It’s not that you have to like Star Wars to visit J. Wakefield Brewing in Miami’s Wynwood district, but it does help to clarify a lot of what you’re seeing.
From the giant Darth Vader mural presiding over the parking lot,
to the bar scenes from the series in the tap room,
and even to the beers themselves. Even the ramp leading inside is stenciled with the words “No Droids Allowed.” Pretty much all of J. Wakefield looks and feels like Cigar City went to Comic-con.
And I’m sure Jonathan wouldn’t have it any other way.
An accountant by trade, Jonathan Wakefield began discussing his love of beer with Joey Redner, owner of Cigar City in Tampa. Wakefield used the system to brew a few pilot batches of beers for Cigar City’s annual Hunahpu festivities, including his soon to be signature Dragon Fruit Passionfruit Berliner Weisse.
After growing his presence at Hunahpu Day, and a record-breaking round of crowdfunding, his brewery opened on 24th Street in Wynwood.
And, wouldn’t you know it, they’re already maxed out.
They have put a lot of activity into a very small space, including a ton of fermenters (each named after a different system in the Star Wars universe) and an extensive barrel aging program.
In fact, while i was there, the man himself was taking a treatment of their La Nada Imperial Stout out of one barrel in preparation for kegging.
J. Wakefield is known for their sour beers, and what I found interesting is they have separate fermentation tanks and brew kettles just for the sour beers. These are given extra cleaning time and some attachments are switched out after every beer.
In the tasting room, it’s a constant flood of Star Wars and Marvel Comics imagery. Between the two rows of taps sits a rapidly growing collection of props and memorabilia including Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer.
The artwork is something to take a moment and enjoy. Their bottle labels, those posters you see well above the taps, are all done by Marvel artists. They’re quite nice, too.
Directly above the seats of that same bar is the tap list. It’s not gigantic, but there’s always a very heady lineup of fantastic beers. Here are a few I was able to sample on my visit:
Amber Waves (Red Ale, 6.9% ABV, 27 IBU) – This is a solid, simple brown ale. It’s got a lightly sweet, malty structure, with just a slight hoppy character in the background.
Dark Horizon (Dunkelweizen, 6.5% ABV, 16 IBU) – Jonathan. Buddy. Pal. Are you reading this? I hope so. Because I need to ask you a favor.
Never stop making this beer.
I love me a good dunkelweizen, and (as my tour guide/cellarman/Marketing Director/Awesome guy Alex was telling me), this was brewed to be a solid, true to style dunkel.
It is, and it’s wonderful. A touch of dark barley roast blends with bright and fruity esters of clove and banana in a refreshing, easy to drink, and very complex brew. And if my Jedi mind tricks work, it will be permanent.
P.S. Remember the whole Star Wars thing? Dark Horizons was the code name when they were filming Empire Strikes Back. I think, I couldn’t get final confirmation on it.
Dragon Fruit Passionfruit Berliner Weisse and the Eastbound and Down collaboration with Evil Twin Brewing will be covered in separate posts, FYI.
It’s not hard to see the influence and hear the hype behind J. Wakefield pretty much everywhere in the state. At the end of the day, you still need to make a good beer, and Jonathan & his team are definitely doing just that.
Hopefully we can see more from them in the future. Maybe in a facility that allows droids, too.
May The Florida Craft Be With You,
P.S. Dunkelweizen, Jonathan. Dunkelweizen.