Nestled along the Palm Beach and Martin County border is a place where craft beer flows and the good times roll. Tequesta Brewing Company (TBC) is the county's first supplier of locally made craft beer, and it could not be tastier.
Stepping through this North County establishment’s doors, guests are first hit with the earthy aroma of hops, barley and grain. TBC, which opened its doors in January, is a fully working brewery and tasting room, where stainless steel fermenting tanks stand at the back of the narrow bar like bulky mechanic marathon runners, working night and day to supply the draught taps for not just TBC, but nearly 60 bars and restaurants across the state.
The brainchild of master brewer/owner Matt Webster, TBC took its first sudsy steps as a hobby. Hailing from Colorado, the unofficial home of craft beers, brewing beer came organically to Webster. “I have always been fascinated with the hobby,” says Webster. “Living in Denver, where brewing is much more prevalent in the community and readily available, I just started brewing.”
Through years of trial and error, Webster honed his skills and developed a knack for combining interesting flavor profiles and brewing great craft beer. After making a living in the mortgage trade, Webster decided to follow his passion and began brewing small batches of beer for TBC’s neighbor, the Corner Café and Brewery. Using a small 35-gallon unit, Webster began brewing at the Corner Café in 2008, testing his mettle and developing four mainstay brews that transferred to the new digs. Julio’s Weizen, The Kaiser—now Der Chancellor (a medium hop Kölsch brew, and bronze medal winner of the 2007 National Homebrew Competition for Light Hybrid Beer), Gnarley Barley (classic pale ale made with American hops) and Terminally Ale (an American brown ale that is dark and malty with a brooding, lasting flavor) all made the trek from Corner Café. Webster added The Big Hitter (a changing lineup of beers that are bold and strong), as well as the rotating tap of experimental and seasonal brews in The Latest Batch that changes often, so being a regular is rewarded time and time again. There are also four rotating guest taps that range from fellow Florida brewing brethren to craft beers from across the nation.
Visiting the bar is an experience in itself. On any given night, Webster can either be found slinging freshly poured draughts from the taproom, enjoying a brew and game at the bar, or working the fermenters, making the latest batch of beer. Brewing two to three times a week, depending on space, the back of the bar is designated for brewing, and lounging. Five fermenting tanks (four 465-gallon/15 barrels; one 930-gallon/30 barrel) are flanked by a lounge of plush sofas and chairs, giving the place a living room vibe—with a brewery as a conversation piece. The stainless steel tanks are accented by blue and violet LED lights that run the length of the establishment, tying the modern industrial feel of the tanks in with the rustic bar, circa 1915, that runs nearly a third of the length of the taproom, giving folks ample room to either stomach up for a beer or simply lounge.
“I wanted to open a place where anyone from 21 to 81 can come enjoy a beer and still feel at home,” says Webster. “A place that I would want to hang out with my friends and stay for more than one pint.”
The vibe at TBC is just that, laid back and unpretentious, though Webster and staff know their beer. Of the ten taps, six are brewed on site with careful attention paid to each. The Latest Batch and Big Hitter change as often as demand dictates, with new beers always ready to go in the tanks. The Julios Weizen on tap now has a distinct banana flavor, while the Latest Batch is an English Bitter, and the Big Hitter is a Milk Stout, creamy and dark.
Though TBC is only seven months old, it is already experiencing growing pains, with plans of adding to the brewery to accommodate demand. “We are approaching capacity pretty quickly,” says Webster, who is patiently awaiting another 1,000-gallon/30 barrel fermenter, and two additional 150-gallon/5 barrel fermenters for “some smaller funky batches” this November. On those funky new recipes: “there are all different kinds of crazy ideas floating around in this head.”
Demand for TBC’s brews reaches beyond the taproom, supplying barrels for restaurants and bars (up to 80 a week) across the state. And for those looking to take home some beer, TBC does offer growlers (quart and gallon) of any of the TBC brewed beers. The glass growlers are refillable so customers can bring them in time after time, and enjoy a little bit of TBC from the comfort of home.
Always coming up with something new, TBC’s first specialty bottle release, Hop Scotch Ale will make its triumphant debut Wednesday, August 24. The wee heavy (homage to the shilling tax on Scottish ales) is a cross between a “Scotch wheat heavy with the nose of a hoppy American ale.” Webster aged the beer in heavily toasted oak barrels, giving the dark beer (9% abv) another nuance of flavor rarely seen. “I have never seen a beer done like this before,” says Webster, who plans to brew specialty bottle releases every two to four months with varying styles based on season.
The Hop Scotch Ale release party will kick off Wednesday, August 24, with happy hour starting at 3 p.m. and running till close. The Hop Scotch Ale 12oz. longnecks will be on sale, starting at 6 p.m., for $6 apiece, limit four per person. A bagpiper will be on hand to celebrate the Scottish tradition, and anyone wearing a kilt gets the first pint free.
For those new to TBC, try a tasting flight: six four-ounce beers, delivered on a map of what you’re tasting.
In the tanks now: a Bohemian pilsner, a rye double bock and a dunkel Weiss (a dark wheat beer).
287 S. US Highway 1
Tequesta, FL 33469
Tuesday-Sunday: 12-11 p.m.