It's not every day a South Florida brewery owner is also in the railroad industry — yes, the railroad industry. Meet Rule G Brewing Company, Coconut Creek's latest brewery that opens to the public with a soft opening on Thursday, January 25.
Located at 4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Rule G Brewing pays homage to the railroad industry, of which owner Ralph Rapa has been a member for nearly two decades. Rapa told New Times the brewery takes its name after the rule prohibiting railroad employees from consuming alcohol while on the job. The rule also forbids drug use, Rapa adds.
"It's one of those things that gets in your blood and sticks there," Rapa says, referring to his time on the rails (not the drugs or alcohol).
On Thursday, January 25, the soft opening begins at 3 p.m. and continues until closing time, around 11 p.m. (Although Rapa will reassess to stay open longer depending on how busy it is.)
Expect plenty of beer, wine, and soft drinks (food service begins Monday) and live music throughout the opening weekend, including Chucka Riddim performing reggae on Thursday and Scott Avery, an acoustic guitarist, performing on Friday, January 26. Plus, several flat-screen TVs will wrap around the bar to catch the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday as a lounge with a much larger projection TV hangs in the back.
The bar will be cash only until Monday, January 29, but Venmo and Zelle are also accepted.
Rapa occasionally teaches as an adjunct professor at Barry University and has 18 years of experience working for railroad companies such as Amtrak, Transdev, Tri-Rail, and, most recently, Brightline Trains, where he now works as an environmental health and safety manager. He's held various jobs in the industry, including engineer and conductor.
He was also on the onboard crew for Amtrak's Silver Service trains, which ran from Miami to New York and back.
Despite careers in trains and psychology, Rapa says he was always interested in craft beer and saw an opportunity. Rapa originally planned to have his brewery in Parkland, but the location fell through. Fortunately, Coconut Creek turned out to be the perfect spot.
With a nearby Publix and the strip mall having Duffy's Sports Grill as a dependable anchor location, Rapa deemed the new address ideal because there's lots of foot traffic.
"The brewery gives this area more of a boost," Rapa explains. "This place is literally going to tap into a market that's dying for a place like this. We're in a good spot. I think we have something unique."
Beers on tap include "Razzberry Wheat," a hazy IPA, a lager, and a mango-flavored wheat beer. Rapa is brewing a hoppy porter and a double IPA that will be available soon.
There are fresh-brewed seltzers on the menu, such as spicy pineapple and orange guava. Rapa plans to have some wine cocktails on the menu and is exploring the possibility of getting daiquiri machines to make wine-based margaritas and mojitos.
In addition to great beer, Rule G Brewing will have a rotating menu of small plates featuring locally grown produce and fresh Florida seafood. Rapa hired Ed Reardon as the general manager, who also serves as the chef for the time being until the brewery gets busier.
Rapa initially intended to open his brewery by November 4, 2023, but experienced various delays. He credits a team that has put lots of "sweat equity" into the place, including Lisa Henrie, whose publicity has been "stellar."
"This would not be made possible without family and friends," Henrie says.
Guests may notice a flying pig decoration hanging from the ceiling near the beer tanks. It's a reminder of what Rapa had to go through to get his dream brewery open.
"We've had to go through a lot of stuff, and I just thought flying pigs," Rapa explains. "God kept opening doors. This was a work of faith, this thing."
Several events are already being lined up at the brewery, including corporate railroad events, school reunions, and after-hours business meetings. He wants the brewery to be a place where neighborhood people can relax while sipping some great beer.
Rule G Brewing Company. 4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Suite A 12-13, Coconut Creek; 954-531 6122; rulegbrewingcompany.com.