I talked to Redlight Redlight co-owner Brent Hernandez this week about his new in house brewery. He poured me a glass of a very tasty Kölsch he had recently brewed and we discussed Orlando's local craft beer scene, Redlight's new brewery, and some of the styles of beer he'll be making that patrons can look forward to enjoying in the very near future.
Orlando Beer Guide: Redlight Redlight has been recognized by numerous publications as one of the finest craft beer bars in the country. Why did you decide to get into the brewing aspect of the business when things are already going so well for you?
Brent Hernandez: I actually got into the bar business to brew beer. It seemed like each year I got further away from being able to do that until now. I started homebrewing about 13 years ago so like most homebrewers I was like "I want to open a brewery". So I guess it was like that cliché type thing for me.
Orlando Beer Guide: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the beers you will be making here as well as how you come up with some of your ideas for them?
Brent Hernandez: We're only going to have one or two of our draft lines that will be devoted to our beers. And we have all these other beers here so we don't feel like we will have to make the same thing all of the time. Whereas more traditional brewpubs have mostly house brewed beer with 1 or 2 guest lines so they have to have their consistent beers on tap all the time. So that allows us to kind of play around a little. But eventually we'd like to see it grow out of here and become something bigger. So if that happens one day will probably have to focus on some brands then.
I have been doing the same Berliner Weisse recipe for like the last 7 years or so. I named it Cimarrones which is Spanish for Seminole and means wild or renegade. That beer will definitely be one that gets made a lot. I can also tell you that I have plans to brew a cream ale this week. We have Fresh 24 next door and also the East End Market and we plan to do some cool things with some of their fruit. I'm just real big on the beer first though and using the fruit as a complement so it doesn't overpower the beer.
Orlando Beer Guide: What are some of the other styles you will be focusing on and what are some of the kinds of beer you prefer to make?
Brent Hernandez: Even in homebrewing, I've never been one to try and brew a lot of hoppy beers. There are just so many out there that are awesome so I don't bother because I know I can't do any better than that.
I can tell you that we are planning to do some collaborations but they will typically be with non brewers. Most of these will be with other local businesses. We're planning our first collaboration with Wild Ocean Seafood in early April. We are going to brew an Oak Hill Oyster Stout together and we'll be using fresh Atlantic oysters from New Smyrna Beach for the beer. I really want the 'brininess" to come through so you will be able to taste the oysters in the beer. I've only ever had a couple that you can taste that "brininess" in so that will be the goal of the one we are going to do.
I will also say that we will not be doing any "big" beers. Nothing over 7% probably. There's a couple of reasons for that. First, personally I like the session beers. If its 12% alcohol I'm having one, two maybe and then I'm going to be done for the night. The other reason is that our smaller system really can't handle too much grain. So I wouldn't be able to get super high gravity because of our smaller system anyway.
In addition to a Berliner Weisse, Kölsch, Cream Ale, and Porter Brent also led me to believe that he will be making some sour beers in the future as well. Locals will be able to start enjoying these beers very soon. Redlight will be having a Brewery Launch Party on Monday April 7th at 5:00 pm to celebrate its new brewery and beers. There will be four house brewed beers on tap that night with some more on deck.
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