Gus Chacon and Jose Mallea love their hometown, but they knew something was missing. “If you look around other cities in the U.S., there are hundreds of craft breweries crowding radiuses much smaller than Miami,” Gus told The New Tropic over a pint of his signature brew. When Chacon and Mallea launched Biscayne Bay Brewing Company in 2013, there were only a handful of places to grab a cold one that’d been locally brewed. So the founders took their appreciation for artisanal ale and turned it into a full-scale labor of love.
But it wasn’t entirely farfetched that the two would succeed, since Mallea had enjoyed plenty of success with The Local, a craft food Coral Gables establishment that Mallea opened in 2011. The Local had always carried a top-notch selection of craft beer, but hardly any were locally produced. “We started seeing a need for craft beer, and starting shooting the idea of opening our own back and forth,” Chacon said.
They enlisted the aid of a former Gordon Biersch brewer and got to work purchasing equipment and space. Fast forward to two years later, and the pair has crafted six signature brews, served all over Miami in places like Wynwood’s Boxelder, Little Havana’s Little Bread, and South Beach heavyweight Yardbird, with plans to open a tasting room in Doral within the next several months.
Biscayne Bay Brewing’s core beers offer a wide range of flavors for the discerning drinker. But making that range as boozer-friendly as possible is also part of their strategy for turning Miami into a beer connoisseur kind of town.
“People tend to go for the Corona or the Heineken in Miami,” said Robert Ronchetta, Biscayne Bay’s brand ambassador. “The first thing people do when they drink is look with their eyes, and they say ‘I want a light beer,’ but what they mean is light colored. So we start them with the golden ale, and then we start moving them down the spectrum.”
Those who need no introduction to the joys of drinking artisanal beer will go straight to Biscayne Bay’s signature brew, the La Colada Porter, every bit an ode to Miami as it is a classic dark brew.
According to Ronchetta, “We buy the beans from the same roaster that La Carreta and Versailles source from, grind the beans in-house, and cold brew the coffee, but brew the beer on its own. Only in the final seconds of brewing do we introduce the coffee to the beer, so you’ve got the aroma and the bitter coffee finish married with the classic flavor of a traditional porter.”
Speaking of the classics, sticking to the script is important to Biscayne Bay Brewing, and that’s likely what sets them apart from other local breweries. They’re not interested in trying out a new recipe until they’re certain they’ve got the old one down to perfection.
“We love beer, and we don’t think we need to add anything much to it. So we craft traditional styles, and our process has been about perfecting them,” Chacon said. “We’re constantly saying we can use a little more this, or a little more that, and little by little we feel confident with those beers and start trying out and releasing new ones.”
Our upcoming Biscayne Bay Brewing private tasting tour is sold out (sorry, friends!), but there will be more soon. Members get first dibs on tickets to everything we do — and they help support us in making The New Tropic every day.