In the heart of Boynton Beach’s industrial district, wedged in between Sherwin-Williams and Boynton Beach Marble & Granite, sits one of South Florida’s best-kept brewing secrets. Due South Brewing Co. is a workingman’s brewery. More working brewery than bar, it’s industrial and downright homey; if you can find the place, saddle up at the bar and take a sip.
Opened in May, Due South was largely a fortunate accident. “Originally, I didn’t even like beer; I thought all beer was like Coors Light,” says Mike Halker, owner and brew master of Due South, whose visit to a local home-brew shop in North Carolina helped set a course for Due South. “I initially went to buy a wine-making kit for my wife, but they sold me on making beer. They put a bunch of beers in front of me to taste and I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know beer could taste like this.’ It was an education.”
Due South Brewing is an outlier when it comes to South Florida watering holes. An expansive, open warehouse, the brewery is right at home in the rough-at-the-edges location. As a working brewery, Due South is more of a manufacturer with a taproom then bar with a side of brewery—a “production facility,” as Halker likes to call it. But the earthy aroma of mash, hops and barley overwhelm the metallic tinge of industry of the area.
Due South is on a steady clip, producing close to a dozen beers, from Belgium-style saisons and blonde ales to deep and brooding stouts. Halker specializes in “drinkable beers,” the type of brews that make for an easy transition from macro to micro consuming.
“These are the types of beers I like to drink, refreshing beers at 4.5 to 6 percent ABV,” Halker says from behind the bar, topping off a Cat 3 IPA—a beer he “brewed for me." It sits at 6.1 percent ABV and has a citrusy bitterness that reveals the complexity of the recipe's five-hop blend.
The fermenting and brightening tanks are on a constant rotation, maximizing space and capacity (there are more tanks on order), with four core beers: Category 3 IPA (6.1 percent ABV), Caramel Cream Ale (5 percent ABV), Florida Blonde (4.2 percent ABV) and Southern Saison (5.6 percent ABV) are always on tap. Specialty beers, produced on a rotating schedule, include some heavy hitters like Category 4 IPA (7.7 percent ABV), Category 5 IPA (8.8 percent ABV) and the pitch-black Mariana Trench Imperial Stout (a whopping 9.6 percent ABV); flavored specialties like the Raspberry Blonde (4.2 percent ABV), Honey Vanilla Wheat (4.8 percent), Roasted Cocoa Stout (6.1 percent ABV), Café Ole Espresso Porter (5.7 percent ABV) and Isle of MaGourdo (5 percent ABV); and specialty sips Oktoberfest (5.4 percent) and Southbound Brown (5.6 percent ABV).
At 15,000 square feet, Due South is expansive. Ninety percent of the space is open, half of which is filled with fermenting and holding tanks, palettes of grain, barley and hops as well as kegs stacked four to five high. The other half is for the natives: a patio area with a corn-hole arena, a large walk-in fridge/keg room and a taproom. There is an additional tap room/bar area equipped with air conditioning and televisions, but the open patio area is by far the spot to be. And where there seems to be empty space, Halker has plans for that, too.
“Expansion is coming,” he says. “The culture down here is growing. And everyone likes beer straight from the tap.”
Due South is helping to fill Florida’s brewing void. On the national level, there is a 10-mile rule of thumb: On average, there is a brewery within 10 miles of a residency. In Florida, it’s a bit embarrassing to estimate the home-to-brewery ratio, but things are changing. And those winds of change start with a quality beer. Due South’s beers can be found at more than 90 bars and restaurants in South Florida, and the requests keep coming. The goal is to regulate “growth to maintain the logistics of keeping everyone happy,” Halker says. It's as much a practice of keeping the business on track as it is a practice in craftsmanship: “We don’t want to lose that creativity,” he says.
Due South producies a new beer every two weeks, reprising recipes from Halker’s home-brew days and creating new ones. “I’m working on things I’ve never brewed before,” he says.
A trip to Due South is as much an education in beer as it is a good time. The bar maidens can pour a decent brew, with just the right amount of head, while the beer is served at the right temperature. Beyond that, Due South is about community—not just within Boynton Beach but the craft brew community as well. “The community comes in, and we can educate. It is something that has been missing,” says Halker, who is also the acting head of the Florida Brewers Guild, a consortium of Florida breweries that aims to educate the public about Florida’s brewing industry and create a network of support. “We’re just glad to be a part of the craft brew community.”
Every Friday and Saturday, Due South opens the parking lot for local food trucks to feed the growing crowds gathering for great brews. Due South beers are available at the Boynton Beach brewery and various bars and restaurants throughout Florida, although cans might be hitting the shelves in near the future. In the meantime, for those looking to bring some Due South flavor home, 32-ounce ($6-$7) and gallon ($22) growlers are available at the taproom.
- Tuesday-Thursday: 12-10 p.m.
- Friday-Saturday: 12-11 p.m.
- Sunday: 12-10 p.m.
2900 High Ridge Rd. #3
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
- Between Sherwin-Williams and Boynton Beach Marble & Granite, only noticeable from the parking lot.