North Miami Brewfest was rather large, a fact that should be evident that I’ve written a novel about it at this point. This is post 3 of 3, ending the rundown of some of the great beers we tried and great breweries we met at this fantastic event:
I knew that Biscayne Bay Brewing was going to be at the event, but had no idea that the person manning their taps was none other than brewery founder Jose Mallea. It was nice to catch up, since I haven’t been able to get there since long before they opened.
I was very happy to see that Jose did not bring the Biscayne Bay standards that you can find around South Florida. Instead, my wife got a pour of the barrel-aged Biscayne Strong Ale (Strong Ale, 11% ABV), a strong and slightly boozy ale that had a wonderfully heady mix of dark fruit and thick chewy malt. I opted for Guayabazo (IPA, 5% ABV, 50 IBU), a guava-laced IPA. That guava did a lot of really good things for the beer, as it lent a nice fruity kick to the beer, as well as lessening the harsh impact from the hops. Very easy to drink, and incredibly flavorful.
To make a funny situation even funnier, Jose was chatting with Eddie, the owner and founder of MIA Brewing. Here again is another brewery that I have not been to in more than an embarrassing number of months. I let them both know that I need to do a Doral brewery crawl, adding both of them to the itinerary.
While chatting, I got a pour of Mambo (Black Lager, 4.5% ABV), a nice combination of dark, coffee forward malt flavor and a very light and smooth body. This is one of those beers that I would love to point to any time anyone tells me the dark beers are always big and bold and chewy. This is just not the case.
My wife went for Key Lime HRD WTR (Hard Seltzer, 5% ABV), a style that is gaining a lot of traction here in Florida, but one that I have not mentioned a lot on the blog as of yet. Hard seltzers in general are very similar to regular seltzers in terms of the amount of flavor, carbonation, and practically every other aspect, albeit with a slight alcohol kick. The alcohol is not terribly noticeable, and could potentially get someone in a fair amount of trouble if they don’t realize it. My wife is a big fan of seltzers, and she really appreciated the light key lime sweet tartness of an otherwise enoyable new style.
The other group there with a hard seltzer was Islamorada Brewing. What I find interesting about them is I had no idea they had branched out into distilling as well. They didn’t have any of the liquors with them, but having been to their Fort Pierce production facility, they definitely have more than enough space.
Their hard seltzer, Raspberry Island Water (Hard Seltzer, 5% ABV) had a similar effervescence and light fruity flavor, albeit a little richer and more berry forward (To be expected with the flavor that we tried). I am looking forward to visiting them again in the near future, maybe with a little rum action this time.
Legacy Is one of my absolute favorites in South Florida. Not only do they have excellent brewing skills, but this wonderful group of guys instantly make you feel like family. It’s what I have experienced with them before, and seeing them again was less like chatting with a brewery that I like and more like hanging out with my boys that I haven’t seen in a few months. I desperately need to hang out there, with a cigar and a beer. Any of the 3 beers they brought would be enjoyable on such an occasion.
I will say that I was highly impressed with Dirty Diana (Dark Wheat, 6% ABV), a style of which I am very fond of and is almost impossible to get on any regular basis in the state of Florida. It’s got a great a double bill of both roasted flavors and light citrus coming from the wheat, which also lends to at a buoyant and easily drinkable body.
The same goes for Coach R.C. (Kolsch, 5% ABV). I was a little surprised that they produced a Kolsch, to be honest, since I don’t see very many Miami-Dade brewers going for this style. It’s a natural for the area, and I did notice that this Kolsch tend to be a little less sweet than others that I have had in the state. Being drastically under hopped and focusing more on the sweet malts, a Kolsch can get pretty close to a candy bar sometimes. This one was a touch drier, which did a lot of good things, especially in a warmer Florida day.
But then we come to Maljoe (IPA, 7.5% ABV), made with the Trinidad Scorpion pepper. I was not about to try this beer, but it was Ismael himself who pushed me to try. He described it very specifically that when you drink it, let it stay on the tongue a little bit. You get a pepper sweetness to start, then the heat gradually comes in. Once that heat is there, the IPA is pretty enjoyable. What amazed me is how well the pepper worked with the hops. It is not intense or brutal, and you’re not going to die from the heat unless you have absolutely zero tolerance. There is a kick, to be absolutely sure, but that kick works with a strong noble hop character to deliver a fairly nice pepper IPA experience.
Unbranded Brewing Is pretty new, coming to Kendall in Spring of 2019 and carrying with it a visual style and branding (no pun intended) that would be more at home in Fort Worth than in Miami. The name and concept comes from the outrageous chutzpah of the owners’ relatives, who were so confident in their abilities as ranchers that they felt they did not need to brand their cattle when putting them to pasture. I am not sure how much of that reflects reality, all I know is they brought a very good game when it came to the beers they poured.
I decided to keep things a little light, and had a Dale! Ale (Pale Ale, 5.1% ABV, 25 IBU), a fairly simple and enjoyable beer that was light on body but did not sacrifice flavor at all.
My wife went in the complete opposite direction, going for Blueberry Krawl (Scotch Ale, 8.6% ABV, 36 IBU), which combined heavy, sweet roasted malt and a nice blueberry streak to deliver a bold and fruity beer that did not skimp on anything. There’s a lot going on with this group, and I am looking forward to hearing more from them in the future.
Mack House has gone through a lot of changes, expanding their space, their food menu, their brewing system, and purchasing a giant pick up truck to install taps on the side. With this new vision, they’ve also gone for a new set of house beers, all of which are named for roads very close to their Davie tap house.
They’re located along Interstate 595, to be sure, but to actually get there you need to get on to State Road 84, the namesake for their 84 Porter (Porter, 6.2% ABV) . It’s an excellent Porter, and hits every style note perfectly. Nice bold flavors, mixed with a medium body and smooth mouthfeel for a very deep, very refreshing dark beer.
We ended up at Lincoln’s Beard Brewing, a particular favorite of my friend Steve and one place that is probably a lot busier these days with their proximity to Santa’s Enchanted Forest. We spoke to one of their brewers, Paloma ‘Betty’ Mejia, and she let us know that a lot of the beers they are doing these days are collaboration with other groups in the area. They brought two of those collaborations with them, complete with the rather odd nomenclatures are that hallmarks of Lincoln’s Beard.
Banana Slinger (Hefeweizen, 5.5% ABV) was a collaboration with South Florida brewery-in-planning Yeasty Brews. I have never seen anybody do this with a hefeweizen before. Classically, the style is known for a light body with big notes of banana and clove, even though neither of those are used in the actual production. Well, they decided to buck that trend and threw banana in to the classic Hef. If Donkey Kong were at the event that day, he would have just grabbed the entire keg for himself. It had the great body and light clove aspects down pat, but with an aggressive banana sweetness that was surprisingly very enjoyable. Definitely an odd beer, and I would easily drink it again without a moment’s hesitation.
The other beer that was there was the equally enjoyable Enrique’s Love Potion (Brown Ale, 5% ABV), a collaboration with Union Beer Store. It’s inspired by Materva, a Cuban soda using copious amounts of South American tea Yerba Mate. They did not shrink with the Yerba Mate, instead taking a nice and robust brown ale and dosing it with an amazing explosion of herbal flavor. Once again, not a beer I have ever seen before and something that my wife and I would easily go for again on a moments notice. We had a nice long conversation with Betty, and if she’s reading this, hit me up so we can start discussing that collaboration, hint hint.
In the end, the North Miami brew fest was an incredible event and there was a lot going on that I really enjoyed. I am definitely looking forward to next year’s event, and will definitely be bringing more people along to share the wealth.
Drink Florida Craft,