Owner and brew master Ben Davis, who has been putting countless hours into the brewery in preparation for its opening, took time out of his busy schedule last week to discuss his latest foray into fermented beverages.
I met Ben at Kickback's, a Jacksonville beer lovers' ultimate hangout and King Street neighbor of Intuition Ale Works, to enjoy a few beers and learn about Intuition Ale Works and Jacksonvilles new brew-master. The evening started, appropriately, with a couple of craft beers (Ben had an Orval Trappist Ale; I had a Cigar City Jai Alai IPA) and a discussion of how Bens interest in brewing became his newest profession.
While Ben has been involved in beverage production and sales for a number of years, he has just recently decided to change ingredients from grapes to malt, hops and yeast. Ben got his successful start at The Grotto Wine Bar & Shoppe in San Marco. He purchased and transformed the Grottos San Marco space from a coffee shop and gourmet food store into its current form and operated the Grotto as a wine bar for three years. He later sold the business and moved west to work at wineries in California, New Zealand, and Australia. Ben also produced wine under his own label, Tallulah, named after his late mother Mary Lou Davis.
Bens wife later joined him in California, but when it came time to start a family, the Jacksonville native sold his California wine label and moved home to Jacksonville. Having always enjoyed beer and having experience in home brewing, Ben transitioned this interest into a profession after the prompting of a friend. In order to refine his craft Ben studied at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, the most respected brewers academy in the United States.
Upon returning from Chicago, Ben started working to get the permitting, licensing, and approvals needed to open a brewery. Construction is nearing completion and Intuition Ale Works is ready to make its debut into the Jacksonville craft beer market. The brewery will be housed in a 12,000 square foot warehouse, located at 720 King Street in Riverside. The brew house has the capacity to brew 10 barrels at a time, which is equivalent to 20 kegs or 310 gallons. After its initial brewing, the beer ferments in one of four 10-barrel tanks until ready to be shipped out or served in the tap room. The tap room will be in an adjoining building, which will also house offices for the Intuition staff. It will offer up to 10 varieties of beers from Wednesday to Saturday.
While the majority of the beers offered in the tap room will be Intuition Ale Works originals, the tap room will also showcase a few "guest beers" from other craft breweries around the country. Ben anticipates having 4 to 6 beers in the tap room on a permanent basis with multiple seasonal or limited-run beers throughout the year.
In addition to beers sold by the pint to visitors of the tap room, Intuition will sell quart and gallon sized growlers to go. The tap room will seat 50 patrons, with additional seating capacity available in the warehouse and another small bar. In addition to the tap rooms regular hours, Ben hopes to have some sort of special event in the brewery once a month. Whether its an art show, a concert, or a party, Ben is open to housing all types of events in the 12,000 square foot brewery.
Construction of Intuition Ale Works brew equipment should be completed by October 1st, and the brewerys first beer should be flowing two weeks later. Construction on the taproom will be finished by mid November. The brewerys first beer offering, The People's Pale Ale, will be a 'Left Coast Style' Pale Ale, tasting similar to Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale. Intuition will then add the John Boat Ale, a, a Kölsch (a German beer that is warm fermented then cold-conditioned, or lagered, which gives it a smoother finish) to its beer list, followed soon thereafter by the King Street Stout, a southern style imperial stout made with molasses and brown sugar.
Ben anticipates the brewery will produce 1,200 barrels in its first year. Eventually Intuition will have a bottling line that will package beer in 22 ounce bottles, called bombers, to be sold in the tap room and area stores. While the brewery will not have its own kitchen, Ben is in talks with a beloved local restaurant to run a taco truck on-site during the tap rooms regular hours for Intuition Ale Works hungry customers.
As for the name, Ben says Intuition comes from the idea that it doesn't take an expert palette to appreciate good beer. Ben believes that beer is meant to be enjoyed and shared, the medium on which relationships are established, and his goal for the brewery is to provide good beer for people everywhere to enjoy. Intuition Ale Works will be a great addition to Jacksonville, the King Street district, and the beer loving community. Be on the lookout for the Intuition Ale Works beers, coming soon to a tap near you.
For more info check out intuitionale.com
Article by David Paulk