Gainesville's craft beer options improve with First Magnitude, Swamp Head in cans

New brewer about to open as Swamp Head offers cans in groceries

First Magnitude Brewing Co. Assistant Brewer Eric Dreyer speaks with owner Meg The Losen in the brew room on Wednesday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.

Whether enjoying a can at a tailgating party or sipping a pint at a bar while watching the game on TV, two Gainesville breweries are on their way to satisfying the city's thirst for craft beer just in time for football season.

A new brewery is set to open this weekend, while Gainesville's existing brewery now offers its beer in grocery stores.

First Magnitude Brewing Company will open this weekend at 1220 SE Veitch St., near the new city bus facility off Main Street.

Meg The Losen; her husband, Wells The Losen; and friends John and Christine Denny were inspired by the success of Swamp Head Brewery, she said.

"We feel like Gainesville has great potential to support more than one brewery," she said.

First Magnitude will offer three year-round beers and four seasonal beers, including dark ale, American pale ale and dry stouts, The Losen said.

At first, it will be a keg-only business, supplying beer to local establishments such as The Top, Stubbies and Steins, and Satchel's Pizza.

The four owners have been planning the business for over two years and in March purchased a 21,000-square-foot warehouse to be used as the brewery.

The opening event will be from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday with a tasting room open to the public. By mid-September, the four owners say they hope to have their beers available in bars and restaurants throughout town.

Swamp Head has several varieties of beer that are sold at restaurants and bars throughout Gainesville. Starting this week, one of those beers can be found in cans at grocery stores.

Stump Knocker, the company's pale ale, is currently the only variety available. The 13 Publix locations in the city were the first recipients, Swamp Head owner Luke Kemper said.

The brewery said it hopes to eventually have all five of its core brands available in stores, but it probably won't happen until after Swamp Head moves to its new location later this year, he said.

Swamp Head's current location, at 3140 SW 42nd Way, is scheduled to be demolished to make room for a new bridge over Interstate 75 as part of the Celebration Pointe development.

If it weren't for the planned destruction, Kemper would have tried to continue to use the current location, even though the business probably needed to expand anyway, he said.

"It kind of put our feet to the fire," he said. "We were outgrowing this, and we needed to move."

Construction of the new brewery at 3650 SW 42nd Ave. is underway. The dirt for the foundation is currently being laid.

The bigger, 13,500 square-foot facility almost triples the brewing capacity of the company, allowing it to produce about 18,000 barrels per year, up from about 6,500, Kemper said.

It also features a larger parking lot, as well as an outdoor beer garden with a scenic view, he said.

Construction should be finished around the end of the year. Swamp Head will start moving in equipment around the end of November for test batches, with the facility being up and running some time in December, Kemper said.

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