It's hard to believe, but it's only been a year since J. Wakefield Brewing opened its doors in Wynwood.
Since then, the brewery has become a central part of the Miami community, hosting events like the Florida Weisse Bash and collaborating with local artists like AholSniffsGlue. Just recently, Wakefield was given the international spotlight, by winning three medals at the RateBeer Best Awards in Santa Rosa, California. Wakefield took home honors for Best Florida Brewer, World's Top Beer Releases for 2015 (for its Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit Berliner weisse), and was named Second Best New Brewery in World.
Now, it's time to celebrate a year of accomplishments and good beer. On Saturday, February 13, the brewery will host Wakestock, a free celebration of beer, food, and music. The party will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Gastropod lot at 160 NW 26th St. and will feature a live DJ spinning, food from Gastropod's Jeremiah Bullfrog, and dozens of rare beers not available in Florida.
To quote two presidential hopefuls: this event is going to be YUGE!
Brewery founder Jonathan Wakefield confirms that, in addition to Wakefield, 31 breweries will be pouring on Saturday. Although the roster of beers is not yet set in concrete, "We're looking at 70 different beers, including ours." The highlight of the afternoon's brewfest is the ability to sample beers not even available in Florida. "We worked very hard to get stuff from out of state that's never been poured here and may never be poured in Miami in quite some time."
Of the 30 Wakefield beers, some will be rare editions saved for the brewery's anniversary. "We've held onto kegs like Miami Madness, as well as quite a few of our barrel aged beers." The brewery is also releasing a special anniversary keg, and a new batch of Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit might just be ready by Saturday.
Each brewery joining Wakestock is one the brewer has personal connections with. "We're friends. For instance, I'm buddies with Walt Dickinson from Wicked Weed in Asheville, so I pulled some strings to get them to come down." Wicked Weed, by the way, is known for having a small, second taproom in its basement where experimental beers (including weisse beers made with local fruits) are served. Other breweries joining in on the festivities include Ale Smith Brewing, Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., Other Half Brewing, Stone Brewing Co., Founders Brewing, Monkey Paw Brew, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, and 3 Floyds Brewing Co. Each beer will sell for $5 for a six-ounce pour. In addition, Wakefield will sell a limited edition anniversary glass, with only 450 made. The glasses are expected to sell out quickly.
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Jonathan Wakefield says he can't believe his team's accomplishments in the past year. "The reception of the community and how we've been received locally has been outstanding. The awards that we just received were both unexpected and amazing. We were named second best brewery in the world. Now we have to work harder to compete with guys that have been doing this for years and years. We're putting the foot to the gas to see how far we can go."
In the past year, the brewery has already doubled its capacity and there are more projects on the horizon. "Our plan is to start doing more bottling and canning. We're going to shoot for about 30 bottle releases this year." In fact, the brewery will release four new limited edition bottles on Saturday, February 13 — right after the festival. At 5:15 p.m. on February 13, the taproom will release bottles of 5:15 East Bound and Down, a collaboration with Evil Twin. The beer is an Imperial Berliner weisse with coffee and chocolate. In addition, three barrel-aged imperial stouts will be released. The brewery also plans to offer more sour weisse beers this year. "To be honest, we're already on scale to produce a lot of sour beers. We've already made that move to constantly have that sour tank filled." Wakefield says that Miami is ready for more of the tart, refreshing beers. "I can tell you from talking with another guy that produces a lot of sour beers out of Oregon that it's a growing style, and I think it can really, really take off."
Wakefield says the next step for the brewery is an expansion of sorts. "We're already doubling our capacity from last year, and we're running out of space." With that said, plans are in the works to find another location to serve as a production facility. The plan is to keep the Wynwood as a flagship and a taproom, with the additional facility used strictly to make beer.
But first — a party.