At the 2017 #DTJax River of Dreams Gala, we took the opportunity to present #DTJax Awards to the individuals and organizations who have made a positive impact on Downtown Jacksonville. The Downtowner of the Year Award honors an individual who has demonstrated inspirational leadership and has made strides to create and support a vibrant Downtown.
The 2017 Downtowner of the Year Award was presented to a pioneer of Jacksonville’s vibrant craft beer scene that now includes eight breweries. Ben Davis, owner and brewer at Intuition Ale Works, made his first mark on the Jacksonville business community when he converted San Marco’s The Grotto from a coffee shop into a successful wine bar before opening Intuition Ale Works in Riverside in 2010. For four and a half years, Intuition’s Riverside location was producing and serving great craft beer as a part of their mission to create quality, flavorful and creative beers in a wide range of styles. As the first brewery in Northeast Florida to distribute its beer in cans, they created what is now a statewide trend for craft breweries.
A long-time friend of the urban core, Davis made the jump into Downtown last year when he bought the 12,000 square foot Bay Street building that had been empty since 2002. The new state-of-the-art brewing facility can host up to 400 people and features a new 30 barrel brewing system that will produce 25,000 barrels a year, a 17,000 barrel increase. Davis chose to open up the new taproom across from EverBank Field in an effort to be the catalyst for more development in the area.
By bringing his well-known brewery to a long-vacant area of Downtown, Davis has established himself as a leader in the Jacksonville business community that is unafraid to take risks in an effort to help revitalize Downtown Jacksonville. Davis’ bold move Downtown has already inspired Manifest Distilling to open in the same building, and has brought local favorite Black Sheep Downtown to serve food at its new location. Davis contributes to Downtown not only in his efforts to revitalize the area, but in his partnerships with organizations such as the Arc Jacksonville, Community Connections of Jacksonville and AIGA Jacksonville.