- Liz Balmaseda Daily News Food Critic
The big, snazzy sign outside the upcoming West Palm Brewery and Wine Vault may be brand new, but its vintage lettering gives the place an instantly iconic flair. Inside, as the staff puts the finishing touches on what will be an upscale brewpub, brew master Joel Kodner monitors the six fermentation tanks that nurture the brewery’s first batches of beer.
West Palm Brewery opened Dec. 18 on Evernia Street, just off Dixie Highway, joining a growing stream of local breweries across the county. But this brewery aims to bring a more diverse concept to town, general manager Bruce Edel said during a recent walk-through of the space.
While the brewpub’s concept is decidedly beer-centric, the place will bring an upmarket mix of offerings, from a Neapolitan pizza bar to a Napa-style wine bar.
“We’re going for a little more sophistication,” said Edel. Beer prices will start at $6 and by-the-glass wines will range from $6 to $20, he said. Prices will be lower at happy hour, which will be offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Unlike many Palm Beach County breweries, West Palm will not brew for distribution. What is brewed on premises is for consumption on premises.
That presents a different kind of landscape for brew master Kodner, who comes to the brewery from Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach, where he was head brewer. Brewing for one pub allows him tremendous freedom, he said.
“There’s a lot of room for experimenting,” said Kodner, who plans to brew a range of varieties, from lighter bodied saison brews to roast-y porters and hopped-up IPAs.
There should be plenty of space in which to enjoy Kodner’s brews. The pub provides high-top tables and seats along a large, stainless-steel-topped bar. A smaller, marble-topped bar sets apart the wine vault component of the place, a bar inspired by owner John Pankauski’s devotion to the grape. The West Palm probate litigation lawyer has blended and bottled his own signature brand of wines, which are displayed at the bar.
Across the space, another bar surrounds the brewery’s wood-burning pizza oven, a blue mosaic-covered dome capable of baking an individual pizza pie in about 80 seconds.
Commanding that 1,200-degree dome is chef Andrew Castardie, whose menu boasts a surprising range of bar snacks and small plates, 12-inch, freeform, thin-crust pies, flatbreads, pressed paninis and salads. He’ll rely on no ordinary toppings, said Castardie. He’ll make his own mozzarella and burrata cheeses.