The North Miami BrewFest is back for its tenth anniversary, this Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Arts plaza in North Miami.
Although there are many beer festivals in South Florida, the North Miami BrewFest is unique because it was created from a college course.
The event was conceived by a class at Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University when one of the students suggested it as his senior internship. Now, what used to be a student-led event showcases more than 150 craft beers.
Barry Gump, professor and Harvey R. Chaplin Eminent Scholar Chair in beverage management and the creator of the school's brewing science program at FIU, spoke to New Times about his preparation for the festival: "I have to have my brewing class brew beer, which isn't a bad thing. I think the students have already made four new beers this semester and they should be all ready to go."
"Our brewing assistant Albert Rivera, he's made a couple of gruits," Gump explained. "One was sort of a chai gruit and I think the other one was jasmine. So again it's a way to get some non-traditional flavors in what is essentially a beer."
The FIU brewing program encourages students and faculty to brew and present unique craft beer for the festival, which has become an opportunity for students to showcase their creations alongside professional brewers such as Funky Buddha, Wynwood Brewery, the Tank, Beat Culture Brewing, Black Pit Brewing Co., and Cerveceria La Tropical. The students also have an opportunity to network and potentially get internship offers from the professionals present.
Ami Parrino, a microbiologist and advanced cicerone, helps the BrewFest with professional craft beer and food pairings to spread knowledge on how they can complement each other to create a culinary experience.
"In my opinion, I feel like beer is a much better pairing than wine for food," she explains. "Because of the ingredients in beer you have your malt and you can have light malt, dark malt, that gives you a big palette to work with. And then on top of that, you have hops and hops can give you flavors from piney to fruity to oniony. So there's an even bigger palette."
For anyone who wants to venture into making their pairings, Parrino suggests that guests match intensities between the beer and food. Looking for similar flavors to complement or for contrasts like sweet and salty.
Keep an eye out for the pairing craft beer & cuisine seminar that Parrino will host during the festival for more in-depth learning.
The festival allows a personal approach for students and attendees who get to speak to every brewer or specialist like Parrino and learn more about the industry and the process behind the beer they taste.
"I do enjoy this festival," Parrino says. "I liked that it's put on by the school. I'm a big proponent of higher education and making it a more approachable thing, so I like anything that makes beer approachable for everybody. So it's an equalizer, this festival to me."
North Miami BrewFest. 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 12, at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Plaza, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami. Tickets start at $55 via northmiamibrewfest.com. The event is for people 21 and over.