A look into Northeast Florida's popular craft brewing industry.
Bold City Brewery
2670 Rosselle St #7
Jacksonville, FL 32204
The moment you step foot into Bold City, you become an honorary member of their extended family. If it’s your first time there, they will give you a free sample of every beer they have on tap, which ranges anywhere from three to nine unique brews. There’s a lot of misconception about beer, especially dark beers. At Bold City, they hope that their sampler might introduce someone to something they wouldn’t normally drink. Their most popular brew is Duke’s brown ale:
“I brew the beers that I like to drink. When I’m out by the pool I’m not going to grab a stout, I want something that I can enjoy… Dukes is number one. Some people come up and ask for the lightest thing we have, and I say they should try the brown ale. They get scared away saying, “That’s too dark.” But when they taste it, they end up liking it … Duke was my wife’s Valentines present to me. We started the brewery in 2008, and we got Duke in 2002. He got kidney disease, and we had a good brown ale recipe. There was also a new malt that had come out that I wanted to use. They said that you can only use a certain percent or you’re going to get too much tannin, but I said “I think we can push this over that.” And it came out great. It’s a mild brown ale. We didn’t want it to be too heavy, malty, or sweet. It’s something you can drink a lot of. It’s just a nice, mild brown ale.”
Brian and Susan Miller are a mother-and-son tag team that brought their dream of craft brewing in Jacksonville life. Both of them were stuck in the cycle of corporate America and were desperate to get out. Susan was an executive at Blue Cross and was planning her retirement.
“We were at the home and patio show, doing the home owner thing and trying to act like a grown up, and the owner of Just Brew It was there. He was selling kits to make beer. I got a kit, and the first time I had no idea what I was doing, but I fell in love with it. People would come over and say “Hey man, this is pretty good beer.” And I always thought to myself, you’re not going to tell me it’s horrible when you’re at my house, and you’re not going to say it’s crap when it’s free beer. I never really thought much of it. I thought, “Hey, I’m just brewing beer and people are having fun and they’re enjoying it.”
After four, almost five years of home brewing, Brian told his mother that he wanted to quit his job and open a brewery.
“I kind of had a thought and said “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? Is this what I want to pass down to my kids?” where you’re eating Twinkies all day and you’re drinking coffee, and you’re pissed off because you have to be there. So I sent her an email and I said ‘Let’s get the hell out of this place. I think we should start a brewery.’”
Jacksonville wasn’t ready for the craft-brewing craze. Starting up the brewery was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But once things began to fall into place, Bold City grew faster than they could keep up with. Their popularity spread and demand skyrocketed. Brian asked himself, “How do we grow the company but not change who we are?” Instead of taking things one step at a time, Bold City was taking it three or four steps at once. It’s difficult, as a consumer, when the small family owned business you’ve supported for years suddenly grows into a corporate monster. In 2012, they deliberately sat still for a year, in order to catch up with their growth and plan for the future.
During some of the bigger charity events in Jacksonville, Bold City joins the ranks to help raise money for those in need. If there’s a live band playing, they will often split the cost with the event, if the band isn’t donating their time. Bold City also donates a dollar for everything they sell, from pints to growlers, during the event.
Bold City has plenty going on all the time. Keep up to date on their website or Twitter!