Let’s face it. It’s time to ditch your Bud Light and Corona and expand your palate. Although, there’s nothing wrong with drinking those staple beers, these St. Augustine craft brews will go down easy without the lime.
The craft beer scene in St. Augustine continues to flourish with breweries such as Dog Rose, BOG, Ancient City, and Old Coast Ales brewing up something new.
The St. Augustine craft beer journey begins in the historic West King Street district with the opening of BOG Brewing Company in 2016. Owner Steven Mendoza always wished to open up a brewery and “the stars aligned” to open BOG in St. Augustine.
“The BOG was a long time in the making. It wasn’t an overnight creation,” Mendoza said. “It took us 13 months to rehabilitate the building and bring it up to code. We did a lot of it ourselves.”
Originally from Miami, Mendoza spent time in Washington D.C. and Asheville, where he was exposed to the craft beer scene.
“I started working in the craft beer scene in Washington D.C. at a restaurant and bar. It was Pizzeria Paradiso,” Mendoza said. “They had the best draft list, constantly rotating. I got exposed to everything I wanted and it nurtured my curiosity. It helped me grow a lot.”
With a neighborhood pub feel, BOG typically has 12 or 13 beers on draft for customers to choose from.
“Our beers can really be broken up into three formats: IPAs, lagers, and light beers. The lagers and light beers kinda overlap a little, but that is kind of our passion and what we really strive for is doing those,” Mendoza said.
In addition to craft beer, BOG has partnered with the Tacos My Blessing food truck. The authentic mexican food truck sits behind BOG in its newly redone patio area. Another passion of Mendoza’s is natural wines, which BOG also offers to customers.
“My favorite BOG beer depends on the day of the week. I do love the West King Haze, it has been with us for a long time. It’s like an old friend,” Mendoza said. “However, we are always brewing IPAs or new versions of the IPAs. We try new hops and even hops change from season to season.”
BOG also offers a taste of St. Augustine with its Smoked Datil Ale, which has become a popular choice for many.
“Our Smoked Datil Ale is made with locally grown datil peppers, which are a huge thing in St. Augustine,” Mendoza said.
Also hopping onto the St. Augustine craft beer train is Dog Rose Brewing Company located in Lincolnville.
Starting in the industry in 2001 at A1A Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Dog Rose owner Doug Murr decided to “jump out of his element” and opened Dog Rose in 2017.
“In 2001, there were not a lot of professional brewers, it wasn’t quite a thing, especially not on the mass scale that it is now,” Murr said. “I had been a home brewer, but it was kind of the right place at the right time. I was working at A1A and then took over the brewery and worked for them for 16 years or so.”
Keeping around ten beers on draft, Murr keeps a diversified draft list. Ranging from lagers, pale ales, sours, IPAs, stouts and porters, Dog Rose can quench any thirst.
“My style, because I’m older and have been doing this for a long time, is we tend to brew classic styles of beer and true to style,” Mendoza said. “We like to have a little bit of fun here and there, but you won’t find a ton of treatments with tons of different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s not our main focus.”
The Lincolnville Lager and the Roadside IPA are Dog Rose’s two biggest sellers in the taproom and can be found at other bars around St. Augustine, since they distribute their flagship beers.
“If any bartender ever heard me say anything different, they would laugh, but I drink the Roadside IPA almost exclusively,” Murr said.
Brewing around 310 gallons at a time, Dog Rose averages about five brews per week. While Dog Rose is known for its brewery, they also offer cider from Jacksonville and a selection of wines.
“We take our wines just as seriously as we take our beers. We try to stick with restaurant exclusive wines,” Murr said.
Pairing craft beer and wine with Dog Rose’s atmosphere, the pub offers shuffleboard and darts for customers to enjoy, as well as live music.
“Music is a big thing that we do. All of our tables disappear on a Saturday night, for example, and it can be packed,” Murr said. “During the day, we are still showing who we are and our musical taste. I just want the place to be comfortable and casual. I mean, I like hanging out here. It’s a good feel.”
When he is not drinking Dog Rose’s Roadside IPA, Murr can be found drinking Sweetwater IPA.
“I love beer and that’s what I do and it’s what I’ve done for a long time, but I’m not that beer-crazed guy that has to have the newest and greatest,” Murr said. “I’m a creature of habit, I’m old school and I tend to have Sweetwater’s IPA in my fridge.”
The other two breweries in St. Augustine are Ancient City Brewing Company and Old Coast Ales.
Ancient City Brewing Company can be found in downtown St. Augustine, specializing in beer and wine. Over the Bridge of Lions is Old Coast Ales, offering up to 12 house-craft brewed taps, as well as wine, kombucha, and soda.
As the craft beer scene in St. Augustine continues to grow, there seems to be no shortage of beer.
“When I got hired in 2001, the guy told me I had two jobs: make beer and sell beer,” Murr said. “Know what you like and drink what you like.”