Central Florida Breweries ‘Mashing In’

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The craft beer business is booming across the United States, and Central Florida is no exception. Mark Denote, author of The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide, brings us up to date on the latest beer buzz for summer in Central Florida.

Orlando’s eponymous brewery, Orlando Brewing Company, Florida’s only certified organic craft brewery, released Steamee Summer Florida Common in June and will tap the last keg of Mint Girl Stout in July.

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Sky Conley and Brett Mason, Hourglass Brewery, Longwood.

Longwood’s Hourglass Brewery has had a busy 2015, too. Hourglass opened a new brewery in February, released its first bottles in April and this summer looks to distribute draft beer to accounts in “Seminole, Orange and a few surrounding counties,” says co-owner Sky Conley. After that, Hourglass plans to bring its beers to cans, with Seminole Trail Pale Ale and Brown Beer, Brown Beer, What Do You See? leading the way.

Neophyte Bowigens Beer Company of Casselberry has been brewing since early spring. Bowigen’s is going to pour a small-batch release each month with beers like its Toasted Almond Brown Ale aged on toasted coconuts and cacao nibs. Add that to a release list with beers like Peanut Butter Hefeweizen brewed with local orange blossom honey, and resistance is futile.

Brewmaster Kent Waugh, Crooked Can Brewery, in the Plant Street Market in Winter Garden.

Brewmaster Kent Waugh, Crooked Can Brewery, in the Plant Street Market in Winter Garden.

Crooked Can Brewing opened its doors in downtown Winter Garden’s shiny new Plant Street Market in May. After just a few months of brewing, Crooked Can is working to keep tasting room tap lines filled with core beers. Crooked Can put an imperial stout to sleep for the summer in Four Roses Bourbon barrels with an anticipated September wake-up call (and subsequent release).

One of Central Florida’s most recognizable brands, Orange Blossom Pilsner rebranded as Orange Blossom Brewing and transitioned 100 percent of production to Brew Hub in Lakeland. Orange Blossom Pilsner and OBP Squared are available in cans. With this transition, Owner Tom Moench has resurrected some of his favorite beer recipes like Back in the Day IPA and a Bavarian-style weissbeer called Weisse Weisse Baby.

Winter Park landmark Redlight Redlight’s house brewery is bustling—the beer parlor celebrated a decade of operation in June, and the summer will see several 10th-anniversary collaboration beers in the hopper.

Down Winter Park Road, Winter Park Beer Company jams with live music every night—beer, too.  While looking to open a production brewery in coming years, WPBC currently focuses the brewpub’s attention on new beers like a locally sourced Honey Wheat Hefeweizen, Hard Root Beer, Cream Ale, Imperial Chocolate Porter and Imperial Grapefruit Pale Ale. The pub pairs beer and music every night; simply show up, and with beer in hand, let all the senses fill up.

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Winter Park’s stalwart brewpub Cask & Larder has a new head brewer. Larry Foor has taken over brewing operations, and C & L beers are now available in crowlers (a cross between a can and a growler) at Swine & Sons Provisions next door to C & L. Foor has a few new beers planned for the summer: South of the South Saison, Leatherback dry-hopped rye pale ale and bourbon-barrel imperial porter are all on the schedule.

IntraCoastal Brewing Company of Melbourne continues to pour forth craft beer into Brevard County. In the spirit of beer exploration and flavor experimentation, IntraCoastal hosted a Bacon Beer Bash on June 13 and released five bacon beers. If savory bacon ales don’t sound appealing, try IntraCoastal’s Midsummer Night’s Drink. 

Further along the Space Coast, Playalinda Brewing Company, like many Florida breweries, is hopping to keep up with demand.  Brewer Ron Raike has run lines around the brewhouse to keep the flow steady and is making enough beer to fill crowlers on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Playalinda has some big plans on the horizon that involve a production brewery, distillery and tasting room. Playalinda also has an app for iOS and Android to inform the curious about brewery happenings.

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing is part of Redlight Redlight collaboration beer extravaganza in honor of the bar’s 10th anniversary. Seasonal Creep chocolate pumpkin ale had a June release across the I-4 corridor along with seasonals like Cucumber Saison and Patio Pils joining the party. Not to be outdone, Ybor City’s Cigar City Cider and Mead sent cans of Hard Cider to distribution in June.

Near Ybor’s historic district, Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing is expanding distribution throughout Florida. Wheat Stroke Wheat Ale, Free Dive IPA, Night Swim Porter and Unholy Trippel drove east on I-4 in June.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company is in short supply all over the state. Their two core beers, Old Elephant Foot IPA and Reef Donkey American Pale Ale, are available in Orlando. Supply should increase steadily when the new production brewery in the Oldsmar area comes online in July.

Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Brewery is kicking out the Orlando-bound jams. This summer, Funky Buddha plans to send its citrusy and tangy More Moro Blood Orange IPA followed by the dessert in a glass called Blueberry Cobbler from June through August. Also from south Florida, Due South Brewing’s summer seasonal, Honey Vanilla Wheat Ale was in cans around mid-June.

Peter Minelga and Greg Piecora, Wop’s Hops Brewing Company, Sanford.

Peter Minelga and Greg Piecora, Wop’s Hops Brewing Company, Sanford.

The best news is that craft beer from all over Orlando and surrounding counties shows no sign of relenting. Ten10Brewing, Black Cauldron, Broken Strings and Dead Lizard in Orlando, and Central 28 in DeBary are all working toward realizing the brewing dream. In Sanford, Greg Piecora’s Wop’s Hops is the first microbrewery in the area, and an enclave of breweries is forming: Sanford Brewing and Inner Compass Brewing are both building excitement to join Piecora in making beer for Celery City.

This year is on track to be a banner year for craft breweries, and as of July 1, Florida joined the ranks of 48 other states that can fill 64-ounce growlers, meaning intense and flavorful Florida ales will be available to take home in a size that yields 4 pints.

While Florida’s brewers continue to push the envelope of flavors and ingredients, their work gives the community a place to relax and try something new while supporting local businesses. As Shakespeare said, “a quart of ale is a meal fit for a king.”

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