Jonathan Wakefield on Beer in Miami: "We're Still in the Starting Phases"

Long before J. Wakefield Brewing opened the doors to its Wynwood taproom, founder Jonathan Wakefield generated buzz about his beers. The brewer, who raised over $112,000 in a Crowdbrewed campaign (twice his original goal), has amassed a large fan base by showcasing his beers at festivals and collaborating with heavy hitters like Cigar City and Terrapin.

Wakefield beers
Wakefield beers
Photo by Laine Doss
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The brewery's signature Florida Weisses and sours made with local tropical fruits are perfect for the Miami heat, with Wakefield saying he's influenced by his neighborhood. "I use a lot of fruits that are common to the Latin community — guava, dragon fruit, papaya, so across the board  I like to use what's locally as best as we can."

Wakefield and his team have an inspiration shelf filled with various fruits, teas, spirits, and spices to help them find the next interesting flavors for their brews. "We try to find whatever profiles would be best paired with the beers." So far, his intuition and palate has worked, with the slight exception of one beer. " We put our Berliner Weisse in a sherry vinegar barrel and added tart cherries. Some people hated it and some people loved it, but we still kicked the keg."

J. Wakefield taproom
J. Wakefield taproom
Photo by Laine Doss

Even though the taproom is newly opened, there's still work to be done, including expansion. Wakefield explains that even after planning the brewery for over a year, the demand for his product exceeds the output his current equipment can supply. "We're in the process of getting more fermenting tanks. I can't make beer fast enough." A bottling line is also in the future.

The brewing entrepreneur feels that this is just the beginning for the beer scene in Miami. "With Concrete Beach opening and Wynwood Brewing Company already established, combined with local restaurants like Kush having great local beer selections, we're still in the starting phases. At least that's what I would hope. I would love for the beer scene to be huge. I would love to think that in the next five years or so we can expand to 30 or even 40 breweries. We have enough space and people to grow to that size."

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