THE CRAFT BEHIND CRAFT BEERS
A LOOK INSIDE THE GROWING TREND OF DIY BEER
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.
Local food volunteer hopes his efforts inspire others
By Raleigh Harbin and Jariss George
Jacksonville resident Tracy Gebeaux is a one-man food volunteer. Every weekend, he delivers dozens of McDonald’s sausage biscuits to the homeless— providing water and encouragement along the way.
A call to the Atlantic Beach McDonald’s starts Gebeaux’s day. The clothes and water he already has, so once he collects his biscuits, he drives to Third Street. Here, he passes out food. Where does he get the money to pay for the food and supplies he gives? It comes from his own wallet, and the generous donations of others.
But what drove Gebeaux to such a voluntary commitment?
“I ended up losing everything that I owned and sleeping in a parking lot right here at the pier,” Gebeaux said. “You figure out very quickly that you should’ve been a little more appreciative.”
Gebeaux was a builder when the housing market crashed, and he was one of the millions affected.. Once he got back on his feet, he felt driven to help others who couldn’t bounce back as quickly.
“During the winter we support all the churches that do the cold night shelters, making sure they have warm clothes, underwear, hand warmers and five-dollar gift cards to McDonalds,” Gebeaux said.
Gebeaux spends time getting to know each person he helps. He doesn’t drop the food off and move on as quickly as he can. He listens to them and provides them words of encouragement, which he hopes can help them get back on their feet.
“When I come up to a homeless person, I don’t ask if they’re homeless,” Gebeaux said. “I simply ask if they’ve had breakfast yet. And sometimes it takes them a second to process it. And if they said no, then I say you have now.”
In providing all of this help and encouragement for those in need, Gebeaux hopes he can inspire others to follow his route in other areas of town.
“I want a Brother’s Keeper in every part of Jacksonville. What I mean by that is you come out with me one or two times, I show you how I do it,” Gebeaux said. “I show you [how] with 50 dollars and just a little bit of time, compassion and love, you can change people’s’ lives. You come out with me, then you go back to your community, and you do it your way.”
By: Ryan Hutchins
America has changed in a myriad of ways since the country was founded in 1776, but one of the things that hasn’t changed much since then is the love America has for food. It’s the one thing we can’t go without. Maybe that’s why our love affair with it has only gotten bigger.
But of all the different kinds of food you can enjoy, everyone has their favorite indulgence. A guilty pleasure that you have to have a certain time of the day. Here in Jacksonville, we’re lucky enough to have a wide variety of options to choose from. But two choices really stick out when you’re in Jacksonville and craving something special: Pizza and Ice Cream.
Pizza isn’t even an American invention, but it’s something that we have definitely made our own over the years. Today, you can find a pizza shop practically anywhere in the metro Jacksonville area. It can be a chain or it can be a mom and pop shop; regardless, people just can’t seem to get enough.
So what makes pizza so enjoyable, so memorable? What makes us call a shop at 10:00 at night, praying there’s still one more pie left to be delivered?? Pete Elabu, manager of V Pizza at Jacksonville Beach, thinks it’s because pizza is so universal.
“Pizza is something you can take home and eat in your pajamas and watch television,” Elabu said. “It’s just very comforting.”
The fact that pizza is so transformative, the fact that you can go out to a place and eat or take it home and sit on the couch and watch TV, is what makes it such a favorite—
not just here in Jacksonville, but nationwide. If you don’t finish it, you can wake up and have cold pizza for breakfast. It’s a dish that you can have at any time of the day. The convenience of it has made it one of the most popular dishes we have in our world today.
But after indulging on a slice or two of pizza for dinner, the craving for dessert comes rushing in. Most people have a sweet tooth that has to be satisfied. Luckily, ice cream is there to fulfill that craving for us in Jacksonville.
Just like pizza places, it seems there’s an ice cream shop on every corner here in Jacksonville. That’s good news for us since it’s one of, if not the most, popular dessert treats around.
Ice cream has evolved from just a sweet treat you got when visiting an old farm, to frozen yogurt bars with toppings you can add yourself. Like pizza, chains dominate the plazas and mini malls, but you can still find homemade Ice Cream— believe it or not! Jason Leinheiser, owner of Christy’s Ice Cream Dream Bar, thinks homemade Ice Cream stands out from the pack.
“The flavors are all… nontraditional, for the most part. I didn’t want to use the same old thing for everything, so… we just have different creations,” said Leinheiser.
Trying to stand out in a flooded industry is hard to do these days. But having true, homemade, all-natural flavors is something that separates homemade ice cream, with flavors such as coconut, from the rest.
“It’s real stuff like cream of coconut, coconut flakes, coconut milk; the whole deal,” said Leinheiser.
