By Charlie Crespo
Photography by Alissa Dragun
Tucked into one of the many warehouses that surround Port Everglades is a brewery that you probably never knew existed. Inside, patrons sit at picnic tables or at the large beige, gray and tan wood-paneled bar under quietly swaying Edison bulbs. A giant industrial fan hums overhead. Customers sip on beers with names such as Port Everglades Porter, Las Olas Lager and Immigration IPA as they make small talk or watch the brewing process that’s happening right in front of them. Observing the scene, you’d wonder how they ever heard about LauderAle, Fort Lauderdale’s first nano brewery.
“Most people come here through word of mouth,” says Kyle Jones, one-half of the duo that opened LauderAle this past summer. “From my perspective, I see that being the reason for our success; people don’t talk about something that isn’t good.”
Jones, who wears a scruffy beard and a diving T-shirt, has a laid-back personality. His relaxed appearance is directly in line with his brewery, even down to the playlist that wafts over the speakers, featuring indie bands like The Strokes and Modest Mouse.
LauderAle has come a long way since Jones and fellow owner Joe Farrell—both Fort Lauderdale natives—came up with the idea to open a brewery one night over a couple of beers. Its first incarnation was as a homebrew operation in a garage, which allowed them to use a trial-and-error process to develop their recipes. Although the two always intended to expand from that point, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.
“Most people come here through word of mouth. From my perspective, I see that being the reason for our success; people don’t talk about something that isn’t good.” – Kyle Jones
“The original idea was to be a manufacturing production only,” Jones says with a laugh. “Based on the market and demand for craft beer, we pivoted and had to have a tasting room. It was almost an accident.”
If the tasting room was an accident, it was certainly a fortuitous one. Depending on the night, there’s a consistent crowd of between 25 and 50 people hanging out comfortably in the 3,200-square-foot space. Those customers have led to the brewing of 100,000 pints of beer this year, an incredible amount considering the nano brewery operates on a tiny one-barrel system. The once no-frills tasting room has also been upgraded, with the addition of two flat-screen TVs in September and a Ping-Pong table in November.
Without a doubt, Jones is thrilled with the initial success of LauderAle, but that doesn’t mean his vision is complete. There are still big plans for the future.
“We’ve decided on a 10-barrel system that we plan to purchase by the end of the year, and want to do canning, bottling and distributing beyond Florida,” Jones explains. “We want to grow, but we want to keep this intimate feeling.”
Originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue.