On Friday July 10th, Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks began full official production, meaning that they are now legally an operating brewery.
"We're launching with Golden and Berry ciders," Accomplice owner and brewer Matt Stetson told us. The two ciders will be semi-dry and just the beginning of a fruit-forward evolution in South Florida. "Shortly after that we'll release Bone Dry," he continued, which will be, naturally, a dry cider.
Expect to find these ciders out in the market at the end of July. An on site tasting room is on the table, but won't be ready until later in the year.
Owners Stetson and Felonice Merriman are positioned to bring a new approach to the beer culture of South Florida by tapping into a market that's been hereto-forth under served: ciders and alternative fermented beverages.
Stetson has a history in the fermentation business, though not strictly in the brewing world. "I come from the wine making background," he says, adding that in addition to wine, he made beer with his dad starting in his teens.
Since then, he's moved up the sommelier ranks, achieving Level III Advanced proficiency, and worked heavily in the distribution business.
"Where I got serious about wine making was when I was in Michigan and worked in distribution. We bought fruit from some vineyard in northern Michigan and started carving our teeth that way."
It's from this wine-oriented background that Stetson grew into the almost sidelined styles of alcohol beverage; styles like cider, perry, mead, Makgeolli (a Korean rice wine), alternative grain beers, and sake. Stetson is seeking to make all of these and more, just as the styles are making a big comeback in the national conscious.
"I do weird things that they don't normally do in beer making," he says. "I started applying those wine techniques to beer." For example? "Once I have wort, I treat it like wine with the way they handle temperature control."
Why the 180 degree approach to doing things?
"We are trying to distinguish ourselves from everyone else. Because there's a million [beers] out there, we don't want to make those types of beers."
Some of those different styles include a focus on gluten-free recipes, using alternative grains like sorghum, millet, rice, and milo. "It's a little overwhelming at first. You end up doing your own malting and such."
Because of this, Stetson ends up with beers that don't necessarily fit into the traditional style categories that the BJCP and Brewers Association put forth for their competitions and general naming conventions.
One style that's hard to break from is cider, of which Accomplice will come out of the gate swinging growlers full of the fruity beverage.
"We're sourcing juice from all over, and keeping appellations. We're going to be doing antiquing, warm fermentation process, it gives big bold ciders from the process."
He's already seeking out partners in the fermenting world; including with producers in Russian River and Napa Valley. His connections in the industry are proving fortuitous.
"We have seasonal delegations to our beers," he says, explaining that as the seasons change so will the recipes. "We'll have a Mocha Brown summer version, for example, then a fall version. We want to be honest right up front with the changes."
As for the name, Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks is fairly straightforward.
"We share a lot," Stetson says of his partner Felonice. "I realized before I met her, if you're going to have any sort of business whatsoever, you need help, you can't do everything single-handed. You need someone to help with promotion, recipe generation... You need help, you need partners in crime, you need accomplices. Beer's better with friends, and they're your accomplices. Everything is built on this idea that you can't, won't or shouldn't do it by yourself."
For the next few weeks, though, we'll just have to wait. Once kegs get out into distribution, we'll find out where they're going and try to steer you in the right direction.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.