Years from now, when Floridians think of Hurricane Irma, they'll remember a couple of things – the lawless traffic as millions tried to evacuate, the dire warnings of a "super storm" from excitable TV meteorologists with rolled-up shirt sleeves, the howling winds and endless rain, and then, the delirious wait for air-conditioning in choking humidity. But they'll also recall the easy camaraderie between neighbors fixing destroyed homes, life-saving first responders, and an iconic chainsaw-wielding Miami nun in full garb chopping through downed trees who showed the rest of the world it would take more than a giant rampaging tropical cyclone to take us out.
It was this hardy attitude shown by Sister Margaret Ann and her community that inspired Due South Brewing Co. to name a beer in her honor. The Boynton Beach brewery released a special brew last month dubbed "Nun With a Chainsaw."
Doug Fairall, brand marketing manager for Due South Brewing, says they were already planning to brew something new for the fall and had thought of a couple of names in August when Irma hit the state.
"We had just gotten power back at the brewery a couple days after the storm, and it was the first time we had been able to see the news," Fairall says. "And we saw this story about a nun from Miami all over the place. It was unique – you don't normally see a nun in full habit hacking up fallen trees, just doing what she had to do."
A day after the storm, an off-duty Miami-Dade Police officer had recorded Sister Margaret Ann, principal at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, cutting up trees with a chainsaw to clear the roads, billowing black habit and all. The video quickly went viral.
"You saw yourself in what she was doing," Fairall says. "We had to fix things even if we weren't necessarily the handiest and do it ourselves. Everyone down here put on the gloves and kind of dug into it to fix what was broken. So for us, it's that inspiration of 'we all have to roll up our sleeves' after these natural disasters and get ourselves back to normal by helping our neighbors, trimming trees, mending fences and pitching in to clear streets."
Though it sounds like a horror movie, Nun With a Chainsaw is an India pale ale brewed with Amarillo, Azacca and Idaho 7 hops to give it a cool, piney and tropical flavor and aroma. Due South Brewing released the beer locally in South Florida on draft and in 16-ounce blue cans with blood-red lettering and a tiny nun wimple. Both have gone quickly, but don't get too bummed out – Fairall says any Central Floridians who want to try the brew may see it again in 2018.