There's a new sheriff in town. And his name is Darwin Santa Maria! Or something like that! Last night, Stephens Distributing threw a nice little launch party for Darwin Brewing over on Las Olas. The owners and brewers spent the day in the area visiting some key accounts as they start distributing their beers here in Southeast Florida, with the final stop being at The Royal Pig in Ft. Lauderdale.
I wasn't even inside the restaurant when I already bumped into the owner of the brewery, Darwin Santa Maria (I recognized him from their website profiles). He was a really nice guy and took me inside and introduced me to his team. Owner/Brewmaster Jorge Rosabal and Owner/General Manager Matt Cornelius both spent a lot of time with me "talking Darwin beer." The brewery's history began in 2012 at Darwin's on 4th Brewpub in Sarasota, Florida. In 2013, they opened a bigger facility in Bradenton and started distributing their beers outside the area.
Of course the fantastic distributor team of Jamie and Tim and Kim and more were also there, and before I could even sit down, I had a flight of four of the six beers they brought for the launch! Jorge led me through the flight of beers. Darwin Brewing brews using the flavors, spices and inspiration of South America's Andes region (mostly). Pirata Pilsner was a nice crisp refreshing start, tasty. I then moved on to the Summadayze IPA, nice fruity flavors, very balanced, not too bitter. Those two were what I'd consider more Florida-inspired than the others.
Next up, Ayawasca Belgian Dubble, named after an Incan hallucinogen normally taken on December 31 to be enlightened by the gods as to what they should plant in the coming year. Great caramel flavors, light alcohol punch, no hallucinogen included. Final flight beer was the most interesting: Charapa Spiced Porter. Um, spiced means with Amazonian aji charapita peppers, holy shit! Jorge told me the whole brew batch only uses a few peppers, and this is a pepper to be scared of! But for real, the Florida orange blossom honey and Amazonian cacao really do soothe that spicy finish. Well, maybe!
|Kim is drinking a flight, starting with the Charapa Spiced Porter|
So I asked for the big boy glass of Kumquat & Pink Peppercorn Wheat Ale! I thought I'd get the 16 oz glass, but I was misinformed--instead, two enormous and heavy chalices of the beer came out! Yep, two 18 oz servings. I ordered one for Ed Roberts but he was working his way through his own flight, so I ended up drinking both! One of my favorites of the night. And the great fruitiness and lightly sweet flavors were still helping out with the "spicy boo-boo" I still had from my first taste of the Amazonian hotties!
|Brewmaster Jorge, Me (duh), Darwin (Chef/Owner)|
Finally, I checked out the Circa 1926, a second wheat ale brewed with orange and coriander. Nicely spicy. Perfectly refreshing Florida beer. To show my favorites, I had a little more Summadayze IPA, Kumquat Wheat, and yes, Charapa Spiced Porter (that's the way I roll). But Kim was drinking the Ayawasca Dubbel all night, so obviously personal preference was a factor.
I spoke a little more with Jorge and Darwin at the end of the night. They explained that though Darwin is his name, they integrated the Darwin evolution theme into their beers and brand as well. You can see that the Darwin Finch logo really showing off what the brewery wants you to know on their T-Shirts and Tap handles.
Great beers. Great company. To the after-workers at the bar drinking Coors Lite bottles, well, you should've asked on the way by. I saw you looking to see what was up in the front!
Thank you, Darwin Brewing and Stephens Distributing! Good luck with this entry to our market and keep up the good work!