When I’m asked (as I invariably am several times every year) why VeritageMiami, a wine festival, includes a craft beer tasting, I recall a conversation I had many years ago on a trip to visit wineries in Australia. I was spending a couple of days with Chris Hatcher, the chief winemaker at the influential Wolf Blass Winery since 1996. Our first day, after a long afternoon kicking up a lot of dust as we tromped through some of his best vineyards, Chris asked if I’d like something cold to drink, which to his mind was not a chilled riesling or chardonnay but a “cleansing ale.” I must have look surprised that a beer was Chris’s idea of a good thing after a day in the vineyard, so he told me what I have come to consider an important truth: “It takes a lot of beer to make a great wine.”
Over the years I’ve learned this is a great truth – winemakers are generally passionate lovers of beer. I have always liked beer, but I used to consider it and wine as two very different beverages – the ingredients are different, the alcohol levels are different, the flavors are different just for starters. However, thanks to Chris (and a lot of cleansing ale since), I’ve come to consider wine and beer not as strangers but as close cousins. True, there are differences but for wine lovers and beer lovers alike, the more you know about both, the more you can appreciate each individually. Especially now, with the craft beer movement firmly entrenched in our drinking culture, we can appreciate the innovation and passion that creates the best beers and the best wines, the importance of choosing the top quality ingredients and how important technical mastery remains for something that is basically an art (and maybe a little alchemy). And as with wine, beer is good when you are on your own but considerably better when you can share it.
This is why I’m so enthusiastic that VeritageMiami is staging our annual Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls in just two weeks. It has been 18 months since the last Craft Beer Tasting and much as changed since then. In these times when we are all still being careful about mixing with crowds in tight indoor spaces, this tasting is gloriously out of doors. We’ve reduced the number of tickets on offer so there will be a smaller crowd and give us all a bit more social distance. Still, Wynwood Walls is a sprawling space and can easily accommodate the 600 or more folks we expect to join us to sample brews from a wonderful array of large and small producers. We are in the hood of Wynwood Brewing of course, but many other local breweries participate as well. Some, like Funky Buddha from Broward, have grown considerably since our early days (they like Wynwood Brewing participated in our very first tasting 10 years ago) but still have some of the boutique feel that set them apart in their early days. There are large breweries as well, often showcasing small “craft” batches of beer along with brews available in a larger market. In short, there’s a little bit of everyone on display.
This year, our Craft Beer Tasting is on Thursday, Oct 28. I love the informality of the Craft Beer Tasting – it’s a little raucous as we stroll through the three plazas that make up Wynwood Walls. We’ll be setting up an array of stands for brewers and more than a dozen area restaurants so it will be easy to make some beer and food pairings as you meander among the brewers.
Some of those pairings are unexpected too. Many years, Chef Raheem Sealey and KYU win the the People’s Choice Award with an intriguing combination that confirms wood smoke and beer are a match made in heaven. Rocco Carulli from R House will come again, and we’re delighted to welcome 2 Korean Girls (guaranteed to have something that is great with beer), the Unbranded Smokehouse, Pincho Burgers and Kebabs, Buya Izakaya and…. Oh, my, it’s getting to be a long list. The bottom line: not only will you have plenty of beer you will have dinner too!
In addition to the restaurants, many of the top South Florida breweries make VeritageMiami an annual stop on their calendar – our longtime supporters at Wynwood Brewing and Funky Buddha will be running great programs alongside taprooms from Unbranded Brewing, Lincoln’s Beard, Tank, Barrel of Monks, Shōjō Beer Company, Sapporo, Tripping Animals Brewing and Beat Culture among others. 1911 Hard Cider will be there too, as will Per’la Coffee just in case you need a caffeinated pick-me-up. In other words, there will be lots of things to try, some familiar and some just coming onto the market.
It would be impossible (at least for me, but I won’t judge you!) to taste everything our generous brewers are offering, but I do plan to make a good dent in the foam at the Craft Beer Tasting and hope you will too. The VeritageMiami Craft Beer Tasting is not only among the most fun events in Miami each year, it’s also one of the most reasonably priced. “How reasonably?” I hear you asking.
Click here to book your tickets before they sell out and prepare to be amazed at what a reasonably priced evening we have in store for you. VeritageMiami’s Craft Beer Tasting – it’s what happening just before Halloween, and it’s all treat with no tricks. I can’t wait!