You can learn a lot about Orlando from the carbonated beverages named after it. Whether it’s the roads that connect us, the neighborhoods that we live in or the residents that give it its zest, local breweries show their connection to the community with true flavor.
Representing your ‘hood is key for a new brewery. When Glenn Closson found the right space for his venture, he wanted to make sure it honored the history of the area.
“Right from the beginning, we took a look at the area to see how we could incorporate it into our beer,” Closson said. “Ultimately, we found that the first amusement park in Orlando was right here.”
Closson is a co-founder of Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company, which sits at one end of an unofficial “barley row” on Virginia Avenue, which features tasting rooms, Ten10 Brewing and Redlight, Redlight a bit further down in the Audubon Park District.
The nearby amusement park was founded by early Orlando resident and pineapple farmer George Russell, and it went through a few rebrands in the early 20th century, roughly six decades before Walt Disney started looking at property south of the city. It was eventually called Joyland, which is now one ofIvanhoe Park Brewing’s core offerings.
“I go on a lot of tastings with my sales managers, and we meet beer buyers who are fifth-generation from Central Florida,” Closson said. “They had no idea of the story of Ivanhoe Park. To be able to express that through the beers, we thought that was a really great way to share the history of the place.”
At Ellipsis Brewing, located near the Orlando International Airport, Head Brewer Rob McKee and team have a beer named for the noise a comic book hero makes when he teleports (BAMF, a triple IPA), one after the nickname of the U.S. Army uniform from World War II (Pinks & Greens, a New England-style IPA) and another simply called Milk District.
“We’ve all been around Orlando for a long time,” McKee said. “I was trying to think of a name for a beer we were making with lactose. That’s something to do with milk, and we have the Milk District right here.”
McKee adds that bars in the Milk District like to stock the namesake beer, and that connection helps get the word out about Ellipsis to a different market.
Names can have multiple meanings, as is the case at RockPit Brewing. Located south of Downtown Orlando, it made sense for one of the beers to be called SoDo. But the SoDo Blondin ale also ties into the coal mining theme of the brewery.
“We wanted something that reflected the neighborhood,” said Chris Rock, one of the founders. “We also wanted to pay tribute to the coal miners in our extended family, so you will see a lot of work put into our beers and into our bar.”
Along those lines, “blondin” is not misspelled in the name of the blonde ale. Blondins are the aerial ropeways used in slate quarries to transport wagon-loads of rocks between locations.
The roads that connect Orlando’s districts and communities brew inspiration as well. Owner Vishal Chunilal said that when Oviedo Brewing Company was looking for a name for its red ale, they looked no further than Red Bug Lake Road, and Red Bug Red was born.
For Ten10 Brewing, located along the Orlando Urban Trail, that was also an easy choice. Naming an American pale ale after the three-mile commuter and recreational trail was the idea of their late general manager, George Saunders, so now it also serves as an homage to him.
Brewers are not afraid of adding a little “Ruckus” to their beers. Charles Frizzell, the co-owner and head brewer at Broken Strings Brewery, said he and his partners specifically wanted to be near the then-proposed Orlando City Soccer Club stadium when looking at locations.
“We were fans from the beginning,” Frizzell said. “Even before the new stadium was a done deal, we found the location we wanted near where they were proposing to build and signed the lease.”
Along with Lion’s Lager, which is a popular tailgating beer on gameday, Broken Strings also produces a red ale for the independent supporters club, the Ruckus, called #RTID and the Purple Mane pale ale in honor of the team.
Here are two flight suggestions for exploring the City Beautiful and beyond.
An Orlando neighborhood flight:
Bowigens Beer Company
German Style Pilsner
Ivanhoe Brewing Company
New England IPA with lactose
Oviedo Brewing Company
A Central Florida thoroughfares and byways flight:
Ocean Sun Brewing
Bumby Blonde Ale
Orlando Brewing Company
West Coast-style IPA
Oviedo Brewing Company
Red Bug Red
Red Ale – American Amber / Red
Sanford Brewing Company
Ten10 Brewing Company
American Pale Ale
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