Saturday, October 16, 2010

Orlando Brewing Company

Firkin Around...Orlando, Florida.
The trip to Orlando Brewing started with an email. Several fellow bloggers were contacted to see if they were interested in a private brewery tour and sampling session.  Well, heck yeah!

I'm always up for a trip to O-town and quite frankly, I had not heard much about this particular brewery.  That was about to change. What I did know was that Orlando Brewing is a USDA certified organic brewery. This means they have to adhere to a strict review of their ingredients by government regulation in order to carry the 'certified organic' labeling.
The word organic can cause confusion with some people. Sometimes it may even make the uninformed a bit skeptical, conjuring up images of tree hugging crazies.  Well, nonsense. Get that notion out of your head.  The Orlando Brewery uses selected hops and malts that are free from synthetic chemicals, irradiation and sewage sludge. The farmlands typically have been run this way for a period of three or more years to be considered organic. Strict, regular reviews and inspections are also necessary to be sure that the laws are being adhered to at the sites. It all makes for a purer brew, albeit a bit more expensive due to the nature of the synthetic free conditions in which they are raised. All in all, it can make for a better beer.

The Orlando Brewery was founded in 2002 and opened in April of 2007.  It was fashioned after Fritz Maytag's pioneering spirit in craft brewing. Their first offering was a Pale Ale. The brewery founders have used word of mouth advertising, " educate the public about organic brewing, one pint at a time." President John Cheek, General Operations Director Stan Richards and Brewmaster Ed Canty are just some of the brains behind the operation.  

On with the show
Gene pours while we sample

Director of Brewery Sales Gene Lohri was our guide through the brewery. He greeted us outside under the canopy next to the funky and psychedelic school bus. We were whisked away to the side of the building and into an open loading door.  A table of wonderful looking dips, breads and snack chips were waiting on tables. One of the delicious dips was made using their porter!
Brewery line Mash/Lauter Tuns

Brewery founder and president John Cheek, met us at the table with a beautiful pitcher of their flagship and best seller, "Organic Blonde". Our tasting session began with Gene explaining the finer points in organic beers and also noting about each beer we sampled.  My tasting notes ran as follows:
  • Organic Blonde - Made with Breiss organic malts and hops from Yakima, WA.  The beer has light malt aromas with slight hops nose and taste. They use Munich barley malts and Hallertauer hops.
  • The art of the perfect pour

  • Pale Ale - Breiss malts and Cascade hops are balanced and present in the aromas and the taste. Delicate citrus floral  notes detected on the nose. This beer is brewed at 68/F and cellared at 38-45/F. A super sessionable beer at 5% ABV.
  • Brown Ale - This malty and roasty brew has a creamy head and nutty taste. A Florida Gold Medal winner, this year for 2010.
  • Red Ale - A 2008 Florida Gold Medal winner, this super Red Ale features Carapils and Breiss malts and is also available in bottle. I had this by the pint before the tour. Simply great flavor and fresh.
  • European Pilz - Tight, crisp and satisfying.  Uses Centennial and Saaz hops to achieve the old world style of pilsener beer.
    Flight samples and tasting notes
  • Blackwater 'Dry' Porter - A deep, dark colored porter with roasted chocolate flavors.  Just a hint of vanilla for fun. Savory rich start and a drying finish on the tongue. Check out for a few hints on how to use this porter in a reduction sauce or "Biramisu" dessert.
  • Olde Pelican English Pale Ale - A beauty at 5.9% ABV. Done in the English style of pale ale with Carapils malts. Easy drinker.
  • Marzen - We were lucky to be at Orlando Brewing during October, so what better way to celebrate than with a sample of their Octoberfest style lager. It was phenomenal and done nicely with a balance of hops and malts, the way a good Marzen should taste. And oh, so fresh!
  • Pompous Ass IPA - The name says it all. A punch of hops flavor gives this IPA and outstanding taste. BOOYAH!
Great people, great brewery

Orlando Brewing's Tasting Room
Cheers to Gene and John for being such gracious hosts in opening up their brewery to the FLAbrew Crew!  Their hospitality was top notch. After our tour of the brewing facilities, we all wandered back into the tasting room and had a few more of the beers on tap.  Many of them are available in unfiltered versions on tap and were all quite good.  The unfiltered beers are only available in the tasting room, as the bottled versions are filtered. Also available on tap are beers from other brewerys, served right alongside the Orlando Brewery taps.

We learned that Orlando Brewing makes twenty different beers that include styles such as a
The Current Tap Offerings
Doppelbock, Hefe-Weizen, Maibock and Barleywine. These are all brewed on premise in one of their various brew lines which includes a 30bbl system (roughly 1000 gallons)  recovered from the Dominican Republic in 1992, and a 5bbl system formerly of some Florida area brewpubs once located in Daytona and Winter Park.

Although I have attempted to capture the essence of our tour in words and pictures, you need to go see for yourself first hand just how dedicated and committed the folks at Orlando Brewing are about their craft.

Orlando Brewery Beer Awards
Leave your preconceived notions at the door.  Come and taste what a difference organic brewing can make in a beer.  Orlando Brewing is easy to get to in the heart of downtown Orlando, Florida. Stop on by and check out their award winning organic style brews for yourself. If you should find that you burp during your visit, don't worry.  As Gene explained during the tour, "That's not bad manners, that's just good beer!"

FLAbrew crew with hosts John & Gene
Firkin Organic Brewery!

Orlando Brewing Company
1301 Atlanta Avenue
Orlando, FL 32806

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