“Ah, my Belovéd, fill the Cup that clears
TODAY of past Regrets and future Fears:
Tomorrow!—Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n thousand
Approaching Redlight Redlight on Saturday to begin my shift for Zwanze Day, observing the line that had been stretching down the sidewalk since earlier that morning, my left eye began to twitch at the thought of serving all these people, keeping their glasses full, their faces smiling, assuaging their nearly unquenchable thirsts. Those who had been there the longest camped out in lawn chairs. Many toted coolers and cold cases. They had scoured their cellars for the bottle share, eager to show off the exotic and rare brews they had saved for this very occasion.
Gathering courage at the knowledge that these people were depending on me for access to the even more exotic and rarer beers that would only be available at Redlight Redlight on this Zwanze Day in the year of our Lord 2014, I regained my composure, donned heroic game-face and bowed with chivalric pomp at my adoring fans like an athlete about to play the most important game of his career or a soldier heading into a battle from whence he may not return, for the salvation of these same citizens, their freedoms, the ways of life that they hold dear. I waited for my adoring fans to erupt in wild applause. Any moment now the were sure to shower me in roses, lift me into the
air, so overwhelming was their love for me, their bartender on Zwanze Day.
I looked up. I saw faces turned down at smart phones, central Florida’s large beer-geek community chuckling amongst each other, sweaty and shuffling uncomfortably in the ninety degree heat. They are certainly a dedicated lot, but who can blame them? Zwanze Day only comes but
once a year, and Redlight Redlight is one of only twenty-three bars worldwide invited by Cantillon, the apex of the Belgian Lambic brewing tradition, invited to participate. If that wasn’t enough to get these geeks out in the middle of the muggy, Florida heat, Mandy and Brent had done an amazing job of putting together an absolutely unparalleled draft list of exciting and very hard to find
beers from Florida and across the world. Celebrities included Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai; B Nektar Zombies Take Manhattan, a cherry cyser aged in rye whiskey barrels; Anchorage Galaxy White IPA; The Bruery Oude Tart; and Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, an imperial Oatmeal stout brewed with coffee beans passed through the digestive tract of civets, but there were many newcomers to compete with the classics such as Angry Chair’s 3 Little Birds Berliner Weisse;
local beer guru Ron Raike’s Cherry Sour and Sour Grapes Saisons; and Redlight Redlight’s own Spanish Bombs, a saison brewed with Tempranillo grape must, and Singe Puant, a collaboration with Saint Somewhere. Brewed with the pungently confrontational durian fruit, Singe Puant literally means “stinky monkey” and has the distinction of being the most odoriferously unusual beer I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
If I failed to mention your favorite, forgive me. There wasn’t a mediocre beer to be found on the extensive draft list, and yet despite this impeccable line up, Cantillon’s entourage were the unquestioned stars of the evening. We had Iris; Mamouche, a lambic infused with elderflowers;
the Classic Gueuze, a longtime personal favorite; and of course, that unicorn among ales, the ever elusive Zwanze beer itself, Cuvée de Florian, a dry-hopped lambic brewed with a generous dose of Belgium’s word-famous cherries, a beverage that once consumed shall never be seen again as Cantillon brews an entirely new beer for each annual celebration. Alas, were you not among the company at Redlight Redlight last Saturday or in one of twenty-three other bars across the
globe blessed with a single keg of this ruby elixir, you shall never know the esoteric pleasures that had once sat within. That is to say, you snooze you lose, brothers and sisters, and I weep for your loss, though it were my gain.
How is a bartender to prepare, both emotionally and physically, for such an endeavor as Zwanze Day? It wasn’t just the ever-building crowd outside the bar; a draft list brimming over with this many exotic brews was intimidating even to me, someone who has been working with craft beer for over seven years and drinking it much longer than that. As five o’clock, the moment the floodgates would open, quickly approached my co-workers and I ran through the drafts, sampling each one after the other. Not only was it educational, but it took the edge off of the anxiety and anticipation of the impending onslaught. I exhibited an uncharacteristic self-discipline by declining to sample the Cuvée de Florian until my shift was over. Anticipating the hysteria that would ensue
were we to offer the Zwanze beer on a first come first served basis, Redlight Redlight wisely portioned it out and made it available only to those with pre-purchased tickets, tickets that had sold out several weeks ago. Nevertheless, they were kind enough to set aside a full serving of the beer so that each member of the staff was able to enjoy it, but even so, a slight mathematical miscalculation or unforeseen problems with the CO2 pressure could waste precious ounces. All the same, I saw my sample of the beer as a beacon guiding me to the end of the strenuous evening, a reward for enduring the mania, and so I decided to wait.
