Once upon a time, telling someone that you wanted to explore Wynwood, would have had them questioning your safety and sanity. That’s because the area just north of Midtown Miami had been neglected for more than a decade and was simply considered to be uninteresting, and even unsafe.
Real estate developer Tony Goldman had experience with resurrecting urban squalor and giving overlooked areas a second life. Envisioning what others could not see in places like SoHo and South Beach, he recognized the indigenous art scene that was developing as creatives sought to take advantage of the low rental costs.
His vision was the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor street art museum that has truly transformed Miami.
Regarded throughout New York City as a patron of the arts, he had no trouble attracting legendary names in graffiti installations like Futura and Swoon. In time, and largely because Miami hosts what might be the largest art festival in the Western Hemisphere; the Wynwood Walls benefits from constant face-lifts courtesy a global cast of artists.
The street art has since spilled out into every single wall in the community, huge murals could be easily seen by staring at some of the taller buildings overlooking the Wynwood Walls like Wynwood 25, or The Wynwood Garage.
Outside of the walls, pieces by more obscure artists can be discovered by walking the streets. It’s also a chance to check out some of the other popular attractions; art galleries, third wave coffee shops, and most notably, a thriving Wynwood Craft Beer Scene.
Just like Chicago’s Malt Row, and south of the railway in Flagstaff, there is a concentration of micro-breweries within walking distance from each other. A Wynwood Craft Beer Walk is the ideal way to take a stroll and enjoy some art, and artfully crafted beer.
Wynwood’s drinking scene might seem like a new trend, but because the neighborhood was situated north of the original Miami city limits, the early 1900s saw Floridians flocking to Wynwood Saloons. The reason for this was because the liquor flowed more freely just outside of the city since there were no restrictions on alcohol.
All of this ended with prohibition, because even though rum from Jamaica and Cuba found its way into Florida via both speedboat smugglers; the saloons gave way to speakeasies that were all located closer to the coast.
Decades of neglect separated the days of pre-prohibition libations from the more recent establishment of the first production craft brewery in the area; Wynwood Brewing Company.
Founded by a father and son with a passion for brewing beer, they found inspiration and authenticity from the gritty street character, and an art scene that was just being legitimized.
Tap handles that resemble spray paint cans are inspired by the preferred medium of urban artists.
Wynwood Brewing takes ownership of the upstart, urban persona of the area that it’s names after and forces every other Wynwood brewery to find their own culture and personality. And they all do!
Garrett Oliver, the Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery once remarked on how complex the process behind uncomplicated beer can be.
Concrete Beach seems to have that dialed in, because it’s so easy to pick up a variety of interesting, but still sessionable offerings from the well-stocked fridge in their social hall. Interesting Brewery Exclusive and Limited Edition beer is always on tap.
Brews like Mise en Place and Rose Ale are light and bright, while their take on a Marzen that’s brewed with toasted coconut called Floridafest has dark notes that never dominate the character too much. Coconut is also used in their heady Quadrupel along with chocolate malt.
The saga continues with J. Wakefield Brewing, a company inspired by comic books and Star Wars that has become well known for legendary sour style beers and more recently for constantly having some decadent Imperial Stouts on tap.
As a homebrewer, Jonathon Wakefield gathered a cult following for Berliner Weisse beers brewed with fresh Miami fruit like mangoes, guava, and passionfruit. As a founder and brewer, he’s seen as someone similar to Biggs Darklighter, or Kanan Jarrus; a Rebel. He remains totally independent in an era where craft breweries are constantly being acquired by beer conglomerates.
In that context, enjoying an Imperial Stout like Live and Let Brew, or Pecans are Forever while admiring artwork inspired by the Galactic Empire is truly Ironic.
The final place to visit on the Wynwood Beer Walk is Veza Sur Brewing Company, an urban oasis decorated with tropical plants that serves a selection of crushable core beers like La Yuma Dark Lager, or Mala Yerba IPA. These are bottles designed to be enjoyed in the tropical climate, delicious, but still dialed down.
At the brewery, they take things up a notch; Imperial Porters are brewed with molasses and vanilla beans, or allowed to mature in rum barrels.
There is also a selection of well curated beer cocktails that include seasonal Micheladas.
Their inspiration comes from a close relationship with the largest craft beer company in Colombia’s capital city, and a respect for the endemic Brazilian beer scene that’s reflected in a pouring style called chopp that’s used to serve their flagship lagers. Chopp beer is basically small amounts of ice cold beer covered in a thick layer of creamy foam.
Just like the Chicago Craft Beer neighborhood of Ravenswood, every single brewery in the Wynwood Craft Beer Walk is well worth the visit. The difference in how they approach beer is reflected in all of the offerings on tap. It’s easy to stick to one particular style and find something interesting to drink at all four breweries.