Here in South Florida we tend to be late to the party on many things. The one benefit of that is that by the time we arrive, we've had an opportunity to scope out what everyone's going to be wearing, get a feel for the kinds of things people will be doing there, and lastly we have the opportunity to take all of that intel, ignore it, and do whatever we were going to do anyways. It's just the way things are down here. We'll get to the party eventually but every single person at that party brings their own personality. So while the craft beer scene has been pretty dismal considering the number of people down here versus the number of open breweries, the party just started.
There are plenty of things to be excited about these days. Wynwood Brewing and MIA Beer are selling their beer in bottles and cans, Civil Society is working to master the art of hops, and slowly but surely, breweries are investing in oak programs - adding complexity and diversity to their offerings. The number of breweries is growing and more are in planning, but three of those "in planning" stick out in our minds as breweries to watch for. Those are: 3 Sons Brewing, Odd Breed Wild Ales, and the closest to opening, The Tank Brewing. All three completely different interpretations of style and all three just as exciting as the next. We all got together recently to sample some of the pilot batches the brweeries were working on, talk shop, and get a better feel for what was in store for South Florida.
3 Sons, led by Corey Artanis, has gained an incredible following for its big bold stouts. After winning the best beer and people's choice at the 2015 Hunahpu's Day event, Corey solidified himself and his stouts as a force to be reckoned with. Yet, his portfolio is broadening every day. Focusing on wild ales, Florida Weisses, and his juicy pale ales, 3 Sons will show the world they are not a one-trick pony. The examples we tried were clean, fruity, and refreshing. Big fruit, beautiful color and aroma, and bringing more to the table than "just fruit". It's something that gets lost today - yes, people want to taste fruit, but that can't be everything. Of course, Lumberjack, Morning Break, one of the beers that put 3 Sons on the map made an appearance as well. A "Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Maple Coffee Stout" and a big sweet, roasty, aromatic, bomb of flavor after flavor, held up by a sturdy backbone and heavy mouthfeel. Yet, for as big as this beer is, it's surprisingly drinkable. Since meeting up with Corey to go through some new beers, 3 Sons took Best Brewery and Best Beer award for a second year in a row at Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day. Impressive to say the least.
Odd Breed will be South Florida's first wild ale only brewery - every beer fermented with wild yeast/bacteria and every beer seeing time in oak before packaging. If you want more background info on this exciting upcoming brewery, head over to our conversation and beer review pages. Matt Manthe, head brewer and co-founder, is producing some of the most beautiful wild and sour beers in country (yes, a bold statement), placing emphasis on balance and subtlety over any gimmick. His beers are complex yet extremely approachable - fit for the nerdiest of beer drinkers or the casual consumer. We had a few examples but a wild ale on peaches really stood out on this day as one we couldn't get enough of.
The Tank Brewing is the furthest along of the three and is going to feature a beautiful saison as its flagship. I'm biased to the style but this saison is just awesome. The most recent batch, also the finalized recipe/process, is big on citrus, it's dry, effervescent, and finishes earthy and peppery. It's a wonderful food beer or just a beer to enjoy on its own. It's where it needs to be and we're looking forward to it being available year round. The other beers in the portfolio are equally as exciting, like a brown that features tons of dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes but finishes delicately and dry. Led by Matt Weintraub and Moh Saade, the Tank will feature some traditional European styles with a twist and plans to develop a barrel program early on.
It's not easy to sit down on a cool sunny afternoon and drink through some of the most recent batches of beer being produced by these up and coming breweries but someone had to do it. The day reaffirmed the party analogy above. Each brewery, although sharing similar philosophy and approach, brought forward different styles and interpretations. The beers being produced in South Florida currently having no bearing on what they will do. It's refreshing to know that even when big national breweries are laying out road maps to successful portfolios, there will always be those down here that will break the mold and be themselves no matter what. South Florida will continue to grow as a player on the national scale with these guys helping to solidify that growth every step of the way.