Miami's Top Brewer Johnathan Wakefield Talks Breweries, Berliners and a Little Math Too (Photos)
Miami is an emerging craft beer market, and has carved out a niche in craft beer. Read also: CerveTech Brew Institute.
Miami has one of the world's top-ranked brewers. and his name is Johnathan Wakefield. So if Miami is home to such talent, then this begs the ultimate question: where's the brewery?
We sat down with Wakefield, owner of Wakefield Brewery, and talked about his future plans for a brewery, among other things. With all of these emerging plans for breweries and brewpubs in Miami, as well as existing ones, the Magic City ought to be America's next craft beer destination. Seriously.
By "top-ranked" we mean that one of Wakefield's beers beers is highly-regarded
on ratebeer.com, which compares beers on a global scale. His dragon
fruit and passion fruit Berliner weisse pilot series that he brewed with
Cigar City is currently ranked 10th out of the top 50 beers in the
Wakefield Brewing, as he wants his label to be known, is still in its infancy. He filed paperwork to claim the name in the state of Florida last March. In less than a year, he hopes, his beers will become more of a local presence.
New Times: How and when did you get into home-brewing?
Johnathan Wakefield: I got into home-brewing in 2006 when my wife bought me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. I also brewed a few beers at a brew on premises place called Brewmasters, which has been closed since 2009 I think. I would say after two batches on the Mr. Beer I went out and purchased all of the equipment to start brewing on a larger scale.
How did you become ranked on Ratebeer.com? How do they rank beer?
I became ranked on Ratebeer.com with the help of Cigar City Brewing. They asked me to come in and brew a few beers on their pilot batch system. Those beers were then released to the public to be rated at their festivals such as Hunahpu Day and Fruit in the Room Beerfest.
How did you get hooked up with Cigar City? I understand that your ranked beer is only a pilot with them. Have you guys discussed the possibility of mass producing it?
I got hooked up with CCB back in 2009 when they first opened. Joey was kind enough to invite me up and allow me to brew on his system. We have not talked about mass producing it together, but it will be massed produced by Wakefield Brewing once we are open.
How much does it cost you to brew a 5 gallon batch of DFPF? How much fruit and other materials do you use? Care to share your recipe?
Not letting that out of the bag on my recipe, everybody can try and decipher it once its on draft. The cost of the DFPF is pretty high since the cost of the fruits themselves are pretty expensive, but I believe it is all worth it since the final product is pretty killer. Lots of fruit go into all of my Berliners, very little hops since Berliners are lightly hopped, and it has a good amount of wheat in it.
How much time do you spend brewing beer every week? What do you do with it all?
(Laughs) If you asked my wife she would probably say I'm brewing all of the time. But in all seriousness I brew anywhere from two to four times a week on average. Right now all of the beer goes to festivals or PR events for Wakefield Brewing.
If everything went as planned to get your brewery open, when is the most ideal date? Would you brew all Berliners?
Probably by April 2013. I would brew a full spectrum of beers, IPAs, double IPAs, fruited IPAs, porter, stouts, hefeweizen, kolsch, brown ales and we would have a barrel aging program as well.
Dragon fruit and passion fruit Berliner weisse.
With all of the rage of craft beer in South Florida, how come you haven't expanded your operations?
Actually that's what I have been working on for the past couple of months, getting this brewing up and running. Not the easiest thing to do, I wish it was because if it was up to me I would already have my beers out in distribution so that everybody could be enjoying some great Berliners in all of this summer heat.
What is your fascination with Berliners (a sour wheat beer usually brewed in northern Germany)?
really got into Berliners because of my wife and her love for sours. I
had a 1809 Berliner with Woodruff syrup and the idea crossed my mind of
why not just put the fruit in the beer instead of putting it in your
glass in syrup form? Plus I love cooking and tinkering with food, so
ever since my first batch I have been constantly chasing new recipes and
fruit combinations. I think to date I have made over 25 different
Why do you think the style hasn't caught on as much as an IPA out west?
I would say it really has only been on the scene for a year now, so give it some time but I think it will only grow from here.
Fly Pelican Fly Pina Colada Berliner
You're mainly getting around Miami through word-of-mouth, what is the best way for people to find out about your next event?
I would say find me on Twitter or Facebook. Wakefield Brewing's Facebook page should be up and running in the next week as well as our website. You will be able to find out where we will be serving next through those sites.
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