Since 2013, when they opened Wynwood Brewing Company — considered Miami's first craft production brewery — cofounders Luis Brignoni Jr., and Luis "Pops" Brignoni Sr., have pretty much seen it all.
To date, the father-and-son duo has weathered it all from hurricanes, floods, and economic downturns to the lockdown and restrictions imposed by the 2020 pandemic. Now, just weeks away from celebrating Wynwood's eighth anniversary, Luis Jr. says it's crazy to think back to the days when it all began.
"My dad was retired, living like a good Puerto Rican in Orlando," he tells New Times. "I was in sales and market research but had been making beer at home after Pops got me a home-brew kit for Christmas while I was still in college."
The novice home brewer figured if he couldn't afford to drink craft beer, he'd make his own. The motivation to open a microbrewery followed, spurred by the realization his city lacked a market for local suds.
"From there it became about building a local craft beer culture. I told the old man, 'Here's a business plan. If I'm going to do it, I'd like to do it with you.' I remember that day like it was yesterday," Luis Jr. recalls.
As headquarters, they chose a warehouse space at the western edge of Wynwood. As the brewery began to take shape, Pops would make the trek down from Orlando. When trips became more frequent — and necessary — he relocated to Miami.
"It took a village. It took a lot of people to make sure the brewery got up and running, from my parents and my in-laws to the friends and family that volunteered to help us," says Luis Jr., who spent over 20 months working with city officials to write the zoning code that would allow for breweries in Miami.
He recalls the frustration of introducing a relatively new industry to Miami.
"When we first called the city they told me I couldn't open a brewery," he says. "They thought we were distilling hops, so I had to put together a presentation to show them it wasn't like that. I said, 'I'm like a baker. It's like baking bread.' The entire process was about education. It was good because we were able to educate people on brewing and pave the way for so many more businesses. But also bad because we were the ones that had to educate them."
Now, eight years later, the brewery — best known for its Pop's porter and La Rubia blonde ale — is one year closer to celebrating a milestone anniversary.
"This year, we're going back to basics with the anniversary celebration, tapping multiple beers and offering a number of specialty treatments to bring back some of Wynwood's old-school favorites," says David Rodriguez, a longtime Wynwood employee and the brewery's official Missionary of Beer.
Wynwood Brewing will host its eighth anniversary on Saturday, August 28, from 7 a.m. to close. The event kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with the brewery's annual Rubia Ride, a family-friendly bike ride that offers novice and experienced cyclists alike a fun way to explore Miami on two wheels. Tickets are $15 per person and include entrance to one of three guided rides, a branded Sili Pint, and a complimentary La Rubia blonde ale at the end of the ride.
Ride participants will also receive one raffle ticket for the chance to win a branded Caja China ($450 value) or Rapha cycling kit ($200 value). Additional raffle tickets will be available for $5 apiece, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade and BikeSafe.
The anniversary's main event will begin at noon. Festivities include a live DJ, food from on-site pop-ups Cluckin’ Right Chicken and Madrecita’s Bistro, and timed tappings of Wynwood Brewing beers. Favorites include Passionfruit Laces fruited IPA, Blackberry Father Belgian golden strong ale, Watermelon Gallagher lager, Lock On dry-hopped lager, and Apple of My IPA 2.0 (served from a cask). Fans can also find exclusive limited-edition merchandise, including anniversary-branded glassware.
"Looking back, we were a little bit ignorant, but also crazy. It took some audacity to be the first," Luis Jr. says. "But we thought Miami should have that beer culture that other cities have. And we're proud to still be doing what we love."