jdubs insideFlorida has a lot of events going on every weekend and it’s impossible to in two places at once. Fortunately Matt Rafferty of Sarasota 365 offered to lend a hand and prepare a guest post on his visit to the JDubs All Star Food Truck Festival last weekend at the brewery.

Sarasota has been hosting spring training baseball nearly every year since 1924. That history includes the New York Giants, Indianapolis Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds & Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles had split a spring training with the White Sox in 1991 and must have enjoyed that year enough to make Sarasota their long term home as they recently signed a 30 year agreement to stay in Sarasota.

In all those years, not a single team that has spent their spring training in Sarasota has won the World Series. Not one. However, right across the street from the stadium, a champion brewery is nestled subtly in an industrial park.

That brewery is JDubs and it is the fastest growing brewery in Florida. It most recently won the 2016 US Open Beer Championship “German Kolsch” Golf Medal for its Poolside Kolsch Beer.

The best part? JDubs has only been around since late 2013. It took them under 3 years to win the Gold. On their journey to continue to grow within Sarasota, they now also host an All Star food truck festival once a month on every 3rd Saturday right at the brewery.

Background

The graffiti art on the large white warehouse building is the only thing that initially stands out about the JDubs Location in North Sarasota. JDubs has a small parking lot where a food truck is normally stationed during dinner hours. A large parking lot is available across the street.

The inside has an old school bar with a large TV that shows you your options of beer as well as the price (in real time) and the amount of the beer left in the kegs. There is art all over the walls by local artists. Rock n Sock Em Robots and some other games are at the inside tables.

It has the feel of a relaxing retro bar that you can see yourself hanging out at multiple times a month. The backyard at JDubs is expansive. It gives you a chance to breathe and enjoy Florida’s nice weather if the inside gets crowded. They host movie nights and other events in the backyard and light it up to make it a cool spot to enjoy good cold craft beer during the day or night.

The best core beers at JDubs in are the Poolside Kolsch and Passion Wheat. They are both crisp and refreshing beers that go with pretty much any food and any occasion. They both go especially well with seafood, which of course is a local favorite in Sarasota.

Some other beers to enjoy when available are the Bell Cow Porter, Blueberry IPA and Space Jam, a Strawberry Berliner. The prices are very reasonable, especially during happy hour. During normal operating hours they have multiple size options that give you other options outside of taste and full pint in case you want to taste lots of them.

The Food Truck Festival

jdubs koreanJDubs holds this expansive food truck festival every 3rd Saturday each month with anywhere between 8-12 food trucks each time. They turn the entire brewery grounds into a beer and food truck paradise. Multiple stations are available for JDubs beer. Lines weren’t too bad but one additional station serving their core beers would help during the busier times. They had a few guest beers on tap in MIA Tourist Trappe (over 10% ABV) and Aunt Sally Lagunitas, both excellent choices for guest beers as they differed from anything else JDubs currently offered.

One of the best parts of this family friendly event was the expansive seating they set up on the grounds. My count had seating available for over 100 people. The event drew well over 300 total people by the end of the night, but never felt too busy or crowded in our group of 8. We were able to find a table outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, beer & food like kings!

We were treated to a few new surprises as JDubs had just tapped their new Raspberry IPA the day before the food truck fest. I’m not usually a big IPA fan myself, but this was excellent. It was crisp and refreshing while not being too overwhelmingly hoppy. This was my favorite beer of the night.

They also had a fresh new tasty Gose of the Margarita variety called There Gose Rita. This was something we’ve never heard of before. We do enjoy sour beers & Gose beers in general, but this was something else. Smelling and tasting like a margarita yet still like a good Gose beer, this was something you have to try if it is available. This was the favorite beer of many in our group.

We had a brave soul in the group that tried their Good Schuckin’ Stuff Oyster Stout with Sage. He said it was pretty good, but did not order a full glass of it.

The food trucks did their job as well providing a number of great choices to everyone attending. Kebabs, Bulgogi (Korean BBQ), Tacos, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Fries of all types, Philly Cheese Steaks, Hamburgers & Nachos were just some of the options featured at this event. Sarasota is becoming more food truck friendly, but it still has a long way to go. Once regulations are rolled back further, more quality food trucks will join this solid core.

A few items were missing from the food choices. Seafood is a local staple, but was not represented. There are a few pizza food trucks in town but they were most likely at other events on this Saturday night. There were no brats or hot dogs available, either. Picky eaters may have had some problems settling on something to eat because of these misses, but most still had more great options than they could ever want in one place.

The food truck winner of the night to us was Smokin Bowls. The West Coast food options were outstanding. The Elote was the best item in the entire festival, a unique take on a Southwest favorite. Their tostadas and entire menu was delicious and unique and had us coming back for more.

Taste Time to Love Us brought their Philly flare and provided great Garlic Parmesan Fries and true to form Philly Cheesesteaks to the festival.

Angry Mike brought the thunder as he always does with his outstanding grilled cheese sandwiches. We couldn’t help but get our favorite: the Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch grilled cheese. Mike is a grilled cheese master and he couldn’t be less angry and any nicer.

Summary

I’ve visited JDubs many times before this visit. It’s always a fun time with some great beer. This food truck festival takes the fun to a new level. It turns this simple brewery in a quiet industrial park all by itself in North Sarasota into an urban oasis in this industrial desert. Great craft beers, delicious unique food options, beautiful weather, plenty of seating & a family friendly atmosphere made the November JDubs Food Truck Festival a great success.

I don’t believe in giving an event a letter grade, but I will be going back next month. This is as high of an honor as anyone can give any recurring event – repeat patronage.

Thank you to everyone at JDubs, especially Taylor, for making this event a fun time for all.

You can find Matt Matt Rafferty of Sarasota 365 on FaceBook.

For more information on JDubs, click here.

 

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