Cooking With Intuition – Beer, That Is
An intimate look at the craft beer and culinary scene in Northern Florida
By Robin Jay
Quick! Name the largest city in the United States – and the style of cuisine for which it’s best known. Bet you’d never guess the answer is Jacksonville, Florida. If you’re scratching your head wondering what kind of fare they serve in the historic First Coast City – don’t worry, you’re not alone. But that perception is changing, thanks in large part to the fabulously clever motley crew at Intuition Ale Works – the craft brewery founded in Jacksonville in 2010 by native Ben Davis.
“The only thing that runs deeper than my family roots in Jacksonville is my love of beer, particularly drinking it,” said Ben, who bought a coffee shop in 1999 and turned it into a wine and tapas bar. Although the business was a success, selling other vendors’ wares didn’t contribute to Ben’s bucket list, so he ventured to Sonoma and then New Zealand to do a little wine crushing of his own. In 2007, Ben felt his hometown calling and returned to Jacksonville, where he studied the business of brewing beer, earned his brewer’s certification and spent two years in his garage dabbling to make the perfect recipe. “I guess you could say I was guided by a sixth sense – an ‘Intuition.’ The years I spent in winemaking refined my palate and helped me establish incredibly high standards for making small batch craft beer.”
Today, Intuition Ale Works is located at 720 King Street in Jacksonville. It was the first brewery in Florida to can its own ale, and Ben is proud to offer guests a variety of 20 beers on tap. He’s also proud to rally local chefs and residents through another cornerstone of his business: community involvement. It’s a passion he shares with his general manager, Cari Sanchez-Potter.
“Jacksonville is still in the process of defining its culture. When it comes to food, we don’t have an immediately identifiable unique cuisine or signature dish, so it’s difficult to package up our culinary culture and market it outside of Northeast Florida. The good news is we have talented chefs and brewers who are shaping a culinary identity for our city,” explained Sanchez-Potter, who studied at Boston College, taught English in Japan, backpacked in South America, moved to Australia to study gastronomy, and then following her husband who landed a job in Jacksonville. She applied to Ben’s job offer on Craig’s List and has been on the ground floor of Intuition Ale Work’s success ever since. “In just four short years, we have gone from having one craft brewery in the city to now having 10, and to being a destination for craft beer lovers across the state. Our food truck scene has exploded. We have many chefs and artisans who prioritize using local ingredients – including our beer – in their recipes and products. We are on our way to being recognized across the Southeast as a culinary destination in our own right.
“The brewery frequently hosts food trucks for special events and potlucks with our regular patrons. We also partner with local chefs on a number of beer dinners, food festivals and other events that highlight our culinary scene. Our cookbook – Cooking with Intuition – is a compilation of recipes from these chefs, food truck owners and home cooks, and it celebrates the intersection of Northeast Florida’s food and craft beer cultures.” The award-winning cookbook benefits Second Harvest North Florida, which provides 350,000 meals to needy members of the community.
“We like to align ourselves with meaningful causes that define our vision for the future of our city,” Sanchez-Potter said. “The cookbook is a good example of our approach to community engagement and our hope that folks begin to stand up and take notice that Jacksonville is on the verge of becoming a culinary and cultural force in the Southeast.”
For a taste of Jacksonville in your own kitchen, please try your hand at making the I-10 Pretzel recipe that follows by Adam Burnett of Bold Bean Coffee Roasters. To order a copy of Cooking with Intuition, go to www.intuitioncookbook.com.
To get the I-10 Preztel Recipe go to page 49 of our Fall 2014 Issue.