So here it is. This year is shaping up to be a great year for craft beer, especially here in South Florida and it's just under way. These are some of our home town breweries to look forward to and some other breweries that we're excited about across the country. Leave us a comment with the breweries you're looking forward to.
1. M.I.A. Brewing Co.: After almost 2 years of construction and permitting and more construction and more permitting, M.I.A. Brewing is finally opening it's doors. There's a lot to look forward to too. Brewmaster, Mike Demetrus, says what he looks forward to most is "brewing both classic and modern interpretations of styles from around the globe sparing no cost, cutting no corners, and reproducing with clean and consistent results." Early releases like the M.I.A. IPA, one of our favorite IPA's around, is just that: 5 hard to find hops, lots of them, but not lacking in balance - a really nice and clean interpretation of the style. With 52 taps in the taproom, you'll be sure to find something you'll love. Look for new releases weekly in the taproom.
2. Wild Oak Artisan Ales: Ok, so Wild Oak technically isn't a "brewery" yet as they don't the state licensing or space required to hold the official title, but all indications point to this changing in 2015. Led by Chris McElveen and head brewer Matt Manthe, Wild Oak is creating some of the most complex and delicately balanced beers around. This, all while every beer is fermented with wild yeast (brettanomyces) and sees oak at some point in fermentation. Take Farmacology for example, a brettanomyces fermented sour ale with Florida honey and Florida kumquats - an incredibly complex and balanced beer while coming in at around 12% abv. Chris is looking forward to 2015 as a big year for the duo as they've "got another year of experience with [their] beers, a clearer picture of the market, and more drive than ever to be self-employed", says Chris. We expect great things from these guys.
3. J Wakefield Brewing Co.: Mr. Florida-weisse himself is finally opening his doors in what may be the most anticipated opening to date in Florida. What amazes us about JWB is the incredible amount excitement and anticipation surrounding the brewery and the exclusive members-only society that will likely see bottles of the rare, internet-forum destroying releases of JWB favorites like DFPF - Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit, a pink sour "Florida-weisse". The hype behind the brewery is not all a mystery, Jon has been pouring his sours and big barrel aged stouts and porters for fans at festivals and events like the famous Hunahpu's day at Cigar City to much praise. A collaboration with Stone in 2014 doesn't hurt either. Either way, JWB will bring a lot of attention to Miami craft beer. We welcome it.
4. Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.: Another newcomer to the Miami brewing scene in 2014, Biscayne Bay is shooting straight for the heart of Miami residents, drawing inspiration from local ingredients and landmarks to come up with names and flavor profiles. Take the "La Colada" Porter for example. A big bold porter that features "La Carreta" espresso. For those who have never been to Miami, La Carreta is a staple Cuban restaurant chain in Miami, who's cafecito (espresso) draws locals and and tourists to their coffee windows. Seriously, coffee windows. Small windows where people gather to discuss politics, their annoying neighbors, and drink a coffee. It'll be interesting to see what other inherently Miami themes find their way in to the beers Biscayne Bay is going to produce this year.
1. Plan Bee Farmhouse Brewery: This is just one of those breweries that will stand out for being MORE than your average brewery. Let's go through a short list of what I mean by that: every bottle of Plan Bee is sold by Evan Watson (owner/brewer) directly to the consumer (hand to hand exchange), Every yeast strain used by the brewery is a culture pulled from the property on which the brewery sits, and eventually most everything used in the beer will be grown on site. Looking to 2015 - the brewery will move from a 1 bbl system in the Watsons' back yard to a 25 acre farm with a 3-story, 1820's barn which will house an 8 bbl system and plans for "things like farm school for children, brewers school for home brewers, concerts and music events, etc." are underway says Emily Watson, owner of the brewery. Although the growth in production means more beer, what's amazing is that Plan Bee will continue its current method of sales - direct to consumer. Pretty amazing. All this talk about the brewery and nothing about the beer; which, by the way is fantastic. Be on the lookout for Tree Beer in 2015, "a mahogany ale featuring organic Crown Maple syrup that has been aged in oak barrels" featuring the house yeast strain which gives it that signature "taste of the Hudson Valley."
2. Lord Hobo Brewing: Our friend Vincent Tursi, formerly of Night Shift Brewing, has been tapped to lead the brewing at Lord Hobo which will focus its attention towards "delicate, juicy, hop-forward ales in cans", says Vince. We're excited to get our hands on these beers. Knowing what Vince is capable of - we're looking forward to what he'll do now with the ability to fine tune his hop forward ales with precision and dedication to flavor and balance. They will likely be nothing short of spectacular. Looking to the future, Vince says they'll do "barrel-aged stouts [and others] within year 1, then a sour program with foudres and coolship in year 2." If the past is any indication of what the future holds, Vince will be producing some of the best and creative beers around and Lord Hobo will be on its way to setting fire to the forums.
3. Side Project Brewing: These seems like an easy pick... Almost too easy. It's no secret, we love Side Project. Side Project's Blanc de Blancs took the number one spot on our top beers of 2014 and Cory King, Side Project's Captain, can seemingly do no wrong. In 2015, Cory will make use of a larger amount of barrels to produce more beer under his private label. What's more exciting is the continued reliance upon native yeast and local products (yes, I love this stuff) and Cory's emphasis on creating and maintaining Side Project's terroir. Also, the opening of The Side Project Cellar will allow more people access to these incredibly rare and hard to find beers. Balance, flavor, delicately blended beers will elevate the expectations on other breweries producing wild or barrel-aged sour beers.
4. The Ale Apothecary: Paul Arney, the solo force behind The Ale Apothecary is revered by many of his peers as one of the most talented and creative brewers around. Developing barrel-aged beers made to age. Complexity from date of bottling and flavors that only evolve over time. I could ramble on and on about the unique techniques used to produce these beers but I just wouldn't do it justice. Visit www.thealeapothecary.com to watch a video that shows just how cool this brewery is. Something spectacular is brewing in the mountains of Bend, Oregon.