I’m on the hunt for the perfect beer. I often expect that it will taste a bit like vegetable barley stew.
Maybe Lemon Street Brewing will make it.
I recently attended the first Yelp Elite event of 2020 which took place right here in Jacksonville at 2100 Dennis Street.
Lemon Street Beer and Food Pairing Elite Experience
Timidly, I walked into the crowded warehouse bar about 15 minutes past 6:30, when the event started. The room was bustling and echoeing with all the Yelp social ferver excited attendees could muster.
Did I make the Elite list?
I adjusted my Nikon camera strap to make it more comfortable. I brought the camera with me as part security blanket (if my introvert side showed up) and part Elite fodder, hoping to make the list as a 2020 Elite member by having some excellent pictures. I want to take this year by storm and January 6 was going to be the day it would all start.
I began by snapping a pic of the yelp chalkboard outside.
Then I searched for my name tag. It wasn’t there! So, I quickly improvised and grabbed a marker to draw my own. Genius! I was ready to go. I looked for Carly. She was distracted, as the place was full and the music was blasting. But I wanted that 2020 status so I knew I needed credit for this event. I marched up to her and proudly showed my QR code. She scanned it and told me a beer tour would start soon. (The perfect activity for my shy beginning to the night!).
Leave the Stout, Opt for Something Lighter
I decided I should start all the fun with a beer. I scanned the place for a menu. I saw a bunch of offerings. Oooo, a stout! I sometimes love me a good oatmeal stout like Brenckenridge’s, but that’s a heavy beer to start with. Plus if I didn’t like it then I would be consuming a lot of unnecessary calories. But it might be good! So I asked the friendly bartenter, a brunette with curly hair, for a sample. She kindly obliged, which was very sweet considering the chaos of thirsty yelpers that were packed around the bar.
The women next to me grimaced saying I had the right idea as she was stuck with a full stout she didn’t love. Curly bartender brought me a sample, and it was DELICOUS. But also, very strong. I should ease into the night with a lighter drink. I got an IPA and snapped a pic with my phone. I got a notification my iphone 5s was at 10%. This was a travesty! A Yelp nightmare! Good thing I brought the Nikon. It might be my saving grace.
Hoppy Real Estate
So I joined the tour and we shuffled into the backroom to look at the factory like display of working brewing equipment. Carlos gave us a great tour with lots of informative explanation about Lemon Streets goals and priorities as well as the brewing process. He told us how the brewery is committed to making a lager that tastes great and not just doing wild craft beers. He told us about the brewmasters there who work hard to get the chemistry process just right. He mentioned the water filtration being a key to good beer. It took me back to my barista days when the triple filtered water was part of our everyday coffee brag. Yes, yes, this is the business of good beverages and I love it!
I asked him if they would make an oatmeal stout. I think he said there were oats in the stout they currently have. He mentioned that that keep some beers for longer than 2 weeks and pointed out the importance of beer tank real estate. Space is important! So is selling the beer they make!
I’m Elite! I’m Elite!
I got a little distracted during the tour. I tried to make some small talk by asking a bystander if they knew when the 2020 Elite members would be announced. He said it was announced this morning! I was psyched and quickly pulled up to my app to see if I made the cut. Oh, I hope my phone wouldn’t die before I found out! Then, I saw the magical words. ELITE FOUR YEARS! I’d made it. Last year should hardly count because I wasn’t official until nearly August, but yes, this year I would have a full year of fun actitivities! I WAS IN! Then I spotted Alicia, my elite friend from last year, and we caught up while trying not to disturb the ongoing tour too much. She introduced me to her friend and my introverted fears were allayed. Plus the beer was kicking in.
We returned to the main room and were directed to grab a table because the night’s presentations were about to start!
Excellent Live Music as Well!
The live musician paused for a bit and Carly took the stage.
The brewmaster talked about how we would first sample Expirement 626, a pale ale with a bunch of hops thrown on top. It was bright and drinkable. I enjoyed it. The thing was, I was starting to miss that stouty taste of the first beer I tried. I thought about ordering another beer. But before I knew it, it was time for nachos from TheMitt. I got some queso, guac, and super spicy salsa. It was all yummy. I wanted more! And I decided to get some more beer.
You Have To PAY For The Beer, Here?
The curly bartender got me the glass I ordered and asked if I wanted to start a tab.
Awkward moment here.
I had missed the beginning intro where they explain the drink policy. I told the bartender, no, I didn’t want to start a tab. (Why would I want to pay?!). And she proceed to explain that the first beer was free and after that, it costs. This information would have been helpful before ordering. We had plenty of samples ahead and I truly didn’t need that much beer. I had to drive home! It was a Monday night. (I was missing the Bachelor premiere for this event!).
Then, I remembered I forgot to bring cash for tipping (a yelp event must!) so this was the perfect opportunity for me to pay and add on some gratitude dollars. So, I said sure and paid for my beer. After all, it was really delicious and the bar was hosting this delightful event.
Appetite of Lions
I returned to my table, and the night quickly progressed. Next thing I knew I was in line to sample tacos and Lion King’s intro was playing in the background with a loud NAHHHHSAVVVENNHYAAAAAHHH. Alicia was feeling the music. I was in my happy place. (Maybe I would enjoy every drop of the stout I’d purchased).
Armed with Mexican food and napkins, we returned to our table to play some trivia. In our rush to socialize, eat, snap pics and drink, we forgot to give our team a name. Now that I think about it, IPA LOT woulda been a good one. Oh well, next time. We weren’t winning anyway. Who knew that the baptized babies in beer one time? Who knew that George Washington had a brewery in Mount Vernon! I was learning with every sip!
Some yelpers celebrated a jovial birthday. We learned more about the Mitt. The Lemon Street offering. I wanted to try the beer samples, so I finally had to abandon my stout in favor of safely driving home. Luckily, Alicia helped me by refilling one of her sample glasses with part of the stout. (Now that’s beer you can chew on!).
Let them Eat Cake
With all the beer carbonation and sips sinking in, our bellies started growling and we eyed the taco station. We started discussing how hopeful we were that our fellow yelpers would share the alluring chocolate covered birthday cake sitting at the table across from us. I took a few minutes to talk to Carlos about how much I was enjoying the craft beers. I asked how he planned to compete with Jax brewers. He said he didn’t plan to, but that it was a community he was excited to participate in. What a good spirit! He said he likes Aadwolf’s offerings. I said I liked the location but wasn’t nuts about sours. I recommended he try bottle nose and have the Lemon Street beers on tap at Kickbacks. It was a beery fun talk.
Then the moment finally came – Birthday cake! And I got a yummy vanilla slice. What a perfect was to finish this tasting! The Yelp crew gathered in the grassy area to take a picture in front of the butterfly art. Multiple silly poses ensued.
Always Drive Safe
Before leaving, my extrovert side showed up and I finally officially introducted myself to Carly, the new YELP Elite Community Manager. She was from Upstate New York! A New Yorker! So exciting. She told my her husband brought her to Florida and she bought a one way ticket to love forever with him. It was very sweet. I look forward to talking to her more. She asked if I was a photographer. I told her just as a hobby and it was my attempt to become Elite. She laughed.
I said, call me in a pinch and I can take amatuer level pics for an event if she needs. Well, I think that was enough excitement for one night, so I gathered my things, said farewell to the beer I wouldn’t finish and responsibly drove home from a truly epic night.
I can’t wait to go back!