Bars and breweries aren’t typically put in the same category, but Veza Sur Brewing Co., the winner of the 2017 Eater Miami bar of the year, is breaking the mold on what most people picture a brewery to be.
Founders Max-Antonio Burger (co-founder and general manager), Marshal Hendrickson (co-founder and director of operations) and Asbjorn Gerlach (brewmaster) all met while living in Latin America and working on separate projects. They joined forces and decided to create a brewery that stood out from the pack — and in less than a year of being open they’ve proved they are doing exactly that.
The beer menu has a range of options featuring everything from pale ales to a trigo IPA, and a coffee porter using Miami’s own Per’La Specialty Roasters. Unique to its menu are the Brazilian chopp beers (pronounced show-pee), which are smaller in size and served at a below freezing temperature making them easier to drink, and can be ordered as a Latin lager or a dark lager. Each chopp is $4, and in true Brazilian fashion, continually refilled unless a coaster is placed on top of the glass.
But the stand out menu item are the beer-based cocktails. These cocktails are created monthly by the Bar Lab team, the same team behind popular watering holes like The Broken Shaker and The Anderson. The drinks are made using beers on tap and other seasonal flavors like mango, passionfruit, and guava, resulting in beverages that even the most fiercely anti-beer drinkers will appreciate.
“The beer cocktail idea was born out of the desire to offer non-beer drinkers something they could enjoy along with their friends who are enjoying a beer,” says Burger. “And wanting to show that beer can be much more than what most people have in mind when thinking of beer.”
And now with each new seasonal beer Veza Sur introduces comes a new cocktail. Like the Miami appropriate Tremendo Arroz con Mango cocktail, made with a beer that’s ABV clocks in at 10.8 percent and is mixed with sage leaves, orange peel, and a peppercorn reduction.
“When we started working with the Bar Lab folks it really opened our minds to how much fun micheladas, cheladas, and beer cocktails in general could be,” notes Hendrickson.
But not everyone was on board with the idea from the start, like its German-born brewmaster, Gerlach, who was initially skeptical about the beer cocktails.
“I don’t always appreciate when people mix a great brew with other ingredients. But once we started playing around with different ingredients it totally opened new taste profiles and ways how a great beer can be enjoyed,” Gerlach adds. “For example, the Cafe con Flan is probably the best beer based liquid dessert I have had - ever.”
As for the cocktail making process, it doesn’t come from a specific formula — it’s more inspiration in the moment. The Bar Lab team works closely with the brewers to curate an ever-changing menu.
“Good ideas come from anywhere, for example our special Jimmy’s Colada (editor’s note: this drink is no longer available ) was created by our bartender, Jimmy, exploring ways to create a beer cocktail by mixing two beers,” remarks Gorlach. “When he tested our Horchata Cream Ale layered with our Per’La Coffee Porter it tasted phenomenal. Or the Tremendo Arroz con Mango Cocktail was made by taking a new higher alcohol beer and adding it to the existing Lulo Bird recipe (replacing the Lulo Sour with Arroz Con Mango), and another great cocktail was born.”
And the cocktails haven’t just elevated the bar, they have elevated the beers themselves.
“It’s an entirely new way of experiencing the beer,” Burger adds.