Quick! When you think of Orlando, what comes to mind?
For me, it was theme parks, traffic, orange groves and Cape Canaveral – until I took a Beer and Foodie trip to Seminole County courtesy of DoOrlandoNorth.com/Seminole County Tourism, and Paradiseadv.com (thank you to Roseangela Santiago for Orlando North, Seminole County Tourism and Mary Jane Kolassa, Public Relations for setting it up!)
Having toured the local breweries in Seminole county – now I think “BEERCATION: Seminole County.”
Sidenote: This is the first of 3 blog posts stemming from the 2 1/2 day FAM trip. Keep an eye out for additional posts featuring some of the best spots in Seminole County, FL.
First off, what’s going on with Beer in Florida ?
Florida is “home base” to over a hundred craft breweries including the one of the oldest in the nation: Yuengling Bros., several mainstay award-winning breweries (such as Dunedin Brewery, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, and Cigar City Brewing) and many new (less than 2 years old) up-and-coming notables.
Fellow beer blogger and friend, Gerard Walen (who coincidentally was also on this FAM trip,) dmaintains and up-to-date FL brewery map on his BeerInFlorida.com site. He is the author of Florida Breweries (a great read and a unique gift for anyone who is into craft beer and the stories behind the brewers, owners and the beers they brew!)
Florida is becoming a craft beer haven – especially when weather turns chilly in more northern climes. Lately, there’s a beer fest or new brewery opening every weekend. Seminole County is home to half a dozen well-respected breweries and craft beer bars – read on for details.
And, if you’re a fan of “Beer Weeks” (a week-long celebration dedicated to craft beer events) – you’re in luck because Sanford Beer Week is fast approaching: November 15-22, 2016.
Sidenote: I took Facebook Live videos (you can see them on my timeline Carol Dekkers from Sept 20-23, 2016) but when I converted /uploaded them to You Tube for linking here, they became SILENT (or almost silent) movies. When I get the link from the Seminole County television coverage (which was at all the locations) – I’ll update this blog posting. Meanwhile, thank you for your understanding!
A few notable Seminole County Breweries:
Hourglass Brewing is a 4-year old brewery that has been open at the current location for almost two years. They boast an impressive array of 15-20 innovative brews on tap (I can’t wait for the Cloudberry bottle release!) – all served in proper non-pint-glass glassware – and a new barrel program (20 bbl foeder.) The tasting room space is wide open (two-story ceilings, lots of open space) and adorned with Star Wars and action figure memorabilia. Glass doors to the huge bottle release cooler and windows showcasing the brewing areas add to the feeling of openness even when the taproom is crowded for their weekend live music and movies.
Interesting tidbits I found out about during our tour:
- Head brewer Matt Gemmell started out as a bartender (with a passion and talent for brewing);
- Marketing director Jeremy Gonzalez is also their label artist with a great talent for fantasy themed graphics;
- All of the fermenters are named after Muppets characters;
- The barrel program (new) will feature tequila, rum, gin, and Sauvignon blanc barrels;
- The brewers like to challenge each other and have brewed batches beers with ingredients ranging from yarrow and cranberry hibiscus to rosemary, paprika and even roasted sheeps head. The current selection on tap included two sours (yumm!)
My onsite video at Hourglass ended up with poor sound quality, but click on the photo below to open the slide show of brewery pics. Worth a visit.
Oct 22, 2016 marked the 2nd anniversary of Sanford’s first brewery. Co-owner and brewer Greg (who you’ll often find working the taps in the tasting room) is unabashedly proud of being the “Wop” of Wop’s Hops Brewing Company. Greg is a strong supporter of craft brewing in the area, and helped other breweries in Sanford get started. Aside from the passion for brewing and supporting charitable community causes, one notable difference about Wop’s Hops is their on site kitchen featuring (thank you!) non-pub style food made on premise by classically trained Chef Jason. It’s great to see a brewery that also takes pride in the gourmet selections (including a section for 4-legged doggie patrons.)
The day I visited, Wops Hops had a number of their own brews on tap ranging from their Peach Cream (one of my favorite peach beers!) and their Golden Stout (both on Nitro) to their Marshmallow Chocolate Peanut Butter Ale (think s’mores!) and IPAs. In addition, there were several guest taps (which rotate.)
