If one of Miami’s top chefs carves out a section of his new menu for craft beers, it’s time to pay attention. At Harry’s Pizzeria, guests can choose from a short, stout list of chef-owner Michael Schwartz’s favorite beers from small, independent, Florida breweries.
Harry’s (3918 N. Miami Ave. in Miami’s Design District) offers Cigar City Brewing Co.’s Jai Alai on tap. The India pale ale, which pours out copper in color with notes of citrus and caramel and a tropical fruit aroma, pairs perfectly with Schwartz’s bacon pizza.
Another locally brewed triumph, this one from Fort Lauderdale’s Gordash Brewing Co., is Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale, just the thing to see you through a few slices of Harry’s rock shrimp pizza with grilled lemon, manchego, scallions and cilantro.
Harry’s also serves Monk in the Trunk Ale by Jupiter’s Inlet Brewing Co. and Native Lager by Fort Lauderdale’s Native Brewing Co. on tap.
Like the cupcake craze and the food-truck trend, the craft beer revolution has taken its sweet time getting to South Florida. But it seems to be gaining momentum judging from Schwartz’s embrace and this weekend’s Grovetoberfest, which is set to take over Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park on Saturday with more than 110 innovative beers from around the world.
“Grovetoberfest is South Florida’s first true craft beer festival,” says Tony Albelo, the event’s organizer. “I couldn’t believe I had to go all the way to Jupiter to enjoy a true craft beer festival with at least 75 beers. So I created one for my hometown.”
Ubiquitous breweries like Brooklyn, Harpoon, and Magic Hat will be represented along with newbies such as the line from Schnebly Redland’s Winery. The Homestead winemaker is unveiling its first tropical fruit-inspired beer under the Schnebly Brewing Co. label.
At Grovetoberfest you can try Schnebly’s subtle, star-fruit pilsner, Beach Blonde, or its Gator Tale Ale, which is all about the acidity of home-grown passion fruit.
With all that imbibing, you’ll want to pace yourself with some of chef Ralph Pagano’s braised short ribs at the fest’s Kitchen Lab. (Or get a ride home with one of Grovetoberfest’s designated drivers.)
Pagano, executive chef at the Gansevoort’s STK, says he evaluates beer in the same way he does wine.
“You have to ask yourself if you want to contrast or complement your food. I’m usually looking for a way to complement and awaken a meal,” Pagano says. “If I’m feeling randy, I go for a more robust beer to pair with my pork belly.”
With meaty dishes, Pagano suggests a richer beer. With spicier dishes, he says it’s smart to tone down the flavors with a cooler, more refreshing choice.
“Sometimes I’m a simple guy. The lighter crafts are good for those days. Give me a stone crab, an oyster, some arugula and a Pilsner-style and I’m good to go.”