When I’m researching breweries in cities that I’m off to visit, it’s always a little difficult to get the full vibe of a place from checking them out online. This was definitely the case while recently looking up breweries in Orlando, Florida for my trip last week. There are a handful of smaller breweries in town, but since most have limited package distribution – if any at all – it was sort of a toss-up as to where to hit first. I picked the oldest brewery of the bunch to start off with, and this past Friday I dropped into Orlando Brewing.
As many modern breweries are, Orlando Brewing is located in a nondescript warehouse district just outside of downtown. When you pull up, you immediately see a full block of parked cars, letting you know that something worth stopping for is near. The front of the brewery features a tent-covered stage and seating area, which is put to good use each Friday and Saturday night with local bands coming out to entertain the brewery visitors. Between the music that the band was playing when we pulled up, and the graffiti-riddled school bus parked in the front of the building, I immediately got the sense that this was a slightly hippie vibed joint.
Stepping in the door, the first thing I saw was the USDA Certified Organic sign. I had overlooked this fact on my web searches, but Orlando Brewing is one of the few all-organic breweries in the US (the bartender mentioned that they are just one of 11 total in the states.) In 2015, this is no easy feat, as the numerous malt types and hop varieties included in a brewery’s recipes can be the key differentiators in styles and flavor profiles. Having to source organic varieties of each could be an entire job in itself. Orlando Brewing makes creative use of their top-notch raw materials, and finds a way to make the most of a fairly limited palate of ingredients.
The first flight included (descriptions from the brewer):
Miami Weiss (ABV: 3.6%)
A crisp & refreshing lagered wheat beer with citrus like aromas and a slight hint of vanilla.
Rip’d Tide (ABV: 6.8%)
Dry hopped with Citra, this bold IPA has a solid rich malt profile that provides the right balance without leaving any sweetness on the finish. Rip’d Tide is brewed with organic Magnum, Centennial, and Cascade hops.
This medium bodied West Coast IPA has a large grain bill to support its strong hop character. We hopped this bad boy with organic Magnum, Centennial, & Cascade during a 90-minute boil. We then dry hopped it with a hefty amount of organic Cascade to deliver an intense citrusy & floral aroma.
This smooth, full bodied West Coast style IPA is dry hopped with a hefty amount of Cascade hops to deliver a zesty citrusy aroma.
And our second flight featured
Grand O’ Hopry will make your tastebuds sing. Organic Centennial hop additions every 10 minutes of its 90-min boil create a citrusy hop profile that harmonizes with a moderately sweet marmalade malt character.
This easy drinking Chocolate Mint Stout was brewed by all the babes that work at Orlando Brewing. It is a light bodied Stout brewed with cacao nibs and dried peppermint. Girl Stout is lightly hopped with Nugget, Liberty and Fuggles.
Pompous Ass IPA (ABV: 7.5%)
This light straw hued IPA packs a powerful punch to your taste buds with an insane amount of organic Golding hops.
Doble Imperial IPA (ABV: 8.5%)
This bold ale’s complex flavor profile stems from its large organic grain bill and the hefty hop additions of organic Magnum, Centennial and Cascade. It has a prominent bitter caramel taste that lingers long after your first sip.
After the flights, we were treated to some tastes of other great brews. The Papa Midnight Imperial Stout is a coconut, vanilla, and almond stout, with a slightly watery mouthfeel, but tons of flavor. It’s not nearly as creamy as the recently released Alesmith Hawaiian Speedway Stout, but pretty close in flavor profile. Another really interesting beer was the BVC (Brewery Volunteer Corps) Partigyle, which is made with the second runnings of the grains used to brew the Doble Imperial IPA. I’m not sure if this brewing technique is uncommon in San Diego, or is just done without mention, but the flavors in this brew were fantastic, and at 5.8% much more approachable than the big ABV Doble Imperial IPA. Lastly, we sampled the Apple Cinnamon Miami Weiss that was created for their Try This Tuesday series, which brings a playful twist on their regular brews. The Miami Weiss itself was a light bodied lagered wheat beer, but with the added apple and cinnamon flavors, it transformed into a slightly cooler version of a warm spiced cider. Super refreshing and delicious.
Orlando Brewing has been in business since the turn of the century, has been brewing all-organic since 2006, and has all the marks of a well established operation. With 24 beers on tap in the tasting room, the sheer amount of options to sample makes for a very entertaining visit. The personality of the brewery really shows as well, with their dedication to all-organic brewing, and with the party-like atmosphere provided by the bands on the weekends, as well as the seemingly out-of-place fire pit surrounded by lounge chairs near the entrance. Should you find yourself in Orlando with some time to break off for a beer, Orlando Brewing will not disappoint you!
Orlando, FL 32806