When Johnathan Wakefield opened his eponymous Wynwood brewery, his beers were already well known. The brewer, who raised more than $110,000 in a CrowdBrewed campaign, had already gained a fan base by collaborating with established breweries such as Cigar City and Terrapin.
Once opened, Wakefield's Star Wars-themed taproom became known for two things: its signature Florida weisses made with local fruit, and its legendary festivals featuring brews never before tasted in Miami.
This year, Wakefield will host his second-annual WakeFest in honor of the brewery's second anniversary. The event boasts a new home: the back area of Mana Wynwood, which includes 25,000 square feet of parking lot and a 5,000-square-foot building.
From noon to 5 p.m. February 18, 2017, WakeFest will offer beer from upward of 80 brewers, including more than 30 Florida breweries and, once again, "beers that haven't been poured in the state of Florida before," Wakefield says.
The event, which was held in Jeremiah Bullfrog's lot in Wynwood last year, demanded a larger space, according to the brewery's founder. "Last year, we had 30 breweries, but our friends in the industry have grown tremendously. All of our connections have grown tenfold."
Wakefield's idea was to do something in South Florida that features rare beer. "How many people in Miami have had Holy Mountain or certain Jester King beers or offerings from breweries in Spain and Sweden? You could go to different events around the country, but it's never been done here."
The brewer says WakeFest also showcases the quality product put out by our local breweries. "I think this festival helps Miami breweries. MIA, Miami Brewing, and Biscayne Bay are examples. It shows how good the beer in Miami really is, and our number one goal is to grow the community."
Even with new breweries coming online in Miami every few months, Wakefield says the market has much room to expand. "I think I said in a five-year plan, 30 breweries would be opening. I think we'll be close."
The festival isn't the only thing under expansion. Wakefield plans to move and expand his brewing operations, though his taproom will remain in Wynwood. One neighborhood in the running is Little River. Bousa Brewing recently opened its operation there, with a taproom on the way. "Actually, that's where I originally looked. I think it's a prime location."
Though WakeFest has just been announced, VIP tickets are already sold out. General admission costs $75 and includes all-you-can-drink and a limited-edition bottle of Golden Ticket, an imperial stout with chocolate, caramel, and sea salt.
Noon Saturday, February 18, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Tickets cost $75 at vendini.com.
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