Another Miami brewery is poised to open in the coming months, yet for the past year the general public has not had a chance to taste any beer from Biscayne Bay Brewing Company.
That will change, however, when the brewery is handing out samples of its beer at the Key West Brewfest this weekend. The beer festival kicked off yesterday for the Labor Weekend and ends on Monday. Dozens of Florida beers will be featured, including several from Miami, but Biscayne Bay Brewing is no where to be found on the website.
Unlike other Miami breweries who have participated in local beer festivals and events in the days leading up their official opening, the crew from Biscayne Bay Brewing has been quietly assembling a brew house and perfecting their recipes.
According to co-owner Gus Chacon, it was the "same issues" every brewery in Miami deals with when getting up and running. The hang-ups could include anything from permitting red tape, to equipment problems and production quotas. One of the biggest issues, explains Chacon, was making sure the equipment worked before making any formal announcements. Some equipment issues have delayed the brewery opening by several months.
"We didn't want to crank on the system and risk breaking something," Chacon says. "But everything is working now. We just want to make sure the beer is finished properly."
There is also the idea of quality and first impressions. Instead of brewing beer from homebrewing systems that varied from batch to batch, Chacon and his partner Jose Mallea wanted to make sure that the beer is consistent and ready for public consumption.
A bit of a background on the Biscayne Bay Brewing team. Mallea is a former campaign manager for Florida senator Marco Rubio. Both Mallea and Chacon are former staffers for former Miami mayor Manny Diaz. Aaron Anderson, the brewmaster, was a travel writer for Lonely Planet.
Three flagships will be available for tasting at Key West Brewfest: a golden ale, a pale ale and a saison. They were going to brew a double IPA and porter but decided that those beers would be too much for the South Florida heat.
"We thought the double IPA and porter would be a little heavy for the summer," Chacon said.
Chacon and Mallea hired Anderson who holds years of brewing experience from working at some well-known craft breweries, including Abita and Breckenridge brewing companies. So far Chacon says he is impressed with Anderson's work.
The brewery is almost ready to go. An official launch is tentatively scheduled for late next month. When open, it will be Miami's fourth production brewery.
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Now it's all about filling the fermentation tanks and having enough supply to go around. With their 15-barrel production system, Chacon says the brewery can put out approximately 500 barrels for the rest of the year. At full swing, Biscayne Bay Brewing will be able to churn out a fresh batch of flagship brews every two weeks.
"We want our customers to know they will be getting the best beer year round," says Chacon. "It will be beer that is consistent and that you’ll be happy with, no matter the time of year."