Justen Mann (pictured right) and his partner Warren Freyfield are the owners of the newest retail shop in the King Street District, Beer:30

There is no denying that King Street is the place to be and open a business these days. One of the newest to open is also one of the coolest and most obvious of all: Beer:30. Join us after the jump for a photo tour of the small but well turned out shop on King Street. MetroJacksonville, represented by David Paulk, interviews owner Warren Freyfield.

David Paulk, for MetroJacksonville.com interviewed Justen on opening night:

What gave you the idea to open a craft beer store?
-Back in December we went up to watch the jags and falcons game in Atlanta and a friend took him to a beer store and as soon as he walked in the store he said “Wow, this place would do so well in Riverside”.

Do you have any previous experience in the beer industry or in another form of retail?
-I have worked retail when I was younger, but never as an owner or manager.

What did you do prior to opening the store?
-I have another business that is a waste and recycling company.  This was just a side project that we decided to do.

Have you been a craft beer enthusiast for a long time, or is this a recent development?
-Back in college there was a good beer store right across the street from my house.  Every day I would head over there and grab a different six pack.  That was about twelve years ago or so, and I’ve been drinking them ever since.

What made you choose King Street/ Riverside?
-There are so many breweries here in addition to Kickback’s, Pele’s, and this street has so many beer places, but they don’t have a package store.  It was all draft, which is awesome, but sometimes you want to take some beer home and drink it there.  

Are you going to have tastings or other events to help get the community involved?
-I would like to do tastings, so we are going to do tastings and samplings and then we can host events and do fundraisers or collaborative events with restaurants.  To do that we need to get a license, so that is the next step.

How soon until you’re able to start doing tastings?
-Hopefully within the next month.  We are going to start doing the license next week, and then it is just a matter of getting it processed.
 
Have the neighborhood organizations been helpful to you in the process of opening your business?
-Organizations?  No.  They haven’t been helpful or hurtful, other than giving us parameters for our sign for the building.  The neighborhood itself has been super welcoming.  People have come by and said hey and welcomed us to the neighborhood or dropped stuff off.  The guy from Pele’s just brought me a pizza a second ago to say ‘welcome to the neighborhood’. So everybody has been real welcoming.  It’s been awesome.

How did you choose your selection of beers?
-We have 5 distributors, but we target domestic (American-made), craft beers.  We have brought in almost everything we could, right about 650 beers.  There are probably a few more that we could get over time, but almost any domestic craft beer you could get in Jacksonville, we have already brought it in.

Out of the whole store, what is your favorite beer?
-Good question.  I would say Bell’s Double Cream Stout.  We actually have sold out of it because I keep pushing it on people.
 
How could someone who is not that into craft beer come to the store and start to build their taste for it and grow their interest?
-The cool thing about this is that there is such a big selection that you can start off with something that is not that “beer-y”.  We have ciders, we have light beers, and we have fruit beers, so it is an easy transition.  You can work your way up the ladder if you want to get to the ‘hoppier’ beers, the heavier beers, the stouts, that kind of stuff.

I noticed you keep Bud Light in the back.  Is there a reason for that?  
-We’re not sure if it’s going to sell.  We have debated on whether we were going to bring it in or not.  We figured somebody might come in and that’s just what they want.  We are all about having the most variety possible, so if that’s what we have to do…  If it doesn’t sell we will stop selling it, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Have you had any interaction with Grassroots about you opening a store down the road?
-Preben (-Olsen, beer buyer forGrassroots) was actually in here about an hour ago and he bought a six pack  he wished us luck and welcomed us to the neighborhood.  They have more of an import market and it’s a little bit higher end.  We are doing the domestic craft, so yeah we are going to compete a little bit, but I think it will be very beneficial to be able to refer customers between the two stores.  We’ll see how it goes.

Interview by David Paulk I Photos by Stephen Dare

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