Update: Watch Michael and Jason discuss Michael’s Genuine Home Brew and more in this morning’s Google+ hangout with Miami.com, now archived on YouTube, with Miami.com editor Fred Gonzalez and cocktail and drinks reporter Galena Mosovich moderating the session (HA!) above.
As you may have seen in today’s Miami.com story forthcoming in Tropical Life, Michael will be putting his fresh, simple, and pure philosophy into a bottle and on-tap for the first time later this week with Michael’s Genuine Home Brew, a new classic American Ale! Light bodied with a citrusy sweetness, hint of floral hops and a dry finish, Home Brew is craft-brewed in Gadsden, Alabama by Back Forty Beer Company with Sem-Chi rice and cane sugar, marking the first time Florida-grown ingredients have been used for the grain bill of a beer. We can’t wait to toast over one from the first commercial batch when it arrives later this week! Michael summed up the sentiment pretty darn well. ”It’s no surprise that we love beer. We love drinking it and our food at Genuine and Harry’s loves it. I guess you could say we had the label all along.”
Michael found the right partner in Back Forty. He and owner Jason Wilson share a common approach to how they run their businesses, and it was no surprise when the team at the brewery, with brewmaster Jamie Ray leading the science of the recipe development, nailed exactly what Michael was looking for. Home Brew is crisp and has a clean finish making it a perfect match for almost any food. It drinks great alone too, packing a little more flavor and a better nose than a lager or pilsner.
Back Forty’s passion for the craft mirrors our own. And they are good at what they do, evidenced in their product, currently a portfolio of four styles available in Alabama, Georgia, and now Florida with the introduction of Michael’s Genuine Home Brew. Home Brew is the first beer from an Alabama brewery distributed in South Florida, and the first beer collaboration between a James Beard Award-winning chef and a World Beer Cup Award-winning Brew Master.
“We are thrilled to be working with Michael,” Jason says. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the culinary community and it’s something we’re really passionate about, but having an opportunity to work with a chef like Michael has been top notch. His innovation and dedication to quality goes hand in hand with the hard work and creativity that you see throughout the craft beer industry. We can’t wait to get started on the next beer!”
Home Brew will first be available in Miami at Harry’s Pizzeria as of Thursday, on-tap with a 16 ounce pour for $6, followed by 22-ounce bottles for $11 on August 11 at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and at both locations in bottles and on-tap at same prices as of August 15. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman will get Home Brew in bottles as of Saturday, September 8 when Michael will be on-island for a beer dinner. Look for seasonal beers under the Home Brew label in 2013.
To celebrate the launch week next week, the team from Back Forty will be in Miami also introducing its portfolio of four beers in the state of Florida for the first time along with Home Brew at the following events:
• Monday, August 13: What Ale’s You ale tasting hosted by Grovetoberfest at Harry’s Pizzeria
• Tuesday, August 14: OMG! Beer, Snacks & Movie! tasting at O, Cinema
• Wednesday, August 15: Hot & Hot Pizzeria with James Beard Award-winning Birmingham chef Chris Hastings, part of Harry’s Pizzeria’s monthly chef pop-up series
Throughout the fall, the Home Brew will also be flowing at events including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Club 500 in Talladega, Alabama (10/7,) Miami’s second annual Grovetoberfest beer festival in Coconut Grove (10/13,) the Great American Beer Fest in Denver (10/11-13,) and in select on- and off-premise retailers exclusively distributed by Brown Distributing Company. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for sales and marketing queries. A Home Brew site section will go live on michaelsgenuine.com shortly, and is now on Twitter @MGHomeBrew and on Facebook. You can join Michael on a live video chat at Miami.com via Google+ tomorrow, Wednesday August 8 at 11:00 a.m.
A Genuine Partnership
The backstory begins in the spring of 2011, when Michael participated in an Auburn University fundraiser for tornado relief. Back Forty was pouring its portfolio of four beers, and he liked what he was drinking, from the flagship Naked Pig Pale Ale and Freckle Belly IPA, to the award-winning Truck Stop Honey English Brown Ale and Kudzu Porter. Today, Back Forty is proudly brewing its “Liquid Folk Art” in a 27,000 square foot facility in a historic building located at 200 N. 6th St. in Gadsden, AL. In 2010, Back Forty was recognized by the American Brewers Association as one of the Top 50 Contract Craft Brewers in the country.
After a year of correspondence, a partnership was formed, and we began developing a beer. The collaboration with Back Forty brewmaster Jamie Ray is key. Now living on his family farm in Alabama, Jamie is a native Miamian through and through, responsible for starting the microbreweries at Titanic Brewery in Coral Gables and the Clevelander hotel on South Beach. In the last fifteen years, Jamie has been recognized by the professional brewing community over a dozen times for innovation and attention to detail in his craft, most recently receiving a Silver medal for Truck Stop Honey at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.
In March of this year, Michael flew up to Alabama where he spent three days living and breathing the process at Back Forty’s brewery with Jamie Ray at his side. As he tasted beers in their portfolio and stuck his hands in grain sacks, a direction for Home Brew solidified starting with the ingredients. With guidance from Jamie and several test batches shipped to Miami, Home Brew came to be through his intuition, meticulous attention to detail and innate understanding of what we’re about here in South Florida. We can’t think of a better person with whom to develop the recipe and see it through production.
The Sem-Chi Rice & Cane Story
Good ingredients always come first in everything we do, and we try to use local when possible. Crafting our own beer was no exception. We started with a list, everything under the sun from basil to honey, coconut to mango. For more interesting seasonal brews, sure, but what about something basic that could form the backbone of the ale?
And then Michael had a light bulb. Why not use rice? We had long known about Florida’s only locally-grown and milled brown rice – “Sem-Chi” or Seminole Chief out of Palm Beach County. Homestead farmer Margie Pikarsky first turned us on to it, a rotation crop sewn by Florida Crystals to replenish the depleted soil of its cane fields after harvest. Florida Crystals operates the only mill in the state. It was a perfect match, and Back Forty was up to the challenge of brewing with rice for the first time, making MGHB the first beer featuring Florida ingredients in the grain bill, specifically 40 percent Sem-Chi rice.
About Our American Ale
We cook the food we like to eat, so this beer is fashioned after the style of beer we like to drink. It was important that it be sessionable and go with a wide variety of dishes. Our menu changes constantly and is very diverse, so we needed a beer that would complement many different flavors.
The resulting beer is a classic American Ale, light bodied with a dry finish and a substantial mid palate featuring a citrusy sweetness, hint of floral hops, and a dry finish, coming in about 5% ABV. Home Brew has a light and bright golden color, with a white head that leaves a nice lacing. It’s a solid beer and is similar to lighter styles such as a pilsner or lager, but with more flavor and better nose. We think it pairs nicely with a variety of foods, and is fun to share in large format bottles… And most importantly, very refreshing for the hot Miami sun!
About the Genuine Hospitality Group
The Genuine Hospitality Group of chef/owner Michael Schwartz operates restaurants including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Miami (Est. 2006), Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman (Est. 2010), Harry’s Pizzeria (Est. 2011, Miami) and 150 Central Park by Chef Michael Schwartz aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (Est. 2011), as well as food and beverage operations at South Beach’s iconic Raleigh Hotel. According to Schwartz, the secret to good food is … good food. Honored with the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South in 2010, Schwartz is recognized by his peers and the diners that flock to his restaurants for his fresh, simple and pure cuisine incorporating responsibly- and locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. His first book, MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat (Clarkson Potter; $35), became available online and in bookstores nationwide in February 2011. For more information visit michaelsgenuine.com/TGHG.