The Best Miami Beers of 2015

Andrew Guthrie of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company
Andrew Guthrie of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company
Courtesy of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Good beer is not hard to find in Miami. This wasn't the case more than two years ago, when locally devised or brewed-onsite recipes were few and far between. Since then, the brewing industry here has taken off and shows no signs of slowing. Now there are at least eight breweries operating in the county, including a brewpub. But the scene is still relatively young. 

Some of the best suds in the nation are made right here, and different parts of the world are beginning to notice. Wynwood Brewing's Pops Porter won a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival, J. Wakefield Brewing makes sours that have inspired friendships on the West Coast, and MIA Brewing will soon have its beers on tap in the Caribbean. 

Miami has finally caught up with the rest of the craft beer movement in America. So here is our 2015 list. 

It kind of looks like Al Pacino, doesn't it?
It kind of looks like Al Pacino, doesn't it?
Courtesy of MIA Brewing Company

Best Miami-Centric Beer: CzarFace, by MIA Brewing
The beer's name is a reference to both Russia and Cuba. It's a 10 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) Russian imperial stout — hence the "Czar" in the name. But it also refers to Tony Montana, actor Al Pacino's character in the 1983 movie Scarface. Look at that face. It resembles Pacino's mug, doesn't it? The movie was a testament to the reality at the time and continues to be a fixture in Miami pop culture lore. There's no mistaking the phrase "Say hello to my little friend!" CzarFace was MIA Brewing's second bottle release of 2015 and one of its strongest beers.

Miami graffiti artist Ahol Sniffs Glue designed the bottle art for his J. Wakefield Brewing collaboration brew, Harbinger.
Miami graffiti artist Ahol Sniffs Glue designed the bottle art for his J. Wakefield Brewing collaboration brew, Harbinger.
Photo by Laine Doss

Best Label Art: J. Wakefield Brewing/Ahol Sniffs Glue Harbinger beer
Miami artist Ahol Sniffs Glue's loves graffiti art and has a drink-beer-to-get-fucked-up attitude. J. Wakefield has a penchant for fine Magic City art (check the brewery's murals). This was a collaboration that seemed destined to happen. Harbinger is hazelnut coffee imperial sweet stout. The label features characters from the artists' film Biscayne World. Only 555 copies were signed by Ahol himself, whose real name is David Anasagasti. Pro tip: Don't throw away the label.

The Best Miami Beers of 2015
Courtesy of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Best Drinkability: Biscayne Bay Brewing's Saison
In addition to distinguishing itself from the rest of the industry and being downright experimental at times, Miami craft beer has to have mass appeal. Biscayne Bay Brewing's Saison is the beer anyone can drink. It's smooth up front but has a powerful alcohol finish. That's not surprising, because the beer is 8.6 percent alcohol. It's available only on tap, like all BBBC's beers. 

Concrete Beach Brewery's South American Red Ale in a can.
Concrete Beach Brewery's South American Red Ale in a can.
Photo by Doug Fairall

Best Beer in a Can: Concrete Beach Brewery's Walls South American Red Ale  
Concrete Beach Brewery opened in 2015 after much anticipation. It's a project of Alchemy and Science's Alan Newman, who founded Magic Hat Brewing Company in 1994. The brewery's parent company is Boston Brewing Company, which makes Sam Adams beer. A nod to Miami's connection to Latin America and traditional German beer, Walls is brewed from grain imported from Patagonia and flavored with Tettnang and Cascade hops. Sometimes served in a 16-ounce pint can, Walls has a bit of a pub feel to it as well. 

 

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of Mind
Photo courtesy of Gravity Brewlab

Best Beer in a Bottle: Gravity Brewlab's Sunshine State of Mind
Gravity Brewlab doesn't have an actual brewing location in Miami yet, but it will. And when it opens, it'll probably blow minds. After years of brewing extremely limited one-offs, brewers Jose Tejon and Diego Ganoza finally decided on a beer for mass distribution. Sunshine State of Mind is a wheat saison, except without Brettanomyces, a yeast strain that makes the beer sour. It's not as dry as a typical saison, but it has a long and tasty flavor. Tejon and Ganoza are always trying new recipes. This one is a big deal. 

Jack o' Spades Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Jack o' Spades Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Miami Brewing Company via Facebook

Best Seasonal Beer: Miami Brewing Company's Jack o' Spades Imperial Pumpkin Ale
It's the same as the regular Jack o' Spades pumpkin ale (6 percent ABV), except the imperial (8.2 percent ABV) is aged for six months in Tennessee whiskey barrels. Though the proliferation of strange-tasting seasonal pumpkin beers may be an unfortunate consequence of the craft beer movement, you should at least give Jack o' Spades a try. Neither too strong on the pumpkin flavor nor too light, Jack o' Spades is easy on the palate and produces a nice head when poured.

Lynwood Brewing Company La Rubia Blonde Ale
Lynwood Brewing Company La Rubia Blonde Ale
Photo by Doug Fairall

Best Session Beer: Wynwood Brewing's La Rubia Blonde Ale The Beer Judge Certification Program describes blonde ales as "easy-drinking, approachable, malt-oriented American craft beer, often with interesting fruit, hop, or character malt notes. Well-balanced and clean, it is a refreshing pint without aggressive flavors." Wynwood Brewing's La Rubia comes close to this description. Low bitterness, 5 percent ABV, and a crisp, clean, dry taste allow several of these to be downed in one sitting. 

The Best Miami Beers of 2015
David Minsky

Best Abbey-Style Beers: The Abbey Brewing Company 
All of Abbey Brewing's beers are not brewed in Miami but elsewhere and then shipped to the Magic City. But does it matter? Absolutely not. Brother Aaron's Quadruple resembles the strong winter ales brewed in Belgian monasteries throughout the centuries. It's brown and with a complexity of flavors ranging from dark chocolate to caramelized raisins and a hint of toffee. Then there's Brother Dan's Double, which is light brown and with a taste of raisins, chestnuts, and candied fruits. 

The Best Miami Beers of 2015
Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery via Facebook

Best One-Off: Salud, Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery's 2015 Rice Wine OK, so this one is not a beer. But it's a product that's unique enough for a Miami brewing company that it ought to be included in this list. What's the difference between this and sake? Both are derived from rice, but only sake is fermented. Opening in Opa-locka, Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery somehow slipped below the radar of the New Times brew-sleuth team. But it's here and an important part of Miami's ever-growing craft brewing industry.

The Best Miami Beers of 2015
David Minsky

Best Miami Beers Paired With Food: Anything From Titanic Restaurant Brewery
Started by owner Kevin Rusk on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in 1995, Titanic Restaurant & Brewery is Miami's oldest operating onsite brewery. Twenty years later, it has become a fixture for neighborhood residents and students at nearby University of Miami. You won't find Titanic's beers anywhere else except at the brewpub. The place is known for its $6 burger and fries on Tuesdays and prime rib Saturdays. Also, don't forget about the live, local music Friday nights. Grab a flight of Titanic beers, a burger, and a steak and get serenaded by live tunes. It's the only place like it in Miami. 

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
MIA Beer Company

10400 NW 33rd St.
Doral, FL 33172

305-567-5550

www.mia.beer

miles
J. Wakefield Brewing
miles
Wynwood Brewing Company

565 NW 24th St.
Miami, FL 33127

www.wynwoodbrewing.com

miles
Schnebly Redland's Winery

30205 SW 217th Ave.
Homestead, FL 33030

305-242-1224

schneblywinery2.ning.com

miles
Concrete Beach Brewery

325 NW 24th St.
Miami, Florida 33127

305-205-9983

www.masterbreweracademy.com


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