To understand South Florida hispanic culture, and the focal point of the community, you have to understand the role la familia plays. And not family in the sense of a nuclear Man-Woman-Kids family, but a greatly expanded sense of generations upon generations guiding and influencing the legacy of their children, their children’s children, and so on.
To see that sense of family in the Florida craft beer scene, you need only to travel to the Miami suburb of Opa-Locka and visit Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery.
You can also do what I did and find them at a South Florida beer festival. They’re starting to make the rounds, and I was able to find brewmaster/owner Ismael Fernandez and chat with him and his family; all of who were there with an extensive selection of beer.
It’s good to understand the story of Legacy, which starts on Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic with Ismael’s grandfather, Don Miguel. He was a farmer and grew tropical fruits to feed his wife and six children, one of whom was Ismael’s mother.
If you fast forward to 2010, Ismael and his brother Hector had been home brewing for a while, winning awards and lots of good word of mouth. Finally, inspired by their grandfather’s eternal advice of “Always Stay True to Yourself,” they jumped into the brewing industry with both feet.
It’s a good thing they did. Legacy’s brews are wonderfully flavorful and indicative of a rich tradition of respecting and expertly blending ingredients to create quality products.
Yes, I said ‘products’ and not ‘beers.’ Stay tuned. But they did bring beers, and while at New Times Beerfest, Ismael would enjoy playfully tormenting unsuspecting festival goers by quickly giving the names of each of the beers, then promising a full glass pour only if they could order the beer they wanted by name.
I got full pours. Good thing, too; these aren’t beers you want to get short changed on. Beers such as:
Humble Noble (IPA, 5.8% ABV, 58 IBU) – The name of this beer tells you everything you need to know about the kind of IPA this is. It’s humble, thankfully. It’s not a raging hop monster of evil, brutal bitterness, but more of a moderate, easily drinking beer that shows off a lot of floral fireworks from the healthy addition of Noble hops. It’s so easy to drink and so delightful.
O.L. Mango Sour (Sour Ale, 5% ABV) – If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Sours and their ilk are the beer of South Florida. It’s what the region is just going to be drinking for years to come. But it’s hard to be in the middle with sours. You either love them or you hate them. And if you hate them, you will love this. The sourness of the sour is very light, tightly controlled, and more refreshing than ridiculously sour. As it isn’t sour, it’s also slightly sweet with a great addition of juicy mango that gives a great rounded flavor.
Dona Rosa (Blonde Ale, 5% ABV, 19 IBU) – This one has a delightful story. If you remember Don Miguel and his tropical fruit farm, Miguel always made sure to grow guava on account of it being the favorite fruit of his wife (and Ismael’s grandmother) Rosa. In honor of her memory, they created Dona Rosa, a light blonde ale brewed with fresh guava. The ale was brewed with noble hops, so it’s light, slightly bitter, with a moderate malt sweetness that is accentuated with the light meaty, fruity guava addition.
Mulato (Porter) – Enough of the bright, vibrant fruity ales. Let’s get something deep and rich, okay? But the best thing about Mulato is it’s still tropical, with Dominican coffee blending with dark chocolate and big, flavorful, roasted malts. It’s full of wonderful sweet notes of cocoa and molasses along with everything else.
What blows my mind is that they don’t stop at beer. Apparently they also make other stuff, like wine (which they’re not allowed to sell as of yet) and kombucha.
Oh yes, kombucha. Non-alcoholic kombucha that is full of flavor and doesn’t have the awful burn that almost all other kombuchas have. It’s so good; why can’t they bottle and distribute that?
They also went full-on beer jelly with some of the beers. Making a PB&J with a beer jelly is something wonderful, indeed. I actually left with two jellies, one made with the Mulato Porter I mentioned earlier, and one with their Karl. A Bazza Pumpkin ale, which I need to get soon.
This was a long post, but Legacy is a wonderful family-centered group of brewers and is worth the digital real estate. Someday I will make it to Opa-Locka to visit them. In the meantime, take a look at them online, find out where they are, and listen very closely as Ismael goes over the beer names in case he’s in a playful mood again.
He’s just staying true to himself.
Drink Florida Craft,