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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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.