They say time goes by fastest when one is having fun or under great stress. Bartending on Zwanze Day is a little bit of both. In any other situation people would form a line, but for some reason, while in bars the average drinker completely forgets about this most basic tenet of civilized
society. In order to manage this kind of hectic atmosphere on a day like Zwanze Day, my bartending style takes on a fast-paced but meditative series of patterns, like The Bride running through a routine of kung fu exercises at the cruel tutelage of Pai Mei. Take an order, pour the drink, receive payment, repeat. When obstacles appear, I dodge, block, or kick them out of the way as necessary. The sink is full of dirty glasses. With dizzying speed, I have them washed, drying, and ready for use before my next customer can voice her order. We’ve run out of our signature Redlight Redlight tulip stemware. With preternatural instinct I reach for the next best glass and have it filled, perfect one inch head of lacy foam billowing from the top. What the hell is
Rachel doing at the same tap handle I need to use this very moment?! I monitor my breathing, take a sip of water, and repeat in my mind the secret bartenders’ mantra I memorized when I answered the call. By the time Rachel is finished, I am refreshed in body, mind, and spirit and ready for more abuse. Watching the kegs of Iris and Mamouche blow barely an hour into the evening, I gave myself permission to indulge in a couple extra ounces of Classic Gueuze, knowing I would most likely not see it on draft for another year. Only moments later that keg followed its Cantillon cousins into beer heaven. In this way time flew by and stood still simultaneously. I’d look at the clock, shocked to realize that hours had passed without me noticing, while in other moments a measly ten minutes would press down on me with the weight of a Plutonian year. At some time
after midnight the bar had thinned out enough to function at peak efficiency without my assistance.
My watch ended, I threw my apron, towel, and bar key on the floor leaving them where they lay. I grabbed the nearest glass I could reach, felt my body rise from the surface of the earth, and floated in midair to the Zwanze tap. With a flourish and flick of the wrist I filled my vessel with the coveted nectar, which gushed forth as if from divine realms, blessed by Bacchus, and poured by nerieds. Putting my nose in the glass, I inhaled deeply, took in the aromas of fresh cherries and ancient earth, the Apollonian and Dionysian in perfect harmony, the competing but complimentary
scents of mountain air and pungent musty leather. The weight of it in my hand was imbued with a sparkling significance. It was the kind of drink over which even the nonreligious prayed before the imbibed. The mystics of old equated wine with transcendence because the poor fools had never heard of Cuvée de Florian, had gone up to their perspective gods before it had even been invented.
I drank it up in one gulp, and now I can’t even remember what it tasted like.
Orlando beverage attorney and fellow beer enthusiast Trevor Brewer is currently advising a number of aspiring Florida brewmasters on the mountain of legalities associated with fulfilling their dreams. He and his wife Ashley have also recently started a new organization called Florida Craft to support the exploding Florida Craft beverage scene. Here is their first official press release...
Florida Craft wants to grow the craft beverage community by bringing together the producers and retailers of craft beverages in our state, and the consumers who support them. Join them for their first event, at Redlight Redlight in Orlando, on October 15, 2014. Click here for event details.
Florida Craft also introduces The Florida Craft Card™, a retail benefits and discount card for the
craft beverage community. Producers and retailers of Florida craft beverages and beverage-related products will offer discounts and special offers to card holders.
There are two ways you can get your Florida Craft Card™:
1. Click here to join Florida Craft and get your 12-month membership with card. For a limited time, the introductory membership fee is $20.
2. Get two qualifying retailers to sign up with Florida Craft, to provide special offers to card holders, and your 12-month card is free. Interested retailers should contact Florida Craft at
email@example.com. There is no charge to retailers for participating.
Executive Director, Ashley Brewer, along with her husband, Trevor Brewer, launched Florida
Craft to encourage Floridians to support their local beverage industry. Said Trevor, "Whether you like wine, beer, or distilled spirits, Florida businesses are producing it all over the state, and they deserve our support." Trevor is a beverage law attorney at BrewerLong. He is in regular contact with Florida beverage manufacturers through the firm's Brewers' Law initiative and web presence (brewerslaw.com). Joining Ashley and Trevor on the Board of Directors are Jeremy Bourst; Kayla Mitchell, Operations Manager at Orange Blossom Brewing Co.; Don Case, owner of AirMobile Advantage, LLC; Jeanette Dixon, Mills 50 Main Street District Secretary and Board Member; and Kara Solebello, Legal Services Manager at BrewerLong. "Our team combines knowledge and experience in the beverage industry and in building community," according to Ashley. "We are excited to celebrate the beverage arts in Florida."
If you have questions about Florida Craft or The Florida Craft Card™, contact Executive Director, Ashley Brewer, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Florida Craft on Twitter, @FloridaCraftOrg, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/FloridaCraftOrg.
Orlando Brewing recently put out its first barrel aged beer in collaboration with Winter Park Distilling Company and plans to do several more. Here is the official press release....
Orlando Brewing announces collaboration with Winter Park Distilling Company to bring Central Florida local, barrel aged brew. In April of this year, Orlando’s organic Fresh from Florida microbrewery borrowed white oak barrels used for distilling Bear Gully Classic Reserve Bourbon from their liquor loving friends in Winter Park. After four months of anticipation and aging, Orlando Brewing introduced the first beer in the new series – the Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Ale – to their taproom in August 2014.
