Three years ago, when Wynwood Brewing Company opened its doors, Luis Brignoni had no idea the brewery he and his father started would be as successful as it is. But after numerous awards and a positive reception by Miamians and the beer community at large, the brewery is doing so well, it's outgrowing its 15-barrel brewhouse and taproom.
In order to grow, Brignoni announced a partnership with Craft Brew Alliance (CBA). The terms of the agreement see CBA taking a minority 24.5 percent share of the brewery, allowing Wynwood to expand its local production brewery and taproom.
In addition, Wynwood Brewing will have access to CBA's production facilities and regional sales team. Already, plans are underway to start brewing two signature brews, La Rubia and Pops Porter, at CBA's Portsmouth, New Hampshire, facility. Brignoni says the move was essential for the company to keep up with local demand and to be able to go to the next level. "Pops [Luis C. Brignoni] and I have to capitalize on this thing and expand. We needed to take a big step. We knew we had to do some brewing offsite. That's why our relationship with CBA makes sense."
Brignoni says he spoke to a lot of investors, but when the conversations with CBA got serious, the father-and-son brewers knew this alliance was the right choice. "It's a no-brainer. I'm super pumped."
At first, the idea of brewing his beer in a different facility was difficult, but after visiting the 100-barrel, state-of-the-art facility in Portsmouth, Brignoni was convinced this was the right move. "To be honest, I was kinda resisting the idea of doing any contract beer. It's important that the beer tastes exactly the same. But now we have access to lab equipment, and we can look at our beers in a way we couldn't before."
The brewer has already made a successful test batch up north. More testing, including a commercial-size big batch, will follow before the public gets to taste any of the beer. Production should start April 2017 or earlier. That means that in 2017, the brewery could potentially double its current 5,000-barrel production. Even with double the amount of beer, Brignoni plans on concentrating distribution to South Florida. "Maybe at one point we'll expand, but right now the focus is very much Miami-Dade and growing from there. Ninety-two percent of the beer we produce stays in Miami-Dade, and we're still running out of beer. We will continue to grow here and sprout our roots."
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The brewer has plans to expand first in Monroe and Broward, with 2018 seeing an expansion to most of Florida before working its way up the Eastern Seaboard. "New York, Philadelphia, Boston are all great beer markets," notes Brignoni. In addition, he is looking into exporting some of his brews. "Miami is a world-class city, and as the gateway to the Americas, we're constantly being asked about export deals. We want to make sure the beer can travel that far first."
The expansion also frees up the Wynwood facility to produce some new beers. "La Rubia is a solid beer that I have no doubts will do really well in Portsmouth. That leaves us room to do fun stuff in Wynwood, like seasonals."
No matter what the future holds for the brewery, the operation is still a family business run by a close-knit group. "Our team is unbelievable. We have a lot of people that have been with us from the beginning. I owe it to them and the fold who want our beer to figure out a growth strategy that works for everyone."