Santa Maria plans to open the new brewing company by November.
After nearly a year and a half away from the craft-beer business, Darwin Santa Maria will return to the craft he counts among his strongest passions. The chef and brewer announced today his plans to open a new brewing company, Chela Brewing Co., by November.
The new brewery will be an extension of the brand he created this June with CeviChela, a Latin street-food restaurant on Siesta Key. Chela Brewing Co. will contract with a Florida-based brewery to brew, can and keg its beers. Santa Maria will partner with a Miami-based distribution company to distribute the beer heavily in the Miami market. He will also serve the beer in CeviChela as he explores distribution opportunities in Sarasota.
"My love and respect of craft beer, as well as my knowledge, has only grown deeper." — Darwin Santa Maria
The brewery will continue to focus on Peruvian-inspired flavors and ingredients, as well as barrel-aged varieties and will debut with two recipes Santa Maria created alongside brewer consultant Tom Harris: PIPA, a Peruvian India pale ale and Boa, an orange wheat ale. He also plans to announce the appointment of another full-time brewer in the coming weeks.
The brewing company marks the first step toward Santa Maria's larger goal of opening his own "farm-to-keg" brewery in Sarasota. He hopes to expand beyond the contract-brewing model after a year to branch out with his own local facility and tap room, using his own farmed ingredients as well as a nanobrewery in Peru as a working lab to experiment with Peruvian ingredients before shipping them for brewing.
"I hope to continue on my mission to create great craft beer," he says. "I plan to be even better than before. The past year and a half of not being involved in the beer business gave me a chance to look at myself and evolve as a businessman. My love and respect of craft beer, as well as my knowledge, has only grown deeper. I'm excited for the next step — to do some great things at Chela Brewing Co."