Concrete Beach's Beers: Passionfruit, South American Red, and Mojo Flavor

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Concrete Beach Brewery is finally getting some forward steam. The 11,000-square-foot facility in Wynwood has begun brewing beers and will be available on tap in Miami restaurants any day now.

In addition, the brewery's taproom is on target to open this summer. With live entertainment, beer education nights, and an indoor/outdoor bar that looks into the working brewery, it promises to live up to its Social Hall moniker. The brewery also promises new beers in addition to its Rica IPA and Stiltsville Pilsner. But what are these new beers and how much of an influence will experimentation play in the brewery's roster?  After all, Concrete Beach is part of Alchemy & Science, a craft-beer incubator co-founded by beer masters Alan Newman and Stacey Steinmetz.

Until now, Concrete Beach has been careful to not give out too much information on the beers being produced. But Chris McGrath, lead brewer for the Wynwood brewery, has finally given New Times a taste of beers to come.

McGrath, who was lead brewer for River Horse Brewing Company in New Jersey for four years, interviewed for his position at Concrete Beach during Art Basel, which made his mind up immediately that he wanted to be a part of this growing scene. "I never saw a place with so much energy. You can just tell that folks are into the art community and the food community. I just think that this entire neighborhood is about to explode."

As for the growing beer scene, McGrath feels like Miami, and Wynwood in particular, is ripe to be a world-class beer mecca. " I think Wynwood had the foundation for a long-term relationship with beer. After all, beer is an art form. In Wynwood you see art, literally on every single wall. 

"Wynwood is one of a kind, compared to some of the other big-beer communities that I've been to. I think it's because there are so many international influences. I think the sky's the limit., mostly because the community has really embraced what we are all doing. That’s why you can have three breweries [Wynwood Brewing Company and J. Wakefield Brewing] on the same street. That being said, the breweries in town have done a great job at giving customers a high-quality product. We need to push each other, which is really exciting. On a personal note, I've gotten to know the guys from the other breweries and they're awesome, awesome people. I think we can become the nexus of the South Florida beer scene."
McGrath says that since Concrete Beach's goal is to educate people about beer. "We haven't pigeon-holed into one style. We want to run the gamut, because we feel there's a beer for everyone out there."  McGrath says that he and his team are getting inspiration from the city around them. "We look at our neighborhood and community, and we work out flavors and aromas that are inspired by what we see and taste." The brewer says he's been eating out at many Miami restaurants to experience the flavors of his adopted city. After much experimentation and exploration, the verdict is a mixture of classic and bold. "We're going to release a lot of different varieties. Some traditional, some wacky."

McGrath shared some of the brews to look out for in the weeks and months to come:

Concrete Common: "We're doing a common beer, sort of like an Anchor Steam. It's a lager with really fruity esters."

Walls: "I'm really excited about this beer. Everyone's familiar with Killian's Irish Red. Well, this is a South American red, because it has great malts from Patagonia and a brilliant ruby color. This is a delicious malt-forward coffee-colored beer. I'm really digging this beer and thrilled we're going to put it on tap. I'm excited to see what the response is."

Tropic of Passion: "We did a lot of R&D on passionfruit. I've been overwhelmed on the tropical fruits here. I'm from the northeast and I don't know if I even saw a passionfruit before a few months ago. We started working with the fruit and developed this beer. It was kind of the first time the whole team sat down together. A lot of ideas came out of those sessions, and the finished product is outstanding. It's sweet, it's tart, and it has this nice, pinkish hue. It's really drinkable. Even people who aren't beer drinkers will dig this beer. It has a lot of elements that you'll see in mixed drinks. It showcases passionfruit in a really big way."

In the future, look for even more creative endeavors from the most unlikely sources. "We were talking about doing a beer that has the elements of a mojo marinade. That starts at a very base level with sour orange and we'll see if that ingredient can work in a beer and what beer would that work in and scale from there. It all starts with inspiration."

In the end, there's only one goal for McGrath and his team. "Our mission is to make world-class beer. That means you just have to put in the time and the effort and the care. You have to understand the flavor, the aroma, the alcohol content, the bitterness. We put a lot of research and due diligence into every beer before we commit ourselves."

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