After homebrewing for 11 years, a beer enthusiast from Houston said he believes now is the perfect time for a brewery to open in Hialeah.
Zachary Swanson, founder and owner of Unbranded Brewery Co., hopes to launch the city’s first brewery in its burgeoning Leah Arts District in late 2018.
“I think the people of Hialeah really want something like this in their area – they’re sick of having to drive to Wynwood or Miami Beach for entertainment and connoisseurship,” he said.
The name comes from Swanson’s family history. He chose the name “Unbranded” after his great-great-great-great grandfather, Samuel A. Maverick, a rancher from Texas who declined to brand his cattle, leading to the coining of the term “maverick.”
“If you actually look up the word in the dictionary, the primary definition is an unbranded cow or steer, and the etymology section mentions my ancestor,” he said.
The business, to be located at 1395 E. 11th Ave., will be a 30-barrel operation. He said they will start by producing a single batch, which is approximately 900 gallons of beer, or about 60 kegs.
Swanson said he expects to eventually brew about three to four batches a day.
“You generally want to get the largest batch size brewing equipment you can, but you don’t want to make it so large that you have trouble selling all the beer before it goes bad,” he said in an emailed interview. “We feel like a 30bbl (barrel) system is perfect for Miami right now.”
The brewery will be using a system similar to that of Funky Buddha Brewery, a brewpub located in Oakland Park known for its variety of craft beer selections.
“We’re also going to focus on defying beer style guidelines while simultaneously reinventing them,” said Swanson, adding the taproom will be serving Texas-style BBQ.
And he has his own favorite brew.
“Traquair House Ale had always had a special spot in my heart, so I’ll go with that,” he said.
The company recently obtained its conditional use permit to serve and sell alcohol with the support of Mayor Carlos Hernandez and Councilman Paul Hernandez.
Paul Hernandez said city officials welcomed the business, expected to open in the next 18 months.
“Unbranded’s arrival in the city and particularly in the Leah Arts district solidifies what we have been working on for some time,” he said. “The project as a whole exemplifies my personal mission of taking Hialeah into the next chapter of its history.”
The district – located along Hialeah’s south eastern industrial district – is a shortening of the city’s name, explained Hernandez. He said he and publicist JennyLee Molina created the area in hopes of enhancing the city’s reputation.
Since its founding in April 2015, the area has hosted art, music and other cultural events. Unbranded is just the next step, he said.
“Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past most people would have never thought of opening a brewery in Hialeah,” he said. “All of South Florida is in for a really great treat in the near future.”
And at least one business thinks the newcomer will be good for everyone.
Mike Fiorilli, owner of Leonora Fashions, Inc., located near the soon-to-be brewery, thinks this could be a positive direction for the district.
“Anything that’s going to increase our value and the popularity in the area – we’re all for it,” he said. “I may just stop by just to see what it’s all about.”
For the record: An earlier version of this story was unclear about the orgin of the term “maverick.”