For more on South Florida's food scene, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.
For foodies, being encouraged to eat locally is nothing new. Farm-to-table as a culinary buzz term has been around a long time already. But supporting your local purveyors doesn't apply just to produce and pork products. What about those after-work suds that flow so freely?
Enter Florida's "Drink Like a Local" campaign, designed to get the Sunshine State's beer drinkers to put down the Budweiser and pick up a Cigar City Jai Alai IPA instead.
Launched less than a year ago by Ian Salzberg and John Linn of Brown Distributing, the rapidly growing campaign is all about encouraging Floridians to look to their own backyards when it comes to getting their brew on.
"We [Brown] rep a lot of Florida breweries, and we really just kind of wanted to help spread the word and make people aware," says Salz-berg. "A lot of people don't even know there are local breweries in Florida. We're fortunate that there's a lot of really great beer being made in Florida. For about ten years, we've kind of been behind the rest of the country, and we're finally starting to get some momentum."
Although the guys have a small marketing budget through Brown, the campaign is primarily grassroots. It's being built from the ground up by local restaurants, bars, and markets.
They try to stay local in all of their output, from hiring a Jacksonville-based artist for the logo design to buying Tampa-made branded pint glasses.
In January, the campaign hosted South Florida Beer Week, in which various venues throughout Miami and Fort Lauderdale hosted events and tap takeovers designed to shine a spotlight on local brews.
"Going around for South Florida Beer Week, it was cool to see different breweries kind of working together," Salzberg notes. "It's not as competitive as other industries where it's cutthroat. There's a cohesive community feel."
"There are so many ancillary benefits for promoting local businesses. All the money's going back into the community, it's staying in Florida, and there are so many businesses that benefit, whether it's trucking, shipping, et cetera," adds Linn.
Bigger local beer spots like Fort Lauderdale's Tap 42 are all about the campaign. Its creative director and craft beer director, Lauren Bowen, can't say enough about it.
"We're supporting the local economy, local breweries," Bowen says. "We want them to grow, release their beer, and get their name out. Who wouldn't want to support that? Beers from local breweries are awesome."
The superpopular spot even has a whole section on its extensive beer menu devoted to Drink Like a Local. Not to mention that the owners wrapped their bathroom doors with the campaign's logo.
"We're probably going to do Drink Like a Local night like every other month," Bowen adds. "We have so many. We have 15 local beers on tap right now. It's pretty much Drink Like a Local every day at Tap."
Riverside Market, another standby for Fort Lauderdale craft beer lovers, is also all about supporting the campaign.
"The whole facility is a tribute to early Florida. Every artifact here has something to do with early South Florida. Everybody embraces the place," says Julian Siegal, owner. "Of our 20 taps, half of them local."
The cozy market, complete with couches, tall wooden tables, and a seemingly endless lineup of brews, features tap takeovers and tastings and pairings three or four times a month. It has two shelves dedicated to Drink Like a Local, and Siegal says his customers love it.
And it's not just mom and pops getting into the mix. Some of the big-box stores are getting onboard too. "ABC throughout the state has a whole section of local beers, all that they can get their hands on," Salzberg says. "They're really behind the local breweries, which is really cool. Total Wine offers a lot of local stuff."
For those looking to support the effort, the Drink Like a Local Facebook page offers a map where drinkers can find spots that sell local suds.
"A lot of the big breweries have millions of dollars in marketing, some even billions," Salzberg adds. "This is all grassroots. Any opportunities that local brewers are given to shine and not have to pay for it, I want to keep seeing those sorts of opportunities.
"A lot of places go to really far lengths to get local seafood and local produce and all this stuff. There's just not much of a reason we feel like people won't want to do the same with beer."
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