Most Wanted Brewery's Eddie Leon Talks Brewery Startups

most-wanted-brewery.jpg
Courtesy of Eddie Leon
So you're a homebrewer in Miami and you want to start a brewery. If population density is any indicator, the market is ripe compared to Asheville, North Carolina, a city of 83,000 people that has at least a dozen breweries (including brewpubs) and counting.

Eddie Leon, 44, founder of Most Wanted Brewery in Doral, is one of two brewery startups in Miami-Dade. Along with Wynwood Brewing Company, Most Wanted is on the rise.

See also:
Misfit Home-Brewers Help Lead Miami's Craft Beer Invasion


According to the Brewer's Association, a trade group, the financial rate of growth in the craft beer industry was 15 percent for 2010 and 2011. By mid-2012, that number was 14 percent. And the retail value of craft beer increased by more than $1 billion between 2010 and 2011.

With numbers like those, a craft brewery investment might be the way to go, even in a sluggish economy. That's the way Leon sees it, which is why he decided to take his leap of faith. But for his middle-class family of four, it's a huge financial gamble.

Leon earned a master's degree in architecture from Florida International University and runs his own digital graphic design business. He got back into homebrewing after a several-year hiatus before deciding to go commercial.

Many homebrewers might have similar ideas. But there is a process, a rite of passage if you will, to becoming a professional brewer. There's plenty of red tape and many potential financial setbacks. So far, everything is clicking for Leon, having recently acquired a brewing space at 10400 NW 33rd St. in Doral. 

Short Order interviewed Leon in an attempt to demystify the beginning stages of a brewery startup in Florida.

New Times: If you're a homebrewer and want to start a brewery, what is the first step?
Eddie Leon: If you're a first-time business owner, you should definitely have a business plan that sort of lays out what is it going to cost you and at what point you're going to generate enough profits to cover your costs. Ultimately, you're putting all of your money into a machine that needs to generate revenue, and obviously nobody has endlessly deep pockets, so you need to be able to do something with the gamble that you're going to play that will sustain the growth of your business.


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Wynwood Brewing Company

565 NW 24th St., Miami, FL

Category: General

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3 comments
nagareshi
nagareshi

Miami will have some great local beer to drink this year. Wynwood Brewing Co. + Most Wanted Brewery!

Suzanne
Suzanne

Important to note the role distributors play in manufacturing beer in FL.  We have a three tier system the does not allow for direct sale from a brewery to retailers or consumers (with small exceptions such as a tasting room).  It's a tough model.  A lot of lobbying goes into keeping this three tier system in place.  It allows for the bigger guys to maintain their position and get the best shelf space, etc.  Interesting stuff...

eddieleon
eddieleon

@Suzanne Very good point. I'd like to add that once you select a distributor you are essentially locked in with that distributor forever. The Franchise laws are quite strict. However, distributors can make higher profit margins with craft beer, so they seem quite motivated to support the microbreweries. They are also very good at what they do. The majority of brewery owners do not want to dedicate resources away from what they do best (making beer). Buying and insuring trucks and drivers is expensive.

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