Ain’t No Love in the Club for Craft Beer


My job recently took me down to a conference in Miami Beach.  While there, I learned something about myself, which I’m guessing will resonate with many of you as well.

It started when I wanted a beer.  I had flown in on a Friday night, and had an exquisite sushi dinner with my boss, where I had two Coedo Shiro Japanese Wheat beers.  They were lovely, and paired perfectly with fabulous food we were eating.  Little did I know this would be all the beer I’d be having on my three-day trip.

After dinner that night, I worked through a hotel snafu.  I was booked at a flea bag dive by accident, and was fortunately upgraded to a VERY nice hotel – the Perry South Beach.

It was late once I got settled in, but I was in the mood for a nightcap, so I headed downstairs to the hotel bar to see what craft beers they had on tap.  The answer was something I’d see again and again – nothing. 

I walked into the place and was instantly assaulted by pounding house music.  This was strange because there was no space to dance, just cozy tables where friends could gather.  I guess they go there just to look at leach other, because the music made conversation impossible.  Or maybe they were texting back and forth, I dunno.  SMH, LOL.

While it seemed odd for a cozy bar to have loud club music blaring, it was even weirder that the watering hole opened up to an expensive steak restaurant, where the music was just as loud.  I guess you become a good screamer if you live down there long enough.

I was alone, so conversation wouldn’t be an issue, and I still wanted a beer, so I approached the long bar, which had a glittering array of vodkas, rums and other liquors-of-the-moment lined up behind the servers.  What I didn’t see was a single beer tap.

I tried to get the server’s attention, figuring I’d see what they had in bottles (I was hoping to score a Cigar City Jai-Alia IPA).

After waiting for a minute or two with the music pumping into my earholes, surrounded by all the young beautiful people pretending they could afford to be there, and watching the bartender grinding out what was probably the 100th Mojito of the night, I realized I didn’t belong there.

Now if this makes me sound old, in my defense I’ve always been old.  I’ve never loved going to “da club” to have my head pounded in by thumping music while I gyrate awkwardly on the dance floor.  All my best moves are with my mouth (as in conversation, you perverts) and it’s near impossible for a talker to charm a lady or make a new friend when you can’t even hear yourself think.

Like many beer geeks, I wanted the music quiet enough so I could talk to someone, down to earth folks chit-chatting around me, and a server who knows what kind of glassware to serve a coconut porter in, because they have one on tap, along with a dozen other interesting craft brews.  This wasn’t my scene, and returned to my room to get some much-needed sleep.

Simply put, Miami Beach isn’t a good place for good beer.  Last year’s conference was in San Diego, a beer geek’s paradise, and the year before it was New Orleans, where you can find some great little places with dozen of taps, even on bawdy Bourbon Street.  Not so on South Beach.

Now before you go telling me about Abbey Brewing, or this really great beer bar down on Lincoln, understand that I was without a car and work-related activities kept me busy from 8am until 10pm every day I was there.  I didn’t have a chance to explore the city, but of the four upscale restaurants and bars I did visit with my co-workers, I never saw a single beer tap.

Of course, me complaining about this is like me complaining that I went to Las Vegas and was surrounded by douchbags.  It’s my fault for going into the thing with my expectations out of whack. If you don’t like douchebags, stay out of Vegas.

If you don’t like the club scene and the hooch that comes with it, stay out of Vice City.



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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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31 Comments on “Ain’t No Love in the Club for Craft Beer”

  1. March 22, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    You’re preaching to the choir. Your description of the perfect beer geek hangout is spot-on.

    I was just down there, too, in Jupiter and Stuart. And generally speaking… warmer climates don’t strike me as beer havens. I imagine with the warmer weather, people don’t want the heavier beverage so instead, bars invest in crap like mojitos.

    • March 22, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      It’s weird that Tampa has a pretty vibrant beer scene, and even Gainsville has Swamp Head, but Miami just doesn’t do craft beer.

    • March 22, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Fair point re warmer climates though San Diego and Austin are pretty warm (last time I was in Austin it never got below 102 in the day).

      • March 22, 2013 at 10:43 am #

        It’s a dry heat…

    • March 25, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      I was also down in Jupiter last month, and I was drinking Monk in the Trunk belgian ale, which I believe is actually made right in Jupiter.

      • March 25, 2013 at 10:45 am #

        That’s funny. Were you down there for spring training?

        They sell it at Roger Dean Stadium. I had a few.

