When you think of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood what comes to mind? Colorful murals? Avant-garde art galleries? Creative cuisine?
Sure, all these things apply to Miami’s most hip and eclectic neighborhood. But what you may not recognize is that the area is also home to South Florida’s growing beer scene and even houses a section nicknamed “Brewers’ Row.”
The area along NW 24th Street holds three of Miami’s top beer brewing facilities — Wynwood Brewing, J. Wakefield and Concrete Beach — with more on the way. Just a few years ago, beer made locally was hard to come by and now you can find it in every restaurant and market in town.
So what caused this quick evolution of our beer scene? Many insiders point the finger at our impressive hospitality education roots.
Miami’s own Florida International University is home to the B.R.E.W. program, founded in 2011, which is credited for producing the talent that has created South Florida’s burgeoning beer market. The school features a hands-on, state-of-the-art brewing science lab that gives students access to applied coursework in a real-world setting, so by the time they graduate they’ve helped operate a working brewery. Only a few universities in the world have such a program, and FIU’s is the only one in the state of Florida.
One of the most well known graduates of the B.R.E.W. program is Wynwood Brewing’s David Rodriguez — the original brewers row tenant since 2013— who created his first award-winning beer while still in school. Wynwood Brewing is an ode to the neighborhood it resides in, featuring murals by local artists on its walls and even shaping its taps like spray paint cans as a nod to the street art that surrounds it.
The second brewery to join brewers’ row was J. Wakefield, which opened its doors in January 2015. Its owners Natalie and John Wakefield caught the “fever” for beer making nearly ten years ago but had nowhere in South Florida to do it. So they headed up to Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing to learn the craft. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, they funded the storefront and taproom for J.Wakefield’s popular beer. Its signature Dragonfruit Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse beer consistently maintains a perfect score on RateBeer.com.
The most recent addition to the area, Concrete Beach Brewing, might not have its origins in South Florida, but is already an area favorite being sold at places like Publix and Walt Disney World. The massive new brewery aims to educate Miami on craft beer by utilizing its massive beer hall that features a huge variety of beers.
“We want to have a welcoming environment for all levels of beer enthusiasts and to encourage folks to ask questions about craft beer,” stated Jesse Morris, Concrete Beach Social Hall Manager.
And in a neighborhood that already has so much happening, brewers’ row has quickly become the hotbed of the young and vibrant area hosting events, educational seminars and outdoor festivals meant for every taste and palate — proving that South Florida’s beer renaissance is here to stay.
We can certainly cheers to that!
By Olee Fowler