Cuban Brewery Cerveceria La Tropical Opens in Wynwood Miami
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Cuba’s oldest brewery is now Miami’s newest: This week, Cervecería La Tropical will officially open its first brewery on US soil in Wynwood.
Miami’s newest brewery celebrates its grand opening on Friday, February 19th. The bespoke 28,000 square meter space includes a tap room, restaurant and outdoor botanical garden, as well as a live music stage.
Founded in Havana by the Blanco-Herrera family in 1888, La Tropical has become a source of national pride recognized as one of Cuba’s largest and most successful beer brands. The brewery was nationalized during the Cuban Revolution in 1960 and operated continuously by the government until around 2010. Due to the lack of capital and investment, the physical facility near a part of Havana known as Kohly was closed and the company’s beers continued to be brewed in a new facility on the island. (The tropical gardens of the old brewery, Jardines La Tropical, built in 1904, are the only aspect of the original venue that remains open for both live music and events.)
La Tropical first became available on the shores of the United States in the late 1990s when the company began selling a Florida-brewed Pilsener. More recently, in 2016, the brewery launched its La Original Ambar lager in the US under license from the Boston Beer Company, the brewer of Samuel Adams; Perhaps unsurprisingly, the beer caused a stir, especially in South Florida.
“It quickly became a bestseller,” Manny Portuondo, CEO of La Tropical, told the New Times. “That piqued the interest of the world’s largest brewers in buying the brand.”
Portuondo, a great-great-grandson of Federico Kohly, the man who sold the land for the original brewery to the Blanco-Herreras, was well aware of the historical value of the label. In 2017, he sold a majority stake in La Tropical to Heineken International through a joint venture to bring the brewery to the U.S. and added it to Heineken’s craft portfolio under the company’s Lagunitas Brewing Company.
“It was my passion project in life to bring La Tropical back to life,” says Portuondo. “My vision was to build a new and permanent home for La Tropical in Miami – a home worthy of our global and culturally diverse city. A ray of hope for all displaced people in Miami to gather life and new beginnings in Miami and to celebrate this great country by us. “
With the historic La Tropical beer as anchor, master brewer Matt Weintraub, formerly of Miami’s Tank Brewing, will work to offer 20 different beers. This includes the 4.5 percent ABV La Original Ambar Lager; Nativo Key, a 4.5 percent ABV session “suave” IPA with tropical notes of mango, passion fruit, and pineapple; and Gasolina, a 9 percent ABV double IPA that is only available in the taproom.
Additional in-house options range from lagers and IPAs to sour beers fortified with local ingredients and barrel-aged beers. The brewery plans to start selling its beer canned and on tap in restaurants, bars and supermarkets from Palm Beach County to Key West beginning in March.
La Tropical’s restaurant in Wynwood offers a Latin Caribbean-inspired menu created by Miami chef Cindy Hutson, which includes small and medium-sized tapas plates, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and main dishes. Prices range from appetizers like plantain chips served with a chipotle aioli ($ 5). a “frita cubano” burger with chorizo, ground pork, potatoes, and tomato jam on brioche ($ 15); and a 10-ounce grilled churrasco steak served with a tropical chimichurri as an appetizer ($ 27).
And as has been the case in Havana for so long, visitors to the Wynwood Brewery can roam the lush 10,000-square-foot tropical garden that displays artwork and murals by local artists.
Marc Busain, President of Heineken Americas, calls the story of La Tropical a universal story of loss and rebirth that everyone can relate to.
“The brand also had a proud and award-winning history that made it world famous,” says Busain. “Heineken is proud to lead this company and to help La Tropical do it again.”
Cervecería La Tropical. 42 NE 25th St., Miami; cervecerialatropical.com. Tuesday to Thursday from 4pm to 11pm, Friday from 4am to 2am (midnight during curfew), Saturday from 12pm to 2am (midnight during curfew), Sunday from 12pm to 11pm
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who has been reporting on the South Florida food scene for the New Times since 2011. She also enjoys drinking beer and writing about the growing craft beer community in the region.