MIA Brewing Company is brewing up some positive changes for the new year.
Foremost, the Doral-based brewery is planning a major expansion of its operations and taproom, more than doubling its footprint. According to owner Eddie Leon, the brewery will now have a total of 21,000 square feet of space and, potentially an additional 5,000 square feet of office space. About 1,700 feet of the new space will be devoted to expanding the taproom with plans to open a beer cocktail bar featuring
"The main priority now is to build our a new kitchen, which will start ASAP. The permitting will take a few months and we can start putting up framing. Hopefully after that, things will go smoothly."
Leon has also closed a distribution deal with Cavalier Distributing, which will allow MIA to expand its horizon. Until now, the company was self-distributing through its own Most Wanted Beverages. Leon explains that MIA simply outgrew its current situation and decisions had to be made in order to grow. "Most Wanted has only one delivery truck and two sales people. We needed to take things to the next level and find a distributor in order to go deeper into the local market. At this point, we would have had to grow the distribution arm and we weren't in a position to do so. We wanted to put our money into making more beer, which is what we're good at."
Leon says that although many distributors wanted to add MIA to their roster, Cavalier was the right choice for his brand. "Cavalier had the most similarities with out team. We felt they could do a great job. They're very strong in South Florida and they're starting in the Tampa market." Leon was also happy that this deal allowed his Most Wanted Beverages staff to stay on, with the sales team becoming brewery reps and the driver transitioning to Cavalier. "He's great. He knows the route and all our customers."
Cavalier opened its Florida operations in 2012 and currently distributes nearly 40 brands in the state, including Copperpoint, JDub's, Central 28, Two Brothers Brewing, Sixpoint, Bell's, Kentucky Ale, and Maui Brewing. This new distribution deal, effective immediately, could triple MIA's production and distribution by the end of 2016. According to Leon, MIA currently has 250 active accounts in South Florida, with 90 percent of clients in Miami-Dade. Through Cavalier, Leon sees huge opportunities in the Broward market, up the coast of Florida, and into Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Starting in February, MIA will also start offering its flagship beers in cans. The brewery has signed a deal with Brew Hub, where MIA's brewers will travel to its facility in Lakeland to brew four of its flagship beers there for canning. "There's so much potential with packaging.," says Leon. "That's another reason why we chose to go with Cavalier. They have a lot of off-premise accounts that we can tap into." MIA beers available in cans will include Miami Weiss, Domino pilsner, Mega Mix pale ale, and Tourist Trappe tripel. The cans will be distributed in Tampa and Miami and will be available locally at Total Wine, Whole Foods Market, Boxelder, Mendez Fuel, Downstairs, and Crown Spirits.
Leon says, once again, the partnership with Brew Hub was a strategic one. "We just doubled the size of our brewery and we do have space for a canning line, but we'd rather put the money into our fermentation tanks. Brew Hub has a multi-million-dollar canning line. For us to spend that money and wait to get things right would take time and slow us down."
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The MIA founder says that putting capital into expanding the operation really does allow his team to focus on making better beer. "It frees us up to make more of our specialty beers at this location. This year we brewed about 80 different beers. And they weren't treatments — they were unique." With the expansion, Leon hopes to brew these specialty beers in larger quantities and distribute them outside the taproom.
MIA's current expansion plans are only the tip of the iceberg for Leon. The wing of the industrial park where the brewery is located is ripe for further expansion. "The building itself is 60,000 square feet of warehouse, so we have the potential to grow in the current location. Also, the rent in Doral is pretty stable."
While Wynwood continues to be Miami's beer mecca, Leon is happy with Doral as the home to MIA. "There are so many residents and people that work in Doral. It might not be as sexy as Wynwood or Miami Beach right now, but it's a safe area that's growing and changing."