The brewery’s Irish-style Red is known for being an easy drinking, crowd pleasing, copper colored ale with impeccable balance. Cask conditioning endowed this beer with a light scent of bourbon mingled with a bready butterscotch aroma. While a bourbon flavor presents itself on the palate, it is subtle and highlights the brews’ sweet caramel notes.
The taproom’s stock of Barrel Aged Red wanes, but Orlando Brewing is prepared. Their O-Town Brown Ale aged in Winter Park Distilling Barrels is on the calendar to release this Friday, September 19th followed by the much anticipated release of Senator Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged
in Winter Park Distilling Rum Barrel on Sunday, September 28th.
The brewery plans continuous collaboration with Winter Park Distilling Company. The local business is the first artisanal distillery in both Winter Park and Metro-Orlando, and was established back in 2010. The Orlando Brewing team has a passion for sustainable practices and the company endeavors to source as locally as possible. The company foresees this new relationship with Winter Park Distilling Company becoming a fruitful partnership and encourages Orlando to raise a glass to living local.
Park Plaza Gardens has put together an EXCLUSIVE offer for Orlando Beer Guide followers for
tomorrow night's Abita Beer Dinner. Use coupon code ORLANDOBEERGUIDE when
purchasing tickets at http://bit.ly/1vr9wNY to receive $30 off the original price!
Orlando Beer Guide has heard a lot of good things about The Parkview in Winter Park lately. Formerly Eola Wine Company, the Parkview took over in August but has already hosted some impressive beer related events. They recently did a Dogfish Head tap takeover that featured 120 minute on tap as well as a Terrapin takeover with Oak Aged Monks Revenge.
The Parkview will also be hosting a Sierra Nevada Beer Camp tap takeover on September 24th that will feature the following Sierra Nevada Collaboration beers...
Bell's - Maillard's Odyssey (Imperial Dark Ale)
Russian RIver - Yvan The Great (Belgian Style Blonde)
Firestone Walker - Torpedo Pilsner (Hoppy Pilsner)
Allagash - Myron's Walk (Belgian Style Pale Ale)
3 Floyds - Chico King (Pale Ale)
Oskar Blues - Canfusion (Rye Bock)
Have you been to The Parkview? Let us know what you think!
Looks like a lot more locally made craft beer is about to start flowing from beer faucets in Central Florida. We've been getting word about new breweries in planning on a constant basis lately. Its getting hard to keep track of them all! Some have secured a physical location and have websites. Some have websites but no physical location. Some have a physical location but no website. Here is the most up to date list that we know of and what we know about each. Cheers!
Ten10 Brewing (Ivanhoe District)
* We spoke to owner/brewer Mike Wallace back in May when he said he was "keeping his fingers crossed' to be open by the end of the summer. It looks like it will be a little later than that but he does have a location at 1010 Virginia Drive in the Ivanhoe District. Mike is a very well respected brewer amongst local beer enthusiasts and we are guessing that Ten10 will probably be one of the first breweries on this list to open.
Bowigen's Beer Company (Casselberry)
* I had a chance to visit the guys from Bowigens Beer Company recently at the site of their new brewery right next to Colorado Fondue Company in Casselberry. You can check out our little piece we did on Bowigens HERE. Bobby and Kevin are hoping to open by the end of 2014.
Wops Hops Brewing (Sanford)
* Haven't met these guys, but according to Florida Beer News the owners have bought the old Stokes Fish Market building on Sanford Avenue and plan to open a brewery and tasting room for locals and visitors to Sanford. We're looking forward to possibly taking the train up to Sanford and checking out Wop's Hops!
Persimmon Hollow Brewing (Deland)
* We've seen quite a bit from the guys at Persimmon Hollow Brewing on social media and have heard that they already have a distributor for their beers. From the looks of their pictures, they have a pretty good sized brewing system and will be opening their doors very soon.
Southern Moon Brewery and Barbeque (Curry Ford Road)
* Southern Moon is a barbeque joint and soon to be brewpub by the owners of the Fork in the Road Food truck. Scott Joseph did a piece on Southern Moon back in March and reported that they had hired Adam Steele, a Denver brewmaster, to do the brewing. The restaurant is open for business but we're not sure when the house made beers are scheduled to start pouring.
Broken Strings Brewing (Ivanhoe Village)
* It was announced just last week in The Bungalower that Broken Strings Brewing had secured a location in the Ivanhoe District just north of downtown. I got a chance to meet one of the brewers recently and sample some of his beer and I was impressed. With Ten10 Brewing and some others possibly in the works, Broken Strings will be a great addition to what could eventually become known as "The Beer District".
Crooked Can Brewing Company (Winter Garden)
* Crooked Can Brewing is set to be part of a three million dollar project to make the town of Old Winter Garden comparable to Orlando's Audubon Park Garden District. We've heard they are shooting to be open by St. Patrick's Day 2015.
Dead Lizard Brewing (Orlando)
* Dead lizard announced plans via social media about a year ago to open a brewery somewhere in the Ivanhoe District. As far as we know, they have not yet secured a location.
Orlando Beer Blog
Our goal is to provide you with the latest on where to enjoy craft beer in Orlando.