Art Brews Business at J. Wakefield and Wynwood Brewing

Art Brews Business at J. Wakefield and Wynwood Brewing
  • David Rodriguez and Adrian Castro of Little Havana's Union Beer Store take us to the most iconic Wynwood breweries.

  • Wynwood Brewing and J. Wakefield Brewery show us how the vibe of Miami's Wynwood art permeates the craft beer neighboorhood.

On this episode of Beer Artisan, were exploring Miami’s famed art neighborhood, Wynwood, and the craft beer businesses that have popped up out of its art scene.

The Union Beer Store was started by husband and wife duo, David and Cici Rodriguez. The pair had been close to the beer scene for years and one year ago decided to strike out on their own and create Union, a beer store/bar with a fun, super laid-back vibe. With more than 300 different beers in their cooler, they offer locals and tourists a wide range of tastes to explore. Adrian, David’s right-hand man, helms the bar at Union, helping visitors choose the right brew. So it only made sense to have David and Adrian show us around the Wynwood neighborhood.

First up, J. Wakefield. John Wakefield got started brewing with a $50 Mr. Beer homebrew kit gifted to him by his wife. Slowly but surely, the hobby transformed into a lifestyle and brewing beers on his stove evolved into a jam-packed production facility producing a number of unique brews. John tells us how he combined his life as a beer geek with his life as a Star Wars geek to create his incredibly designed, Star Wars themed tap room which highlights the work of a number of local artists and adds to the incredible vibe you can only find in Wynwood.

Next, it’s on to Wynwood Brewing, Wynwood’s first brewery. Started by Luis G. Brignoni, Wynwood also incorporates local artists’ work into the design of the space. Luis invited local artist Lola Blue to design bottles for the brewery, further cementing the relationship between Wynwood art and its businesses. Wynwood has won a number of Great American Beer Festival medals and is aiming to churn out 12,000 barrels of beer this year thanks to help from the Craft Beer Alliance.


Brignoni made a deal with the CBA in which they would have a 24.5% stake in the company (the threshold for still being defined as "craft" by the Brewers Association) and in return, help grows the production and distribution of Wynwood Brewing brews. This has opened up their tanks, allowing Wynwood to be more creative with their in-house production.

If you’ve never been to Wynwood, you should give it a visit ASAP. Just listen to our Wynwood Guide, Robert William de los Rios from The RAW Project. But if you can’t, watch this episode of Foodable’s Beer Artisan for a journey through the art-driven neighborhood to learn more about its history and vibe.

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Get Your Homebrew on With Help From Funky Buddha

Get Your Homebrew on With Help From Funky Buddha

Funky Buddha has long been revered as one of America’s favorite breweries. Just this year they ranked No. 3 in consumer sentiment according to Foodable Labs! But, did you know Funky Buddha started as a homebrewer's dream?

Watch this special episode of Beer Artisan in honor of National Homebrew Day to learn how you could be brewing Funky Buddha level brews, too!

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Rochester's Craft Brew Scene Might be the Best in the Country


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On this episode of Beer Artisan, we visit the Rochester, New York brewing scene.

Rochester has been brewing beer since the early 1800’s. The first brewery in Rochester settled on the east bank of the Genesee River after a spring of pure water on Central Avenue was discovered. Although that brewery no longer exists, the oldest running brewery in the state, Genesee Brewery, still brews on that same river. 

The water found in the springs of Rochester is extremely clean. The brewers in the area are well aware of this fact and do not take it for granted.

Chris Spinelli, co-founder of Roc Brewing says, “There’s 20 percent of the world’s fresh water in our region. [W]hen you talk about the Great Lakes and all the Finger Lakes and all of that, I mean, we are very lucky to have the water resources we have here.”

Roc Brewing is one of the newer breweries to the Rochester area. Spinelli started the brewery with a couple of friends after getting into home-brewing 8 years ago. As Roc grew, Chris started the 585 brewers club, a group for Rochester brewers to come together and share their love for the trade.

In these meetings, brewers share tips and information about what's going on at their home breweries and news around the beer industry. Dean Jones of Genesee Brewery attends these meetings as well.

As the oldest brewery in New York, Genesee has a lot of knowledge to share. For example, he gives tips on creating the perfect brew with the perfect composition. “Depending on the type of beer I’m brewing, if it's a nice historical Munich Dunkel, I’ll download that water report from that area in Germany, in Munich, and actually replicate that water here in the hot liquor tank,” said Jones.

Watch the episode above to see how old and new brewers come together in Rochester in the name of craft beer.

