Published March 23, 2021 in The Suncoast Post
The Recent Evolution of Darwin Brewing Company in Bradenton, Florida
Born in 2012 out of a Latin American gastropub, Darwin’s on 4th was well known throughout the Florida culinary world. We began brewing culinary-inspired beers on a modest brewing system to pair with the brewpub’s cuisine. In 2013, we expanded operations to a fifteen-barrel production facility, taproom, and beer garden and Darwin Brewing Company quickly became a staple in the burgeoning Florida craft beer landscape.
Over the last four to five years the craft beer scene in Florida has exploded. With that explosion comes new breweries, new beers, and a market that demands you to evolve or get lost in the shuffle. In December of 2019 Darwin Brewing Company embarked on an evolution to reinvigorate the brand back into the market. The first step in the process was hiring a new Brewmaster, Blue Hellenga to upgrade the brewery and fine-tune the production process. Blue came to Darwin Brewing Company from Eugene, Oregon where he was a brewer at Steelhead Brewery (Aka McKenzie Brewing) in the heart of downtown Eugene. There he was tasked with building and running their production facility that was a few blocks West of the Brew pub.
Upon arriving at Darwin Brewing, Blue hit the ground running by installing a dual carbon water filtration system that takes out all of the salts, sulfides, chlorine, and other impurities then doses the water with softening salts prior to being used for brewing. A date code printer was added to the canning line, allowing consumers to know when the beer was packaged and to ensure the freshest product is going out to market. He started sourcing ingredients from very sought-after regions which has helped differentiate the beer in different ways. Such as yeast from Portland, Oregon, hops from the Pacific Northwest, plus fruits, spices, and even hops from closer to home here in Florida. With these great ingredients, the choice was made to stop filtering the beer “I like showcasing the profile of the product with a little more haze or cloudy look than other styles you see out there” Blue said.
Darwin no longer uses food coloring in their beer and a great example of this is their Cyan Pineapple Sour which is brewed with spirulina to give the beer a unique color that has generated a bunch of buzz amongst consumers. It has taken a little over a year to make these changes and now that the brewery and production are dialed in the Darwin team has been able to experiment with all the different ingredients to create some unique beer offerings and for the first time create a seasonal beer rotation that was kicked off on March 11 with their Spring Seasonal called Manasota Gose. This beer uses copious amounts of organically grown Roselle and Lemongrass sourced from Gamble Creek Farm in Florida giving it a unique Hibiscus/Cranberry flavor as well as a bright red color with a light Lemon/lime flavor and aroma.
Darwin invites you to check out the evolution yourself by having a pint with them at their taproom or picking up one of their great beers at your local store.