Bintani director Phil Meddings, along with family members Pete and Dale, are part of a team launching a brewpub in the US city of Miami.
Meddings is adding the project to a full plate as he is director of finance at Bintani, co-owner of BentSpoke Brewing as well as founder of Keg Services.
He is teaming up with Nick Sharp, a Miami-based Australian businessman who he worked with at KPMG early in his career to open the brewery venue, which will be called Bay 13.
“It came about through two things. Firstly, a relationship with a guy I used to work with [Nick Sharp] a former colleague. We stayed friends after we both moved on from KPMG, and he’s heavily involved in hospitality in Miami,” explained Meddings.
“We got to talking to see if we could deliver on the idea of taking Australian brewpub hospitality to America, the home of the brewpub.
“Secondly, it was a belief that Australian-style hospitality would have a place and some appeal in the US.”
The name is a nod to Melbourne Cricket Ground’s own Bay 13, unofficially considered a crucial contributor to the atmosphere of the historic grounds.
The venue will be a brewpub-style, with a 10-barrel Bespoke Brewing Solutions brewkit and space for 250 people, located in the Coral Gables area of Miami.
In charge of the beers will be American head brewer Greg Berbusse, who has worked at Diamond Bear Brewing in Little Rock, Arkansas, prior to which he was training at Damgoode Pies, a taproom and pizzeria in the city.
Berbusse has completed a road trip around Australian breweries to gain inspiration for Bay 13’s beers.
Meddings said that the team were hoping that Australian hospitality would win the Americans over.
“It’s come from seeing what’s happened with Australian cafes and the regard that Australian produce – steak, coffee in the way it’s served – has a big impact in the US.
“We’re applying that to the Australian brewpub. Australians tend to be greeted with a smile by most Americans which is good for a place where you are having a beer.
“Cafes in Australia, in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, and Brisbane too now, set the bar really high in terms of what they offer and the interest in the menu and how they put that together.
“They’re pretty exceptional and we’d like to apply a bit of that over there.”
But making a mark in a well saturated market in terms of brewpubs and brewers could be a challenge.
“The brewpub is really well established in America – although this isn’t an overall rule as it’s a big place and different parts of the US are at different stages in their cycle as well – but because craft beer has been around for such a long time over there, there has been a wave of brewpubs built and patronised.
“Having travelled a fair bit in the States, we’ve seen a lot of brewpubs within a certain style of hospitality, that’s where you’re seeing the traditional, heavy beer food.
“Some of the fitouts tend to be more in the ultra-casual style, so I think what we’re looking to do is have a brewpub that has a really high focus on beer, and on beer as an expression of flavour.”
The beer industry in Miami is a little different from other parts of the US, such as Portland, or California and the Midwest.
“My first trip to Miami was in 2013, and you had to look hard to find good brewpubs in Miami, but it has come along fairly quickly since then,” explained Meddings.
“There does seem to be a trend of growth, in the Southeast part of the US and southern states.
“Miami was slow to the craft beer movement but it’s picking up quite rapidly. Miami as a location has a lot of other influences that come in, it’s in some ways completely unique in the US, with a high proportion of South Americans, it’s a really diverse demographic.”
While Australian influences and a consideration of the diversity of Miami will be seen in the Bay 13’s beer, it will be adaptable and focused around the food, explained Meddings.
“[We want to] use Australian ingredients to feature in parts of the beer list, Aussie hops and New Zealand hops, as well as Australian beer styles like the Pacific Ale and Australian Pale ale, that sort of thing, maybe a sparkling ale,” he said.
“Something that works really well for [other brewers] is producing a really interesting beer list and not being constrained by different styles or ranges, but having a free flowing open ability to explore different ingredients and flavours and then match them with food.
“That’s the really awesome thing, when you have enough flexibility in your approach to pick up cues and be influenced by local preferences and tastes and flavours you see around.
“There’s a lot of Cuban and Venezuelan influence in the food, and the climate and temperature is a factor and all those things will come through in the offering.”
Meddings explained that they were not planning on expanding the brand at the moment, but would see how the Miami market responded.
“We just want to look after our local area, and if it’s something that people like we might be able to find another place. But firstly it’s about creating a good venue and doing it well.”
Bay 13 will open in the Coral Gables area of Miami in April 2020.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.