Red Pig Brewery, to be precise. Red Pig Brewery officially opened on March 2, 2019, and I was there. I had been looking for a new local hangout when I heard about this new craft brewery opening just two miles from my place, in Holly Hill, Florida. I knew I had to visit for the grand opening.
I arrived at noon just as they opened. Inside, the brewery is long and narrow with windows lining the length of the long stone walls. The bar itself is made of three large pieces of reclaimed cypress wood. The kettles and fermenting tanks line the far end of the back wall. Opening day was sunny and warm so we could take advantage of the courtyard. They had a food truck parked out front.
I sampled several of the beers and eventually ordered three. I started with the Over Budget pale ale which I enjoyed despite it not being one of my favorite styles. I also ordered the Old Florida porter, one of my favorite beers to this day; this beer is a regular on the taplist. My favorite beer that day was the Mile 417 German Pilsner (not to be confused with the normal Czech Pilsner).
Robert “Red” Carson is the brewer and co-owner with his wife Angie. Red is a fan of Mikkeller, a brewery from Denmark, as evident from the five posters hanging in the brewery. His favored styles are Belgian lambics, sours, New England IPAs, and wild ales. All of his beers are unfiltered and vegan.
The name Red Pig Brewery comes from the name of his grandfather’s barbecue restaurant in the 1930s on Main Street, Daytona Beach, called Red Pig. Note that the “Red Pig” in the logo is an ambigram, reading the same upside down. I recommend buying a glass or two as they have chosen special (metric) glasses to enhance their beer styles. This makes their pours odd sizes: the “pint” is 16.9 oz. (50 cl) and the stemmed glass is 11.6 oz. (33 cl). It gives the brewery a quirky, European flavor.
After a fun opening day and several delicious beers, I knew I would be back—probably often.
I did start going regularly. For the last three Saturdays that March, my old favorite food truck, Vitamina T, was serving authentic Mexican food. I have gotten to know the owner, his daughter, and their dog King over the years at various local breweries. I’ve enjoyed their huevos racheros, burritos, and tacos.
Throughout the Spring and Summer I continued to frequent the brewery. Many times I brought a book or my computer and worked at the end of the bar or at one of the outside tables.
In June, the brewery purchased a slushie machine. I don’t often drink them, but they are very popular. A good alternative to beer, for those who prefer frozen drinks.
After being trapped inside for several days during Hurricane Dorian in September, I was glad to see The Pig reopen as usual on Wednesday afternoon after the storm passed earlier that morning. They didn’t have any damage.
Like most craft breweries, Red Pig offers live music and an occasional comedy night. However, one Sunday in October the brewery hosted a local writer for a reading. Author Rhonda Browning White read from her new book The Lightness of Water & Other Stories. Her Southern accent and voice changes really brought the characters to life. I purchased a hardcover copy which she was happy to sign.
You never know what will happen from one visit to the next. In November, Red and Angie messaged me that another local brewer had told them the story of a librarian who used to order a “beer suicide” which is a pint of beer filled with a combination of all of the beers on tap. They realized it was me. So the next time I stopped in Red Pig, I ordered one. Like before, everyone thought I was crazy but I explained that the end result can often be surprisingly good. So they poured me one and I then poured samples for others. Most were surprised that it was “not bad” so that became its name. I don’t think Red approves.
One night in December a new couple came to the brewery, the woman carrying an old Polaroid camera. It was such a novelty that people began gathering and chatting and snapping photos for souvenirs. I like this one taken by the excellent bartender Steno. Fortunately I took a digital photo of it because I left it on the bar and never got it back. We had so much fun that we all got invited to their Christmas party / surprise wedding (although I couldn’t go).
For Christmas they placed a large tree inside the brewery. A few of us regulars strung the lights and added ornaments. I don’t like normal Christmas trees, but this one was different. I thought they should have kept it there permanently, but I suppose they needed the space. It was about this time that another regular donated a record player, speakers, and a stack of vinyl records. So during slower times, we get to choose the music and listen to real records. Earlier in December they removed the ceiling tiles which opened the space up and exposed the wooden beams making the room feel a bit bigger and less office-like.
Enter 2020. They weren’t open on New Year’s Eve, but I went in a few days later. The large windows give a clear view of the parking lot and on this night I noticed my car surrounded by two large trucks. So I walked outside to take this photo. It reminded me of the early days of parking my MINI Cooper somewhere only to find it later surrounded by much larger vehicles.
On Super Bowl Sunday, I knew most bars would be crowded. But Red Pig Brewery doesn’t have a TV so I guessed it would not be too busy. I thought that surely there would be a few others who weren’t interested in the game and would be at the Pig. But I had the place to myself for a few hours, hanging out with Brent, Red, and Angie.
Lately I have been regularly visiting on “Wild Ale Wednesday” when they crack open a different, sometimes expensive, bottle of wild-fermented ale. The night has slowly evolved into a beer exchange and tasting night with other regulars bringing in their latest acquisitions from out-of-town breweries. While I don’t often drink sours, I do enjoy a wild ale with its funky taste, usually produced by fermenting with a strain of brettanomyces. Wednesday is becoming my favorite night of the week.
In February Red Pig approached their one-year anniversary and threw a big party on Saturday, February 29 (due to their actual anniversary date falling on a Monday, a day they are closed). Just like opening day, this was a party I didn’t want to miss.
After attending another beer-related event in the afternoon, I arrived around 5:30 pm. The evening was sunny and cool and the brewery and courtyard were crowded. I found my friends and we enjoyed several beers in the courtyard. All of the regulars were there and I also met several new people. When I saw the group gathering for a photo, I ran to join. Later I wondered if it was a specific group photo and I crashed it, but was reassured that they were happy to include me. Strangely, it’s the only photo I have of the event because I did not take any photos myself. I just enjoyed the day instead. Thanks to Tim for posting it on his Facebook page.
I don’t go out that often, but when I feel like getting out of my loft, Red Pig Brewery is where I go. Red, Angie, Steno, and Brent have become friends. I usually go there alone but I always see the regulars, some of whom have become new friends, as well. I meet someone new every week. It’s my second home. I’m truly happy for Red and Angie who are doing what they love and who have created a friendly and fun place where people can meet up, relax, talk to each other, and enjoy delicious beer. I hope Red Pig Brewery has many years of success.