“Why would anyone drink beer ‘cept to get drunk?,” my father would question emphatically, southern drawl hanging heavy from his lips, a canned domestic of some economical vintage poised between the pincers of a hand work-hardened. It was one of those odd moments of parental importance, an off-hand remark that lingered loudly in my memory ever since. And it was one I carried well into my early drinking career. Perhaps appropriately for an amateur, my first years of alcoholic exploration involved exclusively only those most watery of American brews, participating in a cultural catalyst both embarrassing and evocative to the international community of those most imbalanced of national qualities (prizing quantity and industrialization far and above quality in importance). It was only relatively recently in my adulthood that I discovered that beer, far from being something perversely palletized for effect, had a rich, intimate and organic process, an artisanal method millennia in the making on par with any vintner or distillery. And the most marvelous part of it all? Any resident of our city can interact with and enjoy these fantastical feats of fermentation at any of the increasingly numerous brewpubs dotting our city streets. “The beauty in craft breweries and brew pubs is a similar experience to a local bakery, artisan-crafted chocolatier or local coffee roaster,” says Luis Brignoni, Founder of hit craft brewery Wynwood Brewing Company. “The smaller breweries have a little more flexibility to experiment, which often allows consumers a wide variety and ever-changing selection.” Brignoni, notable along with such “ale-time” greats as Abbey Brewing Co. and J. Wakefield Brewing, for enlivening our city with a sizeable selection of exclusive seasonal suds, hammers home the most important point of local breweries — brewpubs don’t just craft and serve high-quality artisanal beer, they develop beers entirely Miamian in their nature, a draft drink composed of ingredients, factors and passion only our own Magic City could provide.
Blessed with a number of top-tier craft breweries, selecting only 3 of the best beers our brewpubs produce is an almost overly onerous task. That being said, if you’re a dedicated hop-head, you’d be hard-pressed to top J. Wakefield Brewing’s Hop 4 Teacher IPA. Only available for a few scant months, the Lupulado by Wynwood Brewing Company is an ever-divergent wet hops-brewed experience well worth the wait. And, as winter approaches, there is no more fortifying (and fantastic) fermented draft than the Abbey Brewing Co.’s Brother Dan’s Double, lovingly replicated from age-old monastic recipes meant to sustain monks through the lenten fast.