Stone Brewing Hibiscusicity Review

Hibiscuscity (Randy (1)

Beer Name: Hibiscusicity
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Belgian-style ale
Hops: Magnum, Sterling
Special: Orange peel, Hibiscus flowers
Malts: Pale Malt, Wheat Malt
Availability: Nationwide
7.4% ABV
Glassware: Tulip

Appearance: Pours a bright amber with rich, pink overtones. More than likely from the Hibiscus flowers.

Aroma: Citrus, definitely citrus. They used orange peel and you get orange peel.

Taste: The orange peel and the Hibiscus play so well together! That said, this is not orange peel/citrus some people get from wheat beers, this is orange peel in it’s truest essence. The didn’t spare any here (sidenote: wonder what they did with that metric ton of leftover oranges they obviously used to get the peels). Although the oranges are present, the flowers definitely ain’t no pansies. They’re at the party and damn it they want you to know it. They deliver the taste equivalent of an aromatic punch to the snot box. This beer is well done.

Mouth feel: Very dry, but based on how this is drinking, it needed to be dry. Sweetness with all this aroma would have been a little overwhelming.

Overall Impression: This beer is VERY well done. I admit that I am a Stone fanboy, but normally that’s the case because I am a hop head. However, this beer is totally not a hop head’s delight. In fact, it is a welcomed departure from a ton of hops and in my opinion it definitely highlights brewing versatility in the Stone Brewery. Yep, going back to the store to get another bomber…or two.




Lola Gets a Trip to Zeta Brewery

The first order of business was to find out how it’s pronounced. Zeta like Xena, Warrior Princess? Zeta like Beta house?
Turned out it was Zeta like beta. I’d been saying it wrong.

That was okay, though. I had a very patient, helpful tour guide for my visit to Zeta Brewing at Jacksonville Beach, FL. In addition to giving me a linguistic lesson, the brewmaster, Chris Prevatt, walked me through his entire beer-making process, including listing the ingredients he uses.

He mills his own premium, whole kernel grains, using a variety of specialty grains; darker roast for darker beer, etc. He uses two-row for the malts, and the rice and wheat are flaked. Of course my ignorant self was thinking of flaky wheat as in breakfast cereal, but I’m sure that’s not what he meant.

My big question was about the hops, because a difference in hops can make me love or hate an IPA. He uses Cascade, Columbus, Summit, Williamette, and Fuggle (English style.) Specifically, in his IPAs, he uses citrus-flavored American hops such as Cascade, Williamette and Summit. In his lager he uses Fuggle, and in his porter, Fuggle and Williamette. According to this site, Williamette is known for its “aroma variety with a low alpha acid content,” and is used more for flavor than bittering. I am a fan of aroma and flavor, so I’m on board.

The tanks were seemingly taller than my apartment…grand, silver structures that could have been mistaken for Tin Man family homes. Each held so much glory and promise. He showed us which tank held which beer. He had tapped the lager and was about to mash another one, his 16th batch since the brewery opened in June.

The finishing touches on each batch go into the serving tanks – the chocolate coffee porter gets its fresh brewed coffee during that stage. He uses fresh local raspberries for the puree that’s added to the raspberry wheat. He uses local ingredients such as Ocala honey for the Florida lager and IPA. He utilizes Florida lemons, basil and thyme, and the produce he uses is organic. All around, he is very conscious of what goes into his product.

This gourmet mindset may have been leftover from his days as a chef. He experimented while home brewing for ten years, eventually going to the Siebel Institute of Chicago. He started off in Greensburg, PA at All Saints Brewing Company.

Zeta’s owners (Aaron Webb and Mark Vandeloo) stepped in at that point. They first opened the restaurant a year and half ago, but they approached Chris about moving down to Jacksonville and taking a chance on a new enterprise. He was thrilled at the chance, and the planning began last year.

Right now they are licensed as a brew pub, but they plan to expand into kegs, and then maybe growlers. They are building bigger tanks and putting in a 15-barrel fermenter, a 15-barrel bright tank, along with 2 more 7-barrel bright tanks. This is slated for November or December.

Currently, Zeta Brewing offers 6 staple beers with 2 rotations. The IPA is the best seller. The double IPA, which is called a Grassy Hopper, is brewed with a single Summit hop, and comes in at 8.6 ABV. It was one of my favorites of the 5 I tried that night. Chris said one of his favorite styles is IPA, but saying a beer drinker likes IPA is like saying a foodie likes food.

I recommend the American Garage IPA. The porter was lovely but not the heartiest porter I’ve had. The Private Rye was nice, but rye isn’t my favorite style. The lager was good, and there was a 5th beer that I can’t place right now. None of the beers got lower than a 4 in my opinion. It would be worth the gas and the miles on your car to make a special trip for this beer.

Outside of his own beer, he loves Cigar City, particularly Jai Alai. White Oak Jai Alai got a mention, too. I’ve heard good things about that brew. He also mentioned that he’s fond of Colorado brews.

The public will get to taste a whole lot more of his recipes when Zeta (the restaurant) holds a tap takeover starring Zeta (the beer) on October 2nd, 6 PM to 10 PM. They’re billing it as a grand re-opening, and Chris said that this would be his time to shine…his time to show everyone what he’s been doing behind the glass partition.
Instead of having 8 beers on tap, he is going to have 12, including a saison, a Belgian pale and other small batch brews. There will be prizes and music…and beer. Lots of good beer.




Intuition Ale Works is Moving Closer to Lola (But Still Not Close Enough)

Intuition Ale Works logo very cropped

Intuition Ale Works, the Jacksonville, Florida based brewery, is expanding. They have filed a request with the Downtown Development Review Board to move downtown. This has been in the works for awhile, as evidenced by this video from 2012.

I can attest from personal experience that the current location (720 King Street) is small. The location mentioned in the video (The Shipyards) is a nice strip of vacant land on the river (and the site of the Jaxtoberfest brew fest), but that’s not where they’re going. Instead, they’re moving across the street to 929 East Bay Street: near the football arena, baseball grounds and Veteran’s Memorial Arena. That’s okay with me, because when I get tired about halfway through the baseball game, I know where this girl’s going. Yes, I’ll be kicking back at the rooftop beer garden.

Here’s the Google Street View of the downtown location.

This is the Street View of their current location.

Intuition’s new location will only be about 3.7 miles from its current residence. However, that will bring it closer to me, and that’s what matters. It won’t be walking distance, but maybe if I hold my nose up in the right direction, I’ll catch a whiff of brewing beer, much like how the rich Maxwell House aroma drifts down to us sometimes.

Ooh…beer and coffee…intermingling…mixing together…I like it already. I just need chocolate.

The owner of the brewery, Ben Davis, is quoted in the Florida Times article as saying it’s not so much about the extra square footage (though there will be more); instead the benefit is in the higher ceilings. He’ll be able to bring in more equipment. He also mentions that he’ll probably close the taproom on King St. (Man, they won’t be part of the King Street Beer District anymore…) but keep brewing there—at least until the lease runs out in two years.

The City Council seems keen on Intuition coming closer to the water. I hope they’re willing to work to make this happen.


Florida Times-Union (

Action News Jax

Intuition’s website

Jaxtoberfest (Coming up next month!)