An Idea is Formed
Of course, the idea of Pensacola Beer started a few months earlier. Born in Pensacola, but currently living in Northern Virginia (outskirts of the DC Metro Area), I'd been a oenophile for many years, but had lost interest in beer long ago.
At the time, I had only been exposed to macrobrew "swill", which was to be consumed as fast as possible to get drunk. This worked out well; it allowed me to avoid thinking about the taste and once drunk enough... who cared? Two events changed my opinion and opened my eyes to the world of craft beer.
The first event was a friend and home brewer inviting me to his home to try some of his beer. His beer was one of the first I'd ever actually enjoyed, and I'm sure I tried his patience with all my questions.
The second event was a weekend wine trip to Charlottesville, Virginia that my wife and I took a few months later. We were driving home from a day of wine tasting when we spotted a restaurant we hadn't noticed before and decided to stop for dinner.
The restaurant turned out to be a brewpub, Devil's Backbone, that had only recently opened. I started off trying a sampler flight of their beer, and I've been hooked ever since.
I immersed myself in the world of craft beer, visiting breweries, brewpubs, tap houses, beer dinners, and festivals. I enjoyed hearing about upcoming events, locations to check out, and new beers to try. I found websites dedicated to the craft beer community in various cities and regions. DCBeer was among those websites and the inspiration that got the gears turning.
My brother Gary, a wine lover as well, had also given up on beer. During a visit to Pensacola, I started preaching the craft beer gospel, describing all the wonderful beer venues we would visit the next time he came to Virginia.
He proceeded to tell me about Pensacola craft beer locations, including Pensacola Bay Brewery, HopJacks, and the then 'coming soon' World of Beer. I was delighted that Pensacola had a growing craft beer community and I began searching online for locations to visit. What I couldn't find was any websites that provided comprehensive coverage of Pensacola's craft beer community. The final piece of the puzzle clicked into place.
I knew there was a need for a website covering the Pensacola craft beer community, and I thought it would be great fun creating one. After much thought, I suggested the idea to my brother. He was onboard from the get-go, as long as I was along for the ride, and we began initial planning.
We immediately searched for a domain, and eventually chose the simplicity of PensacolaBeer.com. We worked out a number of technical and logistical decisions during my Christmas visit to Pensacola, and we were ready to start.
The First Year in Review
The first year has gone by quickly, and we're happy with what we've accomplished. We've promoted local as well as larger regional events. We've attended many of those events and had a wonderful time meeting others in the Pensacola craft beer community. We've reviewed beers (most notably the experimental batches from Grassland's Brewery, a Tallahassee brewery in planning). We've created a locations page and an events calendar for the Pensacola area, and expanded our reach to include Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Untappd.
Our first year has been filled with excitement.
In July World of Beer - Palafox opened and as expected made a significant impact on the local craft beer community, making the already thriving downtown scene a must visit for anyone who loves good beer.
In August Hopjacks Filling Station, a multipurpose venue (bar, package sales, growler fill station), had its grand opening, adding to craft beer options outside of the downtown area.
In September I flew down so we could both attend the Emerald Coast Beer Festival. We had a wonderful time and highly recommend you make plans to check it out this year if you missed it.
The 1st Annual Pensacola Craft Beer Festival was held in November at Pensacola Wahoo's stadium. We had previously written that we saw no reason Pensacola couldn't support two beer festivals and in less than a year that became a reality.
Recently, Lower Alabama finally got a craft brewery when Fairhope Brewery opened their doors. Craft breweries are obviously the backbone of the craft beer community and having another brewery open in the area makes the community stronger.
Looking Forward to Year Two
Entering our second year we hope to continue growing and improving, and we're excited to take on new challenges.
A site redesign and official Pensacola Beer logo is in the planning and we hope to have it in place soon.
We'd like to see our locations page and events calendar become more comprehensive and include areas just outside of Pensacola that need promotion.
I've decided to take advantage of my location along the central east coast and visit some of the local breweries that make their brews available in the Pensacola area.
We hope to include more beer reviews, especially local beers, as well as expanding reviews to include beer related books and apps.
All planned changes are intended to support and enhance what has been our primary goal at Pensacola Beer since day one:
"Cover and promote the burgeoning craft beer scene in Pensacola and the surrounding area. We aim to be Pensacola's best resource for new pubs, beers, tastings, events, and beer culture."
We would like to thank those that followed us through our first year, and to any new readers, welcome. You are the reason for this website. We hope you stick around and help us spread the word that Pensacola has a growing, thriving craft beer community.
P.S. In celebration of our inaugural year we'd like to break new ground and open comments for the first time on Pensacola Beer. Let us know how we're doing, and what you would like to see as we begin our second year.