Restaurant News & Reviews

Wynwood Brewing Co., Miami’s first craft brewery, opens

The logo for Wynwood Brewing Co. says “Established 2011.”

Technically, that’s true, although the craft brewery — the first in the city of Miami — officially opened on Friday.

“It’s been a long time coming,” co-owner Luis C. Brignoni said with a relieved exhale. Delays piled up between finding the right location, getting the proper permits and licenses and raising funding. “From the moment we decided to jump in and do this to now, two full years.”

Brignoni, 61, came out of retirement to open Wynwood Brewing with his son, longtime home brewer Luis G. Brignoni, 28. Assistant brewer David Rodriguez, who is a co-founder of Florida International University’s homebrew club, and two tap room employees round out Wynwood’s current staff.

The younger Brignoni was noticeably absent from Friday afternoon’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, which featured a pig roast and flowing taps. He fell ill the previous night and was recuperating at a local hospital.

“He’ll be here soon. I told him it was important he get better, get back his strength,” said his father, donning a work shirt with “Pop’s” embroidered on it. His favorite brew is Wynwood’s roasty, robust Pop’s Porter, which his son named for him.

“When I saw his business plan, his passion for brewing, it was so good, I knew I had to be a part of it,” Brignoni said.

The brewery is situated just east of Interstate 95 on a street lined with single-level warehouses, many tagged with graffiti art. It’s a few blocks over from the busier Northwest Second Avenue, home to several of the Wynwood Arts District’s galleries and restaurants.

“A lot of Wynwood’s personality is along Second Avenue,” said Natascha Otero-Santiago, a spokeswoman for the brewery. “It was important for the Brignonis to bring some attention to this part of the neighborhood.”

This year, the father-son duo received a $420,000 government loan to help build their 15-barrel brewery. The seven-year, interest-free loan, which requires no payments for the first two years, comes from funds from the federal government’s Community Development Block Grants but is administered by the city.

Several Miami city leaders attended Friday’s opening, including George Mensah, director of the community development department who had encouraged the Brignonis to pursue the loan. He said the federal money can be used to help fund another Miami project once Wynwood pays back its loan.

Wynwood’s current lineup of beers, which have been available at a few local bars and restaurants for the past month, includes Lupulado, a pale ale brewed with citrusy Cascade hops, and Oscura, a stout brewed with coffee from Wynwood roaster Panther Coffee.

The brewery is set up to crank out about 1,200 barrels of beer in the next year (one barrel equals about 31 gallons, or about 330 12-ounce beers). Wynwood doesn’t have a bottling line in place, but Brown Distributing will send kegs of Wynwood brews around South Florida.

“We’ll keep going farther north as we can, but right now we really want to focus on our home market,” Brignoni said.

Wynwood’s tap room serves only beer, but Brignoni said food trucks will visit the brewery to offer food to customers. Its hours this month vary but are generally 5 to 10 p.m. Check for specific dates.

As of June, there were 2,483 craft breweries operating in the United States. A craft brewery is defined by the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association as producing fewer than 6 million barrels a year, being independently owned and not using adjunct ingredients like corn or rice to lighten a beer’s flavor.

Although Wynwood is the first production craft brewery to open in the city of Miami, several other South Florida breweries have recently opened or are in the planning stages. Funky Buddha Brewery this summer opened a new brewing facility and tap room in Oakland Park. Homebrew-based operation Gravity Brewlab is aiming to open a bricks-and-mortar location in the next year.