I recently conducted a short interview with Mike Halker, the president and head brewer at Due South Brewery and here’s what happened.
1.First and foremost. What got you into craft beer?
Honestly, I was a bit late to the game. I spent years drinking only Jack Daniels as I thought all beer was the macro fizzy stuff. A friend poured me a Sam Adams one day and the journey began. I had no idea beer could actually have flavor.
2.Was there any one beer in particular that got really excited about craft beer?
Not really any particular beer that got me excited initially but when I finally made my way into the IPA arena I knew that I had found my place. Hoppy beers aren’t found in the mass produced yellow liquid so it’s really a revelation when your one of your first craft beers has over 70 IBU’s. I couldn’t get enough after that.
3.Where are your operations located at?
Our brewery is located in Boynton Beach, FL, just outside of West Palm Beach. The craft beer scene here was a late bloomer so it’s moving at quite a pace right now to catch up. Initially we’ll be distributing our beers from Jupiter, FL down to Key West. We hope next year to have our production up enough to move into some other parts of Florida.
4.How long have you been brewing?
I’ve been homebrewing for quite a few years. I think homebrewers come in two flavors. Those that experiment with everything they can get their hands on and those that make the same recipe dozens of times trying to get it exactly the way they want it. I’m definately in the camp of the latter. I’ve probably brewed our Caramel Cream Ale 50 different ways trying to get the right balance of flavors and aroma. After the response we received from folks tasting that beer last weekend at the Treasure Coast Beer Fest, I think we’ll keep it exactly like it is.
5.Are you receiving a good response from the community?
It’s really been overwhelming. From the City of Boynton Beach to the festival organizers to the distributors to the local beer bloggers to the guys in south Florida that love craft beer, they’ve all been extremely kind. Not to mention the other Florida brewers. Matt from Tequesta Brewing, Fran from Brewzzi’s, Joey and Justin from Cigar City, Brian from Bold City and Ryan and Kevin from the Funky Buddha have all gone out of their way to make us feel welcome. No other industry does that. It’s amazing.
6.What kind of beers can we expect to taste from Due South?
We tend to lean toward a very flavorful, yet drinkable beer. As I said, our Caramel Cream Ale will certainly be one of our flagships. At the festival we also brought our Red Hoptober which, as you can imagine, is a hoppy red ale. It was very well received. We are discussing changing the name right now so we can offer it all year. Our Southbound Brown has a great malt profile and is a little more bitter than you might expect, but still a beer you can comfortably drink a few of. We’ll be experimenting with some different things in the taproom but right now we have about 15 or so recipes ready to go. As we get open, we’ll listen, and use the feedback from our customers to help us narrow down which beers will be distributed.
7.How long till the brewery is fully operational?
That’s a bit of a tough question to answer at this point but it shouldn’t be too long. We’re probably looking at the first of the year but in a few weeks we should be able to narrow down that date better. There’s so many things going on at once you never know who’s going to finish what when. As long as we’re open by the Jupiter Craft Beer Festival I’ll be happy.
8.What are some of your personal favorites that you brew?
I like the hoppy beers so I’m always trying to come up with new hop schedules for different IPA’s. I’ve got a few hop blends that I’m into right now so I’m working with the grain bill to try to add some complexity and increase the depth of the flavor profile. Actually though, I just want to brew. The smell of a porter in the mash or the aroma hop additions at flameout, I love it all.
9.What are some of your personal favorite breweries? In state and out of state?
So far I’ve met quite a few brewers from Florida and I like them all. We’re all geared toward the promotion of the craft beer movement in the State so it’s natural that we all get along very well. As far as the beer goes, they all make something I enjoy. They all have their own styles so it depends on the mood at the time. I can say I keep Cigar City Jai Alai around since it’s available in bottles and I try to get to Tequesta Brewing as often as possible and I’ll drink anything Matt brews. If I’m feeling particularly adventureous I run down to the Funky Buddha. Those guys freak me out with the stuff they come up with, and they do it well.
As far as out of state goes, I’ll usually look toward Great Divide, Oskar Blues or Avery. I thought the Dugana was a great beer. I’m looking forward to some new breweries bringing their beers down here so we can put them in our taproom.
10.Any parting words for the South Florida craft beer community?
I’d really just like to thank everyone for their support. As I said earlier, everyone has been just fantastic so far and I can’t say enough about the craft community down here. I’m sure we’re all in for a great ride. Cheers!