Broward County's first microbrewery has set an opening date. The Funky Buddha in Oakland Park is expected to start taking in customers on June 1.
The nearly 20,000-square-foot space will feature the largest-capacity brewing system in South Florida, and a tap room twice the size of the original Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton.
Since the brewery's groundbreaking last November, beer nuts and OP residents have kept their eyes on the warehouse lot next to the train tracks at the corner of North Dixie Highway and Northeast 38th Street.
But brand manager John Linn says the Funky Buddha has been getting attention from across the country, even before owner Ryan Sentz announced plans to expand from his Boca Raton brewpub.
"When the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter [a Funky Buddha special release] came out, growlers got traded," Linn says. "That made North America take notice."
The dark, thick, candied brew became the No. 1 beer on rating site BeerAdvocate.com, and Linn says one 30-ounce growler sold for $200 on eBay.
Hardcore beer enthusiasts trade brews through the mail often. It's a way to try products from breweries, usually small ones, that don't distribute to certain states.
But that kind of exposure hasn't always benefited this soon-to-be brewery. Some were less-than-rave reviews.
"One time a guy poured two pint glasses of [Funky Buddha's] Hop Gun [IPA] or Floridian [hefeweizen] into his growler and tried to sell it," Linn says. "You can't control the quality of that growler. You don't know how long they've had it. It wasn't oxidized. It wasn't bottled properly."
Quality control leads even some larger microbrewers, such as Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colo., to opt out of the growler trend rather than risk making a bad impression on a first-time taster.
Come June 1, however, Buddha fans will be able to get their fill.
Linn says to-go growlers at the new brewery are a must. He's confident the filling machine on premise will preserve the quality of the beers.
For good measure, growlers will carry a label reminding customers that Funky Buddha beers are not pasteurized nor filtered, and it's always best to consume them fresh.
The Funky Buddha Brewery site is located at 1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park. Check the Facebook page for updates on the grand opening.