Hurricane Irma turned out to be a close call for NightLife Brewing Company. The storm knocked out power to the brewery for several days, causing the temperature to rise and nearly spoil most of the beer, cofounder Juan O'Naghten says.
But Florida Power & Light restored electricity to NightLife Brewing September 15, just in time for the brewery's release of its Next Thursday Pale Ale, on draft tomorrow in the taproom, located at Marlins Park. NightLife opened for business in late August, but Saturday marks the public release of its first beer brewed on premises.
A blonde ale called Next Thursday is brewed with simcoe, mosaic, and citra hops and has a 5.2 percent ABV. It's the first beer made on the brewing system, O'Naghten says. It's an easy-going and drinkable brew that doesn't "shock the taste buds into submission," he adds. The tapping begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, September 23.
It's the first of many original beers NightLife Brewing will have on tap in the coming weeks. The beers almost didn't make it. "Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong," O'Naghten says. "It's just one of those things."
When New Times spoke with O'Naghten last week, the Golden Strong saison and the Daring Brunette brown ale, which were still in fermentation, reached as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The Gunfighter Blonde Hefeweizen was holding strong at 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the yeast was dormant in the Hefeweizen, O'Naghten says he had to dump some of it.
The brewery's 90 Mile Pale Ale and Gunfighter Blonde were ready to be kegged, although the kegs were delayed in Atlanta because of Hurricane Irma, O'Naghten says. He's been taste-testing the beer to ensure it doesn't have "off" flavors. If it does, it must be thrown away.
"Wild temperature swings have an effect on flavor," O'Naghten says. "It's not immediate, but if you don't keep your products stable, then it's bad news for everybody."
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But it wasn't bad news. In another day or two, he says, it "would have been all over." Had the power not been restored in the nick of time, O'Naghten estimates he would've lost at least $8,000 worth of beer alone, not including labor. In terms of retail value, it's something he doesn't even want to think about.
Irma was no doubt a source of stress, O'Naghten says, but the real test will come Saturday with the release. Beginning this weekend, NightLife Brewing will debut a beer each week leading up to the brewery's grand opening, planned for October 7.
A major hurricane causing widespread power outages and nearly spoiling all of his new beer wasn't what O'Naghten had in mind when he opened a brewery. However, he chalks it up to luck. "If it wasn't for bad luck," he says, "I would have no luck at all."
NightLife Brewing Co. 1588 NW Seventh St., Miami; 786-787-7223; nightlifebrewingco.com. Tuesday through Thursday 4 to 11 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to late, Saturday 1 p.m. to late, Sunday 1 to 9 p.m.