Summer’s over. Carbs are in. Celebrate the end of bikini season with a five-weekend, fall-inspired pour tour on the Central Florida Ale Trail.
by Amy Drew Thompson
Week 4: So and Do
It gets a little dicey this close to the end. The final 10, depending on your needs, could be subdivided differently. At press time, a handful of these operations, all with Orlando addresses, were brand-spanking-new and within easy reach of one another.
Dead Lizard operates from an industrial park less than 10 minutes from the Mall at Millenia. On our visit, kids perused the game collection while parents perused the menu. It was a weekday (my job is tough) but a lovely outdoor patio – colorful Adirondack chairs and vintage globe string lights amid a stand of trees – seemed ripe for the coming evening happy hour. Start here and work cityward, hitting up Orlando’s beloved eponymous (and organic!) brewery before sampling some of downtown’s offerings – Broken Cauldron, a two-brewery Parramore taproom that fuses two local businesses (Broken Strings Brewery and Black Cauldron Brewing), then amble over to Orange County Brewing, where an in-house, independent food purveyor, Orlando Pizza & Wing Co., does up wood-fired pizzas and house-smoked wings to stave off the effects of their 9% ABV Dankster of Love Double IPA.
Kent Waugh was introduced to the world of home brewing while living in Colorado, then took a job at a Boulder brewery.
“I needed some kind of a career,” he says, chuckling. “Snowboard bum only takes you so far.”
His local résumé includes time spent at Disney’s Big River Grill, Crooked Can and now, Orange County Brewers, where he was preparing for the opening of a related downtown operation. Brew Theory, at press time slated for a September opening, will include a homebrew shop, taproom, podcast and office space and a sandwich shop.
The vibe around the Central Florida Ale Trail, he says, reminds him of the fellowship he grew accustomed to out West.
“Breweries love camaraderie,” he says. “We want customers to visit us, then head to our friends up the road and tell them we said ‘hi!’”
Amanda Roberts is the brewmaster here, one of only a handful of women heading up operations in Central Florida’s local breweries, though that number is growing.
“The Ale Trail maps fly out the door,” she says, adding that takers are 50/50 local to tourist, something other brewers have corroborated. “We have 80 in a box and they’re gone in two weeks or less. People get stamped every day.”
Roberts notes that local beer lovers have their local haunts – she frequents Ocean Sun in off hours – but visitors, even those whose primary focus is the parks, often set aside a day to check out what’s in the area. The Ale Trail map – which now boasts several downtown options – helps bring them to neighborhoods they’d otherwise never see.
“Central Florida, here we come!” says an enthusiastic Waugh. “Having an Ale Trail just helps the evolution here, helps link us together, brings everybody into the same frame of mind – breweries and consumers.”