Orlando Brewing is the city's oldest craft brewery, and has a significant amount of its beers on tap at any given time.
Orlando Brewing is the city’s oldest craft brewery, and has a significant amount of its beers on tap at any given time.

(updated 5/18/17)

So you’re spending some time in the Happiest Place on Earth with the family.

Yep. Happens to the best of us. But if you get a reprieve from the Mouse, I’m sure you’d want to partake in the local Orlando craft beer scene.

By its own admission, the Central Florida city’s craft beer scene is way behind that of Tampa or South Florida. But if you’re willing to travel (and trust me, Uber will be your friend), you will find some diamonds in the rough.

I had a few hours of freedom while the wife and kids were having some down time, so me and Beer Dad went to check out some local breweries.

The reaction of my daughter when she found out I was going "beering."
The reaction of my daughter when she found out I was going “beering.”

NOTE: If you’re staying at or around the parks, be aware that you’re looking at a 30+ minute drive….plus factor in rush hour and all that other good stuff. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean everyone else is. I learned that lesson the hard way.

NOTE, part two: If you’re not taking Uber, make sure you’ve got your Peach Pass current. It works on Florida’s toll roads, and there are a ton of them in the Orlando area.

OCEAN SUN BREWERY

3030 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 745-5551

Don't let the location fool you. There's some good stuff brewing in this strip mall.
Don’t let the location fool you. There’s some good stuff brewing in this strip mall.

One of Orlando’s newest breweries (open in March 2016), don’t let the location fool you. It’s in a strip mall in a….um…..let’s call it a sketchy neighborhood. But once you walk in? They’ve done a nice job opening up a really large space. They have long tables for enjoying their beers, as well as a couple of couch areas for relaxing. Talking to Bob, one of the brewery owners, he says that it’s been a bit of an educational process amongst the locals, but the business is developing. They’re brewing off a 5 barrel system, and right now are only selling their beers on-site, with extremely limited bottling (self distribution, don’t you know).

As for the beers? Ocean Sun is doing a solid job. Some of the standouts included:

  • Buchi Beer Stout – Tons of coffee in this one, which was a pleasant surprise. I had this on Nitro, and it was excellent.
  • Mur De Huy – a malty and bold Belgian strong dark ale
  • West Coast Red – a drinkable, but hoppy take on a red ale.
  • Onatopp Russian Imperial Stout – again, like the Buchi beer, you could get this on Nitro, which was a good choice.
mmm...beer.
mmm…beer.

ORLANDO BREWING

1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 872-1117

Now, for the oldest brewery in the area. Founded around 2000, the brewery was certified organic by the state of Florida in 2006, and you can’t miss that designation. Amazingly enough, Florida’s beer is considered and agricultural product (unlike Georgia), and the state actually seems interested in developing the industry.

The really nice thing about Orlando Brewing is that they have a metric ton of different beers on tap. And their menu suggests a nice maturity, with a wide variety of styles. And it worked out nicely – while Beer Dad made himself acquainted with a flight of IPAs, I managed to wrangle all stouts and porters. Standouts include:

  • Girl Stout – a chocolate mint Stout
  • Papa Midnight – full of coconut and chocolate. Fantastic.
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Nitewatch
  • Grand Ole Hopry Double IPA

Other places to go?  I asked friend of the show and Orlando native Darryl for his suggestions. And he included:

CROOKED CAN BREWING COMPANY

426 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 395-9520

A brewery located in an artisan food market may seem a little too on-the-nose hipster, but they are putting out quality “drinkin'” beers.

DEADLY SINS BREWING

750 Jackson Ave #102, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 900-8726

One of the area’s newest breweries, Darryl says they’re making some good liquid, and judging from the beer list, they don’t look afraid to push the boundaries a little.

REPRISE BREWING

1124 Pennsylvania Ave., St. Cloud, FL 34769
(321) 805-4701

Osceola County’s first brewery is located in a former post office. The taproom is small, and befitting of its name, will feature local bands. I was really impressed with their Pub Ale and ESB. It’s a tad out of the way, but a nice little place. They also have a few guest taps.

Other breweries/brewpubs in the area include:

SEA DOG BREWING

8496 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836
(321) 329-5306

Personally, I’ve been going to Sea Dog’s original location in Bangor Maine for almost two decades now. I can’t vouch for the quality of this location, but it’s beers are being brewed under Maine’s Shipyard Beer, which is the state’s largest brewery. It’s also going to be really your closest-to-the-parks choice for craft beer, so if you’re looking to get your fix and feed the family, it’s a good destination.

GNARLY BARLEY

7431 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 854-4999

Another suggestion of Darryl’s, it’s a sandwich shop with a solid draft list. Plus, they are starting to sell bottles to go too.

DEAD LIZARD BREWING COMPANY

4507 36th St, Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 777-3060

TEN10 BREWING COMPANY

1010 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 930-8993

Update: We visited these folks on our latest Orlando trip. One of the newer breweries in the city, they’ve got a rock-n-roll theme, and a crowler can on site. Of note: “Chronically Mismanaged” coffee red ale and “Sister Midnight,” a collaboration with Central 28 Beer Company.

BROKEN CAULDRON TAPROOM AND BREWERY

1012 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 986-1012

CASK AND LARDER

Orlando International Airport, 1 Jeff Fuqua Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32827

(No, seriously, it’s in the airport)

THE RAVENOUS PIG

565 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
407-628-2333

The sister restaurant to Cask and Larder, this James Beard nominated restaurant also serves up their own craft beer. Of note is the Dovecote Saison and 5 Points IPA.

REDLIGHT, REDLIGHT

2810 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 893-9832

The beer list is legit. Check it out.

THE BEAR AND PEACOCK

1288 North Orange Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 801-2714

A “Brewstillery,” the Bear and Peacock opened originally as a distillery. More recently, they started brewing beer. Which makes barrel aging convenient. Definitely try their BBA “Bear”-ly wine.

WHISPER CREEK FARM: THE KITCHEN

4040 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 393-4755

This is located in the JW Marriott.

BIG RIVER GRILLE AND BREWING WORKS

Jellyrolls, 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 560-0253

Like I said, I get it. I’ve got three kids. Sometimes you’re stuck at the Mouse, and you need a craft beer. Here you go.

NOTE: If you’re traveling south, it’s worth your while to make a pit stop in Gainesville (Yeah, I know, Florida Gators and all that, but still…) and head to Tipple’s Brews (2440 SW 76 St #110, Gainesville, FL 32608 | (352) 672-6303). Rated by Men’s Journal as one of the 50 best beer stores in America, you’ll totally miss it if you don’t use GPS, but it’s a great place. They not only have beers on draft that you can sip on while perusing their sizable bottle selection, they’ve also got a fantastic selection of North and Central Florida beers. They sell singles too, so I went ahead and made a mix pack of 12 individual beers to have during my stay.

I know I’ve missed your favorite place, so please give me your opinions in the comments! Also, let us know your impressions if you have been to some of these places. Hopefully, the next time you’re visiting the Mouse with the family, you’ll be able to get away to sample some central Florida craft beer. Cheers, and happy traveling!