Microbrewing in Miami: FIU's New Research Brewery Built With Your SoBeWFF Dollars

Mike Hampton, dean of the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University, confirmed that a new research microbrewery will be built at FIU's Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami Beach.

The new facility will replace the current classroom and laboratory used for HFT 3864 and 3864L -- Introduction to Brewing Science -- and will be operated by students in their quests to learn how to produce and market beer.

Taught by Barry H. Gump, the students will receive practical, hands-on research experience on the fine art of brewing, delving deep into the science of each ingredient and how it is used in crafting beer flavors.

Gump says they are building a "brewing science laboratory", not a microbrewery, to experiment and innovate in brewing classic beer styles as well as creating new ones.

"The new facilities...will allow us to brew larger batches of beer to support our Hospitality Luncheon program, and the several events at which we are invited to pour and talk about our beers," says Gump.

The brewing science class can only accommodate 30--35 students, becoming ever more popular as students receive overrides or are wait-listed.

"With the new brewing science laboratory there is the real possiblity of multiple laboratory sections, which will accommodate more students," says Gump. 

Now, the students make 10 gallons per week, but the new brewery will have the capacity for up to 45 gallons per week with three gravity-fed, single-tier brew sculptures that will be purchased from homebrew supplier, More Beer!.

Miami-based Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Florida's largest alcoholic drinks distributor, is collaborating with FIU on the new project, which is expected to cost up to $6 million and wil be completed in January of next year, said Hampton. The money comes from 11 years of South Beach Wine and Food Festival, which has thus far brought FIU over $14 million.

For now, the microbrewery and beer tastings will not be open to the public and only be available to Chaplin school students. However that will probably change, says David Rodriguez, co-founder of Miami homebrewers club BrewFIU.

"I have a sneaking suspicion that if we have several extra gallons of said beer," says Rodriguez, "we're not going to pour it down the drain."

Rodriguez founded BrewFIU with fellow Chaplin student Matt Weintraub and a few others to promote the Chaplin school and and for other students and amateurs to learn and continue their education on homebrewing, which he hopes in return will promote the art of craft brewing in South Florida.

"There's opportunity for more volume with the facility," says Rodriguez. "We'll be able to promote more events and craft brew in general. People are starting to realize that they don't want to drink flavored water."

In the absence of any regional breweries that Miami can call its own, residents will have to settle for expensive and mediocre Florida craft beers found just a bit north of Miami in neighboring counties, says Rodriguez. He notes that even though Hautey is marketed as local beer, it is actually brewed in South Carolina.

"Miami has a 40-50 mile radius of no breweries," says Rodriguez. "When people think they are drinking local beer, I hate to break it to them, but it's not."

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