J Wakefield Brewing - Miami, FL
With a planned trip to Ft Lauderdale, it was hard to pass up the chance to travel a few miles south and do a quick visit to J. Wakefield Brewing (JWB). I had heard only a few things about this brewery before even realizing I'd have the chance to see this establishment, so I decided to make sure I was visiting a place that could live up to the hype that a few others have laid out for me.
In case you ever do end up at J Wakefield Brewing and don't know if you missed the coordinates in the GPS, it'll be the building with a massive mural of Darth Vader's head to the side. It's fantastic and it sets the tone for what you are going to see inside the brewery. Upon walking in, the Star Wars' influence and video game references are almost endless. Being a video game nerd myself, I caught myself more than once walking around the brewery trying to catch every single reference to anything related to my inner geek while holding a glass of beer.
The brewery taproom itself is fairly open and tons of sunlight comes in through the entrance. For any budding and amateur photographer, this is an absolute dream scenario. You can order flights of 4 beers or you can have regular sized servings. Open since 2015, J Wakefield seems to be one of the pioneers within the Wynwood section of Miami that is heading towards being an art driven district. If you drive or take a stroll around the area, you'll truly see what I mean. JWB seems to fit in quite nicely with it's wall murals and the outside portrait of the Sith Lord himself.
A flight of four was ordered and from left to right: Forbidden Forest, Hops 4 Teacher, Mango & Cash, and Jiu-Jitsu Juice. Let's take a quick look at two of them:
- Hops 4 Teacher: So I was very surprised to find that the prevailing style to make in Florida is apparently the West Coast IPA. For some reason, I figured it'd be a lot more similar to the rest of the East Coast in style, especially since the West Coast relies on a heavier malt backbone. But if you'd have Jai Alai from Cigar City or Hop Stimulator from Funky Buddha, you'll notice that this seems to be par for the course. With that said, Hops 4 Teacher falls in line with that and does an okay job with the execution of the style. The notes are of citrus but the bite on the beer was about a bit too much. It feels a little too thick, even at 6% - almost as it relied on the malt to be the showcase rather than the hops. If you like West Coast style beers with bite, I'd definitely recommend, otherwise just try it in a flight if you ever visit.
- Jiu-Jitsu Juice: The first on my list of JWB beers that are a product of a collaboration, JWB teams up with Other Half from Brooklyn, NY to bring us a juicy IPA that follows the path of the North Eastern IPA. Having had quite a few beers from Other Half in my past, the OH influence is pretty noticeable and this was quite enjoyable. A beer with Amarillo, Mosaic, and Citra, this beer definitely fulfills everything any fan of this style would need. The nose on this just jumps out at you. Fair warning: it did have a little of that "yeast burn" near the end, but nothing unpleasant enough to warrant not having this. I still enjoyed it mightily.
As far as the IPA's are concerned, as much as I liked and enjoyed Jiu-Jitsu Juice, I absolutely LOVED Mango and Cash. The color is stunning and everything you'd want in an East Coast style IPA. It doesn't taste as boozy as the 9% ABV suggests, but you definitely feel a little of that alcohol burn by the end. The nose on this beer is amazing. Citrus just bursts out of the glass with hints of pineapples and mangoes (duh). Another J Wakefield Brewing collaboration beer, Mango & Cash was brewed with the lovely people from The Answer Brewpub in Richmond, VA. You definitely see the East Coast influence on the style of this beer and it's one that a lot of hop and "haze" lovers would truly enjoy. If I ever saw this drop in New Jersey, I'd absolutely horde it.
A collaboration with Modern Times from San Diego, Forbidden Forest was an absolutely spectacular stout. Because it was 80% and muggy outside, the last thing I wanted was a huge glass with a stout in it, but I just knew I had to have this. Thankfully, JWB has A/C so by the time I was ready to have this, it had warmed up and I had cooled down. Apparently the process for this stout is quite different than most stouts involving coffee. Modern Times actually ages the coffee beans in barrels and then JWB takes the beans and uses them in the stout creating a one-of-a-kind tasting experience. It absolutely does not taste like a 12% ABV beer, making it very dangerous because it's so easily drinkable. The taste of bourbon, coffee, and molasses prevail throughout. I wish I could have smuggled this in to New Jersey, especially with the craptacular weather we've been having in the past few weeks. It's still stout season here!
I wish I had had more time to visit JWB. Unfortunately with a weekday opening of 2 PM and Miami traffic being the epitome of molasses in a beer at 4 PM, I had to exit as early as possible to ensure I could make it to Ft Lauderdale. Why am I explaining this? Because out of the 4 beers I had, 3 were collaborations and I wish I would have had an experience more indicative of JWB's brewing experience. Although I wasn't a fan of the Hops 4 Teacher, there were plenty of other offerings that I am sure that I would have enjoyed. The option of having a full pint of Mango & Cash was too good to pass up, and that came at the expense of tasting other beers.
If you're ever in Miami, FL or you are from that area, J. Wakefield Brewing is definitely a sight to go visit. The area around it has a certain mystique to it. You'd have to visit to know what I am talking about, but think in terms of Brooklyn and Asbury Park - that seems to be happening around the JWB brewery area as well. With the numerous Star Wars murals alone, it makes it worth it to go visit the brewery, have a pint or a flight and enjoy getting out of the sun and muggy weather for a while. I absolutely recommend a visit and would love to eventually come back and try some more! May the beer be with you and salud!