Websters Dictionary defines “craft” as skill in planning, making or executing and in the world of craft brewing Miami’s very own Jonathan Wakefield is redefining craft beer with each new brew he produces.
J. Wakefield Brewery’s third annual Wakefest has racked up more than 100 breweries to attend this years event and 35 of those breweries are pouring in the state of Florida for the first time ever.
With so many unique beer styles to choose from there is one common variable, each brewery in attendance is independently owned. You heard right, no big budget brands or companies will be attending this years event. Wakefield personally sent out invitations to the breweries he believed upheld the definition of independent and craft.
One said company happens to be Cloudwater Brew Company which is hailing from across the pond (Manchester, England) to do a collaboration brew with Wakefield for the event. Wakefield and Paul Jones (Co-owner of Cloudwater Brew) met at RateBeer World’s Best Beer Festival & Awards in Santa Rosa, California last year and hit it off instantly; they got along so well that Wakefield ended up travelling to Manchester and did a collaboration brew with Jones & James Campbell (brewmaster of Cloudwater Brew).
Jones said “I got into craft brewing because it’s like music, it’s art; you’re creating something for people to enjoy and it makes me happy seeing people enjoy something that I’ve created.”
Wakefield, who is no stranger to collaborations, stated “collaborations help share what both parties are good at; you bring what you know to the table from what you’ve learned in the past and you end up learning something new at the end.” Wakefield also says without collaborations “you just won’t grow.”
Jones who only stayed one weekend in Miami is already back home (in the UK), but is excited to be back for Wakefest next month. Brewing in England, a country steeped in tradition, Jones says that “modern beer hasn’t been around as long as it has in the states, but were definitely catching up; you even see it in the traditional breweries back home that they are starting to assimilate and change with this new generations tastes.” Jones also says “what’s great about modern beer is that it can be anything you want it to be; it can be art, it can be philosophy; it can be science. It’s whatever we, as brewers, want to put out to the people.”
They plan on brewing a New England style oat IPA named “I Get Murky” which is 6.5% ABV and features a trio of Citra, Equinox, and Mosaic hops. They also brewed an imperial sour ale named “Shelf Turds” which is 7% ABV and is infused with fresh Lime zest, Lime Juice, Coconut, and Pineapple. Both beers will be available at the festival and in cans as well for those that can’t make it out to the festival.
But the day after this interview concluded, J. Wakefield released their label art for their “Orange Dreamsicle” sour ale and the internet went wild. most notably with accusations of sexism towards the brewery echoing back from London; Melissa Cole, who is a journalist, an author, Certified Cicerone (sommelier for beer), one of the UK’s leading beer experts and a respected international beer judge had some things to say about this.
“Great, could you have a word with them about this appalling sexist branding whilst you’re there then please?” Which was aimed towards Paul Jones while he was updating the world of social media of being in Miami and collaborating with Wakefield.
Cole states “firstly, let me say that, as a journalist, I don’t want to be the subject of any story but I learned a long time ago, when I was the only woman specializing in beer writing in the UK at the time, that if you have a platform then you should use it for positive change. The objectification of women, or anyone, in beer doesn’t help anyone but, because of the nature of society, it is particularly women that it impacts due to the way that we are constantly viewed through a sexualized lens, judged on our bodies and not on our abilities, and also that we are also significantly more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence. That said no one gets things right 100% of the time, and I whilst I wish J Wakefield had listened to the the multiple voices before mine and Paul from Cloudwater’s that this branding was sexist and offensive, it sometimes takes a face-to-face conversation to do what a hundreds of angry Instagram comments can’t and I welcome their step in the right direction with the change in branding to Dreamsicle.
Cole also says that “I sincerely hope this move signals to other breweries all over the world that this kind of misogyny isn’t going to be tolerated any more and it won’t just cost them online ire, but actual sales too – as Oprah said at the Golden Globes the other evening, ‘Time’s Up’.”
Upon the backlash received online, J. Wakefield released a statement and changed up the label art with last years design.
All label art designs go through Wakefield himself and his assistant brewer and general manager Maria Cabre.
Some have viewed the label art design as distasteful and sexist, others may have not cared about the design at all, but in an age where inclusiveness matters, I leave you with the design label art design for “I Get Murky” and the never before seen design for “Shelf Turds.”
Both beers will be released this Friday (01-26-18)! Be sure to get your hands on them before they sell out! If you miss your chance now, they will be available at the festival.
Event Info: February 17- WakeFest at Mana Wynwood from 12 to 6 p.m., WakeFest will feature food trucks, DJs, and nearly 30 of J. Wakefield beers on tap. Noon to 6 p.m. at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; jwakefieldbrewing.com. Tickets cost $60 to $350.