For some reason, I didn’t expect J. Wakefield Brewing to be at New Times Beerfest last week. I don’t know why; they were the sponsor on the glassware everyone received at the event.
So J. Wakefield Brewing will be opening fairly soon in Miami’s Wynwood Arts district, about two blocks away from Wynwood Brewing and a block away from the also-soon-to-be-open Concrete Beach Brewery. The owner, Johnathan Wakefield, is something of a celebrity in the South Florida beer community. The brewery is being hotly awaited by many a South Florida beer drinker, judging by the line their tent received and the constant barrage of questions that Jonathan and Matt (as in Matt Untappd of Sud Swap fame) had to field all night.
After sampling some of their beers, it’s easy to see why interest is so high.
Going down the list, J. Wakefield’s Starfruit Double IPA (Double IPA, 7.5% ABV) is a gigantic, hoppy explosion of a beer. It has a nice fruity tang from the starfruit, but it’s pretty strong stuff for people like me that aren’t into IPAs, much less doubles. If you love the big hop flavor, with a nice Miami kick of tropical fruit, you will love this.
Now, the El Jefe Coconut Hefeweizen (Hefeweizen, 4.5% ABV) and El Jefe Guava (Hefeweizen, 4.5% ABV) were more up my alley since I love me some wheat beers. Many hefeweizens have a giant fruit, mostly banana, smell right at the outset. These hefeweizens don’t necessarily have that, which is a good thing. It allows the coconut and guava to really shine through. As to which one is better, I really can’t say. The coconut has a nice sweetness that isn’t too overpowering, and the guava has a depth that pairs well with the light maltiness of the hefeweizen. You really couldn’t go wrong with either one. Maybe blend the two?
Root Beer beers go two ways. Some are a root beer first, providing an absolute ton of sweet flavors exceptionally close to opening a can of regular root beer, but with alcohol added later. Others are beer first, with the root beer flavors present, but respectfully taking a back seat to what is usually a well crafted brown ale. Root Beer Brown Ale (American Brown Ale, 6.5% ABV) is an excellent example of the latter. As a brown ale, it would be nicely mellow, with good hints of caramel and a rounded maltiness that has a bit of a hop kick, but nothing too overpowering. This beer also has those root beer flavors, but it’s nowhere overpowering. In fact, I can see drinkers missing the root beer profile after drinking several Double IPAs or Imperial Stouts before this, not that you would want to.
And then I had their Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout with Cherries (American Stout, 7% ABV). This is fantastic stuff. It’s beyond incredible. Yes, it’s sweet, but it’s not like a soda or anything. Instead, it’s a smooth, chewy stout with a soft, smooth mouthfeel. Add to that a big accent of mature cherries and the little kick of whiskey aging, and you get an incredibly deep, complex beer that I would easily put up against the finest French wines. But can we please get a shorter name? Maybe ‘Ed?’
From the lines of people asking questions and the quality of the beers they’ve sampled so far, it definitely looks like J. Wakefield is poised to be a major player in the Miami-Dade craft beer scene, possibly more.
Of course, I gotta score one of their awesome pink shirts…
Drink Florida Craft,
Chris & Dave