By Dakota Parks for Downtown Crowd
According to the market research company C+R Research, Pensacola ranks number nine in the country on a list of breweries per capita. Since that list was compiled in early 2019, even more breweries have been added to the list, including Emerald Republic Brewing Co. set to open in early December.
Despite the growing number of breweries in Pensacola, owners Phillip and Veronique Zayas do not view the local breweries as competition, rather as a community that is elevating the quality and love of craft beers.
“There’s a lot happening in the beer community here and we feel like there’s a place for everyone. I’m really excited to plug into that. We see it as a very positive thing for the growth of our community and the elevation of quality—that is, what should be expected from craft beer,” said Veronique Zayas.
Nestled in an old autobody mechanic shop, the brewery has retained a rustic, industrial vibe while creating a mixed atmosphere that retains history and adds what Veronique Zayas calls “90s grungebaby aesthetics.” Saturated in dark black paints, concrete flooring, antique style Edison bulb light fixtures, lush green plant features in cinder blocks, and a touch of antique throne style furniture, the brewery gives off a cozy, industrial vibe. Original roller doors from the mechanic shop contrast the new garage-style door that allows for easy indoor and outdoor access.
The design and aesthetics of the brewery are the contrivance and brainchild of Veronique Zayas, while her husband and business partner Phil Zayas is the man behind the beer. Veronique Zayas runs HatchMark Studio, a graphic design, marketing consultant and brand agency in Pensacola. Her design work of Emerald Republic is rooted in not just cozy vibes but also community involvement.
With 10,000 square feet of fencedin outdoor space, complete with games like bag toss and a 16-foot-long outdoor picnic table, the brewery is both family and pet friendly. Dogs will be allowed outside on a leash and kids are encouraged to come enjoy the outdoor space created for hosting art, music and community events. Veronique and Phil Zayas are dedicated to eliminating communication barriers in their space, including removing televisions from the equation. The two pillars of the brewery are community and craft beer.
“We wanted to create a space for people to talk, hang out and drink good beer. That includes an open dialogue and community collaboration. We want customers to feel comfortable enough to come up to us and give us suggestions for new styles of beer to brew or ask us promote and host their bands or events,” said Phil Zayas.
Phil Zayas has brought together his 12 years of experience in the beer industry, Cicerone certification, and completion of the Master Brewer’s Program at UC Davis in California with his love for craft beer. It all started with an at-home brewing kit that Veronique Zayas bought for him. He spent nearly a decade learning the ins and outs of the beer industry including distribution, merchandizing, sales and branding before branching out to his own craft brewery.
Together, Phil and Veronique Zayas have created an atmosphere influenced by their travels and Eastern culture. The symbol for Emerald Republic is a dragon. As Phil Zayas explained, the dragon is a deity of wisdom and a protector of water, and water is the most important ingredient in beer at nearly 95 percent. In many ways, the vibe of the brewery becomes an experience of its own— it's like walking into a dragon’s lair.
With an exposed ceiling, revealing black wooden drafters and the appearance of faux, chiseled rock, the ceiling feels like a cave to a lair. The focal point on the back wall is a large painting of a dragon looking out across the bar. The focus on artwork and hand-crafted pieces stand out as another founding belief system of the bar.
“Beer is an art form. It’s a combination of science and art. It’s four ingredients that nature gave us that come together to create a wonderful product,” said Phil Zayas. “So many people view beer as something that they just drink on the weekend, but it deserves a lot more respect than that. Brewers pour their heart and creativity into what they’re making. Just like how wine makers go into their vineyards and push and feel the texture of their grapes, brewers hold and check our malt and hops.”
Emerald Republic is brewing up tasty art and a community centered atmosphere. Their plans for the future include hosting art and music events and even beer-education events for learning about beer-pairing and developing a palette for different styles of beer. The brewery is located at 1414 W. Government Street, Pensacola, FL 32502. To keep up with them and find out more, check out www. emeraldrepublicbrewing.com.