  2. March 22, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    At least you a to gawk (or at least look with professional detachment) at the aspiring clublets while texting drink requests to the bartenders. I’m not surprised to hear that the neon pulse of South Beach is incompatible with craft beer. Probably a huge fear of casting too large a flabby shadow at sunset for those who might actually enjoy a good coconut porter or Jai A’lai every now and then. Bikini waxes and beer bellies don’t mix.

    And I’m sure those mojitos were being made with Splenda, not real sugar. Right.


    so, what did you end up with for those nightcaps?

    • March 22, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      While your comment was insightful, Mr. Monger, the image that “bikini waxes and beer bellies” elicited in my head will not be soon forgotten. 😦

  3. March 22, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    We totally feel your pain down here in Florida. Next time just skip Miami and schedule your business in Tampa and head straight to Cigar City. :)They have recently updated their brewery and expanded the tasting room. And their beer speaks for itself.

    • March 22, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Last time I was in Florida, it was the Orlando area, and Cigar City was well represented. They’ve proven beer can be celebrated in Florida, but I guess they haven’t gotten the memo on the eastern side of the swamp!

  4. March 22, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I had a similar predicament in Las Vegas last year. Best beer of the trip was a Hitachino Red Rice Ale at a sushi place. The best craft beer selection on the strip: Wallgreens. Fail.

    • March 22, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      I had Hitochino Nest White Ale with sushi last time I was in Los Angeles, and it was wonderful – sublimely flavorful and a great partner for food.

      I had no expectation when I was in Vegas last, so I think that’s why I wasn’t disappointed. Bud Light Platinum country!

    • March 25, 2013 at 7:35 am #

      When I was in Vegas, all I wanted was one of those fruity frozen drinks that are so huge that they come with a freakin’ shoulder strap and you WEAR it as you walk around.

  5. March 22, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Well, you’ve hit on one of my major bugaboos. I’ve never liked bars or restaurants where the ambient noise level is too loud for conversation, but its even worse now that I have hearing aids. Imagine a teleconference–how you can hear every little paper rustle on the other end of the call?–held in say an Applebees or a sports bar–everything coming across at the same level. That’s what I have to deal with. I usually end up turning the aids off at which point they’re just very expensive ear plugs.

    As for the hotel bar scene: If you’re stuck in that kind of situation again, check the room’s hospitality placard/book. There may be a pizza, ribs or sushi place that delivers (and they might just sell beer as well.) Another possibility is to tip one of the hotel staff fairly generously then strike up a conversation about getting a good beer–you might just strike gold.

    But if you’re feeling particularly cranky and argumentative, you might want to loudly criticize the drink menu, citing the Prohibition Era history of such drinks as ways to make otherwise unpalatable liquor appealing to customers.

    • March 22, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      I forgot one: When you fill out the hotel’s satisfaction questionnaire–make sure you stress the lack of quality beer in the bar.

      • March 22, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        All good suggestions for sure. TO be honest, I gave up after that first night and decided I was in South Beach and things are how they are. I started dreaming about the Dragons Milk I was going to enjoy in the mancave the night I got home instead.

        i also drank wine, and it was pretty decent. Crazy expensive, but tasty and complex.

  6. March 22, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    When faced with the “what am I going to drink?” conundrum, I simply go for what’s most appealing on the drinks menu. I have been on two cruises with the wife and kids over the past two years, and since the beer menu pretty much sucked both times, I stuck with some classic warm weather cocktails (Daiquiris, Margaritas, Caipirinhas, etc.) and the occasional whisky. Nothing wrong with “mixing” it every once in awhile.

    • March 22, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      I agree, but I was hoping to score a beer or two I couldn’t get at home. Plus the atmosphere was so repellent, that I figured I’d just skip the whole scene. Sadly, the best whiskey they had behind the bar was Knob Creek. Can’t even win there!

      • March 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

        I can understand that. Under those circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing. But there’s nothing wrong with Knob Creek, unless of course you simply weren’t in the mood for it.

  7. Diss Content
    March 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    “Gosh, business travel is so exciting, interesting and fun!” said; a person who has never been on a business trip.

    After working/performing all day and not having control of the bathroom breaks, or even knowing where the things are, by the end of the day I’m toast. This is when I truly appreciate a soothing beer, in a calm environment, but constantly experience the bar or ‘Sensory Assault Chamber’ which is stuffed with local peacocks.

