Craft Beer Florida Hops

It’s barely 5 o’clock on a Thursday, and already a long line has formed at the bar inside First Magnitude Brewing. Some of the folks in line are holding empty mugs: refill time. Off to the side, 15 or so people have formed a semi-circle around a couple of men. One of them is John Denny, the co-founder and head brewer at First Magnitude. The other is Brian Pearson.

“This is a special night for me,” says Pearson to the group. He’s holding a snifter of coppery refreshment. Ditto everyone in the group.

Pearson probably wouldn’t be at this brewery in Gainesville on this particular night in April — holding this particular beer — if not for a beer he had at a pub in England six years ago.

“Doom Bar,” he says, recalling with reverence in his voice the name of the ale. “Sharp’s Doom Bar. It was literally life-changing.”

At that point in time, his beer experience was like that of most Americans: lots of bland, yellow-ish pilsners and watery, amber-ish lagers.

“They just lack complexity. This beer was everything those weren’t: biscuity, full of rich flavors with a hop backbone. It was just everything I had never had before,” says Pearson.

When he returned to the states, he tried to order his precious Doom Bar online only to learn Sharp’s doesn’t export it. So, he decided he would try to make it — or at least make something like it. He took up home brewing. Pretty soon, he was making good beer in five-gallon buckets. Six months into his hobby, he decided he want to make his good beer great. And he knew the hops were the key.

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