Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (2023)

A little less than two years ago, a new brewery opened in South Florida, a breeding ground for some of the most incredible breweries in the country (read: Tripping Animals, 3 Sons, and Odd Breed, to name a few). As if the South Florida beer scene could get any hotter, Doral, FL-based Prison Pals Brewing Co. brought jam-packed fruit smoothies, hoppy, cloudy IPAs and light beer to the sunshine state.

To say the brewery knocked her out would be an understatement. In the past 24 months, Prison Pals has opened three taverns across the state, added two new beers to its core line, and continued to produce those unusual and unique shakes that have become its trademark.

As the brewery approaches its two-year anniversary, we sat down with co-founder Juan Pipkin to talk about the brewery's success, some new beers on the horizon, and the future of Prison Pals.

First, remind me who is Prison Pals?

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (1)

Founded in 2019 by four Argentines, Juan Pipkin, Diego Setti, Bruno Laperchuck and Matias Moroni, Prison Pals was originally the brainchild of Pipkin.

As a professional broker in Argentina, Pipkin had friends who owned breweries, so he began to invest in the process. "He 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 on as brewmaster, and Laperchuck, who became head brewer and lab manager, responsible for everything from quality control and yeast propagation to maintaining quality standards. of beer and a high level of hygiene.

But Pipkin didn't want to open his shop in Argentina, where the craft beer industry is limited and grows more slowly than in the United States.

Pipkin, who already had family in Miami, began to explore the possibility of opening a brewery in the United States.

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

But seriously, Florida seemed like the perfect place for prison friends. When Argentina allowed residents on tourist visas to leave the country, Pipkin and his co-founders moved to Doral, Florida, in early January 2021.

In three months they had built almost everything in the brewery. "We are artisans," says Setti. “Except for electricity and some water pipes, we did everything ourselves. We were so excited about building our own brewery, so why not?"

In May 2021 Prison Pals began serving beer and in April 2022 they officially opened their taproom.

Prison Pals escape from their prison

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (2)

When Pipkin, Setti, Laperchuck and Moroni left Argentina, they wanted to escape a country where craft beer couldn't thrive.

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

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

"For example, in this project in Argentina, it would take me 60 to 80 years to recoup the money I invested," says Pipkin. "Or we would have to get lucky and get bought by AB InBev."

But in Florida, according to Pipkin, fellow prisoners were free to thrive. That is why we have included them in our list."The 23 People to Watch in Craft Beer in 2023".

When asked about the past two years, he says, "Wow! It was unbelievably good. We've gotten a lot of good feedback from our customers. We're so happy and thankful to all our fans who made us so happy and gave us more energy to keep working hard."

What Pipkin and company interpret as not resting on their laurels.

In the past two years, Prison Pals has opened three taverns in Florida and expanded distribution to eighteen states across the country.

Prison Pals, a tavern for each neighborhood

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (3)

Taverns are a big part of Prison Pals' identity. Pipkin believes that they are one of the best ways to reach customers and tell their story.

"Every tavern is made for every neighborhood," says Pipkin. "We want bartenders to develop a relationship with each customer."

At a Prison Pals tavern, Pipkin wants you to "leave your troubles at home when you walk in the door," he says. Take a break from the stress of the day, sit back, relax and enjoy a beer or two.

To that end, Prison Pals will be bringing its good vibes to new locations this year, including Miami South Beach, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, North Miami Beach, Clearwater, Jacksonville and Baltimore, with plans to open even more taverns in the future.

Of course, good vibes only get you so far. In Florida, and especially South Florida, the beer has to be good.

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Prison Pals dazed with Smoothie Sours

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (4)

As soon as you taste a beer from the Prison Pals portfolio, two things immediately catch your eye: the high quality and the great ease of drinking.
"First of all, we agreed to brew 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, Hazy IPAs, and Lagers.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the brand and the beers that have put them on the map is their incredibly thick line of very fruity shakes.

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

But Pipkin had a crazy idea.

What if instead of a hint, they added a lot (and we mean a lot) of fruit to these Kesselsauers?

"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. This all went into shake series #1.

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

Since that initial release, Prison Pals have brewed tons of beers with an entire orchard full of different fruits in their shake series.

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

But they've also refined the other styles in their portfolio: lagers and Hazy IPAs.

Prison Pals add a Crispy Boi and a Juicy Boi to the main lineup

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (5)

The Smoothie Sours certainly struck a chord, but Prison Pals doesn't want it to go unnoticed that they also make highly drinkable lagers and extremely juicy Hazies.

For this reason they have added two new beers to their main range in each of these styles.

Premium-Lager

Specially designed for warm climates, Premium Lager has become one of Prison Pals' best-selling beers. And it recently won a gold medal in the American-Style Lager category at Florida Best Beer. (The brewery's Phil The Freedom also took gold in the Other Hoppy Lager category.)

"We're in Miami, so we need a good, light beer that we can produce in high volume and quality," says Pipkin.

Brewed like a traditional American lager, Premium Lager contains only old-school barley and hops, according to Pipkin.

"It's a crunchy boi that we've carbonated to make it feel more refreshing," says Pipkin. "It's just a smooth, clear beer that you can kick back and drink anywhere."

Although it is a seemingly simple beer with a simple goal, Premium Lager has a much deeper purpose. Brewed with the slogan "Taste Freedom, Escape Your Prison", Premium Lager embodies the very history of Prison Pals.

"[Premium Lager] is any stressful time in your life that you want to get away from, gather your friends and go have a beer," says Pipkin. "For us, that meant leaving Argentina [and starting the brewery] because of the political situation."

Fittingly, this important beer has become an incredibly popular beer in Prison Pal's core range.

No problem

Capitalizing on that good vibe, Hakuna Matata represents the phrase "No Worries, Be Happy."

"It's a phrase we've loved since we were kids," says Pipkin. "If you have a problem, there is a solution, so don't worry."

Pipkin shares again that for him and his co-founders, "our problem was Argentina, so we didn't worry and ran away from them."

When drinking this super juicy IPA, the idea is to escape your troubles for a moment and just inhale the intensely smooth tropical notes.

What is the future of Prison Pals?

Prison Pals, Florida's Hottest Brewery, Is Getting Even Hotter (6)

After two super successful years in South Florida, Prison Pals is looking to grow statewide.

Pipkin said the goal is to open 10 taverns over the next year and continue to expand distribution in the United States.

And, of course, they'll continue to bring out those imaginative smoothie sours, tropical IPAs, and revolutionary lagers.

We can confidently say that Prison Pals has exploded and become one of the most popular breweries in Florida.

"The sky is the limit," says Setti.

Because while Pipkin, Setti, Laperchuck and Moroni keep telling people they fled Argentina to start Prison Pals, they also want to make sure you know that visiting a Prison Pals tavern will be "like coming home," Pipkin says. "Just a good mood."

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