Florida Beer Company Serves Up Unique Beverages
By Derek Suomi // February 22, 2013
Craft Product Demand Surging
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Maybe it’s comment on our disposable culture. Or perhaps it’s a result of the information age. These days, consumers have been seeking out all things artisan and unique in the marketplace.
It’s a trend that owners and employees of the Florida Beer Company have championed since 2003.
In the 1970’s, brewing industry consolidation led to a boom in home brewing.
Many of the traditional styles and techniques had been abandoned by the major brewers in the United States, leaving consumers to create these “lost libations” on their own.
Some home brewers decided to go into business for themselves creating the craft beer industry we have today.
Craft beers have never been more popular than they are today.
The number of craft brewers in America has gone from eight in 1980 to 537 in 1994 and burgeoned to more than 1,600 as of 2010 according to the website http://www.brewersassociation.org/
This is a fact that Florida Beer Company Director of Marketing Eluan Middlebrooks attributes to consumer education.
““The craft beer industry has been really good at educating the consumer,” Middlebrooks said. “Also, you see craft beers now on many restaurant menus and dedicated shelve space at places like Publix and ABC. Both places that, just a few years ago, it was really hard to get the product in front of people.”
Florida Beer company was created after the acquisition of the old Indian River Brewing Company in 2003.
In the last nine years their beers have won numerous awards, the latest being for their Florida Lager which took the bronze medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival and the silver medal at the 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championships.
At the same time, they have seen their distribution grow outside of Florida.
Florida Beer Company has grown so much that they are currently in the process of building a new 60,000-square-foot, 5-acre brewing faculty in Cape Canaveral.
The new space also will include a 5,000-square-foot tasting room.
“It’s been a great nine years here (at the Melbourne brew house) and we are looking forward to continued growth at the new facility and making new beers.” Middlebrooks said.
Florida Beer currently produces a host of beers. Some of their best sellers are the award-winning Florida Lager, the Key West Sunset Ale and the Double I.P.A. “Swamp Ape.”
Leading the creation of the beers for the company is Brewmaster Jack Owen.
He has been brewing beer since the early 1980’s and has been at this facility since 1997.
Owen said that at the new faculty they will be able to start work on a new line of beers.
“Our president wants to do a host of new beers, lots of different seasonals and limited runs, all of which we will be doing over the next couple of years,” Owen said.
Middlebrooks says the area’s craft beer drinkers are an intelligent group that has quickly grown Brevard County into a savvy and enlightened place to do business.
“Just a couple of years ago, we would be out in the community at an event and people wouldn’t even know what we were. These days we have people coming in and their excited to talk about the beers they tried in California and Michigan and Oregon. It’s been really nice to see that growth in education, especially here,” he said.