Miami’s New “Beer Concierge” Busts Common Myths and Recommends His 5 Local Favorites
A.T. Molina is a fan of Unbranded Brewing’s guava wheat, but not gummy bears
For years, it seemed Miami was lagging well behind other major American cities when it came to craft beer. Lately that’s begun to change. From the city-inspired brews served at The Tank’s industrial brewery and taproom on the outskirts of Doral to J. Wakefield Brewing’s local fruit-, tea- and spice-infused beers, the area is now primed for thirsty visitors. And with his Miami Brew Bus — a vintage VW van that, quite literally, “drives you to drink” — beer guide and The Gabriel Miami’s Beer Concierge A.T. Molina wants to help locals and visitors alike discover the bubbling scene.
“I remember when I was a kid, the best American ale that you could get would be like Sam Adams,” Molina tells InsideHook. “And in a place like Miami, where it’s always 80 degrees, there are so many places [now] where you can get amazing beer — craft beer. And that makes me happy. It puts a smile in my heart.”
Molina’s first beer encounters took place at the tender age of 12, but before you go calling local authorities, the beer in question had long been divested of its booze.
“My mom would put a whole beer in her arroz con pollo,” he recalls. “It’s rice and chicken, but it’s not just rice and chicken. It’s got peas, carrots, garlic…so all that mixed in with the beer is just amazing.”
It wasn’t until 2019, however, that Molina’s love of lagers, stouts and IPAs motivated him to purchase the Brew Bus, a local tour company offering craft brewery hopping — an endeavor that was quickly curtailed by the pandemic.
“It’s picking up,” he says of the business. “Last year was really good, and this year is a lot better, so it’s really growing. People just really want to come to Miami and have a really good beer experience.”
In Miami, as elsewhere in the U.S., the craft beer scene is defined in large part by its experimental nature, and a tendency to take inspiration from elsewhere and “punch it up to 15,” according to Molina. Nevertheless, he says that in the world of craft beer, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
“There’s one that put gummy bears in beer — can we just lay back on that a little bit?” he laughs. “I’ll try it, just for shits and giggles, to see how it goes, but let’s stop experimenting just because we’ve got tons of gummy bears.”
And this isn’t the only wrong he’s looking to right. Despite beer’s monumental rise, a few common misconceptions have stuck around. Here are three things he thinks folks are still getting wrong about America’s drink of choice.
1. Color doesn’t necessarily signal strength, in flavor or in alcohol.
“There are lighter beers that I think have a good kick, and then there’s darker beers that actually are relatively low in alcohol content. So it just varies. Dark beers like porters and stouts, for example, have very similar taste profiles, but both range from 4.5 to 5.5% [ABV]. And then you have like lighter beers that are actually like 8.5% ABV, maybe like triple blonde ales or your Belgian-style beers or even some hazies like IPAs, which are kind of clear and a little bit hazy. You’re like, oh, this looks kind of light…but they do pack a punch.”
2. Beer is often a better pair for food than wine.
“Obviously, barbecue for starters. But beer is so much more flexible than wine, for example. There are so many styles and beers that pair a little bit better — or at least I think pair a little bit better — than wine. A good example of that would be seafood dishes, which often have a lot of oil or butter. Nothing cuts better through that than something hoppy. And with steak, you know, I love a nice red wine with my steak, but sometimes you just gotta go down a notch and have a nice soft lager so that that steak can shine.”
3. Beer can be a special-occasion tipple.
“Right now I have in my fridge a special drop from a while ago: the Trillium IPAs. I have those on reserve. I might just crack them open tomorrow. It’s my wife’s birthday, and it was our anniversary this week, so we might just open that up. I also have the guava wheat beer from Unbranded Brewery, and my wife loves that. That’s just kind of light and refreshing. Just for chilling on our balcony, that’s cool.”
Speaking of which, were are five other local brews the Beer Concierge is keeping around for a summer in Miami.
- The 33 Pale Ale at EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen
- La Playita Pils at The Tank Brewing Co.
- No Mames Lager at Tripping Animals Brewing Co.
- Havana Lager at Dogfish Head Miami
- Guava Wheat at Unbranded Brewing Co.
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