It’s nice to know that the people of Jacksonville always have plenty of options at their disposal when it comes to their favorite guilty pleasures. Everyone has their personal favorites, but pizza and ice cream have seemingly been there from the start. That’s what makes them two of America’s favorite Guilty Pleasures.
Food trucks go digital to reach customers
By Cassidy Alexander and Alex Lassen
Despite the name, social media is no longer just for socializing. Increasingly we are finding more and more ways to integrate it into our lives. It was only a matter of time before we started using it to help us eat.
Notably, food trucks have truly integrated social media in their quest to let people know where they are, and where the food is.
“I would say social media is the avenue that grew the trucks in Jacksonville,” said Chriss Brown, the woman who is currently behind the social media account Jax Truckies.
The organization puts Jacksonville Food Trucks in one place for consumers — something food truck owners know is important.
“We use social media a lot,” said Danyelle Smialkowski, owner of Son of a Butcher. “We can pop up– like today– nobody knew we were here. We posted it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We’ve got 1800 followers now, so a lot of people get to see it.”
Kobe Fedida, owner and head chef of That’s a Wrap, agreed that social media is an integral part of owning a food truck.
“If we don’t post on social media, [people] would have a much harder time find[ing] us because we [are] going to reach only to the clients that can see us, and not the clients who are following us, so social media is a big, big thing in our business,” Fedida said.
While different food trucks have their own accounts with a number of followers, like Son of a Butcher’s 2,600 likes and Wrap It Up’s 1,400, Jacksonville organizations like Jax Truckies have more followers and can reach a wider audience. Jax Truckies has over 34,000 likes on Facebook, making it an even better way for food trucks to reach customers.
Despite a certain level of competition between trucks, food truck owners use social media to communicate and create a sense of community, as well.
“We have a closed group, most of the trucks in Jax belong to it, so we are consulting one another,” Fedida said. “Where to go, where not to go, how much to prep… So we are communicating fairly well to the community.”
“It’s like our own little food truck community,” Smialkowski said. “We have a lot of fun with who we work with.”
Since 1999, Casbah Café has been a popular go-to spot for Middle Eastern food. From freshly-baked meat pies to Baba Ghannouj, the cuisine is authentic to its Mediterranean roots.
“We always prep our food according to our culture. Whatever it tastes like in the Middle East, we get almost the same taste,” said Nicola Barakat, the owner of Casbah Café.
The restaurant replicates the Middle Eastern atmosphere, thus offers many amenities such as limitless Hookah flavors and weekly entertainment, such as belly dancing.
Belly dancer Rayne Dunbar currently performs for crowds and has been doing so for the past 10 years. More than dancing, she enjoys decadent foods from the unique restaurant.
“My favorite dish to order is the hummus. What makes the culture so unique is the environment—truly one of a kind,” she said.
On the other side of the spectrum, Blue Bamboo, combines Southern and Asian cuisine. The owner, Dennis Chan calls it “Hip Asian Comfort Food.”
“My family has been in the restaurant business for over 80 years”, said Chef Chan.
The Chef opened house in 2005 and residents enjoy this pan-Asian fare. This distinct taste of food incorporates quality cooking techniques that he mixes with an Asian twist.
“In my classic French training they teach you to use mirepoix to build every sauce,” said Chan. “And that is onion, a carrot, and a celery product. Well in Asian cooking, the foundation is ginger, garlic and scallion. So I call that the Asian mirepoix.”
Chan garnered the Golden Spoon award and was voted Best Food in Jacksonville. There are plenty of places in restaurants where you can get a taste of international cuisine; you just have to be willing to step a little outside of your comfort zone.
Mayport Fishing Village is Quietly Thriving
Mayport Fishing Village is all about holding a Safe Harbor within this community.
The docks are home to a fleet of shrimping and commercial fishing boats— either docked, unloading, or loading up.
Andy King has been shrimping for 40 years now. Shrimping in the most dominant form of fishing by a landslide in the Mayport area.
Sean Smith, a commercial fisherman of only six months, has been fishing for fun his entire life. He and others venture out seven days at a time with hope of returning with a few thousand pounds of marketable catch.
The calming river flowing by and a sharp smell of crispy fried fish lures consumers into Safe Harbor Seafood, a restaurant known for their shrimp.
“We are known for our shrimp around the world. It’s world-renowned,” said Chris Wooten, Safe Harbor owner.
Safe Harbor is making a positive impact on the community with their fishing.
Wooten has managed to conserve the community and culture of the people while steadily growing as a business, a restaurant, and now a seafood distribution company.
With the sun setting on the river, and the docks silent, the restaurant continued to bustle with customers from near and far. Mayport shrimp is a big hit and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.