Walk into Boxelder and the first thing you notice is a hexagonal mirror configuration on the wall. Besides being pretty to look at, it has a shape that's representative of the molecular structure of fermentation. That's an indicator of how serious the folks behind Wynwood's first craft beer market are about suds.
Soft-opening today, Boxelder, which is part bottle shop and part taproom, is a venture of love between husband and wife Adam and Nicole Darnell, who left their careers in the art world to pursue a different type of craft: beer.
Before even opening Boxelder's doors (they have been waiting for final approval from the state and have been tapping donation kegs for friends), the Darnells already have much to toast: They were filmed by Esquire Network's Brew Dogs during the show's recent visit to Miami.
A combination of the couple's passions (beer and art), Boxelder fits right into the Wynwood neighborhood, with buddies J. Wakefield and Wynwood Brewing offering suds just blocks away. Curated artwork will grace the walls and rotate every couple of months (currently it's Brooklyn-based artist Chad Gordon). There are a few TV sets and a pull-down projection screen in the back, which will live-stream interactive beer hangouts hosted by local beer connoisseur and blogger Craft Commander and invite brewers from all over the world to school brew lovers on the art of beer.
As for the brews, there are two ways you can go here: Pull up a seat at the bar and let the Darnells help you decide on one of 20 rotating taps, which will always feature Florida beers. "We're all about supporting local guys 'cause we're locals," Nicole says. "We want to support what's going on in the beer scene down here." If you want something more eclectic, there's a 150-bottle collection, from which you can mix-and-match a six-pack to go. "The goal is to always have something people haven't heard of or tried yet" -- like suds from Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. And because the Darnells are true hippies (they went to art school in Colorado and met at the Denver Art Museum), they've taken every detail into account, such as six-pack holders that fit on a bicycle. "'Cause everyone needs a six-pack to fit on their bike." Amen.
A beer market by locals for locals: The taproom menu (and prices) will be updated every day depending upon what's available, but always expect to see these names: MIA Brewing, Funky Buddha, Cigar City, J. Wakefield, Due South, Saltwater Brewing, Biscayne Bay Brewing, Gravity Brewlab, and Wynwood Brewing. Want to take these guys home with you? Growlers are available for just $7 (plus the fill).
Tables out back and board games invite you to chill, drink up, and stay a while. If you've never played Cards Against Humanity while drinking, the time is now.
Hungry? Food trucks will set up shop Friday and Saturday for your eating pleasure, and during the rest of the week, you can snack on five flavors of popcorn from Brown Bag Popcorn Company, which is in the process of creating a custom flavor for Boxelder, as well Miami Smokers candied bacon. Additional bar snacks are in the works, as are monthly blind beer tastings, where you must rely purely on your palate. "We're even thinking of inviting our brewer friends and having them do it with their own products." You can also shop for beer swag (shirts, caps, glasses, etc.) from local brewers.
If you happen not to be into beer or are on a healthy tip, the Darnells invite you in for a glass of vino (there's a selection of eight to ten whites and reds) or local kombucha on tap. That's right, local kombucha on tap, which tastes nothing like the kombucha you are used to and more like a hybrid of a citrusy beer and apple cider.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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