Gramps in Wynwood is a staple of Miami's bar scene. That's not news. However, for one day a month, Gramps transforms into a mini beer festival and becomes the epicenter for the city's craft beer movement.
Since March, the bar has served as the home to the monthly Sud Swap, a gathering of craft beer seekers looking to meet like minded individuals. For a few hours each month in the courtyard that accompanies Gramps, bottle sharers, homebrewers, and even some professionals join up with artists, musicians, and all the bearded people beer money can buy for a craft beer bacchanal. It's not about going balls to the wall, it's about sharing and giving a gathering point for local beer enthusiasts.
Matt Smith is the face of the Swap, along with artist La Mano Frio and help from Johnny Niño and Arwen Lehman of Craft Brewjas, a women-centric beer group. Gramps owner Adam Gersten gives the group his blessing, and has them booked through the end of 2014.
The idea for a beer swap event has its origins in the Miami Beer Tour where operator La Mano Frio devised a plan for a beer party fused with art, and soon approached Smith with the idea.
"This event started as a pipe dream while sitting outside Gramps," Smith explained. "We got Funky Buddha Brewery to kick off the first one, got a good crowd, and moved on from there. We organized everything through Instagram...it's easy to link up to everyone on it."
Outside the realm of these local commercial brewers, home brewers are a staple of the Swap. Local hobbyists Wasassa Brewing and 403 Brewing were out in June, with 403 bringing a duo of culinary beers: A honey sriracha-flavored beer and a smoked maple bacon Black IPA. Brewer Aaron Sayre learned about the event through an encounter with Matt at Riverside Market in Fort Lauderdale. "He asked us to be a part of this," Sayre explained. "This isn't a competition, it's just fun with people who are into craft beer. We've done better to get our name out at this event than at some [home brew] competitions."
Though there was no cost to the event, people were happy to circulate greenbacks in the form of tips, the purchase of merchandise, or in breaking out a precious bottle from ones' cellar.
Jonathan Wakefield, Miami's king of sours, helped to tentpole the event this month by bringing in kegs of some of his brews, including Miami Madness (a Berliner brewed with guava, mango, and passionfruit), Tamarind Berliner Weisse, and two versions of his imperial stout, Rye Barrel Aged Coconut Nothing and Rye Barrel Aged Coffee/Vanilla Nothing. A kind and generous offering to the beer people, which acted as a bit of a showcase for those not familiar with his brewery opening soon about 250 feet to the east of Gramps.
Smith holds high praise for Jonathan. "Wakefield is the Miami beer scene," he said. "He does stuff for the scene that is just awesome, he's such a supporter of it."
As this event grows, expect some bigger things to spring up. For the event July 19, there is already a lineup that includes Tampa's Cigar City Brewing and hometown hero J Wakefield Brewing.
Smith hopes people come away with at least a little bit of knowledge in addition to that buzz. "We hope to get people more engaged in the craft beer community, to educate them on craft in a fun environment, and inspire those who want to do something creative."