The proof is in the beer. When Proof Brewing Co. debuted in March 2012, it marked a milestone in Tallahassee’s local craft beer scene. Proof was the first brewery in Florida’s capital city and quickly became a hot spot for college students.
In the last decade, Florida has gone from a handful of breweries to over 340 and counting. Byron Burroughs, who co-founded Proof Brewing Co. with his wife, Angela, saw the market potential for craft beer after owning a local restaurant and pub that featured beer from around the state and nation.
“In 2008, there weren’t a lot of Florida craft breweries in distribution,” Burroughs says. “There was such a ravenous demand within the state, and there wasn’t enough supply.”
Proof Brewing Co. opened a nanobrewery on a three-barrel system in 2012. Within a year, the brewery won several awards, which led to Proof’s first 10,000-square-foot production facility in 2014.
Demand quickly outpaced production, driving Proof’s expansion. Byron and Angela redeveloped a former Coca-Cola bottling plant that had been idle since 1994, turning it into Proof Brewing’s new home. The new production facility, tasting room and on-site restaurant called Proper now span an entire city block. The brewhouse also serves a diverse clientele, located next to Cascades Park within blocks of the state capitol building and two universities.
The new 34,000-square-foot complex includes an outdoor beer garden with lawn games, a covered patio, a private events room and corporate offices. Proof’s continued growth has helped create community, drawing families with children, legislators, lobbyists, business professionals, college students and tourists.
“We were able to breathe new life into it as a production manufacturing site but also as a hospitality and entertainment venue,” Burroughs says. “Breweries really are these fantastic placemaking businesses in cities. Even when we started in 2012, the landscape was completely different.”
Proof’s beers continue to win awards, and the brewers are always experimenting with fresh Florida ingredients and citrus-infused beverages. Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nicole Fried, visited the new brewery and gave a glowing shoutout via Twitter about Proof’s citrus-infused brews.
Innovative Flavors and Consistency
While Proof still focuses on distributing within a three-hour radius of Tallahassee, its beer is available statewide in cans and on draft. They have four signature beers in cans, and the brewery always has 20 beers on tap.
Proof continues to release small-batch specialty beers, along with debuting different sours, barrel-aged and seasonal beers. Florida fruit – mangoes, limes, grapefruit, oranges, guava and more – are the stars of its specialty beers. Many are crisp and fruity for easy drinking in Florida’s heat, but Proof also offers popular stouts and porters.
Head brewer Arin Brown and lead brewer David Kant-Rauch continue to innovate and try new ingredients while focusing on quality, freshness and consistency.
“We have been very fortunate to get some absolutely genius brewers,” Burroughs says. “We would be nowhere without them. They are the ones that literally make the magic happen.”
See more: Top 10 Craft Beer Cities Around the U.S.
The new production facility has the capacity to produce 30,000 barrels, and Proof plans to ramp up canned distribution this spring, including more citrus brews. One challenge is to create shelf-stable products because fruit can ferment.
“We want to make sure we always have that consistency and quality so people always know they can expect the best from us,” Burroughs says.
Proof has grown into the largest independently owned production brewery in Tallahassee, and Burroughs credits a lot of Proof’s success to the phenomenal local support. Now and in the future, Proof will remain focused on organic and sustainable growth – and putting out a product that is foolproof.
“We are not trying to be the biggest brewery,” Burroughs says. “We want to be the best brewery.”