The founding brewer of MIA Beer, who died tragically in a car accident early Sunday morning, was quickly memorialized by members of Florida's beer community for both his talents and zest for life. Eddie Leon,
Leon shares that Piero was the brewery's first employee, back when it was called Most Wanted. "He was our founding brewer. I was the businessman, but Piero was the guy with the creative spark that got things in motion. I relied on Piero to give our brewery style. That's something you can never, ever replace."
The MIA owner says his friendship with Piero went far beyond making beer. "We were friends. Our sons were always together playing and having sleepovers."
The brewery, closed
Leon says the memorial is open to the public. "The brewery has been closed since Sunday, and everyone has been focused on doing the best we can to prepare for this evening and to remember him." To that effect, there will be a slide show with hundreds of photos gathered from Piero's friends and family. In addition, attendees will be invited to share their memories. Ryan Martin of 180 Degrees at the DRB is donating food, and Lola the Baker is making special cupcakes. People will also have the opportunity to purchase a special T-shirt in Piero's honor.
Leon isn't sure how many people will attend, but he's planning for a large turnout by securing additional parking at the Sears Service Center nearby and opening the still-unfinished MIA expansion for the evening. "A lot of people knew Piero. I've been trying nonstop to respond to condolences from around the world. There was a lot of love for him."
In addition, funds raised on a GoFundMe page will go to his son, Rebel. So far, nearly $34,000 has been donated by the community. The donor list reads like a who's who of craft beer, with money coming in from breweries such as Boston Beer, J. Wakefield, Funky Buddha, and New Belgium. "Obviously, not surprisingly, all the breweries have offered their help, and a lot have donated generously."
Leon also plans to keep Piero's legacy going at the brewery. "I think yesterday, Mike [Demetrius] brewed a stout that Piero planned on making. Tomorrow, Mike and Casey [Hughes] from Coppertail Brewing Co. are going to brew his final beer, an IPA. Slowly, we're going to get things back in gear. As a business owner and a friend, this is something that you don't ever know how to plan for. It's devastating on so many levels. I do not ever wish this on anybody. Thankfully, the community has been very supportive and lots of people have offered to help, and tonight will be very helpful to share in Piero's memory. This will be one step in the healing."
Piero Rodriguez' memorial will be held today, June 22, from 5 to 9 p.m. at MIA Beer. It is open to the public. Additionally, his GoFundMe page can be found at gofundme.com/2ae9xhg.