Not ones to let Jacksonville hog the craft beer spotlight, Greg Tuttle, owner of Ancient City Brewing seized the opportunity to fill a gap in the market by taking over the former production facility of the now-defunct Mile Marker Brewing in an industrial park just off I-95 near the outlet mall. Since that time, they’ve firmly established themselves as “St. Augustine’s brewery” with their impeccable lineup of core beers, all of which are currently available in draft and package.
The team at Ancient City was busy filling cans of their latest year-round release, Castillo Coconut Porter, when we stopped by to catch up with Greg, his VP of Sales, Eric Goodwin, and head brewer, Max Asbury.
The city of St. Augustine is clearly quite intrinsic to Ancient City’s identity. How does the brand and the product embody the spirit of this unique place?
GREG: We’ve made the city itself part of our focus. This town is rich with history so we took the geography of our town and applied it to our beers. They all have a great story and it’s really resonated with our audience.
ERIC: People who travel love St. Augustine and they come here for different reasons. When you can tie in the beer with the experience, it only helps grow the brand.
What do your customers seem to appreciate most about the brand?
GREG: Our product is good and that’s all there is to it. I think that craft is appreciated in and of itself. Our hands are on it and people appreciate that. The tourists want to try something new, something local and fresh. Plus, we’ve got a cool space, that’s fun to hang out in.
ERIC: We’re not trying to be a gimmick beer. I want us to be known for good beer and definitely Florida beer. Bottom line is: don’t be fake. People pick up on that when they see you jumping from thing to thing to make profit.
MAX: Our beers are made here, but I’d put them up against any beers in the country.
How does the experience differ between the brewery and the downtown taproom?
GREG: They’re completely different to be honest. We have a group of 50-60 regulars at the brewery and half of them are here every day. It’s a truly local spot. Downtown, we get some locals, especially the post-shift service industry folks, but the majority are people visiting St. Augustine. They see the distillery, the winery, and some of the other breweries and they cruise in.
How do you decide what kinds of beers to make?
GREG: We have a staff meeting every Monday. Everybody sits around the table and we come up with new beers based on what everybody is feeling. When it comes to that stuff, we fly by the seat of our pants which makes it fun.
What beer are you most excited about right now?
GREG: Definitely our Augustine’s Orange Amber Ale. Our Anastasia IPA was our best seller forever until maybe last week when the Orange Amber surpassed it.
ERIC: This beer is orange sunshine in a can. When you open one, it’s like getting smacked in the face with an orange. Whether it’s the taste or the graphics, I want people to think, this is definitely from Florida. It’s not an orange soda beer, it’s a solid beer and to get that to come across in a can is a hard thing to do.
MAX: We started brewing it 4-5 years ago and we’ve spent every bit of that tweaking it to get it where it’s at now which is something people have been demanding in cans for the past two years or so.
What’s the “secret” to your success?
ERIC: Companies that run like a well-oiled machine are all about putting the right people in the right place. We all have our own skill sets, but they all overlap and we work together. Not only do we have skills that help us in our jobs but we have different outlooks and viewpoints. You don’t want a bunch of yes-people. We don’t agree on stuff all the time and that’s good. But we all have a common goal. Everyone is passionate about what we do, it’s not just a job. We’re all a family.
GREG: Everybody has their lane but our lanes often intersect. Everyone’s opinion is valued. We have a fantastic mix of personality, drive, experience. We’re friends too. We all respect each other which is crucial. At the end of the day, we all have fun.
MAX: Just start and try.
This Bold Bevs feature is part of a special sponsored content partnership with North Florida Sales and originally appeared in Void’s Feb. 2021 issue.