Jumping into the Jacksonville craft beer scene has been fun. I can really say I’ve only dabbled since there are tons of breweries and so little time. I heard the word "local" a lot, and found out that Intuition, Green Room and Bold City were just the tip of the iceberg. I discovered Wicked Barley, Veterans United, and Aardwolf later. But there is only one bar that is named after one of my favorite animals, bottle-nose dolphins.
That Bar Down Southside
My friend Austin told me about a place that was right next to the Mellow Mushroom by my house with a great selection of brews: Bottlenose Brewing. The location is convenient - walking distance to the Tinseltown theater, if you wanna see a movie, next to Mellow, if you want some pizza, or easy to pair with sush if you head to Norikase first. Yes, I said sush. Also, this isn’t a downtown parking headache or busy Town Center. You’ll find a spot, easy peasy.
One thing that sold me on the idea of this place, aside from the convenient Southside location, was that I heard they had some decently priced late-night bites that were pretty tasty. (Thanks, Megan). This didn't start as a brewery, but a brewhouse. They served local brews, but didn’t brew their own beer at first. There are enough flavors of beer to be the equivalent of a smorgasbord meal. The brew list features some MIA beers, which is fun to see as I got to visit that brewery a few years back.
Beer Cheese Fries
I first came here for the beer, but what I really truly love and adore about this place is the beer cheese fries. Not the Swamp Fries (those are tasty too). Skip the parmesan fries. What really can't be beat is an order of regular fries with beer cheese.
The burger and hot dog is ok. Bavarian pretzels are always good. The Pierogi is satisfying. But the taste of those beer cheese fries will make you skip an entrée so you can have more fries.
About the Bartenders
The bartenders are friendly, helpful, and never give you that, “oh I’m too busy to let you sample a sour or a wheat beer tonite.” Tommy might shake his locks and mention the beach. Chris might give a shout-out to Green Room. Joey might want to join your sing-along sesh if the live music starts to get close to the karaoke level. Sure they might wonder why I want to try a lager and a chocolate stout before committing, but they don’t seem to mind. The place also has space for live music, which spices up the atmosphere and can bring a little life to your weekend.
With all the beer opinions and education, ok snobbery, that exist out there, some bartenders become all too practiced in asking, ok what kinda beer do you like. They ask with a sneer waiting to hear some response about what’s the lightest, sweetest, darkest, ok, fine try this bitter IPA answer. At Bottlenose, everyone is accommodating. Joey even poured new drafts when Mandy and I had concerns about the kegs and carbonation of her beer.
A Good Crowd
We’ve dragged our Riverside friends out, and I think they noticed that it didn’t have the hustle and bustle and luster of a beach bar or Birdies. But the Arlington folk and beer fans have a different opinion - it’s worth the drive and then some. It’s an excellent, post long day of work catch-up with a friend spot.
Almost every time I’ve visited Bottlenose, the crowd is thin whether it be a Tuesday or Friday. But I like this. It’s comfortable, not too noisy, and an inviting venue. There’s a nice long tap list, a few wines, and no liquor. In the corner, you can find a stack of board games and also a giant Jenga. The place has trivia on Tuesdays and Thursdays, good TV views for catching the game while drinking, and a nice outside seating area so you can bring the pups.