Driving past the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and 54th Street, you might not be inclined to stop unless you needed gas. But for the past three years, Miami’s hardcore beer, wine, and even sake lovers have been pulling into Biscayne Gas not for the fossil fuels, but for the more than 700 specialty drinks housed inside.
Step through the doors of Biscayne Gas, and you might not notice much besides the bags of chips, phone chargers at the cash register, and customers buying lottery tickets or paying for gas. However, head towards the back of the store, and you’ll find an entire wall of coolers, as well as a walk-in fridge, teeming with beers from just about every corner of the world.
Hitachino Nest. La Chouffe. Asahi. Boulevard Brewing. Rogue. Brooklyn Brewery special releases. Mikkeller. Chimay. Brew Dog. Belgian. German. Peruvian. American. English. And so on.
“Without mentioning names, there’s a couple competitors in the southwest and they have 150 or 200 beers. Whole Foods maybe 200. The only one that has close to this many beers is Total Wine,” says Terry, Biscayne Gas’s manager, and resident beer expert. When we asked how he came to know so much about so many beers, Terry responded simply, “I just learned from experience. I’m not a beer maker or anything.”
Needless to say, his experience runs deep. On a recent visit to the gas station/beer haven on a typical Wednesday night, Terry was able to give a precise rundown of a recently added shelving unit full of special release beers, sours, goses, barley wines, Japanese ales, and a whole lot more. There’s wine and sake, too.
“I’m guessing we have 300 or 400 wines,” Terry says, speaking about Biscayne Gas’s equally worldly wine collection. He’s just now starting to dabble in sakes, from special release unfiltered bottles to limited run four-packs.
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After all that beer, you might get hungry. Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered. “We serve food from breakfast to lunch,” Terry mentioned, clearly eager to talk about beer. “American food, basically. Philly steaks, with a couple of Middle East dishes added. Falafel and a thing called Tashka, which is a Turkish kind of a sandwich.” We’ll be going back for lunch.
Biscayne Gas is a testament to the lesser known cultural institutions in Miami that have little or nothing to do with the glitz and glam of South Beach. While talking with Terry, we came across one of the store’s faithful clients, a recent transplant from North Carolina. “Don’t write about this place,” he said. “Then everyone will start coming here and buying up everything.”
Or, maybe, it will give Terry more reason to keep drinking.