After nearly two years of production, Biscayne Bay Brewing Company (8000 NW 25th St., Suite 500) debuted its taproom for a soft-opening event this past weekend in Doral. The launch officially marks the brewery as a retail destination for its own beers.
Co-owner Jose Mallea describes the opening as a huge success despite the fact that the announcement on social media came only a matter of hours before the place became flooded with patrons.
The 3,400-square-foot taproom, complete with a 60-foot linear wooden bar and 15 beers on tap, can accommodate 150 people. The beer list includes several flagships, and at least nine of those beers are exclusive to the taproom, Mallea says.
"Opening the taproom means that we all get a front-row seat to the reactions of the consumers who are trying the product," says Andrew Guthrie, Biscayne Bay Brewing's head brewer. In other words, Guthrie says, the taproom will give him a chance to get immediate feedback on test batches and whether he should brew larger quantities.
The new space also includes a temperature-controlled barrel-aging room, allowing the brewery to offer a flight of barrel-aged beers. Some of these beers include batches from one of the brewery's earliest releases, like La Salida, a double IPA aged in Breckenridge bourbon whiskey barrels; El Roble, a Scotch ale aged in Stranahan whiskey barrels; and two versions of Buenas Noches imperial stout, also aged in Stranahan barrels.
Mallea credits Guthrie as one of the main drivers of the brewery's success and says opening the taproom will be a huge boost for business, although he wishes the process could've been a bit easier. Asked why he and co-owner Gus Chacon didn't have the taproom ready when the brewery opened, Mallea says he needed a separate permit to do so, and it was a situation where it was much easier for the city to focus on one permit at a time.
He describes working with the City of Doral as a learn-as-you-go process. The proper forms would get filed and fees paid, but there was still a lot of back-and-forth between officials and the brewery, Mallea says. The city also asked for a lot of changes. With each change came a delay.
Breweries are unique, Mallea says, because they deal with manufacturing and retail. Not every space is suitable for both, and all sorts of zoning issues and potential impact fees can come up. It's why he believes it's important to be engaged with those working in government. "You gotta have that patience; there are no shortcuts," he says. "You've got to be committed to the project all the way through, as long as you stick with it and stay on top of it. Challenges will come up. Bureaucracy, unfortunately, isn't efficient."
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At times, it seemed as if some government officials didn't want Biscayne Bay Brewing to have a taproom, Mallea says. But ultimately, he found good people who did. As other craft breweries open, he thinks the process will get easier. Now he can trade "war stories" with other local breweries about the horrors of getting buried in red tape.
Despite that, Mallea is excited to have the brewery at this stage and adds he recently placed an order to add three new 30-barrel fermenting tanks. On the upside, the long wait gave the brewery the time to refine its beer.
"Having that extra year and a half has gotten to the point where, with 100 percent certainty, we have great beer," Mallea says.
Taproom hours are 3 to 11 p.m. Thursday; 3 p.m. to midnight Friday; 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday; and 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Although nothing has been added to the calendar, Mallea says the taproom will also serve as a venue for live music and other events on weekends.