As one of the world’s largest beer brewers, this Jacksonville outpost of Anheuser Busch is surprisingly open about its process. The looming facility offers free tours on how they brew and package Budweiser, with guests catching glimpses of the state-of-the-art technology, giant tanks, carefully controlled temperature rooms and bottling and packaging facilities, all of which can be seen through glass viewing windows. There’s also information on the recycling program, energy recovery and conservation of wildlife in the surrounding Jacksonville wetlands. After the tour, stop in the hospitality room and sample some beer. For the truly curious, the more in-depth Beermaster Tour is for true connoisseurs and a one-off Beer School class introduces patrons to different beer styles, proper pouring and a variety of craft beer and food pairings. There’s also a gift shop on hand, and occasional events take place on the property.
In Green Room Brewing’s tap room, servers pour out eight beers from other Florida breweries but it’s the microbrewery’s own pints that make it truly special. Visitors to the tap room can admire the steel fermenters, wooden barrels, and other brewing equipment as they sip one of several rotating specialty brews, such as a barrel-aged beer or a belgian. Two options stay on the menu year-round: an American-style High Head IPA with a citrus aroma and plenty of hops and the light crisp Diamond Belgian Wit, a traditional Belgian ale brewed with coriander.
But the brewery isn’t just about filling pints and growlers. Local artwork adorns the tap room’s sky-blue walls, and the brewery hosts live music performances, visits from other microbreweries, and regular Jenga competitions that help create a lively spirit of community, like the mandatory team-building exercises supervised by leprechauns each St. Patrick’s Day.
Mile Marker Brewing's beermasters swirl hops and yeast into towering kettles within the sprawing St. Augustine brewery. Inside the on-site tap room, barkeeps pour 5.5-ounce samples of Mile Marker's three signature brews straight from the barrel (a $5 value), each of which is named for the coordinates of bars frequented by Hemingway's beard. Mile Marker 1565, a nutty Irish red ale with hints of caramel, offsets the light, citrusy flavors of Mile Marker Zero, a German summertime ale. Centennial and Sterling hops lend subtle bitterness to the IPA Mile Marker 82's floral flavors. After selecting a favorite beer from the flight, patrons can follow up with a full pint (up to a $5 value) and bask in the tap room's cool blue light, which illuminates retro console video games, dartboards, and an elevated fish tank. Mile Marker Brewing also leads free tours through the brewery itself, where large steel and copper kettles slosh with foaming yeast and piquant hops as master brewers stir, read bedtime stories to, and generally supervise each effervescent batch.
Engine 15 Brewing Co.'s beginnings go back a long time—to the year 1988, when college freshman Luch Scremin took a stab at brewing his own beer. Bereft of the Internet, he spied a brewing kit in an old issue of Popular Mechanics. His first creations weren't noteworthy, but that’s beside the point. After attending the Siebel Institute, he got a job in the airline industry, which afforded the opportunity to travel the world and sample its many exceptional beers. Both matured and inspired by the experience, Luch met some business partners in 2008, and Engine 15 Brewing Co. soon followed.
Today, the craft brewery's creations reflect the values symbolized by Luch's 1962 Ford Fire Engine—time-tested know-how, determination, and camaraderie. At Engine 15's brewpub, taps spew forth original drafts such as the (904) Weissguy, a Bavarian-style hefeweizen whose cloudy body contains notes of clove, orange, and coriander. These stalwart drafts, plus seasonal creations such as the sweet-potato brown ale, grace the brewpub menu on a rotating basis, with current offerings scrawled on a blackboard or across the foreheads of dedicated waiters. Along with drawing drinks from Engine 15's freshest kegs, bartenders also pour beers from other well-respected craft breweries, such as Left Hand, Dogfish Head, and Southern Tier.
Not one to forget his roots, Luch also teaches other hopeful beer barons through hands-on Brew Your Own tutorials. With his guidance, guests brew four 22-ounce-bottle cases of styles such as raspberry wheat and oak-aged imperial stout.