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One’s Right Near You!
By Kara Pound
Photos by Brian Miller
Nowadays, if you mapped out St. Augustine, nearly every area can lay claim to its own neighborhood microbrewery. West King Street is home to Bog Brewing Company. Ancient City Brewing Brew House has World Golf Village and the north of the county covered as well as their new downtown taproom, which just opened its doors this summer at Cathedral Place.
Old Coast Ales, just over the Bridge of Lions, serves up locally brewed pints for the beach crowd. And for the latest addition to the growing brew scene, Dog Rose Brewing Co. has established itself as Lincolnville’s newest watering hole.
“I think there’s plenty of room for all of us. The more the merrier,” says Doug Murr, owner and head brewer at Dog Rose Brewing Co., located on Bridge Street in the iconic bright red building that once housed Absolute Americana Art Gallery. “With the way tourism is growing in St. Augustine, I think we’ll eventually become a destination for beer lovers.”
Shane Haslauer, General Manager of Ancient City Brewing, agrees. “When Doug was at A1A and ran out of grain, he alway knew he could give us a call and we’d help out and vice versa. Sure, we’re all a bit competitive, but that’s just the nature of business, and it makes everyone better. It’s great when we all do well.”
The beginning of St. Augustine’s microbrewery growth can be traced back to the spring of 2015. Ancient City Brewing took over the same building in which the defunct brewery, Mile Marker Brewing, was once housed. With head brewer Vance Joy at the helm, Ancient City’s new ownership sailed into success with hometown suds like Ponce’s Pale Ale and Matanzas River Red Ale.
“The location off I-95 is great for us, but with the opening of the Taproom, we get to serve the community even better. It makes sense for us because from the beginning, we looked at this as a St. Augustine business. Even the names of all our beers are tied to St. Augustine icons or symbols.”
Next up, Bog Brewing on West King Street. It opened in March of 2016 in a renovated building from the early 1900s, and the Nation’s Oldest City was well on its way to beer domination.
“Craft beer gets us excited and I love to try other breweries’ creations”, says Bog owner and brewer, Steven Mendoza. “The craft beer scene is a little different than most industries. We try and build each other up, whether that be with electrical help or brewing help, we all try to help each other.”
When Old Coast Ales on Anastasia Boulevard opened this past February by friends Jon Boisclair and Matt Hooker, the duo chose their boulevard location as a spot for island locals to gather as well as its proximity to downtown for out-of-town visitors. The microbrewery features a seven-barrel brew system churning out a variety of ales, seasonal sour styles such as Gose and Berliner, and the revered “Kookaburra” Brown Ale made with locally roasted coffee.
“The more choices people have, the better for the area as a whole,” explains Boisclair. “All the local breweries can play off each other in many ways. Locals will always have their favorite spot or brewery, but many of them support all of the breweries here.”
Murr made a name for himself during his 15-year stint as the head brewer at A1A Ale Works, the area’s original microbrewery, before striking out on his own. He has been busy putting the finishing touches on his Dog Rose Brewing, which he named after a climbing, wild rose species found in Florida.
He says that, although there is growing competition in the local microbrewery scene, he will remain focused on attracting Lincolnville residents to his new brewery.
“I want this to be a place that you’d bring your mom to all dressed up on your way to Preserved for dinner,” explains Murr. “I want this to be a place where Lincolnville residents will ride their bikes to, play games, and relax. I’m going to really listen to the neighborhood and try my best to give them what they want.”
Haslauer sees other areas ripe for expansion as well. “I can see places going up in Vilano and down in St. Augustine Beach. There aren’t any there now and it would really open the area up to being seen as a microbrewery destination. There are already some people talking about starting up a tour between the ones we have now. There can be something new to draw visitors to the area.”