Mike White, a passionate South Florida brewer whose beer won a gold medal for LauderAle Brewery at the Great American Beer Festival in 2017, passed away February 23 in Georgia. He was 31 years old.
Born in Hollywood, Florida, White grew up in Dalton, Georgia, which is known as the “carpet capital of the world,” according to his girlfriend Kristen Candreva. White was a high-school wrestler before attending college at the University of Georgia, where he studied chemistry and explored music, she adds.
After college, he moved to Texas, where he found work at Revolver Brewing and Jester King Brewery. White made his way back to Broward County and was a brewer at Funky Buddha and LauderAle. He also briefly worked at Odd Breed Wild Ales in Pompano Beach.
“Beer wasn’t what he went to school for, but it was his calling,” Candreva tells New Times. “It was something he loved, and it translated in all walks of life.”
White turned his creativity into a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, considered one of the most prestigious awards in the nation. White won the prize while brewing for LauderAle.
New Times was in Denver and interviewed White following the 2017 awards ceremony. The beer was already popular at the brewery — White just tweaked it a bit. “I made the recipe drier,” he said. “I dialed down the coconut so it’s not overly coconutty.”
White was a fixture in Broward’s beer industry. He became close friends with Julian and Lisa Siegal, owners of Riverside Market and Tarpon River Brewing Company, who considered him family. While in Florida, he developed a love for deep-sea fishing.
“Riverside Market was home for him,” Julian Siegal tells New Times. “No matter where he went, he could always come back to here.”
LauderAle issued this statement on Facebook: “Mike was a brilliant brewer, had an impeccable taste in music, and an unwavering passion to make cold beer great again.” The reference nods to a MAGA-parody hat White would wear that read, “Make Cold Beer Great Again.”
The Florida Brewers Guild also offered condolences on its Facebook page: “The Florida Brewers Guild sends out our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mike White (Myq Wyt), award-winner brewer and part of the Florida brewing family. Mike was well loved in the craft beer community, spending time at Funky Buddha, LauderAle, Riverside, Creature Comforts, and Jester King. Rest in Peace, brother.”
White was starting a new life with his girlfriend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he recently began working as the director of operations and head brewer at Heaven & Ale Brewing Co.
Lisa Siegel says Mike accepted the position in Tennessee to not only be closer to his family but also open his own brewery. “He absolutely got to the point where he was going to realize his dream,” she tells New Times.
A funeral service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Dalton, Georgia, March 1. Riverside Market’s owners are also working to organize a collaboration beer from brewers across Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties to honor White’s memory.