His brewing career began with Mr. Beer kits he bought during college at the University of Central Florida. His first brown ale was, to be generous, drinkable. "I remember having to force it down," says Ryan Sentz, now 40. "You're proud you made it, and you're trying to convince yourself it's better than it is, but it was not good.
To be honest, Sentz isn't sure when his brews made the leap from passable to enjoyable. "When you're a homebrewer, anyone who's going to drink your beer is going to be like, 'Oh, that's delicious,'" he says and then laughs.
But a few years into his hobby, he remembers making a pumpkin strong ale he actually "thought was pretty good."
That was young Sentz's first foray into culinary-style flavor combinations. Little did he (or his friends who politely downed those beers) know that his experiment would lead him down the path to become one of South Florida's top brewers, garnering national attention and shining a spotlight on a nascent local beer scene developing in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.