The craft beer industry starts with the act of brewing your own, at least in part, and like many homebrewers, the guys of 4th Age Brewing are taking their skills to the next level by launching a company.
Chris Campos and Danny Morales are the brewmasters behind the fellowship of 4th Age. And they are looking to stand out in South Florida's craft beer revolution.
Both Campos and Morales work in the education industry. Campos is a teacher for Miami-Dade public schools, and Morales is a test proctor for Miami Dade College. They met as students at Braddock High School in 1999 and got into brewing through a mutual friend at Florida International University.
As they began making beer together, their hobby gradually swelled from five gallons a month to as much as 35 gallons per week. Appearing at events and starting a brewing company are now their source of motivation.
With their combined brewing and educational expertise, they plan to show Miami a different side of craft beer.
Their approach is twofold: beers and brand image. Their signature brew is ¿Flan? stout, which pays homage to their Latin American roots.
Their lineup also includes flavors such as You Are the Mango wit beer, Oathbreaker blueberry hefeweizen, Lost City golden ale, One Night in Bangkok cream ale, and a seasonal pumpkin ale. They are planning to make a kiwi-flavored brew. They also prepare a saison-brewed hibiscus, coriander, and orange peel that's aged in oak barrels.
As with any serious homebrewers who want to go commerical, they are entrenched in their hobby. Their lives are consumed by it, and preparing for festivals takes up most of their time. Campos estimates he has spent up to $10,000. "We're hard-core into this," he says.
They first appeared on the scene at Grovetoberfest last year, winning the best beer in the "Gasolina" category. Now they are in the process of forming a commercial brewery. They are searching for investors and are even listed as an up-and-coming brewery by the Brewers Association.
It's difficult to say when they will secure a space or complete the permitting process, because these things take time due to red tape and heavy state and federal government regulation, but Campos and Morales are pushing for 1,500 barrels for their first year of production.
As far as the origins of the name, it refers to J.R.R. Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings series.
So if you're interested in knowing about 4th Age, let them teach you a thing or two about craft beer. They are teachers, after all. One more thing you absolutely must know about them: They also cure their own bacon.
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