United Way's Miami Wine & Food Festival closed it's four-day eating and dining extravaganza Sunday with the first Brews & Bites craft beer-tasting. Outdoors at Mary Brickell Village, a thirsty crowd eagerly downed craft beers from 38 participating breweries in an attempt to beat the summer-like temperatures. Shade came at a premium, and the event, which spread across two blocks, lost out to the cooler seating provided by neighboring restaurants.
Attendees were given a thimble-size mug to encourage sampling at every booth. Cold beers were poured from well-known names such as Blue Moon, Paulaner, Sierra Nevada, and Stella Artois. For those looking to expand their beer knowledge, smaller breweries like Narragansett, Palm Breweries, and Shipyard/Sea Dog Brewing were there, eager to offer a Beer 101 and refill. The Sunshine State was represented by Florida Beer and Native Brewing, handing out cold ones.
Those of us trying to avoid passing out from the heat downed a few too many shots of beer and quickly made our way to some of the 15 food vendors on hand. Ranging from crêpes and pretzels to sushi and Chinese dumplings, the food, although tasty, was far from refreshing, and thus the need for more beer continued.
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The event drew a crowd of parched revelers. The live music, heat, and plenty of beer gave it the feel of a summer festival, and paramedics were ready to take care of any festival-goer who swooned. An early-evening event might have been more appropriate this time of year, thus avoiding both heat stroke and sunburn.