Opa-Locka is an interesting place.
It’s north of Miami, it’s a bit on the rough side, and the entire place is themed to Arabian Nights.
Seriously. For a city named after a Seminole phrase and created by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, the entire place is distinctly Moorish-flavored, in a sort of Busch Gardens-esque sort of way.
It’s also a city that is just emerging from a significant corruption scandal from city government, a situation that caused the ownership of Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery no endof headaches when moving their facility to an industrial park across from Opa-Locka Municipal Airport.
I was first introduced to Legacy at the New Times Beerfest a few years ago. In that time, they opened a place, closed it, moved it, and are starting to ramp up their production and footprint from a 3 BBL system in the back.
Going to the brewery, it’s noticeably covered in artwork, many of which are slated to be icnonography for their upcoming bottle releases. One of those paintings is a portrait of Miguel Diaz, family patriarch and brewer in his Dominican Republic homeland.
Legacy’s founder and head brewer Ismael Fernandez took Don Miguel’s spirit (and some of his recipes), tweaked them a bit for South Florida, and is riding a wave of incredibly tasty beers out of a rather adorably-dressed tap room, assisted by his younger brother Hector.
Some of what I tried when I was there was a redo of the beers I had when I first met them, and some were brand new. Starting with the flight, from L to R:
Gypsy Voodoo (Pale Ale, 6% ABV) – Of the pale ales I tried, this was the more classic of the two. Slightly darker malt bill with a more pronounced caramel flavor, with a floral bouquet of hops that aren’t aggressively bitter at all.
Chica (Blonde Ale, 5% ABV) – A classically trained, true-to-style blonde ale. Very satisfying.
Tallulah (Wheat Ale, 4.8% ABV, 13 IBU) – I can’t go as far as to call this a witbier, since the beer 1) is a bit darker than the extremely pale wheat and 2) there’s no orange. But the spice game is strong with this beer, with coriander combning with Grains of Paradise and more. Refreshing and interestingly complex.
Mulato (Porter, 5% ABV) – In a word, yes. This recipe is based on one from Don Miguel, perfected (and stolen) after years of brewing on Hispanola. As a porter, te rich, oven roasted malts (as in their oven at home and their roasting) combined with Colombian coffee make for a deeply satisfying brew that I simply need a growler of in my life right now.
Different Strokes (Pale Ale, 5.7% ABV, 44 IBU) – This is the more Florida of the two pale ales, with a lighter grain bill combining with fresh local fruits for a sweeter, drinkable beer with a more fruity hop character that still isn’t overassertive.
Legacy’s just one of those breweries I love writing about, since they combine a significant love of family and cultural background with quality beers and a focus on making a product they are proud of. They are starting to ramp up their participation in local beer festivals, so it won’t be too hard to find them without going to Opa-Locka.
But Opa-Locka itelf is worth the drive.
Drink Florida Craft,