Occupying the mid-century building that once housed a Ford dealership on Fernandina Beach’s South Eighth Street, Mocama Beer Company is putting the finishing touches on its modern, well-appointed taproom. Slated to open as early as this month (fingers crossed), their gorgeous, cavernous brewhouse is already producing beer for distribution. And some rather exceptional liquid it is!
We met up with Hamp Tanner, Derek Imes, JT Murrett, and Simon Muldoon; four of the men behind the soon-to-open brewery to find out just what makes the latest entrant into Northeast Florida’s thriving craft beer scene so unique.
First things first, where does the name Mocama come from?
Derek: We really wanted a name that “travels” and represented the area in other markets. I did some research into the history of the area and came upon the word Mocama which was a Timucuan dialect spoken exclusively along the coast. It means: “Big water where the sun is born.” It makes me think of standing on our beach looking east during sunrise. I think it really captures the heart and soul of Fernandina Beach and all of Northeast Florida.
What styles can people expect you to produce?
JT: I like to brew what I like to drink, so I’d call my approach a modern take on classic styles. We’ll have rotating IPAs and Imperial stouts and counter those with some crisp lagers, saisons, Belgian tripels, and quads. We’re expecting barrels for a clean barrel program in the next few days and should be getting some foeders within six months. So, literally a bit of everything.
Which beer are you most excited about?
JT: I feel like our flagship IPA Cosmico is very different from what most people here are used to in a distributed IPA. You can go to a brewery and try their hazy IPA on draft but you can’t necessarily get one in your favorite restaurant. Even then, it’s different from the ones everyone else is making. It features Sultana, Citra, and El Dorado hops with a Northeastern yeast and flaked oats for that soft, creamy texture. It’s like biting into a ripe, juicy pineapple.
Your can designs are really wonderful. Tell me about the story behind the Cosmico label.
Derek: I was a big fan of the work of [renowned graphic designer] Brian Steely so I called him up, told him I loved his can labels, and asked if he wanted to do our designs. Lucky for us, he said “yes.” He’s a beer guy, so for the Cosmico label, I gave him the details of the beer and explained the concept–seeking wisdom from the ancient celestial guidance that rotates above us all. There’s little light pollution here so you can really see the night sky. As far as the colors, I was thinking about the neon orange glow of a jukebox. Brian took all that along with the look of our mid-century building and ran with it.
Why should people make the trek to Fernandina Beach for craft beer?
Hamp: We feel like Fernandina is a prime spot to bring exceptional craft beer. There are locals and tourists alike who come here for a number of reasons. If you want an uncrowded beach, we’ve got 13 miles of beach access. There are great trails to hike or ride bikes here at Fort Clinch and just south of us in Talbot Island. As a brand, we believe in being outside so we want all that to be part of what the taproom is about as well. When you come to Amelia Island, enjoy the indoors here, then get outside. And take some Berliner weisse with you!
Simon: If you want to be a world away, you only have to drive an hour or less and it feels like a completely different place. Fernandina has worked very hard over the past 15 years to make itself more than just a golf and beach destination. You can actually spend a weekend up here now and enjoy a culinary experience that rivals Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Others have raised the bar and we hope to raise it even higher. We are simply adding an additional layer to an existing foundation of great food and beverage here on Amelia Island. I want Mocama to be the first place you come when you arrive and the last place you visit before you leave. I want you to go out and experience everything, but I want to see you back again on your last day with a six pack under your arm to take home, wherever that may be.
This Bold Bevs feature was part paid partnership between Void Magazine and North Florida Sales and appeared in the September 2020 issue of Void Magazine.
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