    I’ve never understood the concept of mixed drinks to start with. Except a gin and tonic, but only if you’re drinking that as a treatment for the malaria you contracted digging a canal in through some jungle. I can’t imagine having a Beer-julep, Beer Slide, or Beer-52, but change the base booze and it’s off to the races. At least in Vegas they have given up on any pretense of quality, by serving Daiquiris and Margaritas directly from a Slush Puppie machine.

    But when I find myself in a motif like ‘The Perry – South Beach’, I seek and find the one person who will feel my pain and deliver a prescription. This of course is the Concierge. This person will be your Gunga Din when you are lost in the Kalahari of Cocktails, and deliver sweet, life giving beer for a small premium and tip. It WILL be worth it.

    • March 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Using the concierge is a good idea, one I would have thought of. Of course, the only time I had any time for such things was after 10pm, and I’m not sure their station is manned at that hour. But it was South Beach, so maybe…

  8. March 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    You didn’t miss anything by not going to Abbey brewing, They are overpriced and their beer is unimpressive. I went to south beach on a vacation some years back and had a similar situation, there are a couple craft beer bars, but there’s nothing like what I can find here where I live (Columbus, OH). I found some hole in the wall taprooms with some good beers, but the best that they had wasn’t anything to what we can get all the time over here. I never found Cigar City or any other FL beer for that matter down there either.

    The blaring house music was probably due to you going during the WMC/Ultra (Winter Music Conference Rave season) where the shallowest of the shallow techno and house acts all congregate over about a week and a half.

    The beach is fun if you have time for it though!

    • March 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      It says a lot about beer geeks that I think Columbus, Ohio sounds more fun than South Beach!

      My schedule was so tight that I actually walked behind the hotel one morning, looked at the ocean for about 15 seconds, and then walked on to my conference in the other direction. I’m glad I did, because at least I can say I saw the beach – it turns out I never had another chance, not counting the flight out of town.

      • March 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        I feel your pain buddy. The last TDY I took to London (took the wife along on that one), I spent every day, all day, in the MOD. The wife had a great time though.

        • March 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

          There are a couple of good pubs near the MoD, if I remember correctly and were talking the same part of London. Had a lovely pint (or three) of Deuchar’s IPA after meetings before taking the train back to our home base. I miss being stationed there.

        • March 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

          Had my first real IPA there on a day they actually allowed us to go to lunch. As I recall, that afternoon was kind of a blur for all of us (LOL).

  9. March 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Jim, So, ‘party central’ of the ‘Capital of South America’, SoBe, isn’t #craftbeer ‘friendly’?

    NOT surprised. In the hedonistic haunts of SoBe it’s ALL about ‘flash’, glitz, and/or ‘drinking for effect’ so…be it, SoBe. I suggest a ‘When in Rome’ approach. Pass the Barbadian rum, and call me a cab. Na zdravi! #ADKBREWCO

  10. March 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    I live in a rural area in the “twin tiers” – NW Pennsylvania / SW New York – think Souther Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood NY… yeah, that region… and fortunately a few… very few… bars do have some decent stuff on tap – i.e. Southern Tier IPA (go figure). The town where I work has a few but the town where I live across the state line aint got nothin but Crap Lite on tap (that is a reference to all big beer, not any specific brand). Although, I can usually find Yuengling on draft just about anywhere… maybe not “craft” beer per se, but decent enough, “local” (Pottsville, PA), not bought out (yet) by InBev… and actually, a pretty decent all around beer – it’s my go to when they ain’t got nothin’ else (which is usually)

    My point to all this rambling is I feel your pain when it comes to finding decent beer… I can usually find some good stuff in the grocery stores (on the NY side of the state line) but unless I go to the two pubs in NY where I know they have the ST IPA it’s a dearth of anything decent on draft…

    I try to educate as many as I can whenever I can and I think I have converted a few… 🙂

    • beerhere2010
      March 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Sean, as a native ADK’r and a 70’s resident of NePA & SoTier I can verify that SITREP. I worked in the Poconos, attended Cornell in Ithaca & worked outta Elmira & Owego before moving on to CT, FL, and points west including a dozen years in Beervana, Portland, Or..

      Take heart. As soon as we ‘wire’ the #ADKs we’re gonna reshape the accessibility of #craftbeer throughout NY (including the SoTier). Stay ‘tuned’ > #ADKBREWCO Na zdravi!

    • March 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Maybe you could run some pipelines down from Vermont?


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