When you think of the Florida craft beer scene, breweries like Cigar City, Tequesta and Funky Buddha probably enter your mind. After spending some time with Matt Manthe, brewmaster at Brewzzi’s Boca Raton location, Brewzzi can certainly be added to that list.
Most people think of Brewzzi as a restaurant that just happens to brew beer. In fact, as the brewmaster points out, some think the brewery is just a fancy display.
“So many people that come in, they don’t think we brew our own beer,” says the brewer, before telling me of a customer that thought Matt was in the brewery washing windows. “It’s still a lot about education. [Boca Raton] is still relatively new to craft beer,” he states of his time in the area since moving here in January. He’s looking to put Brewzzi on the map in the craft beer scene, but he describes a bit of an uphill battle, fighting the restaurant’s reputation of making “nothing but weak lagers.” But with a new tap system featuring four lagers and four ales on tap, and Matt having creative control over the beers, he’s making steady progress.
In the fermenters of his 15-barrel system (that’s 450 gallons), he currently has an 8.7% saison (an estery, European style that’s typically low in alcohol) and a biere de garde, a strong pale ale that was traditionally brewed in northern France. Both the saison and the biere de garde are expertly crafted, and are great representations of the styles.
Before coming to Florida, Matt worked as head brewer for Thomas Creek in South Carolina. He served as a brewing consultant in St. Petersburg briefly before accepting the position with Brewzzi. His experience and education (an undergraduate degree in microbiology and a degree in brewing from the Technical University of Berlin) really shines through in his beers.
Of the eight taps, there are four lagers that are traditionally available: Boca Blonde, a traditional 5% Munich Helles lager; Cityfest, a 5.5% Vienna-style lager; Blake Duke, a delicious 5% Schwarzbier (a black lager, with toasted, dark coffee notes and a crisp, dry finish); and Tropical Madness, which is a fruit-infused version of the Boca Blonde.
The other four taps are reserved for more specialized ales. At the time of this writing, the Global Pale Ale was on tap, a 5.5% American-style pale ale with the perfect hop characteristic to make it a very sessionable beer. There was also a raspberry wheat ale, a 4.5% wheat beer infused with raspberries. Matt will also be doing some interesting things with the saison, including infusions with dragonfruit, key lime and nectarines. He also let slip his plans for a brett-aged version, which uses a specific yeast strain to yield a dry, sour style of beer, similar to the tartness found in a Belgian lambic or gueuze.
Brewzzi holds a firkin night the third Wednesday of every month starting at 5:30 p.m., with a special firkin (an old English unit of measurement, which in the brewing world is a cask ale) available for just $1 a pint for the first hour, and only $3 thereafter. Executive chef James Gennaro and Sous Chef Randall Gancarz create special dishes to pair with the firkin. Recently, a grapefruit-infused Global Pale Ale was paired with a spicy southwestern beef torta topped with guacamole. Another was the Black Duke with Malawi coffee beans served with coffee- and ancho chili-crusted sliders.
Matt is working with James and Randall on a formalized beer pairing dinner. As far as timing, Matt wasn’t certain. “We want to take our time, make sure we do it right.” Keep your eyes peeled, because with the great beers (and food) being produced at Brewzzi, it’s sure to be a hit.