For most home brewers and beer enthusiasts, having access to a professional brewery's equipment and expertise is a dream come true. For Dave Butler, that fantasy became a reality when he was invited to brew his mojito cream ale at Concrete Beach Brewery alongside lead brewer Chris McGrath.
Butler, a Coral Springs resident who works for an educational software company and runs FloridaBeerBlog.com, won the Wynwood brewery's first ever What Brews You contest with his cocktail-inspired beer. Butler says that he was intrigued by the contest, which asked people to submit their dream beers. "I had Concrete Beach on the radar, and I've always wanted to brew on a professional system, a beer that I would be able to see in good beer bars. When the contest came out, and I had the chance of actually brewing a big scale beer, I knew I had to. And getting a kegerator was just the Icing on the cake."
Butler knew the beer he entered had to represent Miami, but also had to have a high drinkability factor.
His first entry, a sofrito ale, proved to be "a little weird", so the beer blogger went back to the drawing board. "I knew the beer had to celebrate Miami culture and Miami food with the beer, and few things are quintessentially Miami more than a mojito. I had to decide what a good style would be, and I really didn't want to do another IPA, so I decided on a cream ale. It's light, soft, flavorful but not bitter or brutal at all. And there's no actual cream in it, which is strange."
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Concrete Beach's lead brewer, Chris McGrath, was immediately drawn to this beer, and invited Butler to brew the beer alongside him. Butler, who got obsessed with craft beers in graduate school, wasn't just a bystander during the brewing process. "I actually helped a lot during brew day. It was a long day and I had actually thrown my back out that morning, which made it a bit worse. But it was exciting to make so much of my beer. Chris has been so wonderful and so open during the recipe development process."
Concrete Beach plans to hold more What Brews You contests, so keep on thinking of that next great beer. If you need a little inspiration, the Mojito Cream Ale, described as having big flavors of lime and a slight mint undercurrent, will be available at Concrete Beach's social hall starting Tuesday, August 18, which is also the first Tuesday the hall is open.