Is it wrong to deny a man his freedom for the sake of your own happiness? Of course it is, but I must admit I was still a bit disappointed when I heard the news that Eric Luman was leaving his position as head brewer at Seven Bridges to open his own microbrewery in Jax Beach. Seven Bridges had long been my go-to pub, due in large part to the expert craft of its head brewer. I've enjoyed some of my favorite beers of all time there. Standards such as the pilsner and the stout were unparalleled. A couple of the one-time, small batch brews, like the Rosemary Grapefruit IPA and the Coffee Stout were absolutely amazing and outclassed most of what you'd find throughout the US craft beer scene. But, despite our protestations, all things must end. This end, however, is merely a beginning of something that could be so much greater.
Though the chaos of Jax Beach only lies a few yards away on the other side of 3rd Street, Green Room's tap room feels a lot more relaxed and low key than what's typical in the neighborhood. It also turns out to be a bit bigger on the inside than it appears to be when looking in at the small, strip-mall store front.
At my last visit, Green Room had five of their own beers on tap: Head High IPA, Helles Yeah Munich Helles, Shaka Oatmeal Stout, Clean Ocean Surfboards Brown Ale, and Cheer (a Belgian White made in collaboration with Bold City Brewery). Not being constrained by corporate overseers, these did depart a little from what I was used to at Seven Bridges but were all pretty good in their own right. The helles stood out for me as a particularly well balanced lager. I imagine that they're all going to go through some changes as the esteemed brewer acclimates himself with the new equipment and environment.
Green Room also showcases beer from the other local Jacksonville and greater Florida microbreweries. Bold City and Intuition both occupy quite a few taps, as does Tampa's Cigar City (makers of the outstanding Jai Alai IPA) and Saint Somewhere (crafters of some very respectable saisons). It's good to see microbreweries supporting their regional contemporaries and establishing a community not really found in other similar areas of business. And really, that's what this place seems to be all about, camaraderie. My memories of the pleasant afternoon I spent here with some good friends and coworkers will, for many reasons, be with me for years to come. Here's to the blossoming Jacksonville beer scene; may it flourish and prosper.
Green Room Brewing
228 3rd Street North,
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250