Beer & Wine

Unbranded Brewing Company Will Be Hialeah's First Brewery and Taproom

Hialeah is getting a brewery. Unbranded Brewing Company, located in the newly branded Leah Arts District, will open in 2017, making it the first operation to secure a location in the up-and-coming area of Miami-Dade.  

Owner Zachary Swanson confirmed to New Times that he recently acquired a 31,000-square-foot warehouse located at 1395 East 11th Ave. that'll serve as the brewhouse. Julian Uribe, who works in a popular Miami hotel in the city's MiMo District, will join the operation as managing partner. 

Most of Miami-Dade's breweries are located in Wynwood, Doral, or Kendall, but Swanson chose Hialeah because it seemed like an "interesting place." This might be the catalyst for Hialeah to become a major destination for local beer-makers seeking space. Hialeah Brewing Company will launch a crowdfunding campaign in May to collect funds to purchase a permanent spot in its namesake city.

"I also don't think Miami craft breweries have seriously targeted the Cuban demographic, and it's very populous in Hialeah," Swanson says.

The beer entrepreneur, originally from Houston, moved to Miami six years ago to pursue a PhD in philosophy from the University of Miami. Postgraduate job prospects looked slim, so Swanson tapped into a decade's worth of homebrewing experience. "I realized a year or so ago that it'd be really hard to get a job in philosophy, so I just decided to open up a craft brewery."

Swanson plans to make "unbranded" beer, meaning it won't necessarily conform to Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines. He also has interest in developing a sour program. 

"Tracing back to Sam Maverick, I want to make Maverick-y beers, or beers that don't adhere to a lot of those guidelines," Swanson says. "Essentially, what it'll boil down to is using different kinds of hops and barley and atypical recipes." 
He plans to bring in a 30-barrel brewing system, which would make Unbranded one of the largest breweries in Miami. Plans also include a tasting room and possibly a restaurant that'll specialize in a fusion between Cuban and American styles of barbecue.  

Swanson hopes to open Unbranded next year. 

"Unbranded" is actually the second name Swanson chose for his brewery. Before, he called it Maverick Brewing Company, which he says is named for his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Maverick, a 19th-century cattle rancher and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. 

Maverick's name became the source of the commonly used word "maverick," which has come to signify independent-minded people. The story goes that Maverick defied tradition and refused to brand his cattle. 

However, his brewery's name ran afoul of a brewing company in California, which threatened to send a cease-and-desist letter to Swanson. Even though Swanson believes he has a case strong enough to win a lawsuit, he didn't want to get bogged down in legal wrangling. So he changed the name to "Unbranded," which seemed to fit. 

"I think 'Unbranded' is pretty sexy too," Swanson says. 
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David Minsky is a U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He has also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky