In October, we packed up our three girls for a week in Orlando. A trip highlighted by a couple of days at Disney with a few days poolside mixed in to break it up with a little R&R. Oh, and beer. Those of you with young children know that whole R&R thing doesn’t actually exist, but we parents like to pretend it does anyway.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Florida. Our last couple of trips to the Sunshine State, mostly to visit the west side of Florida, were filled with grocery store and beer store runs for Jai Alai and some Yuengling to break it up a bit. Beyond that, there wasn’t a whole lot else to chase down.
But that’s changed.
This time around, I found a ton of options and — apologies to Cigar City — skipped over the more readily available Jai Alai to set out on discovering some new favorites.
What follows is what I can best describe as “Dad Tasting Notes.” They aren’t going to be super in-depth because, frankly, there just wasn’t much time to scribble down notes in between trips down the water slide and trying to keep an 11 month old from crawling into the pool. Hell, I barely had time to snap a picture. But I didn’t want to do Orlando, now known around our house as “Princess Florida,” a disservice by not highlighting some really good beers brewed in and around central Florida — and beyond.
Funky Buddha Pineapple Beach
Much like leis are handed out in Hawaii when you deboard your plane, someone should hand you a six-pack of Pineapple Beach the moment you touch down in Florida. Our visit was in early October and it was HOT, with heat indexes pushing close to 100 on several days, making Pineapple Beach the perfect pairing for a day at the pool. Loads of crushed pineapple on the nose on the palate, without being overly sweet, it goes down way too easily on a hot day.
Funky Buddha Hop Gun
I’m a sucker for a good pun and well-crafted, old school IPA, and this delivered on both. Tropical hop notes are balanced out by plenty of malt, reminiscent of what’s becoming a dying style of the balanced IPA. This proved to be a great beer to end a day of park hopping with.
Florida Ave Lager
This Helles-style lager was crisp and clean with toasty malts and a touch of sweetness. It doesn’t quite elevate to the heights of lagers produced at Metropolitan or Dovetail (and not many do), but provided a nice break from a cooler full of mostly hoppy beers.
D9 Hakuna Matata
A more tropical, hazy leaning IPA, Hakuna Matata proved to be a smooth counter punch to Hop Gun. Mandarin oranges, peaches and grapefruit highlight the palate, with little to no maltiness and barely a bitter note to be found.
Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner
An unfiltered pilsner, found in Germany at Disney’s Epcot, was easily a favorite among the dozen or so beers we shared there. Full-bodied, earthy and bitter this went down smooth and way too quickly.
D9 Brewer’s Day Off
I reluctantly skipped over this gose brewed with cantaloupe and cucumber on my first trip to the nearby beer store when we first arrived in Orlando. However, by the last day we had cleaned out the fridge so a quick trip was in order to find something easy drinking that could be polished off in one day.
Enter Brewer’s Day Off.
I rarely call a beer delightful, but this beer was. A big aroma and taste of melon is washed away mid sip by saltwater amid a lively carbonation. Brewer’s Day Off closes out with a slightly bitter and earthy finish of cucumber rind. This was incredibly refreshing and at just under 5 percent ABV was a perfect beer to close out the trip with.
Sadly, we weren’t able to hit any brewpubs in and around Orlando,but if anyone has any suggestions for a future trip I’m all ears. I’m sure I missed some good beers too. That being said, with limited research and without checking out any beers while wandering the beer aisle I think I came away with some gems.