You might not immediately notice the Beer30 sign above a simple glass doorway near the corner of King and Park Streets. But when you walk inside, co-owners, Warren Fryefield and Justen Mann, have conjured up a diverse world of craft beers from local, national and international microbreweries on their well-stocked store shelves. With interesting names like Cigar City Batch 69 Double Cream Ale and Heathen Imp Black IPA, the team has pulled together about 600 varieties of beers, for the discerning and casual beer drinker alike. While I was in the store, a happy patron bought a six-pack of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, a UK brand, with its blend of tart dark chocolate, toasted malts, oats and hazelnut to try out.
Fryefield had long given thought to opening a craft brew store, but a visit to Hop City in Atlanta over a year ago was the catalyst for drawing up more formal plans with Mann to bring craft beers to Riverside. The self-taught craft beer fans began to work on their idea in December 2011 and things progressed quite rapidly. By June 1, 2012, they opened their doors to the public in an area that is quickly becoming Jacksonville’s “Beer District” for beer connoisseurs with other gastro pubs and taverns popping up along this stretch of King Street. “We wanted to offer King Street a good package store without having to go all over the place, with a great selection of American craft beer,” said Mann. Working with beer distributors, the two selected as many different kinds of quality brews within their allotted ranges. Over time, the duo has discovered and picked up new breweries and beer lines as they seek to keep their inventory fresh while retaining old favorites for their customers. “We’re striving to bring in the best possible beer that we can and keep Riverside stocked on good beer,” added Mann. The store helps to support Jacksonville’s burgeoning brewery scene with selections from Bold City Brewery, Intuition Ale Works and Green Room Brewing. The team has also collaborated with neighbor, Pele’s Wood Fire restaurant on some initial beer tastings. Longer-term, the owners are currently working on plans to obtain their license allowing consumption of alcohol on the business premises, so they can do beer tastings on site.
For the holiday season, Mann recommended Delirium’s Noël, Peak Organic’s Winter Session Ale and Southern Tier’s 2XMAS, brewed with oranges and figs, as some great winter brews. Any time of year, he confides that some of his favorites are Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale and Nectar Ale’s Black Xantus Stout. Mann admits that he tried to brew his own beer once, but had little luck. “I’d like to do it a lot more. But it is an art form. The people who can do it are pretty impressive,” notes Mann.
Asked about his words of advice for other entrepreneurs, Mann suggests that a new business “should never underestimate the “build out”. The shelving was going to be a one day job, and it turned into a two-week project. Give yourself ample time and don’t rush yourself.”The store has already helped out other local organizations with beer gift baskets and looks forward to working with other area businesses and charitable organizations over time. So help yourself or the beer lover in your life to discover some wonderful craft beer selections at Beer30. Visit them at 1271 King Street, Jacksonville, FL, 904-388-0033, or friend them on Facebook for special announcements, upcoming events and store coupons. You’ll be glad you made the time for Beer30!
–Bridges DelPonte, http://www.bridgesdelponte.com