What inspired your initial interest in beer?
I was never much of a beer drinker. For years I thought beer was the yellow watery stuff. Years ago a friend of mine poured me a Sam Adams and I realized beer could be different. It started my exploration into different beer styles.

What was your first homebrew, and how did it turn out?
My first homebrew was actually a Sam Adams clone. It was the only kit the homebrew store had that I had tasted and I wanted to compare what I made to a commercial example. I liked the homebrew better. I then realized the kits were mostly clone beers and decided to study the different ingredients and come up with my own flavors. I've always been very interested in cooking so it was a natural progression.

How did Due South Brewing come about?
After years of making beer for friends and family because they liked mine better than what they bought in the store the decision was made to go commercial. I've owned a handful of small businesses so I had the business experience and since I'd rather make beer than do just about anything else it seemed like a good idea. Everyone has been very supportive as well so it reinforces our confidence in the decision.

Is there a particular brewer who you would consider as your mentor? What did they share with you?
I can't say that I've had a relationship with someone that I would consider a mentor. Most of my learning has come from books and experimenting with my own brews. I can say that I've been fortunate enough to meet some great folks in the past year that have made a big difference in my progression to opening the brewery. Matt Webster from Tequesta Brewing Co. has been a tremendous help. Fran Andrewlevich from Brewzzi's has also been a great source of information. I've brewed with Matt Cox from Big Bear Brewing which was a great experience. Brewing with the guys from The Funky Buddha was a lot of fun too. I'm also on my way up to brew with Brian Miller at Bold City in Jacksonville. Joey Redner and Justin Clarke from Cigar City came and walked through our space with me and gave some great suggestions. It's amazing to me how open and forthcoming all of these folks have been and I'm thrilled to be a part of what these guys are doing.

Where will your beer initially be available?
Our beer will be available on draft in our tap room right from the start. We'll also be sending kegs out to the distributor from day one. Initially our beer will be on tap around Palm Beach County and we hope to expand as quickly as possible. It shouldn't take long to get our beer out from Jupiter to Key West. We've built in expansion plans to have our beer all over Florida as quickly as possible.

Will you be bottling too?
Initially we'll be kegging exclusively but we hope to start bottling in the summer of 2012.

Do you have an estimate of when you'll be up and running?
Right now we're shooting for mid-December 2011. It's difficult to predict what situations may arise between now and then so it's an estimate. We'll do our best though.

What beers do you plan to offer?
We're narrowing down the beers we'll initially produce right now. We have quite a few beers in the running but we're going to knock it down to two or three to come out of the gate with for distribution. We have a cream ale that folks seem to like a lot. We also have our roasted cocoa stout which is a competition winner. Our honey wheat is a great hot weather beer and it's usually hot in south Florida so it's being considered. I'm finishing up an IPA recipe now that will probably be in the initial lineup as well. Our tap room will have anywhere from five to eight styles at any given time and we'll do special releases as often as possible.

Will your selection be relatively traditional and consistent or do you plan on experimenting with "unique brews" too?
We tend to be somewhat traditional but we like our beers to have a little extra something to set them apart. For example, our honey wheat is dry hopped with vanilla beans to round off the finish. We use real cold-pressed espresso in our porter. We like to differentiate our beer from the basic styles while maintaining beer's most important quality: it tastes so good you want to drink more of it. We will be doing some experimenting on our pilot system and many of those beers will only be available at the brewery.

What beers do you typically enjoy drinking when you’re not at work?
While there are lots of great beers available right now from brewers all over the country, my preference is to keep it local if possible. If I walk into a restaurant or bar and there's a beer from Florida on draft, I'm drinking it. As far as styles go, I'm a big IPA fan. I certainly like to try different beers and styles that I've never had before but IPA's are my go to beers if I'm just hanging out.

What beers would we find in you refrigerator at home?
I try to keep Cigar City's Jai Alai in the house at all times. I will admit to drinking quite a bit of Dale's Pale Ale. Great Divide's Titan is great for the golf course or boat. If I'm looking for a bigger, special beer it will usually come from Cigar City. I was able to get some of the Hopscotch from Tequesta Brewing Co. and really enjoyed that. Considering how hot it is down here, good drinkable IPA's and pale ales are my preference. I look for refreshing and flavorful.

Do you have any advice for someone considering starting their own brewery?
Raise twice as much money as you think you need, expect it to take twice as long as you think it will, get in good with your local zoning officials and make friends with every brewer you can as quickly as possible. And above all else, make good beer.

Learn more about Due South Brewing Co.