This weekend marked one more year on this earth for me. While that statement seems to have lost its charm, I celebrated my birthday with family and friends around a BBQ, a brew kettle, and in some heavy Miami summer rain. Throughout the day I was amazed to see the interest in craft and home-brewed beer. By everyone. Everyone had a story to tell about the first beer that impacted them, what their favorite style was, what their favorite brewery was, and where they were when their first craft beer hit their lips. Ok, maybe not that last one, but the point is - people are getting into craft beer and what comprises the beer they love to drink. This is a good thing.
The morning started early as we set up to brew a heavily-hopped citrusy pale ale and got the coolers filled with craft beers from all around the country. The particular pale ale being brewed featured citrus forward hops on a very simple grain bill, comprised only of 2-row and crystal malt for a crisp clean taste that would really let these fruity, citrusy hops shine. For those who care, the hops used were Citra, Centennial, and Cascade. The smell of the steeping grain made us feel like we were walking around in a fresh baked loaf of bread as we sat around and talked about our favorite beers. Sound good? Give home-brewing a try - just be ready for the addiction to set in.
Enough about the brewing, the takeaway here is the fact that everyone wanted to know more about this "mysterious" stuff and that everyone got along - beautifully. I mean, a Cuban party without at least one minor skirmish?! Yes, it's possible! It's the magical thing about beer: people who get it, just get along. Social status, profession, interests, favorite sports teams, even politics doesn't matter when you've got craft beer, it seems. Now, you may be saying to yourself "he's getting cheesy here"; and you may be right, but prove me wrong. These days the only people who don't get that craft beer not only promotes culture, arts, local economies, tourism, job creation, and all sorts of other good stuff seem to be sitting around Tallahassee trying to figure out ways to help their friends at big beer companies by drafting up senseless legislation against the family run craft breweries. "Hey! Those campaign signs aren't going to buy themselves!" Oops. I mean, it doesn't make any sense that a big beer juggernaut should have to adapt to the demand of the market around it - no, instead they should just call their friends in the Capital and just try to squash all those little boogers trying to make an honest living!
I digress. I'll be the first to admit that i was skeptical about the ability of craft beer to take off in our city. Let's face it, Miami doesn't necessarily have a history of demanding craft or local products. Most of the beer sold here historically, I'd venture to say, was $10 bud light and Corona sold to tourists who spent their days getting drunk and burned to a bright, red crisp on the beach. Yet, here we are with just one open production craft brewery in Wynwood Brewing Company (more on them in the future) and people are starved for more. We're seeing the boom of artisan food and the buy local movement and the craft beer industry is coming right along with it.
This weekend's revelation gave me high hopes with regards to the future of craft beer here in Miami and around the country. It's more than just the beer, the growth of this industry symbolizes, in my opinion, the idea that our city (and our generation in general) wants to ensure that cultural and culinary aspects of our life are preserved and strengthened. Beer is only one small part of that idea but it sure is helping to get things going in the right direction. I can't wait to see where we're headed!