Florida Craft Brewery: First Magnitude Brewing Company
Established: August 23rd, 2014
Location: 1220 SE Veitch Street Gainesville, FL 32601
Known For: The 72 Pale Ale is the most widely distributed and most popular offering at the brewery. I saw this first hand while sitting at the bar. The Drift is the only canned English-style Mild Ale in Florida. Not only is it very good but to my surprise it was ordered over and over again. I would not have figured the style to be as popular as it seems to be. First Magnitude (FM) isn’t only known locally for their beer. They also are very involved in the conservation of the local springs. 1% of profits from the sale of Wakulla Hefeweizen cans goes to the Springs Initiative Grant Program, which distributes funds where needed. FM also sponsors a yearly 7.2K Springs Run that helps raise money for and brings attention to springs conservation through the Springs Eternal Project. If you aren’t quite sure what a spring is you can check out this page for more information.
Current Beer Menu: The beer menu was extensive, containing fifteen of their own beers plus five guest taps from breweries around the state such as MIA Brewing, Green Bench, Funky Buddha, Swamp Head, and Royal Manor Meadery. I was able to sample 9 from the tap list and one from the tank. The Vega Blonde Ale was a decent take on the style. Warrior and Cascade hops are used to make it hoppier than what is typical for the style. The 72 is a hop forward Pale Ale that is dry hopped with Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops. The Drift English-style Mild Ale is not a beer I typically appreciate, but after trying it, I can certainly see why FM is canning it since I found it to be very enjoyable. Ursa is a Centennial hopped IPA with a floral aroma and citrus flavors of orange peel and grapefruit. I’m not usually a fan of a beer on nitro because I think it tends to knock the taste down a bit, but the Chocolate Milk Stout was delicious. I can only imagine how good it is when not on nitro. The Franco-American Saison uses French Saison yeast and Amarillo hops. I enjoyed it as a break from the hoppy and darker brews. Invasive Species is FM’s Foreign Extra Stout. An easy drinker for the stout lover. FM’s British Strong Ale was the perfect balance between sweet molasses and bitter hops. This was easily my 3rd favorite offering after the next two beers. The Minnow Imperial Stout was a thick, oily mix of coffee and chocolate with raisins and prunes on the back-end. I really enjoyed it. Finally, I had the opportunity to try their Robust Porter, Nightfall, which had just come out of a Four Roses barrel where it was spending time with a raspberry puree. The not yet final product was drinking very well with the raspberries only slightly overpowering the bourbon, which was peeking through. This beer may be one of their first to be released in a 750ml bottle. Their current tap list is kept on the right side of their webpage.
Price Range: A flight of four 6oz pours will run you between $8.00 and $12.00 depending on which beers you choose. 6oz pours of all of their beers are available for between $2.00 and $4.00. 10oz pours are available on a select few for between $5.00 to $8.00. A 16oz pour will run you between $4.50 and $7.00. 32oz, 64oz, and one-gallon growlers are available from $7.00 to $30.00. You can purchase the growler glass for $4.00 for the 32oz and $7.00 for the 64oz.
Wine Menu: There is no wine menu at this time.
Food Menu/Food Trucks: A rotating list of food trucks is available every day starting at 4:00pm.
Ambiance: The tasting room has a very warm feel to it. The mix of blues for the wall colors made for a very relaxing backdrop. Leaving the ceiling wide open to show the pine roof truss made for a nice touch as well. The bar is adorned with a very nice wood paneling. The bar top, tap backsplash, and some of the artwork on the walls may look like cut stone, but in actuality are plywood with copper flakes and different accents that give it a really earthy look. Add the sweet sounds of early Outkast, Dr. Dre, etc. and you have a great space to have a beer or three.
Bar Seating: Interestingly enough, just like the three breweries I visited in Georgia there were no bar stools at the bar. The reason for this is it allows a more natural flow of people to the bar. There are five high tops, three low tops, and two picnic tables that all seat six apiece. Just outside of the tap room, there are nine picnic tables positioned so you can see the brewery in action. The beer garden provides ten more picnic tables and plenty of room for your little ones to run around, but please leave your four-legged kids at home as dogs are not allowed.
