There is no denying that a craft beer trend is brewing in Miami.
Since the ‘70s, beer drinkers in the United States have started to give up mass-produced favorites from Anheuser-Busch and the Miller Brewing Company for new tastes by American-bred craft breweries, from Dogfish Head to Magic Hat.
Now, Miami is home to a handful of microbreweries, which offer new tastes of the token college beverage.
“It sort of engages people in the spirit of the city. People can make their beers as unique a flavor as Miami,” said Jason Lecker, a University of Miami graduate student. “When you drink Anheuser-Busch or Miller, you’re getting something that’s marketed to the common denominator.”
One local microbrewery is Titanic Restaurant and Brewery down the block from the UM’s Coral Gables campus.
“The beer culture is blowing up right now,” said Brackie Bryant, one of Titanic’s general managers. “The creativity is through the roof and the sky’s the limit now. Craft beers are becoming the forefront in Miami.”
Titanic is a brewpub, which means that the beer brewed in-house must only be sold on its property. Every month, Titanic brews six kinds of beer, which are offered on draft.
But some local microbreweries are seeking to spread their creations beyond their brewhouses. Before 2001, Florida breweries were wary of mass-producing their beer because of strict Florida laws, including one that restricted beer packaging to 8-, 12-, 16- or 32-ounce bottles, according to the Broward Palm Beach New Times. Craft breweries, however, are known for oddly-sized bottles, like the 22-ounce “bomber.”
Now, however, microbreweries are popping up across Florida.
“Florida is at the beginning end of the curve of a craft beer renaissance,” said David Kristen, the marketing chairman of the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH).
For example, Schnebly’s Winery and Brewery in Homestead is the first microbrewery in South Florida to start distributing wholesale.
Schnebly’s offers ales and lagers infused with starfruit, mango, guava, passion fruit and coconut, which are all grown on the property.
“Everything we grow, we’re going to make some beer with it,” said Peter Schnebly, co-owner of Schnebly’s. “We’re going to have fun with it.”
Soon to join Schnebly’s in the production microbrewery business is Wynwood Brewing Company, which is in the planning process.
Founder Luis Brignoni said that he’s been dreaming about opening a brewery since college, when he didn’t want to drink “cheap yellow fizzy beer,” and instead “wanted something good with the money I had available.”
Brignoni said he thinks the craft beer movement has been “a long time coming and now it’s just more noticeable.”
“Before you had to go to specific places to get craft beers,” Brignoni said. “Now it seems like any reputable establishment is carrying at least a small portfolio of craft beers. I truly believe Miami has in it to be a great craft beer town and I’m looking forward to it.”
While the wave of Miami microbreweries slowly develops, many local residents have been building breweries in their own homes.
“The previous accessibility to good beer, or lack thereof, led to a lot of homebrewers creating their own suds, which in my view has really fueled the current local beer culture we see today,” said Brignoni, who started homebrewing in college.
For example, Kirsten, who graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UM, brews 5-gallon batches in kegs. The whole process takes between three weeks and a month.
The members of MASH, including Kirsten, experiment with their brews. According to Kirsten, they have used spices, wood, chocolate and peppers in their beer concoctions.
Kirsten’s favorite beer creation so far is his last batch of beer, a dark stout aged in an old oak whiskey barrel.
“The joy about craft beer is that you’re not being told what beer to like. It’s about creating and experiencing the entire spectrum of flavor,” said Kirsten, who said he used to drink whatever cheap beer was available when he was at UM. “But students today are being exposed to more than I had the opportunity to be.”
Brew your own beer: Learn brewing techniques and buy ingredients and equipment at BrewBox Miami, 8831 SW 129th St., Miami. Join MASH by visiting miami-homebrew.org.
Taste local craft beer
– Abbey Brewing Company: 1115 16th St., Miami Beach
– Gordon Biersch: 1201 Brickell Ave. in Brickell area
– Schnebly’s Winery and Brewery: 30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead
– Titanic Restaurant and Brewery: 5813 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables