This is a story about Jeff & Cathy Douglas, their eldest son Scott and their love of craft beer.
Jeff grew up in Michigan just around the corner from Dark Horse Brewing and Bell’s Brewery. He fell in love with beer while stationed in Germany in the Army. He brewed his first batch of Hefeweizen in 2006 and became hooked. Cathy is from the great State of Kentucky, home of Bourbon and Thoroughbreds and also ex-Army (she outranked Jeff then and still does today). They met in the early 90s while attending college in Lexington, KY and married soon after. During college they bartended, waited tables and worked in the kitchen at Logan’s Roadhouse, Applebee’s and Macaroni Grill. They moved to Sarasota in 1996.
Jeff is a software nerd by trade and has owned a number of successful technology ventures. Cathy is a retired dental hygienist turned special needs, medical foster parent. They have been actively involved in the community as foster and adoptive parents since 1999. They have fostered 97 children and adopted 3 with special needs. Cathy was President of the Sarasota County Foster / Adoptive Parent Association for 5 years when their association was recognized as the “Best Foster Parent Association” in the state of Florida in 2011. Besides Scott, they have 2 other biological children, both of which are in the Army. Brittany, the youngest, is a Patriot Launching Operator stationed in the Middle East while Tyler is a Arabic speaking, Special Operations Staff Sergeant stationed “somewhere”.
Scott joined the Navy after graduating from Sarasota High and a couple of years at college in Tampa and Gainesville. Scott served in the Navy as an Avionics Technician in Lemoore, CA. After completing his service, he returned to Florida with his girlfriend, Sara, in tow and took a job as a Packaging Machinery Fabricator, manufacturing canning and bottling equipment. While visiting a home brew tent at a local beer fest, he tasted the best beer he’d ever had and thought “Could I make beer this good?” Turns out he could! Soon after, he fell in love with home brewing and was making beer every chance he got. After visiting local breweries like Cigar City, Coppertail, and Big Top, he realized he could make his passion a career. Scott loves to brew (and drink!) IPA’s with tons of hop aroma and flavor, but also enjoys everything from wheat beers to stouts. He also loves to brew beer that new-comers to the craft beer community will enjoy. He looks forward to being able to share his beer with the community in a welcoming atmosphere.
Nationwide Family Road Trip / Brewery Tour
In June 2014, Jeff & Cathy bought an RV, rented their house out for 2 years and started traveling the country. Why? Because it would be awesome! The goal was to hit 49 states on their Ginormous RV Palooza. Jeff worked as usual while Cathy homeschooled the girls and tried to squeeze in as much adventure as she could.
The road trip quickly turned into a nationwide brewery tour and they hit 126 breweries, including every brewery in Alaska, by the end of the trip. They’d always wanted to start a small restaurant and bar and now this dream had changed to become a craft brewery and restaurant. As they crossed the country they gathered ideas of what they wanted their brewpub to be. They gravitated towards West Coast breweries like Lagunitas, Hopworks Urban Brewery and Deschutes that welcomed people of all ages with all types of beer drinkers in a relaxing community style environment. They also stole ideas from the inviting, family and dog friendly breweries in Michigan, Kentucky and Asheville, NC. Craft beer was exploding in Florida and they made plans to start a brewpub as soon as their trip was complete.
Future plans changed drastically as they were heading home for the holidays late last year. While in northern Michigan, Scott called and said he had been interviewing with breweries across the country. Realizing that the timing might never be better, Cathy & Jeff decided to cut their trip short and open their brewpub early. From traveling the US, they knew they wanted to do things differently. Instead of building a brewery for state and regional distribution with a small taproom serviced by food trucks, they wanted to do the exact opposite. They envisioned a constantly rotating and evolving selection of fresh, small batch beers that was only available onsite coupled with a menu of wholesome and interesting appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers. No fried foods! Great food is a natural compliment to amazing beer so why limit your meal selection to the one type of food truck parked at your brewery that day? After 7 months they finally found the perfect location.