After years of hoping to one day open their own craft beer spot, beer enthusiasts Adam and Nicole Darnell are finally taking the leap and materializing their dream in (what lately seems like no better place) Wynwood. It comes in the form of Boxelder Craft Beer Market, what Darnell tells us will be part market, where beers-to-go will be aplenty, as will items like shirts and bottle openers and part bar, where beers-to-stay can be had in the cozy interior of the place or out in the backyard. Eater chatted with the pop in this mom and pop beer shop about absolutely everything Boxelder, what he and his wife did before trekking down to the Magic City to join the craft beer community, and plans for the future.
Tell me a little about your background and your Nicole's background.
My wife, Nicole, is a fourth generation Miamian, so she's been here forever. She grew up in Miami Shores. We actually met in Colorado. I'm from Wyoming originally and that's where I grew up. She was working at the Denver Art Museum quite a while ago, like 2000. And my brother was working there and I had just finished school in Arizona and came up and met her and we've kind of been together ever since. We both came from an art background. She's worked in art museums for 15 or 20 years and then in 2005 we were both hired by a gallery in New York to go up and help them move from the Upper East Side to Chelsea. So, we moved up there and helped them with the renovation and moving the inventory and whatnot and then ran that gallery, the two of us, for about six years. I was there for seven, Nicole was there for a little bit less. Nicole's managed a lot of studios and done different private projects with artists.
How did you guys get involved in the beer scene?
It's interesting ... my dad has brewed beer since I was a little kid so, I've kind of always
There wasn't much of a craft beer scene in Miami back then. And it was something we had always yearned for.
been around it. I remember when I was 10 or 12 years old, heading to the brew supply store with them. It was quite a trip back in Wyoming, we had to drive to Montana, so it was about a three-hour drive to get there. My dad was always a builder and a maker, making sausage and he was a butcher for a long time, so he's always been the kind of guy that does his own thing, makes his own stuff. Brewing beer kind of came naturally to him, and me, just being around since I was a little kid, it was pretty natural to me. When we moved to Miami from Denver in 2002, I started working at the Abbey Brewing Company and back then, Nicole's parents were kind of like, "why the hell does he want to work at a beer bar?" There wasn't much of a craft beer scene in Miami back then. And it was something we had always yearned for. We moved from Colorado and Colorado was all about craft beer. To move to Miami, for me anyway, was kind of a shock. So I worked at the Abbey for a while and we had always toyed around with the idea of opening our own craft beer place, but all the pieces never really fell into place. Then we got offered jobs in New York and it was like, we can't miss that opportunity so we jumped on that. And then when the time seemed right, we decided to come back here and open our spot. Nicole came down in 2011 and I came back down in September of 2012, with the intention of opening our craft beer place. The following year, early 2013, we went to South America. Along the way, we kind of exacted what we wanted to do here. We knew we wanted to have a market, we wanted to have beer to go, beer to stay. We kind of nailed down the concept on that trip and came back and have been working on it ever since.
Tell me more about the concept.
It's a craft beer market. So, we're going to have beer to go and beer to stay. We'll stop
the community is very tight-knit and supportive of each other, so craft beer lends itself to something more than just a bar
selling beer to go probably around 9 or 10 p.m. Then we'll also have shirts from various breweries, bottle openers, all the accoutrements that go with craft beer. We also want to have nights with like ... the thing for us is we really like "makers," people that make stuff, artisans and craft people ... so we want to do nights with Proper Sausage, where they come and grill out back and we give away some sausages and whatnot. We didn't want to just open a bar. We wanted to be more than that. Craft beer lends itself to that, the community is very tight-knit and supportive of each other, so craft beer lends itself to something more than just a bar. So, we'll have beer of course and then we'll also have some programming that will be... some of it will be kind of educational. We've talked to a professor of biochemistry to come in and do a series about what happens to the proteins during the brewing process and the yeast and all this stuff. We're talking with another gentleman about doing an interview series via YouTube and Google Hangouts where we can get a brewer from wherever — and we'll project it in the back of the market — and people can come in and ask questions to a brewer that can be across the country or across the world, someone they'd maybe never get the chance to interact with. That's kind of the gist of it. Basically, we wanted more than just a bar. We wanted a place where the community can come together and enjoy craft beer.
What's the space like?
We're in the Wynwood Gateway building, which has four spaces currently, It's a Metro 1 property and Tony Cho is the mastermind behind it and he's been great. We're in the Southernmost space in there. It's a really nice concept Tony is working on and we're really excited to be a part of it. Our space in particular is 1,050 square feet, so it's cozy. It's not huge and it's kind of long and lean. We have shelving down one side that houses all of the beer to go and then a really long bar, which I'm currently building. And then behind the space we have a backyard with a little grassy area. We have the storefront in the front on NW Ave. and then at the back of the space, we have an overhead garage door and we're putting in a glass overhead door and a regular pass through door that will open up to our yard. And that faces east, so in the afternoons it's really pleasant out there, so we're hoping to keep that overhead door open a lot and just kind of a nice backyard vibe going.
