Locals tap into craft-beer boom with new brewery

Gainesville’s craft beer scene is about to get a little bigger.

First Magnitude Brewing (FMB), located off of the Rails to Trails and Depot Park, is preparing for a mid-to-late August opening and is hoping to bring another brewery to downtown Gainesville.

Meg The Losen, one of the four founders of FMB, said the group “surveyed people and found that people who really like craft beer are pretty active,” which is why being next to Rails to Trails was so important to them. She said that cyclists have already started biking by the new location at 1220 SE Veitch St., scoping it out.

Planning for the brewery started two and a half years ago, when the four founders, Meg and Wells The Losen and Christine and John Denny, decided that they were ready to explore the idea of branching out from homebrewing. John, the “brewmaster” of the group, has been homebrewing for more than 20 years after taking a class at Santa Fe College.

Once the team saw that the idea was becoming a reality, Meg left her job at Infotech, and John stepped down as the associate director of the UF honors program. Investor funding started to come in during the summer of 2013, and the concept was fully funded by the end of the year. That meant the team of four had to kick into high gear.

“When you’re working with investor money, you have to do due diligence on big capital purchases,” Meg said. “We had to make smart decisions and make them quickly.”

One of those decisions was naming their new company, and Meg said that they “wanted the name to be local but not obvious.” So, First Magnitude Brewing refers to the first-magnitude springs that are found in Florida, more than in any other state. The brewery will even have a beer on tap aptly named “72”, referring to the constant temperature that the springs stay at.

The company is expected to have three year-round beers on tap (see table) with a rotating round of seasonal and specialty beers that they’ll brew and serve in the tap room. All of the beers have a lower alcohol by volume (ABV), between 4-6 percent, to create a more “drinkable” beer.

With Meg and John on board as full-time employees, the team recognized the need for another expert brewer, which is where Eric Dreyer came in. Hired in April, Dreyer comes from the UF Tasting Lab with a background in food science. The team is also hoping to add about seven additional employees to run the tasting room once it opens.

Meg said that her experience of opening a business in Gainesville has been nothing short of amazing.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly supportive [the Gainesville business community] has been,” she said. “It’s been so terrific; we’ve had people literally volunteering their time to make it happen.”

To find out more about the brewery and for more details about expected opening times, find First Magnitude on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FirstMagnitudeBrewing.

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