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Prime meridian: 26 Degree Brewing Company to launch in Pompano Beach

New South Florida brewery! 26 Degree Brewing Company will open Friday in Pompano Beach.

Big, bold and balanced craft beers brewed without much experimentation is the motto at 26 Degree Brewing Company, set to open Friday, Sept. 18, in Pompano Beach.

The latest microbrewery to tap into South Florida's nascent beer scene, 26 Degree takes over a former Winn-Dixie supermarket on Atlantic Boulevard just west of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The crew in charge of the suds includes co-owners Greg Lieberman, Yonathan Ghersi, Oscar Oliwkowicz and Billy Silas, all self-taught homebrewers who spent 18 months gutting and renovating the 21,000-square-foot space.

The brewery's name is a geographical nod to 26th parallel north, a meridian that passes roughly between North Miami and Delray Beach. The name is not, as Ghersi says others have guessed, the temperature at which 26 Degree serves its inventory.

"We're not making beer popsicles here," Ghersi, of Miami Beach, says with a laugh. "Our pilot buddies caught the reference immediately. In reality, we didn't want to choose a name that would pigeonhole us into one city."

Ghersi says 26 Degree will launch with "seven or eight" beers to start, including Baseline, a pale ale, and Ziko's Rage, a Russian-style imperial stout punched with notes of coffee, caramel and raisin. Lieberman, who lives in Boca Raton, named it after a "crazy, aggressive" loggerhead turtle he helped rehabilitate while a volunteer at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Ghersi says.

Describing the 4,600-square-foot taproom as "industrial chic," Ghersi says the furniture is "rustic" and carved from reclaimed wood. Table legs are fashioned from fire sprinkler pipes, while massive tabletops consist of old Florida Power and Light and Comcast wire spools embedded with brewing grain.

The beer, unlike the decor, follows a "traditional" style. Ghersi says their brewing standard is adapted from guidelines set by the Beer Judge Certification Program, a nonprofit group of beer enthusiasts.

"We tend to brew to style," Ghersi says. "If you want an American [India Pale Ale], we'll give you an American IPA. A pale ale tastes like a pale ale. We don't do a lot of craziness when it comes to the product. More than anything, we strike a balance between the roastiness and maltiness and bittering so it tastes well-rounded."

26 Degree Brewing Company will open Friday, Sept. 18, at 2600 E. Atlantic Blvd., in Pompano Beach. Hours are 2-11 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Call 954-532-6964 or go to 26Brewing.com.

pvalys@sun-sentinel.com or Twitter @philvalys

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