If Leonardo da Vinci painted a “Last Supper” of Latin American soft drinks, the revered central figure would be Iron Beer.
It is Miami’s Coca-Cola, the soda that appears at Cuban parties alongside a tray of pastelitos and croquetas. Not a cola, not a root beer, Iron Beer’s red-and-yellow muscle man on the logo says this is a drink willing to blaze its own path — a bold, shirtless path where you can show off your muscular physique but still keep your hair neatly styled with Dapper Dan pomade like George Clooney.
What Iron Beer is not, however, is beer. But what if it were?
That’s the question Miami’s Beat Culture Brewery asked the owners of the 102-year-old Cuban soft drink, based out of Doral since its owners fled the island after the Cuban Revolution with the original recipe in hand.
They wanted to know the answer, too.
So Beat Culture brewed Irón Bier, a beer blessed by Iron Beer’s owners and brewed with the secret ingredients. Beat Culture will release the beer Oct. 19 at their brewery, on tap and in packs of four 12-ounce bottles.
“You get the smell. You get the taste. It’s unmistakably Iron Beer-influenced,” head brewer and co-owner Erik Durr said.
Beat Culture has a way of making these interesting flavor collaborations work. They created a guava pastelito beer with the owner of the social media entertainment company Only In Dade. They brewed a Badia beer using Badia sour orange and coriander in their refreshing and dry saison-style beer. And they’re working on a pumpkin-spice Extra Basic Imperial Stout using the spice blend that Misha’s Cupcakes uses in its desserts.
“We really enjoy the idea of collaboration,” Durr said.
For the Iron Beer beer, they wanted to get Iron Beer’s owners on board.
One of Beat Culture’s co-owners, Alan Espino, cold-called Sunshine Bottling Co., a family-owned company that has owned the brand since the ‘60s. When he told them their story — the brewery was founded by three Miami Springs-born men with 21 other family and friends who invested in their dream — they were sold. They even pronounced it right: E-ron bear, as if saying it in Spanish.
“When we met them, forget it, it was a match made in heaven. They’re totally Miami. They started from the bottom, now they’re here,” said Teresa Mesa, a vice president for the company for the last 24 years, who apparently is also a Drake music fan.
Iron Beer put them to the test. In their first meeting, Mesa sent Espino and Durr home with cans of the beverage and homework: try to figure out what was in the recipe that is known only to members of the Blanco family, which owns Iron Beer. They came back with a list of flavors they noted and Mesa and the Blanco family were sold.
She sent them off with two gallons of the concentrate they used in a batch that was two weeks from being finished. An early tasting revealed the tropical citrus notes and the je ne sais quoi of what Durr calls a “tropical Dr. Pepper.”
“We didn’t want to make an alcoholic version of Iron Beer,” Espino said. “We wanted to make a beer that was influenced by Iron Beer.”
NOTE: This story has been updated with the beer’s new name and detials about the release date.
Details: Beat Culture, 7250 NW 11th St., Miami. Irón Bier will be available at the brewery starting Oct. 19 on tap in packs of four 12-ounce bottles.