The North Miami BrewFest is an annual event featuring some of the best craft breweries in South Florida. Their mission is to help continue to influence brewing science education and innovation for the craft beer industry, brewpubs, and homebrew organizations. NoMi BrewFest began as a student project, led by hospitality management students at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University and helps support the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and its Brewing Science program.
The event is held at FIU's Biscayne Campus which is also the home to the Brewing Science program. It's a great location as the university setting provides plenty of open space and more importantly, more than enough free parking and indoor restrooms.
We arrived shortly after the gates opened on a picture perfect Saturday afternoon and after obtaining the requisite tasting glasses, we proceeded to check out the festivities. Live music filled the air while attendees sampled the well over 30 breweries that were paticipating. Food trucks and lawn games were off to the side providing the opportuny for nourishment and a place to chill & enjoy the beautiful weather. While the event was well attended, the crowd was far from overwhelming. Unlike some other events where lines can get well over 20 people deep, I think the longest line I was in all day was 3 people. This was no fluke as I've been to this event in the past and it wasn't much different.
Beer festivals are great for newbies since there are so many differet beers to try. As we made our way around the the tents lining the perimeter and checked out the beers, we met some interesting folks, many of whom haven't been exposed to craft beer before. It's great watching them taste the different styles and discover that there is a giant universe of beers (almost used "world of beers" but they don't sponsor me so....) beyond the stuff they find at their corner convenience store.
The majority of the tasting tents were staffed either by the brewers themselves or by representatives of the breweries. I like it when hot models pour me a beer as much as the next guy but you can't beat having the guy who actually came up with the idea for the beer and then brewed it himself is telling you about it.
The first-timers weren't the only ones dropping OMG's! Besides enjoying some terrific beers from the core lineups of J Wakefied Brewing, Pair O Dice, Biscayne Bay Brewing and Bangin' Banjos, a couple of limited edition beers really stood out. My top four, in no particular were the Pumpkin Spice by Legacy Caribbean Brewing, Due South's Maple Orange Imperial Caramel Cream Ale, Deck the Walls by Concrete Beach and Devour Brewing's Blizzard of Darkness Coconut Vanilla Milk Stout which was aged on toasted cocnut and Madagascar vanilla beans. Being a fan of dark beers, the Blizzard of Darkness was a no-brainer for me but even my wife who is not a dark beer person asked for a second pour.
Besides a good mix of craft beer rookies and beer geeks, there were a couple of celebraties in attendance. Former Heat palyer Joel "The Warden" Anthony was at there and when we bumped into him at the Leagacy Brewing tent, my wife, in the middle of a beer epiphany, boldly told him he had to dump whatever he was drinking and try their Pumkin Spice right away. #LOL
VIP ticket holders had access to an area where some loal restaurants were serving up some tasty looking food. Unfortunately we didn't have access to them but we did sneak a taste of some delicious bbq from Bulldog Barbecue which I saw nearby on Biscaybe Blvd on the way out. Side note: If the rest of their food is even only half as good as the sample I had, it'd be well woth the drive.
Besdies trying the beer, guests were able to learn about beer at 3 interesting seminars. Adam Fine from Native Brewing Company gave a seminar going over the basics of homebrewing, Matt Waldron from the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers did a beer tasting with identical brews made from different water sources to see if flks taste the difference and Wynwood Brewing's David Rodriguez (with assistance from Beer Drinker Rob of DailyBeerReview.com) teamed up with Bulldog Barbecue for a seminar on pairing beer with food.
I'm already looking forward to next year!