Raising A Final Glass To Grasslands

Tallahassee loses ‘a force of good’ as craft brewer closes its doors
Photo by Jeff Price

It was a somber scene in Tallahassee on Sunday as Grasslands Brewing closed its doors after four years in the local market, the last hurrah being a four-day celebration of a brewery that helped set the stage for the Capital City’s craft beer awakening.

Tears were shed, speeches made and libations plentiful as craft beer enthusiasts and local revelers alike made one final toast to the city’s second craft brewery. Owner Gabe Grass, joined by wife and co-founder Saralyn, ended the night with a speech to those in attendance for their support.

“Thank you … from the bottom of my heart,” Grass said in his final address from atop the bar.

As Grasslands took its first steps toward opening, I still recall touring the old white and cinderblock warehouse on the corner of Railroad and Gaines, for years a familiar site in what had been a primarily dilapidated part of town.

That Grasslands recycled a formerly neglected piece of Tallahassee and turned it into a local business hub was apropos for the brewery, which made its name through sustainable and environmentally friendly practices — plus a healthy amount of local fan and customer engagement.

The brewery began with a four-year buildup to a 2015 opening, helped in large part by a grassroots (pun intended) crowd-funding campaign that opened the doors.

I contributed to that original fundraiser. Well, maybe at least enough to fund a couple of tap handles.

For me and other locals, Grasslands felt like family.

“Grasslands was more than just a brewery,” said Tim Kenyon, a longtime patron. “I’ve been going since they started four years ago and they really were a force of good for the community. … Gabe, Saralyn and the Grasslands staff always cared about and promoted local Tallahassee endeavors.”

The closing is also a deep blow for local soccer aficionados, who adopted Grasslands as their home to watch the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams. The brewery was also a sponsor of the city’s semi-pro team, the Tallahassee Soccer Club.

The brewery that made its name with an eclectic mix of hoppy brews and inventive sours ended with a bittersweet taste for patrons on Sunday. And its departure leaves a sizeable hole in CollegeTown and the city’s brewing scene.

Said Kenyon: “Tallahassee is definitely a poorer place in their absence.”

Categories: Drinks, Our City