The Tank Brewing Company: Stouts and Stogies in Miami
In Miami, where local beer is now as ubiquitous as cigars, The Tank Brewing Company celebrates both. In its intimate cigar lounge, patrons can be found puffing a hand-rolled stogie while savoring Frank the Tank, a 10 percent Imperial Stout served in a tulip glass sporting the brewery’s catchphrase, “Sip & Discuss.”
From an industrial area of unincorporated Miami-Dade County near the Miami International Airport, The Tank Brewing Co. began producing and distributing beer in 2016, opening its expansive taproom and intimate cigar lounge to the public in April 2017. The brewery combines the talents of head brewer Matthew Weintraub and lead brewer Mohsen Saade, both original cultivators of the Magic City’s craft brewing industry, and Carlos Padron, a corporate real estate attorney who also has deep connections in the cigar world. According to Padron, it’s one of the first breweries in the US to combine the two crafts.
“The passion among craft beer makers, cigar makers, and their consumers is very similar,” explains Padron, who founded his own cigar-importing business, Family Tobacco Traders, in 2009 after learning about the industry from Nestor Plasencia (of Plasencia cigar fame). “Not only are there commonalities in the process of making a hand rolled cigar and a beer, but it is a lifestyle that is very similar.”
The seed for The Tank Brewing was planted in 2011, while Saade and Weintraub, both born and raised in Miami, were attending Florida International University. Under the tutelage of professor Barry Gump, Weintraub formed the school’s homebrewing club along with Nick Armada and David Rodriguez. (While a member, Saade did not help start the group.) Dubbed B.R.E.W. FIU, the club’s founding members would go on to become an integral part of Miami’s emerging craft brewing industry—these days, Armada educates the next generation of brewers at CerveTech, while Rodriguez is a cellarman at Wynwood Brewing Company.
Room to Experiment
At The Tank, Saade says they intentionally make a wide variety of styles—from a sessionable English-style Brown Ale to tropical “Southeast” Pale Ales and IPAs—to avoid being known for only certain brews. According to him, the brewery’s 3-barrel pilot system can put out a new beer each week.
“People always ask us ‘What beers do you specialize in?’ and the truth is, we are just trying to specialize in beer that tastes good,” Saade explains. “We don’t want to be pinned down to anything in particular.”
At 25,000-square-feet, The Tank is one of the county’s largest breweries. That means plenty of room for experimentation. Future plans include mixed fermentation and blending, which will take place in a dedicated 2,000-square-foot space inside the brewery, while Saade intends to install a beer engine in the taproom for cask ales. The brewers are also working with Washington DC-based beer historians Lost Lagers to recreate 1800s-era beers. And in the brewery’s second-phase buildout, Padron hopes to add an on-site restaurant.
While The Tank’s expansive location offers plenty of room to grow, it lacks the built-in foot traffic of trendy (and more expensive) Miami neighborhoods like the Wynwood Arts District (home to a handful of breweries including Wynwood, J. Wakefield, and Concrete Beach).
“One of the reasons we’re so big is to be able to expand,” Saade says. “But here, you’re not just going to have people walking down the street. You really have to attract people to come out—so we’re really focusing on events, like live music, setting up the right vibes to make people want to venture out here.” Just a 5-minute drive from the airport, The Tank is popular with tourists, too, who often make the brewery their first or last stop on a trip to Miami.
Tasting and Talking
The Tank’s taproom opens up into a 4,000-square-foot warehouse space with strategically placed TVs and seating for at least 100 people. At the front of the room a bar seats about 15, while large panes of glass expose the 7,500-square-foot brewhouse to the taproom.
Since opening, the brewery has enticed drinkers with events like corn hole tournaments, jazz and acoustic performances from the taproom stage, and Twisted Fork, an on-site food truck owned by local chef Richard Plasencia, whose signature shrimp and grits dish is made with beer, chorizo, aged Cheddar, and gator sausage.
Then there’s the cigar lounge, which is connected to the taproom opposite the stage area. It’s a relatively small space, at approximately 300 square feet, that’s humidified and adorned with black leather chairs and dark wood. Inside, a wide range of premium, hand-rolled stogies from the likes of Plasencia and Quesada are available to purchase and smoke on the spot.
“It’s really not a big cigar lounge. It’s enough to display some cigars of brands that I have worked with over the years,” says Padron, whose cigar importing warehouse is connected to the brewery space, just beyond the brewhouse. “More importantly, it’s a place to talk a little bit about the craft of cigar making, similar to our tasting room as a place to be able to talk about the making of the beer.”
The Tank is already attracting huge crowds. Daniel Ferrer, a 24-year-old born in Venezuela who runs a medical clinic in Miami, made his first trip to the brewery in June with friends. “The acoustics are on the level,” he says. “As far as the beer, you can actually taste the effort that people put into brewing it.”
3-barrel pilot system
4 3-barrel fermentors
8 30-barrel fermentors
4 15-barrel fermenters
1 3-barrel bright tank
1 15-barrel bright tank
2 30-barrel bright tanks
1 60-barrel bright tank
Byronic Brown: This English-style Brown Ale hopped with Fuggles and East Kent Goldings balances nutty and bready flavors with caramel and dry cacao notes. 4.6% ABV
Abbey 6: Dark mahogany in color, this Belgian-style Dubbel, which is part of The Tank’s Abbey series, employs a traditional Trappist ale yeast and floor-malted Pilsner malts. 7.2% ABV
Frank the Tank: Notes of dark chocolate and French press coffee dominate this tongue-coating Imperial Stout, which also offers a fruity bouquet and hints of brown sugar. 10.0% ABV
Freedom Tower: Named after one of Miami’s most recognizable landmarks, this malt-forward Amber Ale is brewed with Cascade and Galena hops and includes caramel flavors and subtle hints of stone fruit. 5.3% ABV
El Farito IPA: Sharing the nickname for Key Biscayne’s lighthouse, this dry, crisp IPA is brewed with Hallertau Blanc, Sterling, and Cascade hops that bring notes of pineapple, passionfruit, papaya, and lemongrass. 6.5% ABV
La Finca Miami: Pilsner, wheat, and rye malts plus a house Saison yeast strain bring the characteristic citrusy fruitiness and a peppery cloak to The Tank’s Belgian-style Wheat Saison. 6.2% ABV ■