Meet The Makers
Andrea Conover, Owner
How does a woman who sold computers for Hewlett-Packard in Washington, DC, and worked for a few environmental nonprofit groups in Northeast Florida decide to open a craft brewery in Palatka? It was for the love of Putnam County’s natural environment and the St. Johns River! The trails, river, and parks combine to make Putnam County very special. The historic buildings and walkable downtown enhance her fondness for Palatka. She fell in love with the Old Coca-Cola bottling plant that was built in Palatka in 1937. Andrea wanted to bring the building back to life and what better life than a micro-brewery?
You can stop in to Azalea City Brewing Company for a break while biking on the Palatka-to-St. Augustine or Palatka-to-Lake Butler trails, kayaking or fishing on the Ocklawaha River or Dunns Creek, or hiking in Etoniah State Forest or Ravine Gardens State Park. Andrea wanted to create a family friendly meeting place where everyone could enjoy good company, share outdoor adventures and plan their next outing. Be sure to ask about her experience kayaking the entire St. Johns River in 2015!
Andrea says, “I’m an advanced beginner in the world of craft beers, only recently branching out beyond light and blonde styles to reds, browns, porters and stouts. My favorites now are any beer with coconut, coffee or chocolate, especially our “Mud Spring Chocolate Stout.”
When asked how he decided to be part of a new brewery in Palatka, Eli says, “Well, I guess it was just a matter or being at the right time, and at the right place. I grew up in Saint Augustine and have lived elsewhere several times. I finally decided to plant my roots in my hometown of Saint Augustine.
“The first beer I brewed, which was from a small kit that I received as a gift from my wife, was during my time in service. Since then, many beers were brewed at home. I kept brewing at home well after my time in the Navy and during my time at The Culinary Institute of America.
“What had been a hobby came to be a passion for which l realized could potentially become a career. I set my goals to follow my aspirations and here we are! Let’s do it!”
Eli has a Culinary Management degree from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has cooked at restaurants in New York and St. Augustine. He served five years in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and was Leading Petty Officer for his respective Medical Department, including a deployment to Iraq. Eli’s personal interests include learning more brewing science, home brewing, cooking and the outdoors.
Facilities Manager/Cellerman/QA Panel
Rod has been enjoying all that is North Florida since 2005. He grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, never thinking he would be involved in a project to create a place for all to gather and enjoy a craft beer brewed on site, in a cool town on the St. Johns River. He did, however, put in his high school yearbook that his ambition was to “build a still!” He says it was more of a smart-ass comment; or was it??
Rod has an entrepreneur’s spirit, having run a successful business in South Florida for 20 years. He enjoys North Florida’s natural adventures, especially boating and kayaking, and the opportunity to start something new.
Rod handles the technical and mechanical issues of the brewery and heads up our QA panel since “someone has to do it!” He’s a big fan of dark beers but also likes our Strawberry Berliner Weisse so maybe he’s learning to enjoy sours, too! He says, “Way to go, Eli!”