By Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto
City & Shore Magazine
This is a story about two friends who like beer.
They like the art of brewing so much they decide to open a microbrewery. It’s a carefully calculated decision, years in the making.
But there were microbreweries – seemingly everywhere – back in their home in the Pacific Northwest. So, after some careful study, they decided to venture into the relatively untapped market of South Florida.
Ty Eriks is a dentist. He likes to fish. He coaches his sons’ flag football team.
McKay Ferrell is an insurance software company VP, outdoor enthusiast and family man.
And, together, their timing could not have been more perfect.
The two are now co-founders of Gulf Stream Brewing Company, a microbrewery scheduled to open early next year on Northeast 13th Street in Fort Lauderdale – just as South Florida’s beer-crafting mug’s running over.
Five years ago, Eriks and Ferrell were about to open a brewery in Vancouver, Wash., when Eriks had what he calls a “day-job opportunity” to start a dental practice in Boynton Beach. “Right before we were going to lock down a building, I talked to McKay and asked him to check out the market here in South Florida and see if it suited our business profile better,” Eriks says. The partners saw the potential for a new market and relocated with their families.
Gulf Stream’s 10-barrel brewhouse will feature a tasting room where novices and aficionados alike can sip new varieties. The brewery’s core offerings will include a German hybrid ale, Kölsch; a citrus hefeweizen, a West Coast-style IPA, a red ale and a porter.
Gulf Stream is among dozens of craft breweries that have sprung up in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past 12 months. Flanked by a handful of “senior”—as in, almost five years old—breweries, such as Funky Buddha, Due South and LauderAle, the ever-growing list of independents includes Nobo and Copperpoint in Boynton Beach, Flagler Village Brewery, Invasive Species Brewing and traditional German-style brewery Khoffner in Fort Lauderdale; Bangin’ Banjo, Holy Mackerel and 26 Degrees in Pompano Beach; Hollywood Brewing Company in Hollywood, Barrel of Monks in Boca Raton, Big Bear Brewing Company in Coral Springs, Twisted Trunk in Palm Beach and Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks in West Palm. (The list continues on page X.)
“We’re in an exploding craft beer market,” Eriks says. “[South Florida] is easily five to 10 years behind the Pacific Northwest, but it’s catching up quickly. Peoples’ tastes are developing.”
Hops and Barley Galore
Popping up in equal measure to quench the area’s thirst for craft beer are restaurants and bars serving boundless varieties of hoppy goodness.
Andy Yeager, partner and chief operating officer of Tapco Restaurant Group, the organization behind Tap 42, now with four locations, says the restaurant is a microcosm of the current craft beer market. “Like the craft beer market,” he says, “Tap 42 focuses on being inclusive, having great trade relationships, and trying to push artisan brands and food offerings as opposed to the ‘bigger box’ mentality.”
At Quvo Tacos & Craft Beer, Matt and Alicia Smith serve authentic Mexican dishes made from scratch with recipes handed down from generation to generation. Matt displays his passion for great food and craft beer behind the bar, where the beer complements the food. “When discussing artisan restaurants, we think primarily of made-by-hand in smaller batches,” he says. “I believe most beer enthusiasts would have a similar opinion of craft beer. Whether we are discussing influencing or complementing, the craft beer scene is certainly a perfect match with artisan food crafting.”
All around South Florida, the story is similar – the craft beer community pairs well with artisan restaurants and there’s as much love as there is beer to go around. Khoffner Brewery has created an orange/basil pilsner called Louie’s Birra for Louie Bossi’s restaurants and will join Stephen D’Apuzzo of Society 8 Hospitality Group at his upcoming FAT Village project to offer the brewery’s line of beer in addition to a series of limited production brews.
Core Ingredient: Passion
Why has the craft beer market taken off now? A generation of college kids who got home brew kits as gifts 20 years ago may have something to do with it, but the general consensus is the time was just right. Like bland chain restaurants that have given way to farm-to-table, independent and whole-food concepts, craft beer is getting its day in the sun.
“There are people out there who brewed as a hobby and realized they could make money,” says Mike Marchetti, co-owner and general manager of Bar Red Beard in Fort Lauderdale. “There’s a lot of passion in the process. Down here, if the product is good it’s going to stay.”
“In the Pacific Northwest, you find a way to get into beer,” says Ferrell, who started bartending at 19 and became a brewer at 21, pausing only to obtain his business degree. “I loved the difference in quality between homogeneous beer and craft beer. I started identifying different flavors and textures from the raw ingredients. Small changes can make a big difference in brewing. You can take the same recipes and through one variable change the final product.”
Eriks started making beer in graduate school. “It became a passion; I made beer for all the parties in dental school,” he recalls. The two met and brewed a red ale for St. Patrick’s Day together. The rest is this story.
