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Novembeer Fest offers choice samples of the brewers art
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Shon Bowen takes a drink of a Jade IPA beer by Foothills Brewing Saturday afternoon during the inaugural Novembeer Fest. More than 20 craft brewers showed off their brands to thirsty customers at Tap-It Gainesville Growlers.

At the first ever Novembeer Fest, the choices were endless.

Tap It Gainesville Growlers was host to the event at which 20 breweries shared their wares.

Gainesville resident Jessica Guzman came last year and brought her sister along Saturday. They had a strategy to be able to taste as many beers as they could — start with the back and move their way toward the front where the breweries with tents were set up.

“There’s probably a reason they have the best spots. We’re saving those for last,” Michelle Guzman said.

One of the breweries with a tent was Left Nut Brewing Co., a three-year old company with its roots in Gainesville, located at 2100 Atlanta Highway. Its owners brought along two staples in their collection and one seasonal kind. The Lappland Blonde Ale was one of the staples.

“(That ale) is sort of a starter beer. It is entry level for people trying to get into craft beers,” head brewer Jason Ford said. The Mighty Banyan Double IPA was a favorite of attendee Chris Badura.

“It’s excellent,” he said. “I can’t wait to visit the brewery now that it’s open.”

“I like it,” Michelle Guzman said. “It’s kind of sweet, but it’s hoppy at the same time.”

That’s the sort of compliment Ford likes to hear, but his true pride and joy lies in the Leaping Lena Imperial Red Ale. It was named after a local fire engine that survived a tornado and was stored in a warehouse for years before retiring to INK.

“(The ale) was my test run when I first started at Left Nut,” Ford said. “It’s my swan song, if you will.

“It’s all about having a good time. We love being in Gainesville, it’s all so family-friendly.”

Ford’s 10-year journey to becoming head brewer had humble beginnings. He started working as the maintenance worker’s helper at SweetWater Brewing, which turned into a job at Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery for a few years.

“I got homesick and moved back three years ago,” Ford said.

He first took up a job at Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta. Eventually, he met a consultant for Left Nut and was offered a chance to start a brewery from the ground up.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ford said.

“One of the interesting facts about it is we did all the internal structure ourselves. Well, anything that didn’t require a license.”

Two who helped him most were Rick Foote, head of research and development, and Phil Morgan, general operations manager. They also had a handful of volunteers and investors.

The brewery holds tastings Wednesday through Sunday. Ford advised to check their Facebook page for details, or visit www.leftnutbrewing.com

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