The Beer That Was Here

By Christine Alexis

Miami’s thirst for craft beer is being quenched rapidly. Not only Miami, but the state of Florida had a net increase of more than 35 breweries in 2016, according to the Brewers Association. “The beer industry has changed a lot in Miami over the last five years, and I believe it will continue to evolve,” says Eddie Leon, co-owner and CEO of MIA Beer Co. There are a lot of new breweries in Miami, and we all hope to leave a rich legacy for future brewers.”

While some think the craft beer industry is the new kid on the block in South Florida, this is not the case. Shortly after Prohibition ended, Wagner Brewing Co. opened in the mid-1930s and was referred to as “The Pride of Florida.” However, at the time, it was hard to market local beer, and eventually Wagner was bought by American Brewing Co. of New Orleans in 1939. It then became American Brewing Co. of Miami and began brewing Regal Beer.

Regal Beer quickly turned into a fan favorite. Because of World War II, sugar and grain were scarce and transportation for national products was greatly reduced. These limitations put Regal Beer on the forefront, as local products were emphasized. Regal Beer successfully positioned itself in the market as an affordable option.

However, in 1958, American Brewing sold the Miami plant to Anheuser-Busch, which planned to stop producing Regal Beer in favor of its flagship, Budweiser. But the federal government stepped in because Anheuser-Busch would have a monopoly on beer production and distribution. As a result, Anheuser-Busch sold the plant to National Brewing Co., which continued to produce Regal Beer and also created Colt 45 malt liquor. Miamians began to refer to the plant as “Regal Brewery,” although that was not the only beer produced. The plant remained open until 1974, when National Brewing moved production to Baltimore.

While Regal Beer is no longer produced in Miami, locals still have fond memories of it. “I do recall as a child seeing cans of Regal Beer, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s when I experienced my first brewery, South Pointe Brewery. Shortly after, I began homebrewing,” Leon says. Still, “Regal Brewery” played a significant role in South Florida and helped create a path for the growing craft beer industry.

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.5 million images of southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For information or to visit HistoryMiami, visit historymiami.org.

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