A craft beverage brand is preparing to launch in Miami this year — and it's not another brewery.
Newcomer Ceiba will launch with its own line of Florida-made beverages that include mead, cider, and the company's unique take on non-grape wines, referred to in the industry as "country" wine.
Wine/mead maker Sean McClain and business partner Eric Seidmon, along with Sean’s father and brother, David and Brian McClain, are the four men behind Ceiba, named for the tree native to many Latin American countries. Together, the Ceiba team will operate out of a newly acquired production facility located in Miami's Bird Road Art District.
Using local tropical fruits and Florida honey, McClain and Seidmon aim to create beverages matched to the Florida lifestyle. But don't expect Ceiba to be the type of place you can sit and sip a mead or glass of wine in-house from inception.
Rather than offer a taproom experience right away, the team plans to focus its initial efforts on producing a packaged product for local to-go sales and distribution, with a taproom to follow.
"Right now, offhand, I don’t think there are many South Florida places that have locally made fruit wines or meads on draft," Seidmon tells New Times. "We want to change that narrative."
Sean McClain began making mead as a hobby several years ago, having been inspired by several recognized names in the business including Schramm's Meadery in Michigan and Tampa-based Garagiste Meadery.
"I thought mead was just something very sweet that Vikings drank. But once I began trying some of the better styles, I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing out on. So much flavor and intensity," says McClain. "That's where the interest really started for me."
For Seidmon, helping to bring Ceiba to life was an opportunity to become involved in an industry he loves. "I was impressed with what Sean was producing," Seidmon says. "Recently, he's really dialed everything in and taken his skills to the next level. Once we realized he was really on to something, we became interested in producing commercially.”
McClain, who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Miami, began studying mead-making methodology and recipes in 2017. Largely self-taught, he garnered advice from industry professionals while studying Ken Schramm's The Complete Meadmaker.
Today, his approach to mead making offers imbibers a lighter, fruitier take on mead, often with the inclusion of tropical fruits. "The idea is to create a lighter and refreshing product," he says, adding, "It's really hot down here."
Miami businesses classified as wineries are licensed to produce both mead and cider, and McClain says he also began experimenting with various fruits to make ciders as well as a line of low-alcohol carbonated and still fruit wines he calls "country wines."
The resulting products include a Summer Juice series, which utilizes a fermentation technique McClain perfected to combine several fruits to create an easy-drinking, low-alcohol beverage. His lightly carbonated combination of strawberry, passionfruit, and orange juice rings in at just under 6 percent ABV and he says it has received love.
"They're great for sipping by the pool or beach," Seidmon adds. "They're the ultimate summer juice — hence, the name. But really, I prefer them any time."
Ceiba will also produce a non-carbonated (i.e., still) fruit wine, usually utilizing a single tropical fruit, that will range from 12 to 14 percent ABV. Variations so far include mamey, lucuma, and guanabana, all of which are produced to drink much like a grape-based wine.
"We make these products with the consumer always in mind," says Seidmon. "We want something for everyone."
Ceiba. 4233 SW 75th Ave., Miami; instagram.com/ceibasfl.
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