Last Wednesday evening, after feeding the fine folks at United Memorial Methodist, I dropped my gear and picked up my girls to try something new in town: First Love Brewing Company. I was looking forward to trying out a few of their beers, the girls were looking forward to pizza.
First Love is located on the corner of S. 9th and Ash streets, occupying the eastern end of what used to be Fred’s. Several businesses make the space home now, notably First Love Brewing Company, which offers hand-crafted beers, pizza, and traditional bar favorites. The ambiance is fresh and open, with lots of space to move about. The gleaming tanks are visible from every angle, keeping the attention on brewing and the beer. We were all excited to check it out.
When we walked in, we were greeted warmly by the staff and invited to place our order at the bar before finding a table. Abigail is not very adventurous when it comes to cuisine, so she was happy to order the House Fries. Lydia loves a Caesar Salad. The Gochujang Wings caught my eye, and we got a Cheese Pizza to share. The girls got soda, and I ordered a Piper Red IPA, a menu recommendation for the Korean-style wings. Our order placed, we made our way to one of the available high-top tables within view of several TV’s and a game station with mini-Jenga and beer cap checker sets.
First Love Brewing is centered on pursuing passions and living dreams. Owners Jessie and Kevin O’Brien are driven by a sense of community and delight in sharing their dream through the flavors they create. I, for one, am very excited that microbrew culture is finally making it to Fernandina Beach.
Our food came quickly despite the dining room being mostly full. The fries were piping hot and extra crispy, and Abbie was duly impressed. Lydia dove into her Caesar Salad. The salad was fresh and hearty, and the crouton, which she offered to me, was a handsome diagonally sliced piece of baguette lovingly toasted and topped with Parmesan cheese.
The Gochujang Wings were a show-stopper. Plump and juicy, I had mine naked (unbreaded) and tossed in the sweet and spicy Korean pepper sauce. The Piper Red IPA was indeed the perfect pairing, its malty flavor with the aroma of pine and the tropics made a spectacular flavor combination. The pizza was delicious, of course, with a cheese pizza being the true test of quality pie. With no toppings to hide behind, the flavor of the dough, sauce, and cheese have to stand on their own. The time Jessie and Kevin spent training in Chicago and honing their pizza chops is evident in every bite.
To finish things off, I enjoyed a Milk Stout called the Beacon of Light. Dark and slightly sweet, the beer was like a dessert of sorts. As the girls finished up their game, we bid our hosts adieu and headed off into the night, all of us looking forward to a return visit. The Taproom at First Love Brewing is open Wednesday through Friday from 4-9pm adding lunch hours Saturday and Sunday. Check them out at firstlovebrewing.com and stop in for some delicious food and frosty adult beverages.