If you've been to a beer festival lately, you've probably already tasted MIA Brewing Company's honey wheat beer or IPA under the brand Most Wanted. The brewery, which recently changed its name to MIA Brewing Company, is hoping all that good word of mouth and multiple tastings will get paid back when the brewery opens to the public in Doral this fall.
The name change resulted after owners discovered that High Plains Distillery in Kansas makes Most Wanted Vodka, but the new name seems to fit the brand better, according to Piero Rodriquez, brewmaster for MIA. "In a way, we're happier because MIA links us to Miami in a much more obvious and fitting way than Most Wanted did." The names of the beers -- such as Crimin Ale and Hops & Robbers -- will stay on.
Piero (who goes by his first name) took us on a tour of the brewery's space in Doral, nestled in a corporate office park about a mile from International Mall, and invited us to use our imaginations as he showed us where the tap room will be, where the stage (for live bands on weekends) will be placed, and where the brewing will occur. A wall of glass will be installed between the equipment and the tap room so people can see their beer being made as they hoist a pint. Beers will rotate, but there will be no less than ten varieties on tap.
Though the space looks empty now, Piero assures us that things will start moving fast. The large-scale equipment, capable of turning out 600 gallons of beer every four hours, will arrive in July, and the tap room is slated for an October opening. Piero is hoping that MIA will be the spark that ignites the brewing scene in Miami.
"By next year, it's going to be all about breweries here in Miami. We put out a good product, and so does Wynwood Brewing Company. We're hoping to really grow Miami's beer scene. Beer is different from spirits. It's social. It's what you do on a Sunday with friends. And we're making real beer for real beer drinkers."
If you wonder why a brewer mentions his competition (Wynwood), Piero explains. "The craft beer world is pretty close to a family. We're always trying to help each other out. Besides, we each have totally different brewing styles."
Asked about his brewing style, Piero doesn't hesitate. "Punk rock," he replies. "I'm not afraid of anything, and I'm open to new ideas." Piero goes as far as to name his vats after female punk-rock icons. "There's Debbie, Siouxsie, Pat, and Joan. They're the girls of rock 'n' roll." In fact, Piero won't brew without music, and plans to spin good old-fashioned vinyl at the brewery when it opens. "Music makes the beer better. So does love and happiness."
The brewmaster wants to spread that happiness through his beers. To ramp up for the opening of the brewery and tap room, Piero is tweaking some recipes. He invited us to taste-test a vanilla/chocolate porter. Asked how it was, we replied it tasted like a root beer float. "Too much vanilla."
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But it's this obsession that leads to great beer and new ideas. "I have an idea to make a simple wheat beer with grains of paradise. It's a gingery, peppery spice that also just sounds beautiful. After all, who wouldn't want to have a Lost in Paradise?"