Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma blasted Miami, Bousa Brewing Co. quietly opened its taproom September 22.
The 12,000-square-foot warehouse and adjacent 1,500-square-foot tasting room are located in the Little River business complex near to the train tracks. Cofounders Enrique Garcia and Juan Pablo Vergara brought on brewmaster Jack Sparks, who previously brewed for Nine Band Brewing Co. in Allen, Texas, and worked as a consultant for breweries in South America.
Sparks uses a 20-barrel system that can produce up to 4,000 barrels of brew per year. Production began last year, and distribution followed in December with Miami's Eagle Brands. Bousa's flagships are a British-style Bousa IPA and a Bousa Blonde American wheat ale. The brand is distinguished by its all-white tap handles and IPA bottle.
While a grand-opening celebration is in the works, Garcia says that the taproom is in soft-open mode and that the brewery's Instagram page will be updated with upcoming events.
Born in Miami, Cuban by ethnicity, and raised in Venezuela, Garcia is no stranger to craft beer. Neither is Vergara, a native Colombian, who previously owned Beergara in Bogotá. The two met in Miami four years ago while taking brewing courses. Craft beer has taken hold in parts of South America, Garcia says, but is still up-and-coming.
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Garcia says Venezuela is dominated by beer corporations such as Polar and Cervecería Regional but has an emerging craft beer market. "It was on such a small scale that Polar and Regional would kind of turn a blind eye because craft had such a small market share. South America is really where the U.S. was in terms of craft beer 20 to 30 years ago."
Craft breweries in Venezuela faced further difficulty in 2016 amid the political turmoil when Polar's criticism of socialist President Nicolás Maduro led to restrictions on imports of supplies such as grain. That change trickled down to craft breweries, Garcia says.
Yet he says a handful of small breweries have been able to acquire grain either legitimately or on the black market. Garcia believes craft beer is a community-builder that can also rebuild his homeland. "To take that over and translate our experience from here to there, creating jobs, creating local product pride, even on a small scale, would be very special."
Bousa Brewing Co. 7235 NE Fourth Ave., Miami; 786-510-5244; bousabrewing.com. Monday through Wednesday 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 4 p.m. to midnight.