The food was amazing (thank you Chef Jason) and the tasting room was cosy and friendly. Outside is a dog and kid-friendly beer garden area. A definite stop if you’re looking for good beer in Seminole Country!
While Wops Hops does not yet package bottles or cans for distribution, you can buy a Wops Hops growler filled to go – but with the great food options, why not stay and enjoy the brews on site?
The tasting room and beer garden are open Wed-Sun (see their Facebook page for special holiday hours):
|Monday – Tuesday
||4:00pm – 10:00pm
|Thursday – Friday
||4:00pm – 12:00am
||1:00pm – 2:00am
||11:30am – 9:00pm
Here’s a quick video visit with Greg at Wops Hops Brewing: (my apologies for the lack of clarity on the menu – it isn’t restricted or blocked out (even though it looks like it!) – that’s the Facebook Live video format…)
Red Cypress Brewery just celebrated their first anniversary and in our visit with Ryan Patrick, the owner and CEO, he mentioned that they are serious about increasing their mark on the Florida market with distribution (cans) plus crowlers (32 oz onsite cans filled to order and sealed to go) and growlers. Current distribution includes Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Brevard counties (FL.)
The Red Cypress tasting room is smaller than the one at Hourglass, but larger than Wops Hops, kid-friendly (open spaces when it’s not crowded) with ample room for groups. Food trucks and local delivery are available for food.
Red Cypress is entering into barrel aging with an expansive brewing and aging area behind the tasting room. On tap the day I visited in late Sept were:
- Deep Roots (lager like amber)
- Fruit de la terre (Saison)
- Spook Hill Pale Ale (named after the optical illusion in Lake Wales)
- Devils Chair IPA (similar to Two Hearted Ale by Bells Brewing)
- Death Roll Milk Stout
- Summer Nights (a hoppy and delicious! peach wheat ale made with 1000 lb of peaches in the batch)
My SILENT video (I have no idea what happened to the audio! It WAS there when I posted this on FACEBOOK Live! At least you can see the venue!) features Ryan Patrick of Red Cypress – definitely worth a visit to this brewery:
It was refreshing to meet someone as passionate about music (see the guitar in the logo,) innovative ingredients (you have to read their tap list), and the community as Bobby Bowen, co-owner/brewer of Bowigens Beer Company. (I found it reassuring to find multiple Lyft taxi brochures throughout the tasting room including the front entrance to encourage responsibility and safe rides home for patrons.)
Bowigens is set in a renovated strip mall featuring an outstanding Italian restaurant: Vinzo’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria (the subject of a future blog post) so I could imagine spending long evenings doing my best to pair Italian food with the brews on tap (might take multiple evenings to do this justice!)
The tasting room is similar in size to Wops Hops in Sanford, and equally inviting and cosy. The brewery is in the back and it’s clear that quality is a big focus as every brew I tasted there was fresh and true to style. As the final operating brewery on our tour, it was great to note that all four breweries touted friendly service, approachable staff (who were happy to answer questions and provide understandable, non-techie answers – thank you!)
Bowigens is open every day and definitely a solid stop on your beercation in Seminole County. Hours of operation:
Sunday | 3-10 p.m.
Monday | 5-10 p.m.
Tuesday | 5-10 p.m.
Wednesday | 5-10 p.m.
Thursday | 5-10 p.m.
Friday | 3 p.m. – midnight
Saturday | Noon – midnight
Here’s the on-location silent screen video with Bobby Bowen (my apologies for the lack of sound! but you can see Bobby’s passion in talking about his brewery – you’ve simply got to visit to hear his story first-hand!)
Sanford Brewing was not yet open for business but had anticipated doing so by November 1, 2016. Their seating rivaled that of Hourglass – topping out with capacity just over 150 patrons with live entertainment and a full kitchen in addition to fresh onsite brewed beer.
Check out Sanford Brewing at http://www.sanfordbrewing.com/
Whether you’re looking to round out a theme park/convention trip with some great beer or if you’re in the market for a Beercation that delivers the goods with personality and panache, Seminole County brewers will whet your whistle for more. Sure, you can still head to a theme park (within a short drive) – but with the breweries I visited, why bother?
Let me know what you think!