Prison Pals Brewing Co. is the hottest new brewery in South Florida (2023)

In recent years, South Florida has become a hotbed for breweries, welcoming celebrities like Unseen Creatures, 3 Sons, Odd Breed and Tripping Animals to the Everglades and white sandy beaches. Recently Prison Pals Brewing Co. joined the ranks of these amazing bars.

Prison Pals Brewing Co. in Doral, FL might be the hottest brewery to land in this state (or the United States, if we call it) in a long timeTripping Animals Florida's hottest new brewery. We did well then, and we have a sneaky feeling that we do now.

And surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), the two breweries have a lot in common.

Founded by four guys from Argentina, Prison Pals has made a name for itself by making sensational jam-filled fruit and sour smoothies, hoppy misty IPAs and light beers. And in a state where the sun shines bright enough to give it a nickname, Florida seems like the perfect landing spot for a brewery looking to break free.

The origins of Prison Pals Brewing Co. (What is Prison Pals Brewing Co.?)

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Founded in 2019 by four Argentines Juan Pipkin, Diego Setti, Bruno Laperchuck and Matias Moroni (who joined the team this year to help with the brand's franchise and marketing), Prison Pals was originally Pipkin's brainchild.

As a professional racer in Argentina, Pipkin had friends who owned breweries, so he began investing in the process. "I was very interested in learning about brewing and beer," says Pipkin. "And I loved to drink ... I just wanted to drink good beer."

So Pipkin recruited Setti, who came in as brewmaster, and Laperchuk, who became head brewer and lab manager, responsible for everything from quality control and yeast propagation to maintaining beer quality standards and a high level of hygiene.

But Pipkin didn't want to open a dedicated location in Argentina, where the craft beer industry has limits and is growing much more slowly than in the United States.

Already having family in Miami, Pipkin began exploring opening a brewery in the United States.

In January 2020, Pipkin and Setti visited Florida, touring Miami, Tampa and Naples and exploring breweries. "We rode a lot of miles in two or three days and drank a lot of beer," jokes Pipkin.

But seriously, Florida seemed like the perfect spot for prison pals. When Argentina allowed residents on tourist visas to leave the country, Pipkin and his co-founders took the plunge and opened a store in Doral, Florida in early January 2021.

In three months they had set up almost everything in the brewery. “We are useful people,” says Setti. “Except for electricity and a few water pipes, we did everything ourselves. We were so excited to build our own brewery, so why not?

In May 2021, Prison Pals officially opened to the public.

The meaning of the name Prison Pals

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The name Prison Pals* is very important toPAGipkin,LAperchuck, ySetti, who formed the word from the first letters of their surnamesFriends.

But perhaps it's the first word in his brewery's name, Prison, that holds the most meaning.

"We escaped from prison," says Setti. "The prison was Argentina."

According to Setti and Pipkin, the economic situation in Argentina is very challenging.

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"For example, on this project done in Argentina, it would take me between sixty and eighty years to recoup the money I invested," says Pipkin. "Or we'd have to get lucky and AB InBev would buy us."

There are many challenges, especially for the beer industry in Argentina. Setti has experienced these obstacles firsthand.

Originally an IT professional who started homebrewing fourteen years ago, Setti educated enough to start his own brewery. After years of reading books, taking classes, and getting certified (even as a certified beer judge), Setti founded Mental Brewing in Argentina. "We only brew historical beers... It takes a lot of knowledge or research to brew a beer like that," says Setti. "It was mental because it was something you had to put a lot of brains into ... but also the brewery was 500 miles from my house. That was mental!”

He also founded an institute that taught courses on hop techniques, beer styles, and traditional brewing practices. And even started advising on beer on the side.

I had to rewrite all the recipes for a specific project after the Argentine government suddenly no longer allowed imports from Germany. However, Setti says, six months later the government started accepting German imports again. "The rules change every minute," says Setti. "That's why we feel like we've escaped from a prison. In a funny way, but not that funny.

So Pipkin, Setti and Laperchuck "ran away" to Florida to open a brewery.

"All the people here and all the brewery owners have been very helpful to us," says Pipkin. "We thought it would be difficult, but all these people make us feel at home in Argentina."

So much so that by Spring 2021, Pipkin, Setti and Laperchuck had Prison Pals up and running, producing sensational sour shakes, cloudy, cloudy IPAs and deliciously light lagers.

*Editor's Note: Prison Pals was originally called Prison Pals, using the Spanish word for prison. However, Constellation Brands issued the brewery an injunction because the name sounded too close to the brand's The Prisoner Wine Company, forcing the quartet to change the name to Prison Pals.

Break free with Smoothie Sours

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As soon as you taste a beer from the Prison Pals portfolio, two things immediately strike you: high quality and excellent drinkability.

"The first thing we agreed on was to make quality beer," says Setti.

Pipkin continues, "We try to make all of our beers very easy to drink."

To reflect these qualities, Prison Pals focused on three styles: Smoothie Sours, Misty IPAs, and Lagers.

Perhaps most unique to the brand is their incredibly thick and very fruity line of smoothies.

After that first trip to Florida, Pipkin and Setti knew they wanted to make Kettle Sours with a hint of fruit to brave the intense heat.

But Pipkin had a crazy idea.

What if instead of a hint, they added a lot (and we meana lot) from fruits to these sour teapots?

"When I say a lot, I mean a lot of fruit," says Setti. "I'm talking about forty percent by weight of fruit"

Fruits like mango, passion fruit and peach. Everything that went into the #1 Smoothie Series.

