While the craft beer renaissance has found a seeming insatiable thirst in South Florida, with microbreweries in operation throughout Palm Beach County, the town of Jupiter was left wanting. Until now.
Opening in late 2015, Civil Society Brewing Company has embraced the community-centric vibe of Abacoa’s Town Center, developing into true neighborhood watering holes. “We live in Jupiter,” said Karl Volstad, co-owner/founder and brewermaster. “We always thought this would be a cool place for a brewery, always envisioned it.” After a lengthy build out and the tricky navigation of the local, state, and federal regulation and zoning procedures, Civil Society opened its doors on November 20, 2015, ushering in a new era for Abacoa.
With Roger Dean Stadium at its hub, and the host of the monthly Abacoa food truck rally, car shows, and community festivals, Town Center took on an event-driven identity. Compounded with its close proximity to Downtown at the Gardens, Midtown, Legacy Place (the list goes on), the retail hub struggled to find footing. But things have changed. The once vacant storefronts have sprung to life with a myriad of small businesses hanging out their shingle. Fashion boutiques, barbershops and salons, a bakery, even a coffee roaster has set up shop. The brewery, in just four short months of operation, has become an anchor destination, drawing a crowd of dedicated hopheads onto itself.
“Everyone has been super awesome,” said Volstad from the brewery floor. “There are a whole bunch of new businesses opening up and we feel like we are all in this together; everyone is working together to make this place succeed.” This sense of togetherness is taken one step further at the family-run Civil Society. Karl, the head brewmaster, opened Civil Society with his childhood friend, Evan Miller, the brewery’s head of operations; and cousin Chris Volstad, former Marlins pitcher who is currently in the Atlanta Braves system. Karl’s brother Kaleb is the taproom manager, who, along with Miller, pitches in with the brewing as well.
Subject Two, part of the brewery’s Subject Series, is a super hoppy, little bit turbid American Pale Ale using Simcoe, Equinox, and Topaz hops.
Currently on tap, Civil Society has taken its mainstay porter, Fade Away, and aged it with maple syrup and coffee for Faded Black, a 7.1 ABV doozy full of flavor.
Photos courtesy of Civil Society
As with most breweries, things started as a hobby that just sort of boiled over. Civil Society’s first brews started in Volstad’s home some eight or nine years ago. As things progressed and recipes honed, Karl and Evan started thinking bigger. “About three years ago we were like, lets see what we need to do to open a brewery.”
With the help of North County brewing pioneers Matt Webster and Fran Andrewlevich, the minds behind Tequesta Brewing Company and Twisted Trunk, Civil Society began to take shape. “Fran and Matt kind of paved the way for the craft beer scene down here,” says Volstad, pointing to their experience and expertise as part of Civil Society’s early success. “[They] have been invaluable; its pretty awesome, the camaraderie with everybody, and the fact that they are willing to help us.”
Located at the intersection of Town Center Drive and Edna Hibel Way, the brewery has a corner spot that’s all glass and openness. On brewing days, the faint, sweet aroma of malt carries in the air—for a craft beer fan, there is not a better scent. The space itself is partitioned, with an exposed cinder-block wall acting as the border separating the taproom and its lengthy L-shaped bar from the brewing corral. Giving off an industrial chic vibe, crystal chandeliers offer light to a scattering of high-tops and lounge area, while street-style murals by prolific local artist Eduardo “Eddie” Mendieta tie the brewery and taproom together. With a waist-high half wall separating the brewery from the space’s common area, the brewery has a collective atmosphere that makes guests feel like they are part of the brewing process as Volstad and crew brew up the next batch of beer.
Opening with a 1,000-barrel annual capacity, the brewery doubled its volume in January—after just two months of operation. Now equipped with three 15-, one 30-, and two seven-barrel fermenters, the brewery stands at a 2,000-barrel annual capacity. The varied tank sizes don’t just allow for brewing at scale, but also allows for an opportunity to experiment. “The seven barrels gives us the flexibility to kind of goof around, while the 15s and 30 allow us to goof around because we are not taking up all that space with something else.”
The brewery’s chalk menu board broadcasts what’s currently on tap. Hopheads at heart, the board includes the hops used to make each beer.
Photo courtesy of Civil Society
With a nose for hops, the brews at Civil Society take on a bit of a bite, with a hop-forward profile on many of he beers. “Obviously we’re hopheads; we love IPAs, that’s why 60 to 70 percent of our board is something really hoppy,” he says. But the guys have found balance in their recipes—hoppy doesn’t always mean super bitter, and their portfolio proves it. Blondes Make Me Hoppy, a refreshing blonde ale made with Mosaic hops, weighs in at just 4.9 ABV and has a light hoppy pine that merges perfectly with the grapefruit/citrus undertone, while Emerald Showers, an IPA made with a combination of Australian hops (Topaz, Ella, and Vic Secret) makes for an interesting flavor profile—the floral/fruity notes of the hops help balance the IPA’s resiny bitterness. When asked what his favorite hops to use are, Volstad is indiscriminate: “Honestly, we just like hops—they’re allover the board with flavors and profiles; its cool to mix them together.”
Which is a good thing. The tap tree currently features 14 branches, which Volstad aims to keep occupied with at least 10 in-house beers. Mainstays like Blondes, Fresh, J-Town Brown, and Southern Exposure are supplemented with specialty runs like the Subject Series—a collection of one-time-only runs from the seven-barrel; and a special double IPA, Seeing Green, that’s currently flowing from the taps, to name a few. Rounding out the offerings are a few guest taps with beers from TBC, Twisted Trunk, and Copperpoint frequently making an appearance.
Civil Society’s early successes stem from the outfit’s dedication to quality. Concentrating on the brewery and taproom first, the Civil Society recently signed a short-term distribution deal with a small outfit based in Miami, which is bringing Civil Society suds to very targeted locations—mainly at other breweries like M.I.A. Brewing and Funky Buddha, and now Coolinary Café, the only other Palm Beach County locale to serve their beer. They’re starting small, ensuring things are right at home before branching out. But fear not, if you’re looking for some beer to go, Civil Society will can a 32-ouncer in no time flat. Called a “crowler,” the outfit forwent the standard glass growler seen at most breweries for the convenience of a can. “I think the crowler fits the Florida lifestyle a little better,” said Volstad. “Going to the pool, the beach, on a boat, you don’t want to have glasswear. But it’s really easy to pop a can and toss the crowler when you’re done.”
It’s these little things, a dedication to their craft, and some pretty remarkable beer that’s making Civil Society a North County standout.