The people have spoken and when it comes to beer and food, it seems wildberries, Japanese rice lagers and hamburgers are their top choice. That’s because craft brewery Rocketeer Beer & Liquid Provisions of Kendall and craft burger restaurant La Birra Bar in North Miami took home the top spots and the People's Choice Awards for Best Brewery and Best Eatery, respectively, at this year’s 11th annual North Miami BrewFest, produced by and benefiting FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
“It’s an honor to be here every single year, and we are privileged to take first place. We are humbled,” said Rocketeer Beer co-owners Rudy Delgado and Rick Abreu as they reveled in their win.
Last year, the craft brewers took home third place. This year the two upped their game by offering the more than 1,300 attendees seven different beers, one that had wild blueberries and blackberries in it and another made with Japanese rice lager.
Three local craft breweries took home the hardware for best brewery. From left to right: Brewers Rudy Delgado and Rick Abreu of Rocketeer Beer & Liquid Provisions came in first place, team member Ramon San Martin of Prison Pals Brewing Co. voted second, and Anastasia Fraga, marketing director for Johnny Cuba took home third place.
Nearly 40 distinguised craft breweries and more than two dozen eateries took part in the event, serving more than 100 one-of-a-kind beers and bites. This year the largest crowd ever turned out for event at its new venue, the NOMI Village off 123rd Street and I-95, not far from FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus.
“We are very happy about this win,” said Emmanuel Arballo, co-owner of La Birra Bar, a craft burger joint appearing for the first time at the festival. While it may have been their first time at BrewFest, it’s not their first FIU-related win. They took home Best Burger at last year’s Burger Bash at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One (SOBEWFF®).
“It was an amazing experience and the student volunteers were great and very detail oriented,” added Arballo.
The three best eateries included two burger joints. From left to right: La Birra Bar in North Miami took home first place, El Desembarco in Miami came in third, and Off the Hook Churrascaria in Miami came in second place.
The event is produced by the Chaplin School and helped run by its students. Many are members of student clubs such as event production club Back of House, the Bacardi Center of Excellence Bartender's Guild and the school's award-winning student-run restaurant, the FIU Bistro. The event's mission is to contribute to brewing science education and innovation for the craft brewing industry, brewpubs and homebrew organizations.
As for the best beers and bites, who else took home top prize?
1st place Rocketeer Beer & Liquid Provisions
2nd place Prison Pals Brewing Co.
3rd place Johnny Cuba
1st place La Birra Bar
2nd place Off the Hook Churrascaria – a Brazilian fusion steakhouse
3rd place El Desembarco
Festivalgoers 21 and older enjoyed more than 100 brews and bites.
The event is produced by FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management staff and supported by more than three dozen student volunteers.
More than two dozen exhibitors, like Rocketeeer Beer & Liquid Provisions, are part of the growing craft beer industry.