November 30, 2012 | 8:25am
Ground has been broken--in more ways than one--on the new Funky Buddha
in Oakland Park. The first anchor of what is slated to become Oakland Park's new culinary district celebrated the start of construction this week. The former warehouse will be converted into 18,000 square feet of brewery, production facility, lounge, and more.
Clean Plate Charlie spoke to Ryan Sentz of the Funky Buddha Lounge about the new location.
"We were searching all over South Florida. We knew we wanted to be in the Broward area and we found this spot. We came across these people [Mayor Anne Sallee and the Oaklan Park city commissioners] and actually saw they were making changes to the area. The more we spoke with them, the more we liked what they were doing. They've been incredibly supportive and really like everything we're doing. There's room here to expand," he says.
The plan is to amp up brewery operations. As it is currently set-up, the Boca location of Funky Buddha only makes enough beer to serve on site. Not the case anymore: the new spot in Oakland Park will mimic the feel of the original lounge, but will also serve as a production facility. "We're going to have a tasting room here, "says Sentz "we're trying to keep the same loungy and unpretentious vibe."
The brewery will move from having one-and-a-half barrels to 30. The aim is to start with a slow keg launch in April and work on creating limited-bottle releases. Sentz says they would like to get more into bottling after the first year. Once the operations are up and running, the idea is to target beer-centric outlets with the keg offerings. Brown Distributing will be working with the company in terms of distribution and determining where the launch goes. Currently, they are looking to spread the product from Jupiter down to Key West.
Two systems -- one of which will be used for test batches -- were ordered so that they can brew a significantly larger quantity of beer. With the 30 gallons that are in each barrel, the brewery will be moving up to 900 to 1,000 gallons of beer going at a time.
John Linn of Brown Distributing Company adds: "However, the size of the system is really exponentially larger, since each beer can be brewed multiple times per 'session' to fill a larger capacity fermentation tank. Funky will start off with four 60 bbl tanks, giving them the 'capacity' to be fermenting up to 240 barrels of beer at any one time (not to mention beer that is in other stages of the process, i.e. in serving vessels, or in what's called 'bright' tanks, and beer in kegs -- also the 3.5 barrel pilot system, which will be used for new recipes and one-off batches)." Basically, the new space has ample space to add tanks as needed, giving the Funky Buddha the opportunity to grow into a large production model brewery.
The initial goal is to have four or five flagship beers with a selection of seasonal or occasional offerings. Last year, the brewery produced about 80 different styles. One could assume that with the extra equipment, they will be able to offer even more variety. The equipment was ordered about four and a half months ago. It is expected to arrive in early February. According to Sentz, "We would like, at least, a solid month brewing here before opening to the public." So they are hoping to open in March or April of 2013.