On Location: J. Wakefield Brewing
MIAMI—“It’s Kurt Russell’s birthday,” said the bartender by way of explaining why the 1987 film “Overboard” was on the brewery’s only television. It was a Wednesday in early spring at J. Wakefield Brewing, and the taproom of the newly opened temple to the so-called Florida Weisse was empty, save for a few customers.
The brewery’s namesake (the J. stands for Jonathan) was in the brewhouse with Brian “Spike” Buckowski of Terrapin Brewing, working on the collaboration Belgian-style stout with raspberries and dark cherries that would be called Weird Science.
Miami is a city that cultivates and celebrates image. In the artistic neighborhood of Wynwood, where graffiti—street art-—cover not only building walls but also sidewalks, lampposts, even trees, the Wakefield brewery (120 NW 24th St.) caters to the geeks, and not just the beer kind. A replica of Thor’s hammer from the Marvel movies is behind the bar, next to Master Chief’s helmet from Halo and a Green Lantern. The mural on the wall facing the 10-seat bar is straight out of the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars. The scene of Yoda levitating a beer chalice must have been cut from the final version.
The brewery officially opened in February after an uber-successful crowd funding campaign that raised more than double the $55,000 original ask. Wakefield, spending time at Tampa’s Cigar City Brewery, gained a reputation as a solid brewer of fruited Berliner Weisse.
“It’s typically a 50 percent wheat and 50 percent two-row mash bill, but instead of adding fruit syrup to the glass, we add fruit in the fermentation process,” he told the magazine in 2014.
“Choice!” exclaimed one new patron after being served and taking a sip of an electric green Berliner Weisse dubbed “Key Lime Slime Berliner.”
When it’s not crowded, it has that sparse, cool feel, with poured and polished concrete floors. Complex bar stools made from wine barrel staves offer visual aesthetics over comfort.
The beers in the core lineup—a brown ale, a slightly dank and tropical fruit hop-forward IPA, and a hefeweisen with a split flavor/aroma ratio of clove and banana—are equally worthy of attention and praise.
Still, it’s the small-batch sours that bring people in the door, either getting a taste or a full 12-ounce pour, as they are not available in the sampler lineup.
This story first appeared in the July 2015 issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here to subscribe.
John is the editor of All About Beer Magazine and the author of three books, including The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Find him on Twitter @John_Holl.