After tendering his resignation shortly after Darwin's on 4th closed in July, Santa Maria formally separates from his namesake brewery.
July was a tumultuous month for chef, brewer and entrepreneur Darwin Santa Maria. He suddenly closed his popular and innovative Peruvian brewpub Darwin's on 4th seemingly over night in July. Santa Maria stated chronic problems with the area's homeless population, dwindling business, and desire spend more time for his family as the reasons he shuttered the Rosemary District staple. However, Darwin's Peruvian flavor and spirit still lived on in the chef's brewery, Darwin Brewing Co. But now Santa Maria is ready for a new culinary chapter in his life and that means separating from his namesake Bradenton craft brewery.
"For the past four years, I've worked really hard on developing the concept of a craft brewery in Bradenton that believes in using Peruvian ingredients and creates a great craft beer," says Santa Maria. "I did a lot of work from traveling, going to different beer festivals and promoting our beer. And seeing the companies success, I know that work has paid off. I feel sad to leave, but in life everyone has to go their own way."
Santa Maria says that he tendered his resignation to the co-owners of the brewery immediately after closing Darwin's on 4th in July. Santa Maria says he and majority owner Bill Cornelius, who was a 50% owner in Darwin's on 4th, have still been finalizing the exact terms of his exit with the brewing company. He announced his resignation publicly on his Facebook page on Nov. 10 so chefs, brewers and organizations wishing to collaborate know he was no longer affiliated with the company.
In the mean time Santa Maria has been keeping busy by traveling to the coastal, rainforest and mountain regions of Peru with Charlie Papazian, the founder of the national Brewers Association and the Great American Beer Festival, visiting local breweries and working on sourcing more ingredients to be implemented by craft brewers around the United States. In addition, Santa Maria says he's been busy as a culinary consultant and is currently preparing for future trips to Ecuador and Japan to give lectures at craft beer conferences and breweries on his trademark Peruvian brewing process.
Cornelius says that the brewery has been supportive of its co-founder. "When he closed the brewpub in July, he no longer wanted to be involved with the brewery," says Cornelius. "He was just frustrated with the restaurant closing and the negative publicity associated with it. He felt discouraged and didn't want to be part of the brewery either. We agreed with him and wanted him to do whatever was best for him even if that meant going in a different direction from the brewery."
Cornelius says that the company will continue operations under the name Darwin Brewing Co. and continue its mission of creating unique Peruvian blends and styles of craft beer. Business has been booming for the brewery since Santa Maria's departure. According to Cornelius, the brewery has doubled its production capacity in the last three months, it's now canning three of its beers, and is currently selling them across every major market in the state from Miami to Jacksonville.
Though he couldn't discuss his immediate goals until his resignation was finalized, Santa Maria says that his future culinary pursuits will stay in Sarasota.
"Sarasota is my home," says Santa Maria, "but whatever opportunity comes down the road, I'll take it. I'm really looking forward to the future and what life has in store. It's going to be something creative and successful and I'm grateful to be here in Sarasota."