USA, FL: St. Michael's Brewing Company becomes Navarres third microbrewery
Navarre welcomed its third microbrewery in October as the craft beer brewery scene in Northwest Florida continues to thrive, the Pensacola News Journal reported on October 20.
What has manifested into St. Michael's Brewing Company on State Road 87 began as a hobby for veteran Michael Bares, who retired from the U.S. Air Force out of Hurlburt Field in 2010.
Bares got into home brewing soon after retiring, and serious aspirations to open his own brewery set in a handful of years later.
"To see if it would be a viable business, and viable here in Navarre, we started showing up at brew festivals in 2016," Bares said on October 19, referring to himself and his wife, Paula. "We put some feelers out to see if there was any interest and sure enough, there were a lot of people from Navarre that were going to these festivals. They seemed to be really excited, so it was some good market research for us."
Aside from being a play on his own first name, the brewery is named after St. Michael, the patron saint for law enforcement and military. Those characteristics are reflected in Bares' beer menu, as each of his beer names are a nod to military, police and first responders.
Bares said he spent considerable time in England and Germany while in the Air Force, and his brewing style has a heavy European influence.
"We have a Trooper brown ale, which is English style, and a Longtabber dry stout, which is Irish," Bares said. "We have two others on tap that are more of an American-style beer, but in the works right now is a red ale, which will be an Irish-style beer. And then we're going to start working on German-style beers because a lot of people like hefeweizens or goses."
Bares had his brewery built from scratch after purchasing the property it sits on in 2017.
The 1,000-square-foot taproom seats about 45 people, between the bar and a few large tables. An additional four tables sit behind the building in the St. Michael's beer garden, which is family and dog-friendly, and includes large containers full of games.
Bares brews his beer on site, and the brewing tanks are easily visible through a window on a door that leads to the back of the house.
"That's part of the brewery experience as well, is for patrons to come in and be able to see the equipment," Bares said. "Our beer garden is in the back, and when we're open, sometimes we'll roll up the overhead door so patrons can see what's going on while we're brewing beer. That's a big part of the brewery experience to me."
Bares said he knows there's a desire in Navarre for more quality craft beer and another dedicated tap room. Pensacola now has more than 10 breweries that are either operating or are registered in the city, and Bares said he would be thrilled to see that trend continue to flow east.
"The brewery community is very close-knit," Bares said. "We're good friends with the owners up at Ye Olde Brothers, we're good friends with a lot of the brewery owners in Pensacola, as well. So this is something that we know is going to grow in Navarre, as well. Navarre's a large community, and I would fully support more breweries here and the reason why is, different brewers bring different styles to the table.
The brewery acquired a food license before opening as a preemptive COVID-19-related operational workaround, and Bares said in the future, his brewery will serve a small menu featuring such items as bratwursts and hot pretzels.
St. Michael's also partners with food trucks on weekends.
Located at 2199 State Road 87, the tap room is open from 2 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, 3 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. St. Michael's is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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