Free Beer!

Chris Burrus of Port Orange takes a selfie of himself and his girlfriend, Carolyn Flynn of Holly Hill, during the grand opening of Dunes Brewing on Friday, Oct. 1.

There are breweries in Port Orange but there has never been one like Dunes Brewing.

Under the Dunlawton bridge, Dunes is the first beachside brewery in the city. It opened Friday, Oct. 1, celebrating “hoppy hour” and the promise of free beer.

That is not a typo.

If you buy three pints one day, you get a free pint the next day.

Opening a brewery has been a 21 year in the making dream come true for owners Michael Benedict, Chris Thompson and Bobby Zitzka.

“Going back to when we were in college, we talked about doing stuff together and wanting a brewery,” Mr. Zitzka said. “As of 2019 (that) is when we really started with this particular project.”

Prior to getting into the beer business, Mr. Zitzka and Mr. Benedict were in the restaurant business. They are part owners in Dunes next-door neighbor, Jimmy Hula’s.

Dunes Brewing features a motif that evokes a coastal vibe with living room style couches, two bars and plenty of tables allowing for friends and family to gather. Some of the first through the door were folks who make it a habit to go on brewery tours.

Chris Burrus compared Dunes to other breweries.

“Most breweries are kind of dark and leathery and woody,” Mr. Burrus said. “This is very light and whimsical and coastal.”

Carol Flynn liked the artsy look, noting, “They definitely nailed the coastal vibe.”

The comforts of the décor are complemented by a menu that lists six craft beers on tap. They are Black Tide Schwarzbier Lager, Mrs. Bumstead Blond Ale, Down Under Classic IPA, Farmhouse Ale, Sunglow Saison and Undertow Porter. That is only the beginning of the beers as more craft selections are being developed. The plan is to keep some beers permanent while they rotate others and get to at least 10 on tap at a time.

The owners sought more for their 4,000-square-foot brewery than beer. They also have wine, seltzer and ciders on the menu. Food can be ordered from Jimmy Hula’s. But you won’t have to amble over and pick it up. Stay relaxed, enjoying your beverage, as the food is delivered to you. Other food options include ordering a snack from Dunes’ menu, bringing your food with you or having food delivered from a restaurant of your choice.

The owners see a day that live music will be a part of the festivities. The expectation is for that to begin next year.

From Ormond Beach to New Smyrna Beach, craft breweries and taprooms now dot the coast of Volusia County and then inland to DeBary and DeLand. Within Port Orange, Dunes Brewing is joining two mainstays of the industry, Tomoka Brewing Co. and The Half Wall. The Half Wall sports 108 beers while Tomoka, like Dunes, brews on site.

The impressive ale trail list of breweries and taprooms in Volusia County is quite different than those in the college days of Mr. Zitzka’s past.

“I think the craft brew scene at the time was kind of emerging, in its infancy, and we always kind of sought this out, the craft brews, the imports, or drinking Anchor Steam, we didn't have as many choices back then,” he said.

All three owners are from Volusia County and wanted to create the brewery here.

Mr. Zitzka explained, “We're all locals and we wanted to create a space for locals and create a place we want to hang out at and that's kind of our mission.”

Dunes Brewing, 59 Dunlawton Ave., is open 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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