Who is that woman? On previous visits to The Tavern by AIBC, I’ve wondered about the woman who is the centerpiece of the U-shaped bar at The Tavern. General Manager Dave Williams said he would have my answer after my friend Sandy Bechan and I settled into our supper.
Historically, the corner location at South Fourth and Centre Streets in downtown Fernandina Beach where AIBC is situated is well-worn with memories of food, drinks, and good times from its previous occupant, as many of us remember. As microbreweries were opening across the country, AIBC opened in 2016. It has two sides: The Alley is a funky taproom for handcrafted beers, impromptu gatherings, and events, while The Tavern houses lunch and dinner seating inside and on the front porch, as well as the brewery.
As we sat down inside, our supper took flight: a flight of four 5 oz. pours of AIBC’s distinctive beers, that is. Flights suit me because I get to taste four different brews and can zero in on favorites. I’m not a brew aficionado like Sandy’s son is, who seeks out AIBC’s beers whenever he’s in town, but I am learning.
Complex Bavarian Mustard with our AIBC Pretzel as our starter was just right, and they also offer Pepper Jelly or Blue Cheese Fondue, which I’ll try next time. This pretzel is very large, soft, and sprinkled generously with Kosher salt, all in an eye-catching vertical presentation. Nibbling on a pretzel while tasting beers is quite nice.
Sandy’s Shaved Prime Rib Sandwich hit a spot that hadn’t been hit in a long time, she said. The thin slices of bread allowed her to taste the flavors within, especially the sweet-hot Horseradish Cream. Next time her son visits, she’ll join him here and get this sandwich, again.
The Tavern is ready for this year’s Shrimp Festival with its front row seat on the sidewalk. Shrimply Ceviche, its signature dish, is everything that’s special about Fernandina Beach: fat, meaty shrimp with a jalapeno-radish burn in fresh Florida lime juice. It’s one of the lightest, freshest, sunniest shrimp dishes on the island.
For dessert, my Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake was exactly what I always crave, with varying textures of fine rich dark chocolate flavors. Pastry Chef G. Daniela Galarza suggests ordering the entire dessert menu, which also includes Cheesecake with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce and Cinnamon & Sugar Pretzel with Vanilla Whipped Cream Cheese. What a wonderful idea, it’s so fun for the table!
An AIBC brewer before becoming General Manager, Dave is quick to effervesce about AIBC’s distinctive features. And that woman? She’s the original from the 1958 sci-fi horror film Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, now on the AIBC logo. Why? Because every brewery has a theme, and AIBC’s is iconic women: its most popular beer is named for Marilyn Monroe. Popular among IPA lovers is Dragonlords 6 Double IPA, honoring the late Major Marie Rossi-Clayton, the first woman in U.S. military history to serve in combat as an aviation unit commander. Other beers honor Amelia Earhart, Billie Holiday, Calamity Jane, and others.
Gather the iconic women in your life and head to AIBC. The Tavern by AIBC is located at 318 + 316 Centre Street.