How Working Together Makes Better Beer

By: Alan Espino

Just like anything else, the best beers come out of collaboration: Two people or brands or organizations come together with their own interests and tastes and make something more exciting than anything either one of them could’ve made on their own. Beat Culture, the brewery I started with my brother in our hometown of Miami, was born of that principle, and it thrives in the new and exciting beers forged from our treasured relationships. 

This month, after several years of anticipation, we’re finally unveiling “Sunblazer Golden Ale” in collaboration with Florida International University (FIU). It’s one of my favorite partnerships in the history of our brand, but it took stamina, determination, and hurdling several obstacles to get here.  In the process, I’ve learned that 1) By staying nimble, a small, scrappy brewery can succeed where the big guys can’t, and 2) While it always pays to be a local insider, the right brands see “local insider” as someone who contributes to the community and culture we’re trying to build here in Miami, not just someone with political connections. The beer recipe and quality are important but it’s about sharing our talents with the city we love and elevating everyone while working together. 

In my last column, I mentioned that my love for beer started in a microbiology class at FIU. Over the years, FIU has established itself as a formidable force for uplifting our community. With an impressive and enthusiastic alumni network, world-class hospitality and marketing programs, and a commitment to creative excellence, the home of the “humble hustle” seemed a natural partner for Beat Culture. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to collaborate with my alma mater from the moment we opened our doors four years ago. 

When I approached the school about partnering, we were confident in our beer and vision and particularly the huge support we had within the university (i.e., Carl, Eddie, Vanessa) that believed in the idea. While I was intimidated by the potential competition with the likes Big Beer, the University decided to go with the likes of an alumni local, owner-operator brewery instead of a huge conglomerate without any local connection. The David instead of the Goliath. Small craft beer versus commoditized light fizzy water. 

We got the partnership we’d been looking for and then some. FIU has engaged the exceptional talent in its marketing school to help us brand and market our collaboration. The school of hospitality students to learn how we made the beer and help us pour it at events. The natural next step is to call on the FIU-owned restaurants and bars around south Florida to offer it at their businesses. 

We’ll first showcase the beer on February 18th for a select few at the FIU Brew Miami Beerfest. It begins pouring for all SoBe Food and Wine guests starting February 24. And hopefully you’ll tell us, either at Beat Culture, FIU, or a participating restaurant: Does beer taste better when we made it together?