We have some exciting news for thirsty beer enthusiasts in Central Florida! Cask & Larder, Orlando's Southern inspired brewpub, will begin distributing its beers to a handful of local bars in the Winter Park area in the next few weeks. C&L plans to start off its distribution efforts on a very small scale and expand gradually from there.
On Friday, Orlando Beer Guide had an opportunity to do the following interview with Cask & Larder's Head Brewmaster Ron Raike. We talked about Cask & Larder, its beers, and future distribution in Orlando and beyond.
Orlando Beer Guide: So the last time we talked you weren't even open for business yet. What have the last nine months been like as Brewmaster for Cask & Larder?
Ron Raike: It's been a fun task to take on. As I always say, it's not a job it's more of a passion for me so it's not like work in here. It's something I really enjoy doing. I've been able to dial in a lot of things and figure out the system a little bit better as far as numbers and efficiencies go. And I think the beers are tasting better and better.
Orlando Beer Guide: I know a lot of locals were happy to hear your beers will soon be available outside the walls of your southern inspired brewpub. What exactly will your distribution consist of here in the very near future?
Ron Raike: We've partnered with Ryan Williams of Progressive Distributing and he's going to be doing our distribution in the Winter Park Area. We've got a lot of calls from places here locally and from around the state that would like to have our beer. But our goal is to mainly focus on the Winter Park area for right now.
We have always had a plan to have a functioning brewery. But first we had to get the restaurant rolling and taken care of. We had to make sure the food and beer worked and that the customers were happy. We're nine months old now so we're transitioning into the next phase which is distribution. But it's always been most important to make sure we had good beer for our customers first and then worry about getting it to other accounts after that.
We are focused on a small circle in Winter Park right now. I really feel strongly about maintaining the freshness. The smaller keg helps rotate the beer quickly so the beer will always be fresh. It's going to be very limited distribution intitially because I really want people to enjoy that fresh product.
A perfect parallel would be O'Dell Brewing out in Colorado. You can only find O'Dell's in that circle around Fort Collins. It's not a huge circle. But you know when you are in that O'Dell's freshness circle you are getting a really good product.
Orlando Beer Guide: Can you tell us a little bit about each of the beers you will be making readily available for distribution?
Ron Raike: First and foremost will be our Red Drum which is a West Coast Red Ale. It's hop forward and caramel sweet with a little dextrin character. Munich malts are used in it along with a variety of West Coast hops which give it a nice rounded citrus quality. It's dry hopped as well so you get a nice little punch to the face. It's right at 4.8% ABV so its easy drinking but its still full flavored and full bodied so you can have a couple of them without getting hurt.
Old Southern Wit is a traditional Belgian Witbier with spices and orange peel and sometimes different citrus peels and citrus zest depending on what's in season. The citrus complements the coriander and builds up a nice Florida citrusy note to the beer. I just have a big appreciation for this style of beer. For me the Wit just screams Florida. The citrus notes, the freshness, the lower alcohol, the refreshing character and lighter body just screams Florida orange juice and Florida citrus.
We will also be distributing our Broken Ladder which is an American Pale Ale. Broken Ladder is a code name for an attractive female according to the Urban Dictionary. I didn't think of that but Urban Dictionary did and I thought that was pretty funny. And we also have our Five Points IPA that we will be making available. [ Ron didn't bother to mention that both Broken Ladder and Five Points IPA won Gold Medals at the 2013 Best Florida Beer Championships in March ]
With such a small brewery it would be hard to concentrate on 4 or 5 beers for distribution. But with such a small distribution ring we can be sure people are getting the freshest beer possible.
Orlando Beer Guide: One last question. It's a tough one. If a beer geek comes in from lets say Vermont and you can only pour him one of your beers to let him know what you and Cask & Larder are all about... Which of your beers would you pour for him and why would that be?
Ron Raike: Yea. It's a tough question but an easy answer. Probably one you won't like though. I'd have to pour him one of each. Especially with the food because our beers pair up so well with the food and the food is so well thought out here. They all have a time and a place and it's all so subjective. I'd rather see what they like because maybe they aren't a Hophead or maybe they don't like corriander.
But I will say the ones I'm probably most proud of would have to be the Red Drum for the approachability and the flavor characterisics. And the Wit because it's such a great Florida beer and a lot of thought went into making the beer.
But also some of the seasonal stuff that we put together that are "one offs" or "two offs" that you won't get in three weeks. You have to get those when you can because those fruits and vegetables or herbs and spices are available for that week only and that's when you are going to get the beer. Kind of like the peach beer we just did. We used some very flavorful local peaches from DeSoto County down near Sarasota and once it's gone its gone. A fruit beer might not be for
everyone but the way this one tastes and the balance of it made for a really good drinking beer!
So I'd have to tell the guy from Vermont to try them all. It's just so subjective that you can't assign someone a favorite.
Orlando Beer Guide: How did I know you were going to say that!
* There are currently only two breweries in the Orlando area that distribute their beers. Orlando Brewing and Lagniappe Brewing (Effinheimer Beer) in Cleremont. Cask & Larder will be only the third brewery in the Orlando area that distributes.
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