“There was always something missing about micro-brewed beers in Milwaukee. The market was definitely there for Latine-made beers, you know? You go to all these places and they have Mexican-style lagers so you know people like those specific types of beers. Yet I had never heard of any actual Latine brewers themselves. The science was always there, but maybe it was missing that flavor that only someone of our culture can bring. We know how these are supposed to taste.”
So says Yaphet Morales of Los Morales Brewery. Brothers Jimmy, Yussef, and Yaphet Morales and their longtime friend William Gundrum created Playa Breeze beer, a passion fruit amber ale set to release Friday, August 18 at MobCraft Beer on Milwaukee’s south side (505 S. 5th St.)
MobCraft Beer (Milwaukee’s first crowdsourced brewery) collaborated with Los Morales Brewing ahead of the Puerto Rican Family Festival, which will take place August 20 at Veterans Park. Yussef is an organizer of the fest.
“Henry [Schwartz, CEO of MobCraft Beer] and I have always been friends,” he says, “and he has always supported me and a lot of the community endeavors I have been a part of. One day we were just having a beer and kicking it. I told him about the beer my brothers were brewing and he asked to try it. We gave him a taste a few days later and he was hooked.
“It just made me so excited,” he continues. “I told my brothers they had something special. I don’t know anything about ingredients, but I know when something tastes special. The idea is to have every Latino restaurant in Milwaukee carry our beer, but for now, this is the official beer of the Puerto Rican Family Festival! This is Milwaukee!”
Milwaukee has long been known as the beer capital of the United States, and that’s not just been because of giants like Miller, Schlitz, and Pabst. Many home brewers have tried their hand at creating something special, and the Morales brothers took eight years to finally get their beer where they wanted it to be.
“William and Bebo [Jimmy] and I used one of those Northern Brewer kits back in 2015 in our basement and made a red amber ale that was pretty good, but we wanted to use some flavors as well,” Yaphet explains.
The brother’s father, known affectionately as “Jimmy Senior,” always loved flavors and experimented with different spirits, showing his sons the way.
“This was actually the fourth iteration of the recipe,” Yaphet says. “We never wrote anything down before, and we just kind of gave up after the second time, but Jimmy gifted me a more modern brewing kit in 2018 and we took another crack at it. Getting together with Henry was a truly remarkable experience. I had known the mechanics of beer making, but seeing the production go from five gallons to nine thousand was awe inspiring.”
The three brothers were born in Puerto Rico and raised on Milwaukee’s south and north side. They all have day jobs, but to truly create something includes sacrifice and unpaid, thankless hours. They wanted to produce something that would shout their love for the way they grew up, to show the rumbling, loving hustle of the Boricua people. Here, they are succeeding in doing that, and bringing us all along for the ride.