On a very special edition of Ken Drinks Gainesville, I visited the brand spankin’ new First Magnitude Brewing Company tonight. The brewery is located at 1220 SE Veitch Street, and is set to open its doors to the public tomorrow (Saturday) from 2 PM to 9 PM. Gainesville has been long overdue for another fantastic brewery to pop up, and First Magnitude certainly did not disappoint. For some of you folks, it may be a little difficult to find. If you’re headed south on Main Street, go past Depot Avenue, and turn left at SE 10th Avenue. Take that down to the end and turn right, the brewery will be on your right. You’re welcome.
The name was inspired by the many natural springs in Florida. Springs that discharge water at least 2800 liters per second are considered “first magnitude” springs. There are 27 of them in Florida, making it the highest concentration anywhere in the world. While the exterior of the building is very much so a work in progress (with a beer garden under construction), the interior is no short of gorgeous. From its stained picnic bench tables, to the beautiful hand painted bar, rustic wood accents, and 20 taps, I loved the way the tasting room was laid out. In the warehouse area are more benches for outside seating, as well as a cornhole area and giant Jenga set. The only complaint I had was it’s extremely loud in there with all the hard surfaces, so be prepared to scream at your date. The owners are aware though, and have made it a priority to address this.
But of course, we must talk about the beers. Most of the basic stuff is $4.50 with some of the specialty brews hitting $6 a pop. The plan is to have 10 of the taps serving their own beer at all times, and the other 10 serving an ever-rotating selection of beers from fellow Florida breweries. I had the opportunity to sample a variety of their brews, and I noticed a common thread; all were extremely drinkable without super intense flavors, but without being boring and flavorless.
Case in point? The Devil’s Eye Double IPA ($6) was an absolute standout of the bunch. A sweet, floral IPA that doesn’t smack your tastebuds with any harsh hoppy flavors, but is yet distinctly an IPA. It’s so smooth and drinkable, you’d also be surprised to know it’s actually 9.3% alcohol by volume. It’ll knock you flat on your ass in no time. Dare I say that I even like it better than Swamp Head’s beloved Big Nose. Yeah, I said it.
The other standout was the Nightfall Porter ($6 – 5.9% abv), a delicious beer that tastes strongly of fine black coffee. A creamy finish, without any of the sweet chocolate flavors you’d usually find. It was also not harsh or bitter as you would expect from a beer that contained so much coffee flavor. It was again extremely drinkable.
Rounding out the beer selection are a variety of fantastic brews that I had the opportunity to sample. The Siren Blonde Ale ($4.50 – 5.0% abv) is highly recommended with the insane temperatures we’re experiencing. It’s a crisp, sweet, blonde ale that is very refreshing. The Karst Belgian Pale Ale ($4.50 – 4.9% abv) is another refreshing beer with fruity and slightly spicy flavors. Also on the menu is an American Pale Ale, Irish-style Dry Stout, Amber Ale, and more. I would have remembered more, but I sampled one too many.
While there is much to be done at the location, I’d say they’re off to a great start. It will only get better as they make adjustments to their brews, and finish the plans for the location. With the Depot Park being built across the street, and the Gainesville-Hawthorne Bike Trail nearly completion, it won’t be long before it’s just a short scenic bike ride away. First Magnitude will be opened Saturday from 2 PM to 9 PM, and again on Sunday from 2 PM to 7 PM. Ameraucana Wood Fire will be on hand Sunday from 3 PM to 7 PM, serving up wood fired pizzas out front. If you enjoy great, drinkable beers, this is the place to visit. I love Swamp Head, but the new kid in town is packin’ some heat. Now we have two wonderful breweries, and I couldn’t be more excited!