Last month's New Times Pairings brought an opportunity to sample an abundance of tasty food and drink from around South Florida. Among the liquid offerings was something of a "sneak peek" of Hatuey beer, a new "old" favorite.
Though the brand was born in 1914 in Cuba and introduced to the U.S. in 1995, the current iteration represents a major overhaul of the brew. This month, the re-emerging label -- which has been re-imagined as a craft beer -- will start appearing in store shelves and bar taps in Broward County. As avid brew lovers, Clean Plate Charlie says "Cheers!" to more beer selections on local store shelves.
The original version of Hatuey came into production in Santiago de Cuba in the late 1920s and eventually became the beer of choice for the island nation. Bacardi (which owns the label) introduced a version of the brew stateside in the mid-90s, but pulled it from the shelves a few years ago in anticipation of its relaunch in 2011. The newly-imagined version was first introduced throughout Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys, and for now, it remains available only in South Florida.
"We want to set our roots in Florida," said Anler Morejon, brand manager for the company. Though the company has "gotten requests from as far away as Australia," they will continue to focus on this region -- and its built-in base of Latin American and craft beer consumers -- until they decide they are ready to branch out to a wider audience.
Morejon said the brand reboot has caught some consumers who were familiar with the previous product off-guard -- the profile taste and look have changed -- but he said that many have commented that it is "better than it was in the past." While the previous version of Hatuey was a lager-style beer, this new recipe is closer in flavor, color, and body to a pale ale. "It has some good body to it," Morejon said. He recommends pairing it with Latin American and Cuban mainstays like grilled chicken, pork, and fish.
Hatuey, which is brewed in South Carolina, will be available in grocery and specialty stores like Publix, Whole Foods, Total Wine, and Winn-Dixie, among other retailers. The list of bars and restaurants that will carry the beer is a work in progress but expect the rollout to begin this month.
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