More or less, how many people will you be able to accommodate?
I think our occupant load is 77. We have 40 seats. The bar's long, it's about 30 feet long and then we have miscellaneous tables throughout, so we'll be able to hold quite a few people. And still kind of maintain the coziness and neighborhood-type quality, which we love.
What are some of the beers you'll be carrying?
First and foremost will be all the local stuff: The guys from Wynwood Brewing Company, MIA, Wakefield, Concrete Beach; we'll be focusing on that stuff. Along with that, we want to focus on the rest of the craft stuff from the U.S., so all the stuff in Florida like Cigar City, Due South. Whatever we can get from out west and up north, we'll definitely want. And then we'll also kind of focus on Belgian beers, some Cantillon and whatnot. There's some interesting stuff going on with gypsy brewing and Mikkeller, he's a guy who basically just formulates recipes and then has brewers —he doesn't have an actual brewery— has brewers brew it for him. He's got some really interesting beers going that we're going to definitely try to have. Due to the three-tier laws we can only sell what's legally distributed in Florida, so it's not like we can just pick any beer and sell it, which we would love to do. But there's still a lot of really good beer that we can get our hands on. So, Evil Twin and Mikkeller, Cantillon, then of course the local stuff, Lagunitas, New Belgium, Goose Island, all the good stuff. We're not going to have any traditional domestic stuff, we won't have Budweiser, we won't have Coors Light. So, it's craft beer. We'll also have wine and we're focusing on the Americas. So we'll have a good wine program with about 8 to 10 reds and 8 to 10 whites. On our trip to South America, Nicole and I hit Mendoza, which is the wine country down there and were really impressed by the Malbecs, so we're going to try to have stuff from South America and North America. We've always loved California wines and Oregon wines, so we do hope to have a nice wine program as well.
What are you most excited about with the opening?
I'm excited to ... open. Just open! With all the permitting and talking to the city, just getting open is actually quite a feat. Then, the community at large has really been ... everybody we've spoken to about our concept has been like "that's awesome, I can't wait to come," so I'm really excited to get all those people in there and see their reactions and see how they enjoy it. Other than that, I really look forward to working with the local brewers. I've spoken to Wynwood Brewing Company about doing a special cask beer for our opening. Just furthering the local craft beer community is really exciting for me.
Is there anything else you want to note about the new project?
I do want to say that we're definitely a mom and pop place, it's Nicole and I. We have a
we're building the bar top, we're building all the shelving, we're literally doing it all
great contractor we're working with who's doing the plumbing and electrical and stuff like that, but as far as selecting the beer, selecting the wine, working there, it's going to be us. There's one more person who we're hoping to have work with us, but we're building the bar top, we're building all the shelving, we're literally doing it all. To us, this goes hand in hand with the craft beer scene and the craft movement in general. We feel like we're truly a mom and pop place, which we think makes us a little special. When you call and you want to ask a question, it's Nicole and I that answer. When you come in and you need help, it's Nicole and I. So, I think that's kind of unique and nice.
The local beer scene is really taking off in Miami. Why do you think that is?
I'm sure it's a multitude of things, but I think a lot of it is that people want a quality product and that's what you get in craft beer. It's a guy that brews beer that is hands on with his brewery and there's a little extra value to that rather than going to buy a Budweiser and drinking it, it's not a mass produced thing, it's a hand-crafted thing, which is important to a lot of people. You can see it all over South Florida, not just in the craft beer world. You look at Proper Sausages, they're making their own thing, they're artisans, Zak the Baker, there's just kind of a yearning throughout the country and South Florida that's a little more personal, a little higher quality, where you can talk to the person who made it, the purveyor. It's not just craft beers, it's a lot of things, restaurants and food and beverage in general. People are looking for a more personal experience.
Where do you envision Miami in the future?
Craft beer has grown in leaps and bounds since I first came here, but I think it's got a lot of room to grow. You look at a place like San Diego and they have over a hundred breweries. We've got a handful. I see it continuing to grow. For whatever reason, Florida was a little late to the craft beer game. Now it's caught on like wildfire and I see it growing. I could see Miami in the next 10 years having 20 more breweries opening.
What are some of your favorite spots around town to grab a beer.
Wynwood Brewing Company is one of my favorites. Matt and David do a really good job over at Kush, I really like their selection. Of course, The Abbey— a little biased there, but I ike them a lot. The Mighty opened up on Coral Way recently and that's a great spot; we love going down there. We also really like getting some beers and going to the beach. That plays into the part where we want to be a spot where you can get good beers to go.