The result? An intensely thick, intensely fruity and intensely tropical bitter creation that sold out in less than a week.

Since that initial launch, Prison Pals has brewed almost a dozen beers in its smoothie line featuring an entire orchard of different fruits.

"We're always trying new and different flavors," says Setti.

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For example, guava, strawberry and blood orange went into Desire, Prison Pals' most popular sour smoothie.

And in Katy Berry, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries appeared on the stage.

While Yuzu and Strawberry will appear in the Brewery's latest release called Hanami.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. "We'll be out on the street and we'll see a juice shake and we'll be like, 'Hey, we can do this,'" says Pipkin.

To create these whimsical creations, each beer begins with an intense taste testing process by mad scientists.

The team bring samples and work with a chef/brewer to perfect the right combination. "It's a mess because we have fifty to sixty different jars with different amounts of fruit," jokes Setti.

Once the fruit is decided, Setti brews a base beer, typically between 7.5% and 9% ABV, which is dosed with lactobacilli for 48 hours before going into the fermenter for about a week. Then Setti filters the base beer and adds this massive amount of fruit. The number depends on the recipe, but it usually says it's around £2,000 for 15 barrels of beer. Finally, Setti refines the smoothie sour in the tank until it is perfect.

In the future, Setti hopes to enter the exact sugar, acidity, pH, and viscosity of every fruit puree Prison Pals uses to turn those tangy shakes into a science.

"Right now we're taking samples, blending, blending, testing... and then scaling up to install the big fermenters," says Setti. "But I'm looking for another approach that's more scientific and where we can predict everything."

And while smoothie sours have proven hugely popular, especially in the Florida heat, Prison Pals' misty IPAs have killed them, too.

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Perfect yourself with Hazy IPA

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When Pipkin and Setti began researching craft beer in the United States, they immediately noticed the popularity of craft beerIPA foggy. So you knew it had to be a core style of Prison Pals.

The brewery's first misty IPA, called Hop Abduction, was actually the first Setti IPA ever brewed. "I'm not addicted to hops," says Setti, who lived in Germany for six months to learn how to brew traditional and historical beer styles. “Now I'm more or less doing the opposite and riding the trend wave. But I have a lot of fun and the brewery is very good.

For example, Prison Pals' flagship Misty IPA, dubbed simply Nelson, seems to be a crowd pleaser. Probably due to the tons of Nelson, Citra and Bravo hops.

"It's a tropical beer with a lot of Nelson hops, so it has notes of peach, white grape and lychee," says Setti. "It's very cloudy and very thick with lots of hops, almost seven pounds per keg, so very hoppy but not too bitter a beer. It's like a New England IPA out of the book; it's something really representative of the style of beer."

According to Pipkin and Setti, Nelson also caught fire in Florida.

What's the verdict on Prison Pals?

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We had the chance to sample five beers from Prison Pals in their Smoothie and Misty series IPAs including: Aloha (smoothie series #6), Fruit Party (smoothie series #9), Tiki (smoothie Series #10), Nelson Hazy IPA and Mega Hazy.

On the shake side, all three beers stood out for their intensely fruity characteristics.

The Fruit Party was a delicious feast of oranges, peaches, pineapple, bananas, strawberries, sweet cherries, limes, apples and kiwis. While Tiki slapped us in the face with blueberry, blackberry, banana, coconut and pomegranate.

Perhaps our favorite of the three, Aloha brought a bright acidity with pineapple complemented by a refreshing mint and slightly spicy ginger kick. Aloha took us to white sandy beaches with happy sea waves.

On the hazy side, Nelson drank incredibly tropical thanks to the blend of American and New World hops. A moderate bitterness hits our body first with a final silkiness of barley, oats and wheat. This was definitely a thick foggy boi, foggier than a San Francisco Nelson morning

Likewise, Mega Hazy was ok...just like it sounds...mega confusing. If we put our fingers behind the glass, we would lose them immediately. The first sip immediately reminded us of juicy Florida orange juice straight from the bottle. Melon, grapefruit, peach, currant, passion fruit and lychees supported the initial citrus explosion. All come from the exceptional combination of Amarillo, Cashmere, Citra Cryo and Galaxy hops.

Here's how we can best describe drinking Prison Pal's beer: we walk through Willy Wonka's factory, but instead of sipping Everlasting Gobstoppers and Lickable Wallpaper, we're sipping extraordinary sweet and sour shakes and hauntedly misty IPAs.

These are crazy beers scaled down to the nth degree: massive fruit, massive hops, massive flavors.

Overall, we're more than excited to see Prison Pals soar to new heights in its second year.

Prison Pals opens a new Tavern - The future of Florida's hottest brewery

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Prison Pals officially opened less than a year ago and is already the hottest new brewery in Florida.

"We got a lot of great feedback and we love it," says Setti. "We hear a lot of things, which is great because it encourages us to continue on the same path."

Looking to the future, Prison Pals is just days away from opening their very own tavern. Prison Pals, which has only functioned as a production facility up to this point, expects its tasting room to be open by the end of April (at press time, the brewery was just awaiting further approval, according to Pipkin).

The brewery will also continue to expand. Expecting to brew 5,000 barrels this year, Prison Pals recently purchased four new 60-barrel tanks that will increase their brewing capacity to 7,000 barrels next year.

For now, Prison Pals will continue to offer its sensational Smoothie line and Hazies. "We're focusing on new fruits and new blends, so it's going to be really exciting from a smoothie standpoint," says Setti.

It's early days, but it looks like Prison Pals has broken out and Florida's hottest new brewery is just getting started.

"The sky's the limit," says Setti.

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