“There he goes, one of God’s own prototypes.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
On Sunday, the Florida Craft Beer community lost a fantastic brewer and a solidly good man.
On my first visit to MIA Brewing in Doral, my friends and I were shown around the then-new facility by their sort of second-in-command Piero Rodriguez. Piero was the kind of guy that never had to try to be cool, he just was.
It was effortless for him, and I will readily admit how jealous I was of that. This was the kind of guy that seemed to be born with a leather jacket on him, resplendent with a magnificent beard and a smile that brightened up any room.
Going to MIA, it was incredibly obvious how proud he was of the beer and the brewery. It was also awesome to see how proud he was of the massive vinyl collection he would blast in the brewery during brew days.
Piero was killed in a car accident late on Saturday, after working a late shift to get a little extra scratch for Father’s Day the next day (the day he passed away, sadly).
Piero’s loss affected many in the South Florida brewing community. Joel Kodner, brewer at Due South, said:
“Regretfully, I didn’t see Piero as much as I’d have liked to. But I don’t have a single memory of him where he wasn’t carrying that huge smile on his face. Whenever you hear “Beer people are good people”, he’d be one of the first people you’d think of. It hurts to imagine not seeing him at the next beer festival or event, and there simply aren’t words to describe the loss felt by his friends, family, and the South Florida beer community.”
Alex Gutierrez, Brand Director at J. Wakefield, had this poignant story to tell:
“I first met Piero 5 years ago when I started attending beer events. I was huge in supporting the local home brewing community and met Piero when he was with Subvert Ales. Instantly we connected as his passion for craft beer was contagious. I tasted his cucumber saison and was blown away. I made it a point to always visit Piero and Subvert Ales whenever they were sharing their beers. Piero was always welcoming and eager to share his beers with everybody.
“As we grew together within the industry attending events our friendship grew and camaraderie grew. He always had a positive attitude and a contagious smile. Piero, in short was a mentor for me when I started homebrewing years ago. I knew I wanted to do what’ve was doing.
“His friendship will be missed and I share my deepest condolences with his son Rebel and his family.”
Some breweries submitted brewery-wide pieces for this article, such as this one from Wynwood Brewing:
“Craft brewers are unique in that we celebrate each other’s victories and feel for each other’s challenges. We have all deeply felt the loss of Piero Rodriguez, who we admired and cherished. He was an integral part of this community, and he will be missed. We grieve for this loss, and we grieve for Piero’s family. The only thing that has some semblance of comfort is the support and love that Piero’s family has been receiving via the GoFundMe page that was set up in his honor. We encourage you to take a second to donate what you can for his son. Perhaps Piero is looking down at us now with that great, big smile of his knowing that South Florida and craft brewers alike have got his back. Rest in peace and keep brewing in heaven, brother!”
The family at Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewing also added this:
“While taken from our community way too soon is your friendship and laughter that we will miss the most. We are extremely proud to have met you. Thank you, brew brother.”
For their part, MIA Brewing has been a class act, closing the brewery for the foreseeable future and holding a private function for Piero’s family and friends this evening. A GoFundMe account has also been set up to assist Piero’s 9 year old son, Rebel.
Vaya con Dios, my friend.