Latinos find a niche market in Miami’s craft beer scene and breweries featuring local flavors are popping up everywhere. 4th Age Brewing, Wynwood Brewing Company and Most Wanted Brewing are set to open this year.
The birth of 4th Age Brewing
When Miami natives and best friends Daniel Morales, 26, and Christopher Campos, 27, brewed a bad batch of beer from an old home brewing kit they instantly fell in love with the brewing process.
“The beer tasted horrible and the whole thing was a big fail, but we were fascinated by the process and wanted to keep trying again and again,” Morales said.
Morales, an anthropology major had briefly moved to Spain to work on a pre-Roman Celtic archeological site at the University of Valladolid while Campos stayed in the states and continued working as a math teacher at a local middle school.
“While I was in Spain I was itching to come back to Miami and keep brewing,” Morales said. “I tried ordering the materials I needed to brew online, but the companies wouldn’t ship there.”
In Morales’s absence Campos continued to brew solo in his backyard.
“Last August, I felt the need to buy a chest freezer and brew as much as possible. I told Danny we are going to do this and do it hard core so let’s just brew, brew, brew,” he said.
The name 4th Age stems from a Lord of the Rings reference, all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books in the series take place in the 3rd Age and Morales and Campos hope to define what happens after that.
“We want to shape the new age of beer and take beer to the next level but essentially our hope is to make great local beer that people can really enjoy.” said Campos.
Craft beer breweries popping up in Miami
But 4th Age Brewing is not the only craft beer brewing company making its debut in the Miami craft beer scene. Puerto Rican Luis Brignoni, 28, is set to open Wynwood Brewing Company, Miami’s first production brewery in late June.
“I started home brewing about seven years ago and though I had a great job in sales I wasn’t satisfied,” Brignoni said. “I realized there weren’t any breweries in Miami, no production brewing. There are places like Titanic Brewing, a brew pub, but no place where you can actually take the beer home with you.”
At that point in February of 2011 Brignoni traveled to the Craft Brewer’s Conference in San Francisco and began doing research but more than that he began creating a business plan.
“I thought ‘why not jump in with both feet?’” he said. “I love beer. I love making it and I saw this as a wonderful business opportunity.”
An NPR staff report indicates that Brignoni is on to something, while big brewers’ market share is declining the craft beer market is booming.
Nearby Tampa is home to more than a dozen craft beer breweries.
Regional craft beer breweries or small mom-and-pop-style breweries now account for 6 percent of domestic beer sales and though the number may not seem too impressive, it has been on the rise for more than a decade.
Latinos target the craft beer market with flavor
Brignoni, who is opening Wynwood Brewery in partnership with his father and brother decided to take the backseat on brewing and focus on the business decisions.
He brought brewmaster Naga Reshi on board who brings more than 25 years of brewing experience as well as keg loads of passion.
“This is the perfect time to open a brewery, especially in Miami,” said Reshi.
“So many people crave a local product they can stand behind. The market is untapped. It’s an exciting time, there’s a handful of brewer’s making this movement happen.”
Cuban Eddie Leon of Most Wanted Brewing is one of them.
Most Wanted incorporates local ingredients such as Florida honey into their beer recipe’s and Leon is scheduled to open a production brewery fully equipped with a tasting room in Doral, Fla., in late August.
However, opening a brewery of any kind in Miami can be a bit of a production in itself. “There’s many challenges, having enough capital is one of the main ones. It’s a very expensive business venture,” Leon said.
On average about a half-million dollars are needed to set up a brewery.
“Finding a good location is another and another huge issue is dealing with zoning and permits.”
The Wynwood Brewing Company has been in the process of obtaining all the necessary permits for the past eight months and Leon has been in the same boat for the past three.
Despite all the red tape local craft beer brewers are getting by with a little help from their friends.
“This is a great time to be involved with craft beer in South Florida. The camaraderie between us is incredible. We all support each other, drink each other’s beer and inspire each other to keep going,” Leon said.
Take a look at the growth in craft beer in the United States with this infographic.