Staff: I was greeted by Simon and Steve, who handle the bar duties. One of which is updating the Pokémon GO coordinates every half hour. Both were very informative. Simon took some time out to show me around the facility. They certainly have plenty of room to grow within their current building. I also had the pleasure of meeting Meg The Losen (President) and John Denny (Head Brewer) who with their spouses make up the ownership of First Magnitude Brewing. It’s always nice when ownership takes a few minutes out of their day to chat. Before they jumped into the ever emerging craft beer scene, John spent 13 years as Associate Director of the University of Florida Honors Program while Meg spent 12 years as Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Info Tech, Inc. John has over 19 years of homebrewing experience and shares his knowledge as head brewer. The main brewer Eric Dreyer was also readily available to chat in between his brewing duties. Eric is a homebrewer of almost ten years and has won over 35 medals spanning 15 categories. In his former life, Eric managed the UF Sensory Lab.
Brewing System: First Magnitude brews on a fifteen barrel system and also uses a one and a half barrel system for their pilot batch program. The latter is used for more experimental brewing. If the final product isn’t to the brewers liking dumping the contents is nowhere near as costly as brewing on the full system.
Merch: An assortment of both men and women’s t-shirts are sold for $20.00. Hoodies for $35.00, long sleeve shirts for $25.00, and tank tops for $15.00 are also available. Regular and trucker hats are available for $20.00. You can even pick up a kid t-shirt or baby onesie for $10.00.
Membership offered: There is no membership offered and nothing planned for the immediate future.
Best days or time of year to go: Interestingly enough Wednesday is one of their busiest days. There are a number of groups that use the tasting room as a meeting spot including the local homebrew club. Anytime a Gator football game is on, you can expect for the brewery to be busy as well. Friday, before the work crowd comes in, may be your best bet if you’re looking to have a beer and talk shop with one of the bartenders. Brewery tours are available at 3:00pm and 5:00pm every Saturday. Every Sunday from 1:00 – 2:00pm yoga is provided at the brewery before the doors opened to the tasting room.
Regular Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 4:00 – 9:00pm, Friday: 2:00 – 10:00pm, Saturday: 2:00 – 10:00pm, and Sunday 2:00 – 9:00pm
Happy Hour: There is no happy hour available.
-The 72 Pale Ale is named for the constant temperature of the First Magnitude Springs.
-The Wakulla Hefeweizen is named after the Wakulla Springs.
-The First Magnitude name comes from two things. The First Magnitude Springs found in North Central Florida are the strongest of the springs. 100 cubic feet of water come up from the springs per second. When you look up into the sky the brightest star you can see with the naked eye is called the First Magnitude star. Both of these were brought together in the creation of their logo.
-The Vega Blonde Ale was formally known as the Siren Blonde Ale. FM is about to begin canning Vega and the name needed to be changed because there is already a beer known as Siren on the market.
-The current distribution network covers Tallahassee, Jacksonville, St Augustine, and Orlando.
-FM has won three medals in the Florida Beer Championships. A gold for their Smoked Dunkelweizen and a silver for the Drift English-style Mild Ale and Karst Belgian Pale Ale.
-One of the previous owners of their current building was a fiberglass manufacturer who produced all of the dinosaurs for the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios.
-August 20th, 2016 is First Magnitude’s two-year anniversary party. Check their Facebook page for updates on the event.
Overall Rating (1-5): From the atmosphere to the people running the show, First Magnitude was a great place to visit! Now you throw some really good beer into that mix and you get a rating of 4.5.
What was missing: Not only does First Magnitude keep a nice assortment of styles on tap, but they also had two stouts on and as you know that’s always a plus in my book especially when they are done right. The one thing I would say was missing was either a Gose or Berliner Weisse.
In closing, Gainesville isn’t just known for one fully operating brewery anymore. I see big things coming for First Magnitude and I’m looking forward to the day they expand their distribution network to South Florida. Until then I’ll just have to visit Gainesville more often.
Is there something else you would like to know about the First Magnitude Brewing Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.