Wynwood's J. Wakefield Brewing Company (JWB) opened on a wave of demand for its beers following a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, but the brewery hadn't distributed to Central Florida until now.
This month, JWB will begin distributing its beers to more than 20 select bars and restaurants in the Orlando and Tampa areas. It's also the first time the brewery has distributed in Florida outside its initial market. The distributor is Ohio-based Cavalier Distributing, which also has a facility in Lakeland, Florida.
The distribution marks a milestone in the brewery's progress, considering that owner/brewmaster Jonathan Wakefield garnered national attention for his Florida Weisse beers — his take on a low-alcohol Berliner Weissbier using exotic fruits in the brewing process.
He's distributed to select areas in New York and Washington, D.C., but nothing compared to the scale of his newest markets. Rocco Riggio, a JWB spokesman with MediaNow, emphasizes that all of the beer is still made at the brewery, located at 120 NW 24th St. in Miami's Wynwood Arts District.
Riggio chalks it up to Wakefield's independence and the fact that it all began with a Mr. Beer kit Christmas gift from his wife, turning a newfound hobby into a profession.
"John being an independent and individual brewer, I think he's much more experimental," Riggio says. "There's a ton of collaboration. I think that gives him a bit more of a national profile."
To mark the occasion, tap lists at several bars and restaurants in the Tampa area will feature several JWB beers. Tampa events include:
January 12 at the Stein & Vine, 827 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon
Hops 4 Teacher, 24th Street Brown, Harbinger, Too Sweet, the Big Show, Phat Bottom, and Every Gose Has Its Thorn (gose with ruby-red grapefruit, 5 percent — the last keg in existence).
January 13 at the Ale and the Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg
El Jefe, Hops 4 Teacher, 24th Street Brown, Amber Waves, Here Kitty Kitty, Too Sweet, Money, Cash, Gose, Phat Bottom, Where's The Yeast Bro?, and Great Scott!!!
January 14 at the Mermaid Tavern, 6719 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa
El Jefe, Amber Waves, Richard PerSimmons, and Where's the Yeast Bro?
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Wakefest isn't a small festival. It features more than 80 breweries, food trucks, live music, some coveted JWB bottles, and beers poured for the first time. "Jonathan is trying to make it the biggest craft beer thing that comes to Wynwood," Riggio says.
Bigger things are coming down the line too, he hints, including the addition of a bottling line and an expansion. "He's really brewing; he's always brewing," Riggio says. "Jonathan Wakefield is continuing his quest for world domination. "