.

Kings Head British Pub

Another St. Augustine institution is Kings Head British Pub, north of the airport on US 1. This classic UK watering hole was built and established by Ann Dyke in 1992 and offers six British beers on tap and a variety of domestic and foreign beers in the bottle.

“Old Speckled Hen and Fuller’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter) are not found in many pubs and are very popular here,” says Dyke. “I usually give new customers a taste of our lager or cider to start as they are quite light and ask them what they usually drink and get a similar flavor for them to try. Our regulars get used to their particular favorites like Harp Lager and Guinness.”

Other popular pubs inspired by the British Isles include The Prince of Wales Restaurant on Cuna Street, Mulligans Pub in Ponte Vedra Beach, The British Pub, located just south of the Bridge of Lions, and Barley Republic Irish Pub on Spanish Street.

There’s also Hoptinger Bier Garden & Sausage House on the island, which is German influenced and has nearly one hundred beers on tap including Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen and Oskar Blues Old Chub.

If you’re looking for a super rare brew, head over to Bull & Crown Publick House on St. George Street. Established in 2013, this pub offers 27 beers including Innis & Gunn Oak Barrel Aged. Food and beverage manager, AJ Gruber, says Bull & Crown is the only place in the U.S. that offers this particular beer on draft.

Relative newcomer to the area’s unique beer scene is The Chatsworth Pub on Marine Street. Opened in September, The Chatsworth has 70 beers on draft including a lot of local craft offerings and another 100 beers in bottle.

“We offer a few like Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock and St. Bernardus Abt 12,” says bartender Jonathan Cordero. “We have a variety of seasonal beers – both local and domestic – that are limited editions depending on the time of year. We also carry rare German beers from some of the world’s oldest breweries.”

So no matter if you’ve been drinking Miller Lite in a can your entire life or have visited brewpubs in every country, St. Augustine’s pub scene and the bartenders serving up cold brews can help you discover a new beer you never thought existed.