Followers of the local home brewing competition scene have heard of Opus Ales, a group of men from South Florida who have been entering festivals and sharing their creations for the past few years. Manny Jannes, Jesus (Chuby) Rascon, Randy Llerena, and Jose Torres have made the move into territory that many home brewers have only dreamed about so far: opening their own brewery.
However they will not be called Opus Ales. Instead, we're about to see the building of Descarga Brewing Company, currently slated to move into an area near 54th Street in Miami. If all goes well, it's expected to have the brewery facilities on the first floor, tap room on the second floor, and a roof top patio.
"Descarga is an Afro-Cuban term for a jam session," founder Manny Jannes explains. "We consider our brew sessions actual jam sessions because we create our recipes and award winning beers through innovative improvisation with ingredients and techniques."
But why the name change? With years of a built-up community of active fans and loyal event followers, why risk the damage that a brand change can bring?
"[It] is simply a trademark issue," Jannes says. He and his fellow brewers had an idea that there might be an issue with the popular Robert Mondavi's Opus One wine. So, after speaking to a lawyer, they wrote a letter to the representatives at the winery asking them about use of the name for a brewery.
"They quickly responded with a big fat NO." A response typical of anyone who is attempting to protect their trademark. "We begrudgingly moved on."
With the influx of new and coming-to-fruition breweries in South Florida as of late, it can be hard to create something that will stand out in the crowd. Luckily for Descarga, they are drawing heavily on influences from flavors out of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to craft their beer recipes.
Additionally, they will be trying something a bit different with the idea of a 'core beer', or the usual mainstay of a brewery.
"Our model as a commercial brewery will be simple: our core beers will be seasonal, not year round. This will allow us to continuously make innovative beers, beers that are exclusive. We're enamored by our I Love It When You Call Me Big Hop Ah (IPA) and Machete (Double IPA), but you can get an IPA anywhere at anytime, we'd rather produce one for four months of one season, put it to rest and focus on the next one for four months."
Descarga Brewing will be out in force this weekend building up the brand again, by pouring at the Sprung! beer festival in Miami on Saturday.
They've been kind enough to share what they'll be pouring for festival-goers, and it sounds delicious:
Rachetera: Hibiscus Flowers, Juniper Berries, and Raspberries Belgian Wit, soured with a belgian sour yeast blend. Rachetera is Spanglish for Ratchet.
Cocotazo: Coconut and Pineapple Belgian Wit. This beer is brewed with natural shaved coconut added to the mash, with coconut milk and pineapples added in boil. It's then dry hopped with pineapples and coconuts. The name is a play on words: Cocotazo means hit on the head with the knuckles.
Travieso: Prickly Pear/Cactus Fruit and Ginger Root Saison. Travieso means mischievous or causing mischief (in your mouth).
Fuki-Fuki: Smoked Mango Belgian Wit. Brewed with smoked malts and Florida mangos added to the boil and in secondary. They wouldn't go into what Fuki-Fuki means for Cubans.
Saison Completa: Hoppy Honey Saison. Brewed with Florida Honey and generously hopped and dry hopped with Galaxy and Citra hops. They consider this their gateway beer. Again, it's a play on words: The name Saison Completa comes from Sazon Completa a seasoning from Badia.
Those who head out to the festival will be able to enter a raffle that would be terrible to miss, because who doesn't like free beer?
"For Sprung we are raffling to one lucky winner," Jannes revealed. "Free Beer For a Year once the brewery opens. Restrictions do apply, but essentially the winner will get one free pour every time they come to the brewery."
If that excites you, they have a step further, but it'll cost you. Descarga Brewing is set to introduce a FFBL (Free Beer For Life) Society membership. One hundred fanatics will have the opportunity to put down $1000 to partake in the incredible arrangement. So it's not quite free, though the break even point is pretty damn low. What will these members receive?
• Custom engraved FBFL Society snifter, stored and displayed at the Descarga Brewing Company tap room.
• 2 free fills of your custom snifter per day for the remainder of the Society members life.
• Refill your snifter anytime at happy hour prices after the first 2 free fills.
• Custom 32-ounce take home growler.
• 10 free pills of the 32 ounce growler. To be redeemed by the Society member as needed.
• Custom printed FBFL Society members t-shirt.
• Custom printed FBFL Society member work shirt.
• $1 off can or bottle purchases anytime at our tasting room.
• 10% off keg purchases and growler fills.
• 15% off merchandise (t-shirts, hats, glassware, etc..)
• Quarterly FBFL Society members party / meetings with swag, raffles, giveaways and more!
• Access to the FBFL society e-newsletter, providing information about member only events, beer releases and more.
As with any new brewery, there are continuous hurdles to jump through, especially with local and federal governments, so it will take some time for the commercial side of Descarga to come to fruition. In the mean time, they'll be out at event like Sprung! pouring their wares and building up a brand, again, one two ounce pour at a time.
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.