Beer & Wine

J. Wakefield Brewing Takes Home Top Honors at 2016 RateBeer Awards

Miami brewer Johnathan Wakefield was in Santa Rosa, California, this past weekend swigging some Pliney the Elders at Russian River Brewing Company at the RateBeer Best Awards and Festival January 30. 

Thousands of beer fans from as far away as China and Poland converged on the Northern California city to taste the world's top-rated beers, which received the highest scores on beer rating website The scores were tallied from all of the reviews left by the website's users in 2015.  Nearly a million reviews were posted in 2016, according to RateBeer, with raters ranging from certified cicerones to the beer lover next door.

More than 300,000 beers from 18,500-plus brewers worldwide were tallied for the awards results, with more than 21,000 beers judged in the New Brewers category alone. Of all the beer, only one Florida brewery took home any honors. J. Wakefield Brewing Company nabbed awards for Best New Brewer in Florida in 2015 and World's Top Beer Releases for 2015 for its Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit (DFPF) Berliner Weisse. 

Clearly pleased with the win, Wakefield took to Instagram to announce the victory: "We never imagined that when we first started this dream of producing a craft of love that it would lead to this. We do what we do out of passion and for the search of a better ale. We're honored to be awarded not only Best New Brewery in Florida, but to be recognized as the 2nd Best New Brewery in World, as well as DFPF being named one of 2015's Top Beer 50 Releases."

Perhaps the most prestigious accolade is the award for being the number two Best New Brewer in the World. Even though it's a second-place spot, J. Wakefield was among at least 5,600 new breweries worldwide in 2015 that were considered. "I think it's a huge deal for for Florida and Miami," Wakefield says. Colorado's Casey Brewing and Blending took the number one spot. "We were close," Wakefield says of second place. "I'll take it."

Wakefield's Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse (DFPF) won the Top Release award. No surprise there — it received a perfect score of 100 on 

Not only that, but DFPF also helped put Miami on the map as a city with a serious brewing industry. Wakefield is known for making a funky style of Berliner Weisse known as a Florida Weisse, which incorporates fresh tropical fruit.

Wakefield's beers have won praise from other top brewers in the United States, including Stone Brewing Company's Greg Koch, with whom Wakefield collaborated on brewing a batch of Hot Lil' Miami Tart Berliner Weiss. Last May, J. Wakefield and New Belgium Brewing collaborated to make the Grilled Pineapple Berliner Weiss.

The Miami brewer also gained lots of attention for doubling his crowdfunding goal of $55,000 within days. 

If you weren't in California to celebrate Wakefield's winning two RateBeer awards, you can always congratulate the brewing team at  Wakestock, J. Wakefield Brewing's first-anniversary party, which will be held February 13. 
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David Minsky is a U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He has also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky