Every brewery in the constantly growing Wynwood craft beer community creates beer that is uniquely Miami; whether they’re brewed with fresh Florida ingredients, developed as a tribute to the different districts in Dade County, or simply designed as ideal refreshment for the warm Miami weather.
Something that sets each of them apart is their relationship with other companies across the craft beer landscape.
Wynwood Brewing is part of the Craft Brew Alliance, a group owned by AB Inbev that includes iconic names in quality beer like Kona Brewing Company, Red Hook Brewery, and Cisco Brewers. Being part of this alliance helps them all to remain innovative, and ensures that products like Longboard Island Lager, and La Rubia Blonde Ale can be found on shelves all across the country.
Also part of the InBev family is Veza Sur, part of the InBev Brewers Collective, alongside brands like Wicked Weed Brewing, Elysian, and a name synonymous with craft beer in Chicago; Goose Island.
Close connections, and shared knowledge with their partners is something that they speak about during brewery tours, and it could also be experienced in the diverse beer styles offered in their taproom; from ales fermented with sourdough starter, to stouts infused with Colombian coffee beans.
Veza Sur was actually born from collaboration since it was a project originally envisioned by the people from 10 Barrel Brewing Company and the Bogotá Beer Company as a brewery that captures the best of the brewing scene from both American Continents.
Even J. Wakefield Brewing, the only independent beer company in Wynwood depends on collaboration for some of their more interesting releases. Whether it’s a double IPA with Other Half Brewing Company in New York City, or a smoothie inspired sour ale done with nearby Tripping Animals in Doral; there’s always an interesting beer collaboration being put into cans or poured into pint glasses ready to be enjoyed while admiring comic book artwork in their beer hall.
As part of A&S Brewing, Concrete Beach Brewery is connected with two other breweries; Angel City Brewery, and Coney Island Brewing Company, all located in far flung, major coastal cities.
I discovered Concrete Beach a few years ago, and shortly after that I visited Angel City Brewing all the way across the continent in Los Angeles. Back in Miami, it’s easy to recognize a connection between the two brands; Essentially, it’s a California connection that influences and informs the beer brewed in Miami.
Havana Lager might be the quintessential Caribbean lager beer, designed with refreshment in the tropical heat on the mind. There’s some malty sweetness contrasted by hoppy bitterness, but it remains beautifully uncomplicated so that two six packs can quickly lead to a third.
Coastal Clara Pilsner is quite different. Clean, crisp, and closer in profile to the popular Cerveza Pacifico than it is to Caribbean brewed products like Carib Lager or Spanglish Latin Lager. It seems like a beer well suited for the far less humid West Coast while also being enjoyable during Miami’s mild winter months.
Another seasonal lager is Toriaezu, a brisk, biscuity, dry Japanese-style beer named for a Japanese phrase insisting on enjoying a beer as an aperitif.
Angel City Brewing is located in a neighborhood adjacent to Little Tokyo, one of North America’s most established Japanese communities. They incorporate the culinary culture of this Asian country in their products in a few different ways; whether brewing a Saison with green tea, or using traditional sake fermentation techniques in an ale.
Toriaezu has less of a local inspired Japanese influence and instead closely resembles the dry lagers that became popular in Japan in the nineteen eighties that went on to become global exports.
The addition of Yuzu zest leads to citrus notes that might be unfamiliar to drinkers unaccustomed to this thick-skinned citrus that’s used for aroma in food from the Far East. It’s casual enough that an ice cold six pack can be perfectly enjoyed with some store bought sushi since it never over powers, and every sip is a palette cleanser.
Sola IPA is the flagship Imperial Pale Ale released by Concrete Beach. Although it includes four different varieties of hop it’s a clear example of an East Coast IPA since they mostly just contribute some bright notes to a generally light beer.
Like the name suggests, Mas Hops is dominated by hop notes that begin with the aroma and remains in an almost resinous aftertaste. Complex, citric, and bitter, it’s an unapologetic West Coast IPA.
Along with India Pale Ales that focus on fresh hops during brewing that leads to complex hop forward flavors, wines produced in Northern California are another trademark beverage of the Golden State.
It’s not enough to call them award winning since once upon a time, wine produced in Napa Valley once changed the entire landscape of wine appreciation and ushered in an newfound respect for vintages that did not originate in Europe.
The barrel room at Angel City houses several casks that once held select Napa Valley Wines that have now been re-purposed to smoothen the character and add some vinous notes to some of their limited edition releases. Barreljuice, Barreljuice, Barreljuice is a saison that’s aged in Chardonnay casks while undergoing a secondary fermentation with wild yeast species. It’s reminiscent of a Chilean Chardonnay with slightly sour notes and the barest hints of candied apricots.
Mattole River is similarly rested in Chardonnay barrels, but this Tripel has additional wine elements since during fermentation, the brewing team adds the must from grapes that they themselves picked and crushed. The result is a beer almost indistinguishable from a Champagne Extra Brut or dry Prosecco spumante.
Concrete Beach also meets the challenge of creating beer that can be enjoyed by fans of sparkling wine.
Rosé Ale is brewed with the must of the white Zindandel grape. Tannins and a light tartness rounds the sweet flavor that these grapes are generally known for. Malt and Barley notes are simply non-existent and every sip leads to questions of what juice would work the best with this in a mimosa.
While similar in tartness, Mise en Place is a bit different in approach. Modeled after the farmhouse beers brewed in Belgium and Northern France, the slight hints of green apple allows it to be appealing to anyone who loves a dry, slightly sour white wine.
Tropic of Passion is a Wheat Beer that’s brewed with passion fruit puree. Somewhere between a Witbier, and a Berliner Weisse, the tropical fruit and lack of more common beer notes makes it another beer worth introducing to a wine drinker.
Even the choice of using a tequila barrel to age another wheat beer that’s brewed with mint and lime is another tribute to California, since most of Florida’s Latin population comes from the Caribbean and South America and they’re more familiar with rum than with Mezcal.
The result of close collaboration between Angel City and Concrete Beach means that a visit to one brewery allows any drinker to experience a wide variety of beer and the products of experienced brewers from across the country. A coast to coast connection from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Complimentary beer for this post was sponsored by Concrete Beach Brewery an artisanal craft beer brewery located in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District.