Holding up the new Coastal Soul sign are, from left, Jeff Godwin of the band Heyword; High Five Dive Bar co-owner Becky Jones; Timothy Wayne Smith aka Sticky Tim; High Five Dive Bar co-owner Ronnie Jones; Southern Fields Brewing owner Brian Walker; and Chris Ryan of Heyword. [ DAVID ADLERSTEIN | THE TIMES ]
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High Five partners to open craft brewery

High Five Dive Bar is going into the craft beer business, partnering with an established Jackson County brewer with ties to Franklin County.

On Friday night, bar owners Becky and Ronnie Jones announced that they had teamed up with Brian Walker, owner of Southern Fields Brewing in Campbellton, to produce their own local Coastal Soul brew on the site of the popular 15 Avenue F bar.

The beer should be on tap in the spring, and will be sold exclusively at High Five.

Becky Jones said that they began talks with Walker a few months ago to begin creation of Coastal Soul in a portion of the large space they have operated, and expanded, since first opening in January 2020.

“We just want to get better and have new elements every single year and I think this was the natural step to take,” she said.

Once the craft brewery is up and running, High Five will discontinue selling Oyster City beers, and have only Coastal Soul on tap for their draft beer aficionados.

Ronnie Jones said the business decision was prompted in part by the fact that as the Oyster City Brewing Company has expanded,  first with parent company Made by the Water and now with a merger with New Orleans-based Faubourg Brewing Company, they have lost their identity as a local Apalachicola beer.

Walker, whose family is rooted with Franklin County’s Walker family which were early settlers of Eastpoint, has been in the Panhandle beer business since fall 2019, following a decade learning the industry in New York City.

His Southern Fields Brewing company is located in a 120-year-old building in Campbellton, originally a bank built in 1900 that closed its doors during the Great Depression. With the help of his father, the family refurbished the space using for the interior walls wood harvested and milled after Hurricane Michael.

The wood for the bar is made out of 325-plus year-old wood, and all the tables in the tasting room are made out of reclaimed wood from a loft originally in the bank building. Walker will work alongside Brantley Cook, Southern Fields master brewer, in creating Coastal Soul. While the new Apalachicola beers have not been named, Southern Fields offers such varieties as Chipola River, Beach Bound, Whitetail, Three Rivers, Ant Bed Red, High Cotton, Bear Paw and Ocheesee Pond.

“The sky’s the limit,” Walker said. “Everybody likes to hang out and everybody loves music and everybody likes hopefully good craft beer, And if they don’t maybe we can introduce them to it and they’ll learn to love it.”

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