Story Archive

friends toasting their drinks

The Beers are Back in Town

Tabula Rasa Brewing Company located on Corbett street in the middle of the Jacksonville Raid District, is one of the newest micro breweries to grace the River City scene. The company’s owners are looking to bring a breath of new life to their little branch of Jacksonville. 

This family owned company originally started off as a hobby for owner Randy Peterson, after his wife Jackie bought him a book focused on brewing in the early 90’s. After years of practice and the family sharing their brew with friends and family, their product seemed to gain traction. Through hard work and dedication the family has been able to give this hobby a life of its own. 

Randy and Ryan Peterson, a father and son duo and now co-owners of Tabula Rasa both still work day jobs in addition to their work at the brewery. Both of them have experience in construction management and refrigeration, which has helped them to start up their business. 

Ryan explains how their experience in their day jobs has helped them with “everything from permits, to machine maintenance.” While their day jobs still take precedence for the Petersons, they have allocated Saturday mornings as their dedicated brew day.

Another distinguishing element for Tabula Rasa is their newly refurbished tapyard and their focus on local artists. The tapyard is where patrons are encouraged to enjoy various brews outdoors. Ample seating and well groomed plants enhance the overall experience. 

The walls of the taproom are adorned with various paintings from local artists. Patrons are not only able to enjoy the art, but are encouraged to purchase the works to support the artists displayed. 

The Peterson family has had to overcome plenty of challenges when starting the brewery, ranging from supply chain shortages to picking a location. However, when it comes to these issues, the family has mentioned that despite these difficulties there is “nowhere else that they would rather be.” When asked if there is anything that patrons should know, Jackie Peterson responded with, “we’re just excited for people to know that we’re here.” 

Tabula Rasa is open Tuesday-Sunday with Happy Hour from 3-7PM.

Bottlenose Brewing

Replacing former favorite beer spot World of Beer, Bottlenose Brewing on Southside Blvd. opened a little over a year ago. Although they’ve been up and running for some time now, Bottlenose Brewing just made the decision to begin brewing their own craft beers.

We spoke with Chas Nemecek, the brewmaster at Bottlenose Brewing Company, who gave us insight into the short history of Bottlenose an what heir future looks like.

We just started brewing and had our beer release on February 3. We are currently working on a bunch of different styles,” said Nemecek. “We have five beers total right now, with our most popular being our Pale Ale.”

But Chas wasn’t worried about the small brewery having big shoes to fill after it replaced World of Beer. Instead, he thinks its important to please the local crowd with his creations.

“I guess we’re not trying to be huge or like the next distribution brewery, we’re not shooting to get cans into Publix or anything like that,” Nemecek said, “At the moment we’re just going into putting good beer on tap, focusing on growing a good environment to drink beer in, but I think we are pretty happy just creating good beer for Southside and people around here.”

Chas is the one that gets to call the shots on the beer flavors, and with his nine years of experience behind him, he’s ready to let his creativity fly with exciting tastes like Chocolate Peanut Butter and Pineapple. He explained to us the different methods of putting those flavors into a beer — and making it work.

For example, the peanut butter flavor in Chocolate Peanut Butter comes from peanut butter powder that he incorporated into the mix. Pineapple, however,comes from the actual fruit. Chas prides himself in including real, natural flavors to enhance the flavors of the beer he crafts. He looks forward to experimenting with more interesting tastes to test out the local’s palette.

Other than a bright future lined with unique brews, Bottlenose is creating an environment sure to turn into a beef lovers’ hotspot. In addition to the craft brews, they offer a selection of beer snacks to accompany their special creations, such as pierogies, pretzels, and fries smothered in beer cheese. They also hold Trivia Nights where participants can win money for house prizes, and Ladies’ Night where they have $1 wine specials.

Bottlenose Brewing Company is content with the direction their business is headed in, and continues to search for new ways to bring happy customers.

