J. Wakefield Brewing Company is finally set to open in the coming weeks. According to founder Johnathan Wakefield, the brewery will start production at the end of September in anticipation of an October opening of the tap room.
"We are in our last leg of the completion process," Wakefield says. "We'll start brewing at the end of the month. We need about a month to stockpile some wares before I open the tasting room. We'll have the grand opening in October."
The tap room is decorated in a blend of "industrial chic with a side of geek. We recycled wine barrels as our chandeliers, and we have stainless steel counter tops with wood, and custom-made, cast iron piping for our tower. At the same time, there's a 35-foot long mural of Star Wars by CP1, as well as a giant phoenix by artist Luis Valle. Some of our tap handles are light sabers. That's who I am at heart."
The brew master said that the brewery's flagship beers available at the tap room will include an IPA, a porter, a coconut hefeweizen, and a pineapple kolsch. In addition, 25 percent of production will include the brewer's sour fruit beers. Wakefield also plans to add seasonals into the mix, like a roasted imperial stout and pumpkin beers.
The beers will also be available at many Miami restaurants. Gold Coast will distribute them and local restaurants like Kush and Butcher Shop have signed on to serve the brews. Also in the works, according to Wakefield, are collaborative dinners at some big-name restaurants.
When asked about how our local craft beer scene is growing, Wakefield said he believes there's a lot of room for more breweries to come on line. "I think there's a huge craving for craft beer right now in Miami and it's only going to grow. I think it's a positive thing."
Wakefield compared Miami to another city with a growing beer community. "There's going to be 112 breweries in San Diego by the end of this year. I think that number creates a community. There's always room to grow. We need more breweries in order to really grow the scene here."
Wakefield said that cities known for their beer, like Asheville and San Diego, can serve as models for Miami.
"I think we obviously need looser laws. We really should also embrace anyone who wants to open a brewery, like when Cigar City invited me to brew pilot batches. We should reach out to the home brewers and help them out, because the larger the community gets, the better it is for everybody.
"I think when everyone cares for each other, we'll all get someplace. Look, everyone will make money. It's not about the money for me. It's more about growing the craft beer community in Miami. I've lived here my whole life and I've been in beer for over a decade. I've watched this place come from basically a desolate beer desert to what it is today."
When asked how many breweries it would take for Miami, especially, Wynwood, to become a destination draw for beer lovers, the brewer said at least three, "but I think it will take five or six."
That number seems likely by this time next year, with Wynwood Brewing, Wakefield, and Concrete Beach either already open or on the cusp.
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Wakefield predicts by next year, Miami will have close to ten breweries, with many more to come. "In five years, I hope there will be at least 30 breweries and in ten years, I see 40-50 breweries in Miami."
For naysayers who think South Florida can't possibly support that many beer makers, Wakefield suggests taking a trip to a city that's doing beer right. "Go look at Asheville. Or San Diego. When I was there, I went to 30 different breweries. It didn't really even matter what beer they made. Everyone was enjoying them and they were selling out of beer."