Miami's rapidly growing craft beer scene will get a little more international when Darwin Brewing Company takes over MIA Brewing's taps this Friday night.
Darwin Brewing Company is owned by Darwin Santa Maria, a Peruvian brewer and James Beard Award-winning chef who has been winning over palates at Darwin's on 4th, his restaurant and brewpub in Sarasota, since 2011. Building on the success of house-made brews that feature ingredients from the Andean and Amazonian regions of Peru, Darwin Brewing Company opened in May 2014. It features the full line of his beers, as well as snacks and pub fare inspired by the street foods of Peru.
Santa Maria began his brewing operation with flavors like chicha morada and maracuya (passionfruit). His cacao-infused beers paired well with his Peruvian menu, and they became a favorite among locals. However, Florida law restricted their sale beyond the restaurant; thus, the idea of the full-time brewery was born. "We built the production brewery because people love our twist of making Andean craft brews, the love and passion that we have to make beer with culinary ingredients," Santa Maria explains.
As with the restaurant, Darwin Brewing Company was an instant success, as well as the first Peruvian brewery in the United States. Just prior to opening, the Charapa Spiced Porter, which features charapa chilies, Amazonian cacao, annatto, and honey, received a silver medal at the Tampa Bay Beer Week competition. He has no plans of resting on his laurels. "We plan to develop more Peruvian gastro brewpubs around the U.S., and we have more new projects in our future," he says.
Leading up to further expansion, Darwin Brewing Company is beginning to branch out into other Florida markets, including Miami. Several bars around town have DBC's beers (which are distributed by Eagle Brands) on tap, including the Charapa Spiced Porter, the Ayawasca Belgian Dubbel, and the Summadayze IPA. By April, they plan to be canning their beers and distributing throughout Florida and eventually across the United States.
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The tap takeover at MIA Brewing Co. will begin Friday at 5 p.m. Santa Maria himself will be on hand to tap five of his beers: Big Deal Imperial Stout, Circa 1926 Tangerine Wheat Ale, Pirata Pils, San Juan Tropical Lager, and Summadayze IPA. He'll be joined by chef Diego Oka of the highly acclaimed La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental. The two Peruvian chefs have been working on a collaborative beer that will premiere later this year.
For a taste of Peru and more of the quality craft beer that Florida continues to produce, this event is not to be missed.
Follow Patrick Hieger on Twitter.