Humane Society

image1The future of the Jacksonville Humane Society shines bright with the completion of their new $15 million facility back in November 2017. The 2018 Mutt March marked the first time the society held this event in their new space. 

The Mutt March is an annual fundraiser hosted by the organization to raise money for the animals. It signifies community engagement and overall support for the Humane Society.  

The community has been essential to the growth of this organization after a devastating fire ravaged the facility’s ground 10 years ago. More than 150 animals were trapped inside when the fire began. Firefighters battled against 30 to 40 foot flames as they tried to save the animals. At least 80 pets were rescued, but the society lost 19 dogs and 67 cats. Adding to the sadness, four firefighters were injured in the fight. Fortunately, no human lives were lost.

“The new building is like a coming home for us. We lost our facility 10 years ago in a fire and just recently finally rebuilt and it’s everything we hoped we would be and we really see it as a center for the community,” said Amy Pierce, Development Director.

“A place where the community can come and enjoy themselves, and find a new friend and find the help and resources they need.”

The Humane Society could not have achieved such success without the help from their community. They use this facility to give back to those who helped them in their time of need.

“The community jumped right into action, and was able to help us right away,” said Lindsay Layendecker, Co-Development Director. “We have our community resource center which offers everything from free behavior counseling, we offer rehoming services, we have low cost vet care for the community as well.”

The Jacksonville Humane Society offers more than just pet adoption. They also provide services that include a children’s camp, reading program and dog obedience classes.

Michelle Trainor, a local Mutt March participant, is excited about all the society has but hopes that their main mission, pet adoption, is not ignored. She hopes it raises awareness about the need for adoption.

“I know for a long time they didn’t have any place to house animals indoors so this is really fantastic,” Trainor said. “I’m just hoping it raises awareness and makes more people aware of the need for adoption.”




The beer industry is no longer a handful of massive brands, churning out mass-produced beverages with little experimentation. The craft beer movement is sweeping the nation and inspiring drinkers to break out of their comfort zone to try something new.

This is exactly what Mark Stillman is hoping people will do. He owns a Jacksonville Beach-based brewery known as Green Room Brewing. It isn’t a massive factory in an industrial district, manufacturing millions of bottles. Instead, it’s a facility comparable in size to a house.

Stillman and his business partner, Eric Luman, got the idea to open a brewery during some “R and D; research and drinking,” says Stillman. The pair started off by brewing an India Pale Ale (IPA) known as Head High.

IPAs are beers that include additional hops, one of beer’s basic ingredients, to give a bitter flavor and aroma. These beers have gained extra attention by brewers due to their local popularity.

Once the team perfected a flagship IPA, they began to experiment with flavors. Stillman said they began adding chocolate to recipes to create the stout named Count Shakula. But the Green Room didn’t stop there. They created beers with fruit flavorings, mint flavors, peanut butter and even a beer made with salt water from their close neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean.

Green Room is able to produce and distribute their foamy beverages using industrial equipment on site. Although smaller than what will be found at a major brewing facility, it’s still larger and more expensive than what a person might want if they prefer their beer with a little more do-it-yourself kick.

DIY beer, or homebrewing, is the process of making beer in one’s home. This allows people to “take water, the blank canvas, and create something yourself,” according to Gary Solomon, a homebrewer and employee at beer supply store Just Brew It.

Solomon has been making beer with his friends for about eight years and his setup might be a little beyond the skill of somebody brewing their first batch. No need to fear, says Solomon. Just Brew It carries starter kits and supplies for homebrewers of all levels. The shop has equipment, ingredients, resource guides and some friendly expertise.

Thanks to stores like Just Brew It, people can make and enjoy beer from the comfort of their own home. While there are some people looking to brew for profit and business, that’s not the goal for most homebrewers.

“The best is usually made for the people, by the people that are actually about it,” says Solomon. Because of this, he believes that homebrewing is its own art form, or rather, its own craft.