South Florida’s Craft Beer Culture
“Each area has a style it does well,” Marchetti says. “South Florida has found a style – we have fruit beers, sours, beers we can drink year-round. In the north, you’ll see more seasonal, darker beers. Here you can find session beers with lower alcohol percentages with great flavors – beers you can boat with.”
Bar Red Beard’s menu features made-from-scratch bar bites highlighted by over 50 craft beers on rotation. Among them will soon be the Red Beerde Ale, an exclusive brew by Gulf Stream.
“That’s the worst question ever,” Marchetti says when asked his preferred beer. “Lately I’ve been liking a light, crisp, medium-range, 6- to 7-percent IPA. Nothing crazy; a nice hop with a dry finish. What got me into craft beers was Left Hand Milk Stout. That kind of blew my mind. Then I got into the IPAs and when you get into IPAs you realize that each one is a different flavor profile, from citrus to pine, to grass.”
“I’m particularly fond of sour beers and imperial stouts,” says Matt Smith at Quvo. “Each style allows the brewer to really test their limits with creativity. Various yeasts, bacteria, barrels and fruits produce many interesting and enjoyable flavor profiles.”
It can all seem a bit intimidating to the novice beer drinker, but Marchetti, Eriks, Ferrell – and the ever-growing community of craft brewers and artisan restaurateurs – are focused on educating this growing market.
“We pride ourselves on not being beer snobs; we want to encourage the average person to get into beer,” Marchetti says. “A good beer is a good beer. If it tastes good, our customers are going to like it.”
8 craft Beer Hangouts
Bar Red Beard – Chill craft beer bar with friendly, knowledgeable staff
3301 NE 33rd St., Fort Lauderdale,754-223-4665
Damn Good Beer Bus – Sunday bus tours of four
Boynton Beach breweries
Growlers and Howlers (coming soon) – Beer bar
and growler filling station
636 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Laser Wolf – One of the “senior” craft beer hangouts
in Fort Lauderdale
901 Progresso Drive, Fort Lauderdale, 954-667-9373
Park & Ocean – Craft beer, live music, casual vibe
with an ocean view
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-2900
Portico Beer & Wine Garden – Waterfront with games
and craft beers and wines on tap
3460 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954-602-8761
Quvo Tacos & Craft Beer – Family owned and operated artisanal Mexican food with craft beer pairings
4354 N. Federal Highway, 954-368-3664
Revelry – Self-service neighborhood craft beer and wine bar
17 S. J St., Lake Worth, 561-469-1599
Riverside Market – Two boutique locations offering
a dizzying selection of craft beers
608 SW 12th Ave. and 3218 SE Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale 954-358-8333 / 954-524-8986
Rhythm & Vine – Indoor/outdoor beer garden
401 NE Fifth Terrace, Fort Lauderdale
Tap 42 – Craft beers and small plates
1411 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
954-463-4900 and 5050 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton
Versare Wine at the River – Waterfront wine
and beer-tasting bar
906 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Craft Beer Breweries
26 Degree Brewing Company
2600 E. Atlantic Blvd.
1023 N. Florida Mango Road
West Palm Beach
Bangin’ Banjo Brewing Company
3200 NW 23rd Ave., #500, Pompano Beach
Barrel of Monks Brewing
1141 S. Rogers Circle, #5, Boca Raton
1800 N. University Drive, Coral Springs
Biscayne Bay Brewing Company
8000 NW 25th St., #500, Doral
1465 SW Sixth Court, Pompano Beach
Civil Society Brewing Company
1200 Town Center Drive, #101, Jupiter
Concrete Beach Brewery
325 NW 24th St., Miami
Copperpoint Brewing Company
151 Commerce Road, Boynton Beach
Devour Brewing Co.
1500 SW 30th Ave., #4, Boynton Beach
Due South Brewing
2900 High Ridge Road, #3, Boynton Beach
Flagler Village Brewery
551 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Funky Buddha Brewery
1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park
Gulf Stream Brewing Company
(opening early 2018)
1105 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale
Hollywood Brewing Company
290 N. Broadwalk, Hollywood
Holy Mackerel Small-Batch Beers
3260 NW 23rd Ave., Suite 400
Invasive Species Brewing
726 NE Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Khoffner Craft Ale & Lagers
1110 NE Eighth Ave.
3305 SE 14th Ave., Fort Lauderdale
M.I.A. Beer Company
10400 NW 33rd St., Doral
NOBO Brewing Company
2901 NW Commerce Park Drive
Prosperity Brewers (coming soon)
4160 NW First Ave., #21, Boca Raton
1701 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach
The Tank Brewing Co.
5100 NW 72nd Ave., Miami
Twisted Trunk Brewing
2000 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens
West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault (coming soon)
332 Evernia St., West Palm Beach
Wynwood Brewing Company
565 NW 24th St., Miami