I stopped by the new Cask & Larder brewpub in Winter Park earlier this week to talk with brewmaster Ron Raike. He was nice enough to pour me a pint of the "Workingman's Brown" he brewed up for the workers and chefs to enjoy when they finish their shifts for the day. Ron also gave a little tour of the brewpub and a sneak preview of what's to come in the next couple of weeks.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Chef de Cuisine Dennis Bernard about some of the ideas behind the food as he is putting some of the finishing touches on the menu. Local craft beer lovers and foodies rejoice! Cask & Larder is scheduled to open its doors on September 5th.
OBG: Thanks for having me over today. There's definitely nowhere else like Cask & Larder here in Orlando and probably nowhere else like it in the rest of the country either. Can you talk about the concept that owners James & Julie Petrakis have put together here?
Ron: It's Southern influence and Southern inspired but not just Southern food. Just looking around here you feel like your in a really nice kitchen. Kind of like you went over to your friends house and felt like you wanted to just hang out and eat, drink, and have a good time. There's a very welcoming feel here. Its a little different than a dimly lit style restaurant. It just has a real friendly atmosphere.
OBG: You have a reputation for making some really unique beers. You've been known to use ingredients like peanut butter, bacon, and ruby red grapefruit in your beers. Where do some of those ideas come from?
Ron: Most of it comes from working with the chefs. I'm really excited about working with the chefs here because they're all 5 star chefs and they have a lot of experience in working with different spices and herbs and that plays right into the beer world. It gives me a chance to pick their brains apart and come up with combinations of ingredients I hadn't thought about in the beer world.
OBG: It's really exciting to see how many great restaurants are starting to place more of an emphasis on pairing great food with great beer. Could you tell us a little bit about some of the food and beer pairings that you have planned here at Cask & Larder?
Ron: We've come up with this witbier that I'm calling a year round seasonal. I'm always going to try and change it up a bit with the spicing hopefully to make it better and better each time. We'll also be using seasonal citrus, seasonal herbs, and seasonal spices to always evolve it. (Ron later poured me a little sample of the wit and it is without a doubt one of the best I've had!)
And we're going to be working with the pastry chef here and she is going to do "wit" donuts. She's going to make fresh, pastry style donuts with our witbier as a base. There will also be a glaze on them that has corriander, orange peel, and orange zest as well. You know, a wit donut sounds really good. Especially right now (chuckles).
There's a bunch of stuff. We're going to be cooking and braising with the beer from production. So it could be sweet wort, it could be bittersweet pre boiled wort, there's any number of different ways we can pull the beer out of production to cook with it to change the food and to modify the food. And then eventually we could serve the food with the very same beer it was braised in during its infancy. So there's all kinds of different ways to approach this.
OBG: Could you tell us a little bit about your brewing schedule and beers you plan on making?
Ron: The goal is to hopefully brew twice a week and keep everything extremely fresh. We want to rotate the flavors, brands, and styles around to fit the season, food, and the needs of our customers. We want the beers to be approachable so we can please everyone from the grandmas coming in to the new beer drinkers who are looking for different flavored ones. We'll do different things that fit the motif here and the southern feel here. We plan to do some watermelon beers and some peach beers. Beers that meld in with the menu and the feel of the public house that we have here.
We will always have something very approachable on. Like a straight forward easy drinking gold ale with a little bit of hoppy character. Something that can be a gateway beer for the Budmillercoors, 711 drinker I guess. But I'll always try to have a big beer on that's 9+ % as well whether its a stout or a Double IPA or something along those lines of a snifter, "pinky out" style beer. We'll also always have something fresh on the engine that's hopefully three days out of production and have a nice cask conditioned ale on at all times. We also want to rotate in a wit or saison with fresh seasonal ingredients.
OBG: We've heard that there is a large smoker that was left here from when O Boys once occupied this building and that there will also be whole (cooked) animals available on the menu. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Ron: We're going to have a special twelve top reservation only seating with whole animal presentation. You make a reservation and you get a whole beast.. A whole pig, a pheasant, leg of lamb or whatever is available. They'll bring it out on one of these handmade trays thats made out of whiskey barrels that were made by a guy here locally. After its presented, they'll take it back and portion it out and serve it family style with all the fixin's and everything else.
I have an idea for one of the beers we're going to do for these whole animal presentations. There's going to be a lot of ham hocks and a lot of big ham bones from these presentations. I'm going to resmoke those and use them in the mash and in the boil to get a smoked beer. It'll have the influence of the bacon, ham, marrow, salt, and smoked flavor which will influence the beer as opposed to just smoking the malt like you would with a traditional smoked beer. I haven't worked out all the details on this yet but its going to be interesting. Its going to be a busy couple of weeks!
OBG: Thanks again for the beer Ron and good luck with everything.
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