Spring training for beer drinkers

Long lines and tiny cups haven't kept beer drinkers from packing into parks, rain or shine, for tasting festivals. So the organizers of Miami's largest craft-beer party have developed a spring counterpart for October's Grovetoberfest.

Like its older sibling, the Sprung Spring Beer Festival, occurring Saturday in Coconut Grove, aims to bring South Florida the most-comprehensive lineup of microbrews available south of Jupiter, where the area's longest-running craft-centric festival takes place every January. But the new event focuses, of course, on spring beers.

Promoters have emphasized the seasonal releases at Sprung, but better than their commitment to spring is their effort to weave relatively familiar names with the local beer scene.

Alongside big boys of craft beer such as Brooklyn Brewery, Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada are Boynton Beach's Due South, Miami's Most Wanted Brewery and the BREW FIU club. The school's brewing-club members will partner with Gold Coast Beverage Distributors for beer-and-food pairing sessions at the festival. Ticket holders will receive free admission to the sessions, which will be a good way to bypass the cost of food for anyone who arrives early enough to snag a seat.


Pictures: Miami Heat fans at the season opener

Another way to combat the effects of more than 150 beer samples will be to jive with funk and hip-hop group ArtOfficial, headlining Sprung's entertainment stage. Guests can also camp at the Orange Pride tent, featuring a televised Miami Hurricanes' basketball game and "human bowling," which promises a spectacle for designated drivers.

The Wynwood Brewing Company tent will offer a preview of the forthcoming brewery. Owner Luis Brignoni has been working since last year to open the city of Miami's first production facility.

"We gave ourselves six months to be up and running, but it's not happening that way," Brignoni says. He cites Miami's convoluted bureaucratic processes as the cause of the delay.

Regardless, Brignoni and his team try to create a local presence by pouring samples of WBC beers at tasting events such as Sprung. They'll bring a porter, a blonde ale, an IPA and its more-intense cousin, the Wynwood Brewing imperial IPA.

Brewmaster Naga Reshi came to the WBC team from Brazil, and Brignoni was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Brignoni says, "[Once we open], we'll have collaborations not just with people in Florida, but hopefully, national and international."

Sprung Spring Beer Festival will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Peacock Park, 2820 MacFarlane Road, in Coconut Grove. Tickets cost $39-$89 plus fees at IGotSprung.com.