By Martie Thompson
Kristen Dean has lived in Fruit Cove her whole life, and said there is really no other place she’d rather be. She attended Julington Creek School back when it was an elementary school as well as a junior high school, and for senior high school, students had to go to Wolfson or St. Augustine High School. By the time she was ready for junior high school, though, Nease was built, so she graduated from there. She obtained her cosmetology license and worked for her parents in their barber shop in downtown Jacksonville. Today, she lives with husband Bryan and their children, Ryan and Wyatt, in a home they built on property in Fruit Cove they were gifted by her parents. They are the owners of 2nd Bay Brewing Company, newly opened in the Bartram Walk center in Fruit Cove.
Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: Through a friend of mine who used to date him. He came over to her place one night to fix her computer and we met. We started dating then. We are very different and he’s unlike anyone I had previously dated.
Q: How did the interest in beer come about?
A: Bryan comes from a long line of beer drinkers in his family, including his German grandmother. About 12 or so years ago, the craft industry was just taking off and he wanted to explore different flavors of beer. He learned a lot by watching YouTube and reading books and then we joined a group of homebrewers called CASC (Cowford Ale Sharing Club). Bryan got a home brewing kit and made his first batch. He really liked all the science behind it.
Q: How was the early brewing experience?
A: He started by brewing in our house and it stunk. He over-carbonated some batches and they exploded and made a mess. So we decided to take an inheritance he had gotten from his father and build a five bay garage on our property. We enclosed three of the bays: the first one was mine, the second was for his brewery and the third was for storage. So that’s how we got the name for our brewery: 2nd Bay. Bryan built all his equipment himself and at the time, Ryan was playing softball, so we would fill up growlers with his beer and share it with the softball parents to get their feedback.
Q: What was the breakthrough that encouraged you to open your location?
A: Bryan started entering competitions through CASC and he won some medals for his beers. He was really excited. Then, Strings (owned by the Adeeb family) allowed him to collaborate on a brew: Coconut Porter. It was his first commercial success. After that, he started investigating SBA loans and I started looking for a spot to lease. It took us 14 months from signing the lease in Bartram Walk to opening our doors. It seemed everything reared its ugly head in our way, but we finally opened in July 2022.
Q: What is the most challenging part and your favorite part of owning 2nd Bay Brewing Company?
A: I’d say the most challenging is time management and making it all work — family, business, chores. But by far the best part is that we can bring the community together at 2nd Bay. This is so important to me. Sometimes we hear people who get together and realize they just live down the street from each other.
Photo courtesy Kristen Dean