Florida International University has plans to build a research brewery, with many thanks to the student homebrewing club, B.R.E.W. FIU, which has wielded a considerable amount of influence since their inception last Spring.
The acronym stands for Biscayne Renowned Engineers of Wort. This are not just an auxiliary for the brewing science course, they are also homebrewers.
Matthew Weintraub, a Chaplin School student majoring in hospitality management, is the current president of B.R.E.W. FIU. He, along with David Rodriguez and Nicolas Armada, met in FIU Professor Barry Gump's brewing science course and then joined forces as a club last spring to promote the science and mastery of crafting beer, microbe by microbe.
B.R.E.W FIU has amassed a small following with its craft beer recipes. The signature Apple Jack Ale tastes just like "apple pie in a glass." and was an instant hit at last year's Key West Brewfest.
And another popular idea was G.P.A., or Golden Panther Ale, a pale ale brewed to honor the Golden Panthers during football games but the debut was canceled shortly before homecoming.
Weintraub has a future career in brewing. He briefly weighs in on the craft beer industry in Miami.
New Times: How far behind is Miami in the craft beer craze? Why has it taken this long for craft beer to become popular here?
Matthew Weintraub: I feel Miami was pretty far behind but we are steadily catching up in recent years. The more beer events come about, the closer everyone will get and we'll all
better be able to push forward.
What do you want to see in the Miami craft beer industry?
I would like to see many more local breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars open up throughout the South Florida area. Also, for the home brewers to come together, not as a super club but to create events, trade ideas collaborate, and develop local brewing competitions.
What do you not want to see?
I don't want to see people become beer snobs, and for brewers to become content and not be inventive anymore.
Do you think people are gravitating away from mass-produced lagers in favor of local flavors?
Absolutely, people are definitely starting to look for something new and different. I believe they are tired of the same old beers that are bland in flavor. Now with tons of craft beer on the market, they can always try something new and full of unique flavors.
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Why do you think that major labels see craft beer as a threat?
Major labels definitely see craft beer as a threat because if you look at the craft segment, the sales have gone up sevenfold while the bigger companies have dropped. The bigger companies are trying to differentiate their beers to try to compete with the craft beers.
Keep an eye out for B.R.E.W. FIU at the Key West Brewfest August 30 to September 3.