In 1977, an energetic, young dreamer with a wicked laugh and creative streak arrived on Mount Dora's doorstep. By applying his woodworking skills and unflappable ingenuity to the crafting and repairing of furniture, Jeff Herbst built a successful carpentry business uptown.
Sixteen years ago he began crafting beer at home, and eventually his thirst for beer making grew into an unbridled passion. Following the unrelenting call of hops and barley, Herbst, an Ohio native, spent three years converting his carpentry shop into a full-blown brewery complete with four fermentation tanks and six bright tanks for the clarified beer. Mount Dora Brewing, his labor of love, opened its doors over six years ago.
Today, the brewery is expanding its space while loyal customers sip its house-made beers including Pistolville Porter, Beauclair Blond and Dora Drawdy Drool. His most recent brew, a brown ale, is yet unnamed. Creative patrons have submitted names and the favorite contenders are Bad Bunny Brown, Brew-nette Baby, Highland Hare, Uptown Umber One and Highland Haze.
Herbst's old carpentry tools and a hodgepodge of collectibles hang in the open rafters above the brewery's Tap Room. This is the rustic space where friends gather, beer flows and live music fills the room on weekends. The brewery also boasts a beer garden, and the Rockin' Rabbit Cafe that serves breakfast and lunch daily to rave reviews. Dinner is served Friday through Monday.
Married to his patient wife, Peggy, for 34 years, Herbst is an authentic, fun-loving, intense Renaissance man. Affable and creative with a passion for playing music and enjoying belly laughs with friends, Herbst is also fiercely loyal and complex. He's undeniably a proud family man, as well as a 'go-big-or-go-home' force to be reckoned with.
In his college years, Herbst was both a competitive diver and a wide-out on a football scholarship. Yes, that's a nimble tough guy that can run fast and point his toes.
Intrigued by all his interesting complexities, Mount Dora Buzz hung out with Herbst to glean just a few more facets:
BUZZ: You always go all out for Halloween. What was your best costume? JEFF: Peggy and I were the "American Gothic" painting. (see photo with Trevor the bartender at right)
BUZZ: What three words describe you? JEFF: Stubborn, independent, tenacious.
BUZZ: What three words would Peggy use to describe you? JEFF: Dumb ass (laughs), resourceful, tenacious,
BUZZ: What are you afraid of? JEFF: Not much. I'm too stupid to be afraid. I'm afraid of stupid people.
BUZZ: Tell me your worst job ever? JEFF: Roofing in July.
BUZZ: What's on your bucket list? JEFF: Travel to Australia and build an airplane.
BUZZ: What is the best trait in a person? JEFF: Honesty.
BUZZ: What is the worst vacation you've ever had? JEFF: Eating conch in an empty restaurant by myself in Miami on Thanksgiving Day.
BUZZ: What super hero best describes you? JEFF: Go Go Gadget.
BUZZ: What would you like to be in your next life? JEFF: Somebody that doesn't care so much because it would make life simpler.
Then it was time for a speedy round of "Would You Rather..."
BUZZ: Hug or a handshake? JEFF: Hug.
BUZZ: Boxers or briefs? JEFF: Boxer briefs. (smiles)
BUZZ: Sing or dance? JEFF: Yes.
BUZZ: Down dog or dumb bells? JEFF: Is it with partners? (laughs)
BUZZ: Super Bowl or Tony Awards? JEFF: Super Bowl.
BUZZ: Meditation or push-ups? JEFF: Push-ups.
BUZZ: Roller coaster or carousel? JEFF: Roller coaster
BUZZ: "Walk This Way" or "Staying Alive"? JEFF: "Walk This Way."
BUZZ: Spiders or Snakes? JE: "...and that ain't what it takes..." (singing the classic)
BUZZ: Sail boat or WaveRunner? JEFF: Sailboat.
BUZZ: Copperfield or craps table? JEFF: Copperfield.
BUZZ: Beach chair or surf board? JEFF: Surf board.
BUZZ: Heights or speed? JEFF: Both. (Jeff was a 10-meter platform diver)
Mount Dora Brewing is located at 405 S. Highland Street, uptown Mount Dora. Call 352-735-1111 for hours or take-out.