I was recently in Jacksonville, Florida, for a game of which we shall not speak. Jacksonville is a city that seems to be set up to cater to tourists, an odd choice for a city that has no real tourist attractions (outside of an NFL franchise and a bowl game). It’s also trying to cultivate a reputation as a brewing city, with the Riverside Brewing District serving as the centerpiece. This district, however, is in the middle of a really bad area of downtown, and doesn’t seem to be particularly accessible to tourists, so I strongly recommend against trying to check it out.
The place I did manage to check out, however, was River City Brewing Co., on the South side of the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. Part of the building seemed to be a fairly nice restaurant, but there was also a taphouse, where we parked for a quick meal and some beers.
I’d be remiss not to mention the view from the back porch, which was very nice (I’m a huge sucker for outdoor seating, and an even bigger sucker for outdoor seating on water). Though the main porch area didn’t face back toward the heart of downtown J-ville across the river, there were several seating areas outside, and it was a pretty impressive setup overall. Tangent about impressive setups: there was a DJ setting up his equipment out on the back porch for literally the entire time we were there (at least 3 hours, since we watched the entire Rose Bowl). Impressive indeed.
Anyway, back to the beer. As you can see in the photo above, the brewery offered four choices brewed in-house (in addition to some macro brews in bottles and on draft). The Mississippi State Alumni Association had their postgame party their (about which fml), and to a man, 100+ people ordered Corona or Miller Lite. Why bother going to a brewpub if that’s your plan?
I tried all four beers, including the JAG, which is what m dad was given when he asked for “the lightest thing you have.” The JAG was a standard light ale, with a fully translucent body, and primarily vienna malt.
My favorite offering – no surprise – was the Riptide Porter (pictured at right). It was a nice dark brew with good body and a very roasty character. The head dissipated a little quickly, but it was a nice caramel color. Coffee and chocolate were evident, and the roasty character had a nice bitter edge at the end. A very good beer.
The third selection was the Jackson Pale Ale. The literature claims it to be a sign of the “rebirth of hoppy American pale ales” which doesn’t make a ton of sense if you ask me, as Pale Ales and IPAs have been steadily going more toward the hoppy end of the spectrum in this country. The hops were listed as coming from Oregon, but they didn’t taste like West Coast hops to me, and they almost had more of a German-type flavor – matching the Vienna malt used.
The final selection was the Red Rooster Ale, which is – you guessed it – a Red Ale. This beer (like most of their choices, it seems) was German-inspired, and tasted almost like a Kolsch despite being a true ale. It had a lot of the flavor characteristics you expect from a true German beer, and had good balance throughout. There was nothing spectacular about the beer in any way, but it was a solid selection.
In all, I would recommend checking out the River City Brewing Company if ever you find yourself in Jacksonville – though I wouldn’t make a special trip just for the brewery.