For a startup brewery, hiring a brewmaster is serious business, and MIA Brewing Company moved one major step closer to opening when it brought on Michael Demetrus, a brewer with not only a wealth of knowledge but also several years in the industry.
Coming straight out of the Windy City, he is set to begin as brewmaster and head of operations at MIA Brewing August 7.
Demetrus is a former brewer, operations manager, cofounder, and co-owner of Finch's Brewing Company founded in Chicago in 2010. Having developed recipes and names for beers such as Secret Stache Stout, Cut Throat Pale Ale and Fascist Pig, Demetrus no doubt has something special for Miami.
Originally from Santa Cruz, California, Demetrus began brewing while working as a gas station attendant. His manager at the time taught him how to brew.
He draws experience from beer-heavy markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago. With more than 57 craft breweries and several more planned in a city of more than 2 million people, Chicago is hardly a virgin market. But choosing to come to Miami wasn't hard for him because of its growing taste for craft beer.
"It is incredibly undersupplied for the population," Demetrus says. "There are a lot of benefits with going with an established brewery, but if you want to challenge yourself and realize a specific and personal vision, you go with a startup. It was just a really easy decision for me."
Demetrus found MIA Brewing owner Eddie Leon through an advertisement on a brewing forum, and they have been in contact for several months. At first, Demetrus considered moving to an established brewery instead of a startup, but after discussing philosophies with Leon, it turned out to be the right match.
A taproom, the one-on-one interaction with customers, and local distribution also factored into his coming here.
He says one of his biggest challenges will be getting acclimated to Miamians' specific tastes for craft beer. Purging old generalizations and assumptions is all part of the game. He shouldn't have a problem making friends, because the craft beer scene is such an inclusive community. Having the family move across the country and adjusting to a new environment is always a bit of a challenge too.
"I'll need to really get to know my audience, their tastes, cultures, identities, and passions," he says.
He couldn't give specific information about what or when they will begin brewing, but Demetrus is a sucker for oak, meaning we should expect some pretty decadent stuff flowing from those taps. Besides the projected lineup, he's thinking about some limited high-gravity special releases and says he even plans to work with some of Miami's "insanely talented" culinary masters on chief collaborations.
Having received and installed the brewing equipment within the past two months, Leon projects his brewery -- and always erring on the side of hope -- will open sometime in the fall. When it does open, it will be Miami-Dade's third production brewery. This week, they will begin pouring concrete for the floors at the Doral location.
From the Windy City to the Magic City, Demetrus will surely help distinguish Miami's craft beer scene, where the market is ripe for local domination.
"In Chicago, you can't even have a greasy-spoon diner that is taken seriously without having a handful of craft beer options," he says. "I have deep admiration for a host of Florida's craft pioneers, and soon enough Miami will have a big craft world all its own."