Metro Jacksonville gets the opportunity to host a special Q&A session with Michael Payne and Preben Olsen of the Aardwolf Brewing Company. Coming soon to San Marco's historic South Jacksonville Utilities Building, Aardwolf Brewing Company will be the latest craft brewery to open in Jacksonville's urban core.
The following responses are principally by Michael Payne and Preben Olsen, the two partners in the recently initiated Aardwolf Brewing Co., LLC venture to be located at 1461 Hendricks Avenue in San Marco. Both individuals are Jacksonville natives and graduates of Episcopal High School. Michael is well known locally for his craft beer brewing prowess. Preben is a recognized expert in the retail side of beer sales as well as his unorthodox beer related guerilla marketing tactics (to date for others) most evident during football tailgating events.
1. Can you provide a brief description of Aardwolf Brewing Company's plans for the planned Hendricks Avenue location?
Preben: Like most craft breweries nationally, Aardwolfs facility will consist of two components the brewery itself where various styles of beer will be commercially produced in volume for distribution around the City and a taproom allowing for on-site consumption. The taproom will operate as a bar and is being sized sufficiently to allow for special events, meetings, parties, etc. Wine will also be available for those not desiring to partake in the craft beer experience.
2. Why did you select San Marco for this project?
Michael: The locale in general exhibits a lot of qualities that appeal to us and we can really see the potential for our brewery to become part of the San Marco neighborhood. The old City of South Jacksonville Utility building attracts us as well, with its history and atmosphere. As an original Florida Ice House from the 1920s it just stands out as both an ideal and unique setting for the development of a craft beer brewery. My initial conversations with the building owners regarding its potential use as a brew-pub date back almost three years.
3. When do you anticipate brewing operations starting at the Hendricks Avenue site?
Michael: If things fall into place, sometime in late 2012. There is a substantial amount of work to be done within the building and since the time it takes to get a Federal brewing permit can vary drastically based on the number of applications in the queue nationally, it is really too early to try to nail down an actual opening date. The tap room however, will precede brewing operations and should ideally be open by mid-fall. At first we will serve craft beers produced by others.
4. Do you plan to bottle and distribute your products?
Michael: Initially, we will be selling draft beer by the keg through a distributer to commercial accounts principally in the Jacksonville area. After we are up and operational, we plan to eventually bottle beer. As we grow, distribution could become regional.
5. How will Aardwolf differentiate itself from a market with established players such as Bold City, Gordon Biersch, Intuition, Mile Marker, Green Room, River City Brewing, Engine 15, BJ's Brewhouse, and Brewer's Pizza, etc?
Michael: Jacksonville (like the national beer scene) has experienced a boom in craft breweries in the last few years, but we are really only scratching the surface locally when compared to well established markets in other parts of the country. At Aardwolf, we want to push the envelope in terms of beer styles and techniques that have yet to be seen in northeast Florida, while also firmly placing the quality of our beer and ingredients as our first priority. We are too far from actually brewing to reveal any more than that, but I like to think that when it comes to differentiating ourselves, the beer will eventually speak for itself. Moreover, the brewerys 2,500 sf taproom, located in the center of a 1920s brick ice house, will in itself be a unique addition to the Jacksonville craft brew scene.
Next Page: How Difficult Has This Process Been? Plus The Vision For The Area