Beer & Wine

Wynwood Brewing Continues to Trek Forward in 2016

What's a brewery to do with a 15-barrel brewhouse? Brew a lot of beer, which is exactly what owner Luis G. Brignoni, brewer Nik Mebane, and the rest of the Wynwood Brewing Company team are doing in their slice of Miami heaven — 465 gallons at a time.

Since 2013, the brewery has been creating and serving beers out of its Wynwood location, bringing an influx of thirsty consumers to the gallery-laden strip. From a straightforward 7,000-square-foot facility with accompanying 1,200-square-foot taproom, the brewers at Wynwood Brewing have been creating, by end-of-2016 projections, almost 5,000 barrels of beer. That's just about 155,000 gallons of the malt-hop-and-yeast-laden beverage that has captivated the minds and palates of South Florida over the past half-decade. But it's simply not enough.

As part of a growing expansion, capacity has been increased by 20 percent, and the brewers are actively seeking a new secondary location in Miami-Dade and possibly Broward. If all goes as planned, they hope to unveil the new facility in the latter half of 2017.

In recent months, however, the brewery, along with the neighborhood itself, has fallen on hard times. With the threat of the Zika virus looming, many visitors have shied away from the area, leaving Wynwood businesses in a rut. The incredible stigma that Zika has given to the neighborhood has forced the brewery to delay its usual late-summer anniversary party, an event that draws many South Floridians to enjoy the beer-focused creativity emanating from the block party. Instead, the organizers have had to postpone it almost six months.

"The CDC and our government have done a great job at keeping us informed," Luis Brignoni, cofounder of Wynwood Brewing Company, says. "They are taking the necessary precautions to eradicate this problem so that we can continue to have a neighborhood that's bustling with people and culture." Wynwood has since been cleared of the mosquito-borne threat, and the brewery remains open for business.

As of now, its third-anniversary celebration will take place Saturday, December 10. The schedule includes beer releases, food trucks, and live music.

Once past this stumbling block, Wynwood Brewing sees no reason to stop moving forward with any of its plans. First up is a release of its Father Francisco, a Belgian golden strong ale that's part of the brewery's Origins series. In a nod to Miami history, it is named for the first Jesuit priest who landed in Miami and set up a mission at the mouth of the Miami River in the early 1500s. It's a spicy, highly carbonated beer with soft malt flavors and is being aged in bourbon barrels to give it an extrawoodsy roundness.

In addition, the brewery is taking advantage of its tropical setting by planning a beer-themed cruise, departing from PortMiami in May 2017. Wynwood Brewing will set sail on the Norwegian Escape for a seven-day Caribbean excursion that will include beer dinners, beer-and-cheese pairings, a basketball tournament, and other perks while visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas. It's an excuse for any South Floridian to experience what more than 4 million people do yearly, but with a local flair.

With a rescheduled anniversary party, a neighborhood coming back from a health scare, new digs, beer releases, and even a themed cruise, it'll be a brave new year for Wynwood Brewing. Miami's first production brewery continues to lead the way in the Magic City. 

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Doug Fairall