How many varieties of beer do you produce on site and what does the process involve?
We brew seven organic beers (Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, Red Ale, O-Town Brown Ale, Olde Pelican English Pale Ale, Blackwater Dry Porter and I-4 India Pale Ale) year round for our distributors and we brew four organic beers (Steamee Summer, Oktoberfest, Grateful Pumpkin & Grapefruit Pale Ale) seasonally for distribution. We’ve also brewed two organic ‘Babes Brews’ (Chocolate Mint Girl Stout & Nilla Nut Kolsch) which are only made by the women of the brewery.
We also make organic beers that are just on sale at the brewery, which include Poppin Pilz, Pompous Ass India Pale Ale, Dobel Imperial India Pale Ale, Eminent Domain Scottish Ale and BVC India Pale Ale.
As for the process, it’s fairly simple; we make a batch and if it sells extremely well then we continue to make it. Sometimes, we just stumble upon a beer like the organic Lagerhead India Pale Lager. The Brewery Operations Manager, my daughter Megan, was at the beach drinking a commercial India Pale Lager and liked the taste but knew we could make it better.
The Orlando craft beer scene has been thriving in recent years, what do you think has led to this growth?
When Orlando Brewing opened in 2006, it became the sixth brewery in Florida. There were about 30 brewpubs which sold their beer only on the premises. Needless to say, Florida as a whole was a beer wasteland. Today, there are over 30 breweries and 40 brewpubs.
Since breweries can sell off-premises for consumption or distribution, beer began to filter out into the public houses and as more beer became available, people began to see and buy craft beer. Remember people come to Orlando from all over the world. When travelling, the number one phrase has become “What local beer do you have on draft?” Restaurants and hotels are realising that local sells, and sells very well.
The approach Orlando Brewing takes is “Educating the public one pint at a time”. As people become more educated about choices, the craft beer scene will continue to thrive in Orlando.
So where should people go to sample Orlando’s best craft beers?
My favourite places to sample craft beer other than the Taproom at the brewery, would be any of the Rosen Hotel Properties or one of the semi-annual Florida Brewer’s Guild Festivals held at different locations around Florida. I also enjoy getting together with our distributors to sample the new beers coming into the state.
And which of the Orlando Brewing beers ranks as your favourite?
First off, I must say “My name is John and I am a hophead”. My go-to beers are the Organic Olde Pelican English Pale Ale and the Organic Pompous Ass India Pale Ale. American hops can also be a little harsh whereas English hops can be rather smooth. I like the smoothness of English hops so a nice pale ale or Indian pale ale is perfect.
For lagers, my favourite is our Organic Steamee Summer. This beer is a lager but fermented at ale temperatures, so the beer is still somewhat smooth as a lager should be but with more of the fruity esters of an ale. The Steamee Summer is usually available from June 21st until we run out.
So what does the future hold for Orlando Brewing and the wider craft beer scene in the city?
When we look at the future of Orlando Brewing, slow and steady wins the race. We have expanded and will continue to expand our distribution network in Florida. Because we are a certified organic brewery, we have a very special product and as people begin to taste the difference in the ingredients, they will ask for Orlando Brewing beers.
As for Orlando, I know of four projects in Central Florida involving new breweries so the beer scene should improve significantly. There are currently two breweries in Central Florida, so adding four more in the next six months will put Orlando down as a beer destination.
Orlando is the most competitive beer market in the world. Every brewery in the world knows 60 million people visit ‘The City Beautiful’ every year. No one can lose market share and not get management scrutiny. Being a small brewery in Orlando is like being the little kid in a crowded room of adults; easy to miss. One redeeming feature is “Everyone comes to Orlando eventually” and we look forward to them visiting.