Beer:30 San Marco is a prime example of the sense of community that comes along with drinking craft beer. Beer:30 is a cool little bottleshop/taproom located in San Marco run by father and son duo, Jeff and Kevin Burns. They have been open since April 2015 and have a great selection of go-to and hard to find beers available on draft or package. I recently sat down with the Burns crew to talk about Beer:30 and get a little more insight on what got them into craft beer.
The concept for Beer:30 was not just a random sketch on a cocktail napkin. They spent over six months conducting research on what they wanted Beer:30 to be. During their journey, they visited many of the better known beer cities in the southeast including, Charleston, Savannah, Tampa, South Florida, Atlanta and a jaunt over to Denver as well. They were more interested in checking out the small bottleshops, breweries, package stores and taprooms to get a broad range of inspiration for their own venue. Ultimately, they wanted a place with community, friendship and good beer. In my humble opinion, they have certainly achieved just that.
I asked the Burns men what their favorite thing is about the craft beer industry. Kevin said that his favorite thing about the industry is the people. He considers beer a “unifier that brings people together” and I couldn’t agree more. Two complete strangers can sit next to each other and strike up a conversation about beer. He has gotten to meet some interesting people and develop friendships simply from pouring them a beer. Kevin said that the bar and tasting area is small by design as it lends to easy conversation. I have personally experienced this many times at Beer:30 San Marco. Not only have I made friends, but also very often people will talk about a beer on the shelf, buy a bottle of the beer and share it with you at that moment.
I am always curious about what is the beer that got someone into craft beer. For Jeff, it was when he was visiting, of all places, the wine country in Napa Valley in 1985. He popped into a little sandwich shop and grabbed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and thoroughly enjoyed the beer. He also traveled to San Francisco on that same trip where he tried Anchor Stream Beer. Those two beers are what led him to begin exploring new and different beers. When he got back from his travels, he began seeking out these beers along with other craft beers, and now obviously has turned that interest into a business. Kevin recalls Sweetwater 420 as his gateway into his love of craft beer. His curiosity was also peaked from the Brew Masters television series that aired on the Discovery Channel years ago. He ended up getting a home brewing kit after watching the Brew Masters create unique and memorable brews. After starting home brewing, he really began thinking about beer and ultimately fueled his appreciation for craft beer.
Next, I asked probably one of the most difficult questions for any craft beer fan… what is your all-time favorite beer. Being that this question is almost impossible, Kevin was able to whittle his choices down to two. He said that his more hard-to-find favorite is Westbrook Mexican Cake and his go-to more accessible beer is Bells Two Hearted. Jeff said that he really liked the 3-Years & Brewing by Funky Buddha, but Jai Alai by Cigar City is his favorite every day beer. The fun thing about craft beer is that it is forever developing and evolving, and access to different beer is continually progressing. I would love to ask this question again in a year and see if the answers have changed.
Jacksonville is continually developing its own spot in the craft beer world and I am not alone in my excitement over Jacksonville’s potential as a destination for craft beer. Kevin also feels that Jacksonville has the makings of a great beer destination. He said that Jax Beer Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the Jacksonville craft beer scene and is excited to have Beer:30 participate in the events. He also pointed out that geographically, Jacksonville is an ideal location, and can easily serve as the first or last stop for people tasting their way through the state of Florida or on the way to cities like Charleston or Savannah.
I cannot say enough how much I have enjoyed getting to know the crew at Beer:30 and of course trying all of the magnificent beers. I highly recommend stopping by for a pint or a good suggestion for something to take home. Beer:30 constantly has brewery spotlights, which are always fun and usually result in trying more rare or limited release beers from the brewery. I highly recommend checking out Beer:30 San Marco and following them on Social Media to follow up on the events and beer releases. The staff is so nice and REALLY know their beer, and much like other places that I love so much they are dog friendly!