Immigrants coming to the United States from Europe in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s always came through New York, always came through Ellis Island, always saw the Statue of Liberty, always knew they had arrived to America for a better life.
For immigrant’s fleeing Castro’s Cuba, their port was Miami, and their gateway was the pale yellow Freedom Tower. This 17-story building originally opened in 1925 as the headquarters of the Miami Daily News. The paper moved away in 1957, leaving the building vacant for the next 5 years.
The Kennedy Administration began leasing the building at this time, opening the Cuban Assistance Center to help recent Cuban immigrants help to acclimate to life in their new home. This continued until 1974, when the center closed and the building fell into disrepair.
Finally, in the early 2000’s the building was purchased and rehabilitated by wealthy citizens in the Cuban community in Miami. El Refugio is currently owned by Miami-Dade College, utilizing the building as a gallery and exhibition space, potentially as a Cuban American Museum in the future.
It’s in a notable space, right across the street from American Airlines Arena and the Miami Heat. Outside of Miami-Dade County, however, it may not be instantly recognizable or known at all. Enter The Tank, a Miami-based brewery that is distributing in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and currently finishing up their tap room (more on that next week).
One of their core beers, currently in distribution, is their homage to the Freedom Tower (Amber Ale, 5.3% ABV, 30 IBU). And it is so, so incredibly good.
I love a good caramel malt-forward amber ale. This is exactly that kind of beer, brimming with caramel, amber, and 2-row barley malts. With this, the nose of the beer isn’t so much sweet as it is lightly tinged with a light sugar and bready essence.
They brought in some light hop earthiness with Cascade and Galena, then finished the beer absolutely bone dry, just the way head brewer Matthew Weintraub likes with these South Florida beers (It finished at 1.014 gravity, just to let you know).
It’s buoyant and incredibly easy to drink, but also has a great depth of flavor and complexity. Hopefully we can see more Freedom Tower in the area in the coming months.
Drink Florida Craft,
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