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Beach Buzz

FIU’s new brewing laboratory celebrated with dinner


Special to The Miami Herald

Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management hosted a dinner and beer pairing on April 3 to celebrate the introduction ceremony of its new Brewing Science Laboratory.

The state-of-the-art lab (opened last fall), was funded by proceeds from the South Beach Wine and Food Fest. It is designed to generate new brews and conduct research to help the local craft beer industry, while allowing students to participate in brewery events, develop their own beer and learn about running a craft brew business.

A major challenge to the budding brew industry in Miami is the area’s water inconsistencies. B.R.E.W. (Biscayne’s Renowned Engineers of Wort) F.I.U. is working with eWater, a national company, to de-mineralize the water and then cleanse it using electrical currents to raise or lower the ph balance as needed.

“It utilizes natural products instead of chemicals, is safer for students to work with and also more effective for cleaning and sanitation usage throughout the brewing and culinary fields,” explains Matthew Weintraub, president and co-founder of BREW FIU. Weintraub, 25, also works as a research assistant to Dr. Barry Gump, director of beverage management.

Emcee for the event was American Brewmaster and best-selling author Garrett Oliver (guests each received a copy of his newest book, The Brewmaster’s Table). In addition to Weintraub and Gump, other attendees included Dean Michael Hampton, dean of Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, Eric Levin, president of Gold Coast Beverage Distributers, Mike Halker, president of Due South Brewing Co. and Luis G. Brignoni, founder and president of Wynwood Brewing Co.

The four-course meal included Arugula and fennel salad, paired with AMA Bionda beer (golden lager made with Italian champagne yeast); seared grouper and sweet potato mash with BQE Wild Streak beer (made using aged bourbon barrels). Barbeque beef brisket was accompanied by Brooklyn Local 2 and Local 1 (there was apparently a labeling mishap) and dessert (beignets with raspberry and milk chocolate) were served with “secret mission” Brooklyn Black Ops (11.5 percent alcohol content).

The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is located on FIU’s North Miami Campus. To learn more, visit


April is National Autism Awareness month.

On April 2 (World Autism Day), The Victory Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in North Miami Beach teamed up with staff from the Microsoft retail kiosk in Aventura Mall to create a special experience for students.

“An Xbox was set up in one of the Center’s classrooms and all of our students danced and enjoyed themselves as they watched the Just Dance Video,” explained The Victory Center’s Executive Director Patricia Rosen.

Located on the grounds of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center at 18900 NE 25th Ave., The Victory Center is a nonprofit, nonsectarian center, with a mission to provide educational services to individuals with autism and related developmental disabilities in a nurturing environment with a low student to teacher ratio to help them achieve their fullest potential.

The Victory Center was co-founded in 2000 by North Miami Beach tax attorney Barry Nelson and former judge Judith Nelson, a mediator and arbitrator to help children like their son, Jesse, now 19.

“There was no appropriate facility or program available for Jessie at that time,” explained Barry Nelson. “Out of desperation came inspiration.”

The facility started in one room with four children. Today, it has expanded to six classrooms for a wide range of students (ages 3-22). Over 100 kids have utilized the Center during the past 14 years. The Victory Center offers three year-round programs: Early Intervention, Academy (students on track to obtain a diploma) and Vocational (Life Skills Training). The Center uses Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) to encourage positive reinforcement and modeling.

According to Rosen, the Center’s annual budget is $1.1 million. Funding is raised through sources including a McKay Scholarship, tuition, special events and direct appeal to foundations and corporations.

The Victory Center will host a free conference “The Future is Now” for parents and caregivers of older children with autism on May 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. Keynote speaker will be Dr. Peter Gerhardt (Organization for Autism Research).

To learn more, call 305-466-1142 or visit


The Bass Museum of Art first opened its doors on April 7, 1964. Fifty years later, the museum celebrated the milestone with an opening reception titled “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works” by El Anatsui on Thursday.

The event featured a conversation between the Nigerian artist Anatsui and Silvia Karman Cubiñà, Bass Museum’s executive director and chief curator.

The exhibition of Anatsui’s works – on view through Aug. 10, includes a variety of monumental metal and floor sculptures, as well as a series of works on paper to illuminate his artistic process and wooden wall reliefs to reference his extensive work in other media.

What about all the recent buzz surrounding Bass Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)?

“I can confirm that the Bass Museum of Art is in active conversations with MoCA regarding a possible collaboration that would allow us to expand and enhance educational and public programming,” said Karmen Cubiñà previously.

Bass Museum is located at 2100 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. For hours or details, call 305-673-7530 or visit

Beach Buzz appears every other Sunday, and focuses on people and businesses throughout the Beaches, Aventura and Miami. To reach Debra K. Leibowitz, call 305-531-7887 or email, or become a fan of her Beach Buzz page on Facebook.

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