Smog City Shows Off Los Angeles' Creative Craft Brewing Scene


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Video produced by Denise Toledo

The beer scene in Los Angeles is fairly young. Some of LA's veteran breweries only date back to 2011. However, in that short span of time, LA has churned out some of the coolest, most diverse brews created from some of the coolest, most diverse brewers. On this episode of "Beer Artisan," we see how LA’s young breweries have fostered a tightly-knit community with brewers who are not afraid to push the envelope.

Frances Lopez is the executive director of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. Formally founded in 2013, the LABG is a federally recognized nonprofit organization that works to promote and protect local independently-owned craft breweries. In order to properly advocate for the community, Lopez has built strong relationships with breweries across LA such as Smog City.

Smog City began brewing in October 2011 using Tustin Brewing’s brewpub to distribute their brews to restaurants and bars throughout Los Angeles County. This allowed head brewmaster Jonathan Porter and the team to establish a presence in the craft beer community.

“We started by renting a warehouse nearby and sort of brewing and selling and delivering on the weekends, and after work, and that paid off in dividends, because by the time we opened the doors here. we already had a reputation,” he said.

By 2013, Smog City had purchased its own full-scale brewing equipment, formalized plans for their new brewery and taproom in Torrance, and began brewing in their own brewery. Since then, Porter and Smog City have won three Great American Beer Festival medals for their Coffee Porter, Kumquat Saison, and Sabre-Toothed Squirrel brews. Co-owner and Manager, Laurie Porter points out that Smog City brews are not dictated by their consumer base, but an embodiment of their characters.

“You’re really saying 'Okay, here’s us — put it in a bottle!' If you like it, then you respond to our brand. If you don’t like it, there’s another brand out there that you’re really gonna love. We’re not land grabbing everybody,” she said.

By doing so, Smog City plays to the craft beer mentality of "the rising tide floats all ships." 

Get a Taste of Tampa's History at Cigar City Brewing


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Video Produced by Denise Toledo

Tampa, Florida is a city rich with history and the locals do not take that history for granted. Cigar City Brewing is one such local business that keeps the history of Tampa alive. Aptly named after the Cuban cigar production brought in by Vincente Ybor, Cigar City Brewing uses the history of the city to guide their work. Take, for example, Cigar City’s “El Lector” Neil Callaghan, whose title was inspired by the “Lectores” in cigar factories. "El Lector" was the person whose job it was to inform and entertain the cigar rollers. As Neil shares with us, history also influences the actual brewing done at Cigar City.

“... Maduro, which is a dark wrap around a our brown ale. So a lot of the names, a lot of the approach, and a lot of the special ingredients do have that tie-in back to Cuba.”

Neil and his dog, Egg (Cigar City's official greeter) take their jobs very seriously. Neil has tasted more than 5,000 beers and traveled around the world to learn and share information with other brewers. 

Where There’s Water

Tampa began as a military outpost around Tampa Bay known as Fort Brooke. The outpost was established in 1824 and the need for water was one of the first essentials the troops saw to. Later on, Vicente Ybor brought his cigar factories to what is now called Ybor City. At that time, the spring’s water was in use by an ice plant, but Ybor had different plans. In 1896, Ybor’s second-in-command, Eduardo Manrara, organized Florida’s first brewery, The Ybor City Brewing Company. It was later renamed The Florida Brewing Company.

When the Spanish-American War began in 1898, the brewery ramped up production, serving the 30,000 troops, including Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Roosevelt would have boarded his horse at the police stable in Ybor City that now houses Cigar City Cider and Mead.

Craft Beer Returns

After the Spanish-American War, there was a slowdown in beer production. Tampa wasn’t really a home to local beer again until the early 1990s when some home brewers on different sides of Tampa Bay decided to each open their own family breweries. These brewers, the Doble family of Tampa Bay Brewing Company and the Bryant family of Dunedin Brewery, reintroduced local beer to the Tampa area and started the culture that exists now — a culture that Cellar Manager Tom Brown thinks is important to the growth of craft beer.

“People in this industry are pretty cool because a majority of them are artists. They all take pride in what they do and they really want to help another brewer out. We share — share information, share ingredients, then after work, we get to share a beer.”

According to the Foodable Labs Beverage Index, Cigar City is ranked number 2 out of the hundreds of breweries indexed. Probably due in part to the popular brews they distribute like  like Jai Alai and Hunahpu's Imperial Stout. Cigar City Brewing hand-mashes its grain, and hand-fills its kegs in an effort have total control over their production process. Neil explains how there is room for growth in Florida beer production. Florida is underdeveloped if you look at the number of breweries in relation to the population. Check out Neil and his pup, Egg, on their historical journey through Cigar City on this episode of "Beer Artisan."