Craft Beer on the First Coast

If you’ve been anywhere near the hip parts of Jacksonville, you’ve definitely noticed an increase in craft beer breweries. From JAX Beaches to Riverside, local craft breweries have been popping up all over town. This recent trend seems to have come out of nowhere, but in reality, there has always been an affinity for craft beer in Jacksonville.

“It’s part of the identity. It becomes part of the culture of the area,” says Bob Muller, a representative from Visit Jacksonville, an organization tasked with promoting tourism in Jacksonville.

“People want to buy American and buy local and promote local businesses. This is just another way to do so.”

In 2016, the US reached over five thousand total craft beer breweries, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. This appears to be a trend stretching all across the US. Though not increasing overall beer production, the consumption of craft beer is increasing every year.

According to the Brewers Association, craft beer makes up 6 percent of all beer production in the US. The majority of that production comes from Regional Craft Breweries that make beer locally and distribute in within their area.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce sees the rise in the industry as welcomed economic growth.

“We love to see residents getting out there and starting their own businesses. Jacksonville has always been a destination for food and drinks,” says Matt Galner, a representative for the chamber.

“With the Beach Bars and Riverside, people have a lot of options. We’re looking forward to seeing this growth into the future.” reports that “While a large portion of that growth [of breweries] revolves around the Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale metro areas, other areas like Jacksonville are also benefiting from a resurgence in local breweries.”

Craft beer is also used as a tourist attraction. Visit Jacksonville has created the “JAX Ale Trial,” a self-guided tour of ten local breweries.

“We have people come in from all over. Just last week we had a couple fly in from LA for business and while they were here they drove around to all the local bars. At the end of the tour you get a t-shirt and a coozie. It’s a great way for us to promote local businesses and give people a reason to make their way around town.

“I don’t really like beer, but whenever you go out to a bar there’s always a local option,” says John McCrone, a college student in Jacksonville.

“I never used to see that like I do now. The way the local bars have embraced Jacksonville’s rise in local and craft beer is really awesome.”

Jacksonville has truly embraced its craft breweries. In November, the Jacksonville Beaches hosted Bruval, a concert and festival dedicated to the local scene.

“Bruval is an event celebrating the rapidly growing craft beer movement. Featuring North Florida’s top craft breweries and beyond, this event will highlight the area’s greatest flavors right in the heart of Jacksonville Beach,” says the festival’s website.

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All Photos by James Donlon

Brandon Diaz is a the creator of a YouTube series called “The Beer Review”

“We talk about beer, local breweries, different trends, and we usually try and do an educational segment,” says Diaz.

“People seemed to really like beer and when I saw Jacksonville had a growing industry it just seemed like there would be an audience for the show. I was always interested in how beer gets made and so are a lot of other people, I guess. It’s a ‘right place, right time’ sort of thing.”

What is the future of craft beer in Jacksonville? With the rise of craft beer and local breweries all around the US, this appears to be growing industry. As more cities embrace the rise of the independent brewery and more residents give local brews a shot, only time will tell what end sup on your tap.



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