Back in June, I made the decision to leave London for six months in November, for a place that is often mistaken for the Caribbean, The Bahamas. Its capital Nassau to be exact. It is similar in that the sea, sand and sun are pretty much a constant but the islands share the same ocean as my home country, which is the Atlantic so no, its not the Caribbean. That’s enough geography. Given the aforementioned similarities, most people I know, myself included, would naturally jump at the chance and I did!
The decision was not completely random, my family live here but even so I still felt a little anxious. Aside from missing the obvious, my friends and err my friends, there was another thing I assumed I was going to have to sacrifice, good beer. But what reassured me was not just the selection that I brought with me to keep me going for what I hoped would be six months but was more likely to be a week but that I knew I would be taking the odd trip to the States, the East Coast primarily, a part of the world that I hadn’t been to since I first discovered craft beer.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long and in December I found myself in Orlando, Florida where I had a chance to pay a visit to what is as far as I know Orlando’s only, as they put it, organic brewery, Orlando Brewing. I had visited one American brewpub before, 21st Amendment Brewing in the South Park area of San Franciso but as far as I know this was not also the location of the brewery itself so this was a first.
While I was researching the place online before going, to see if it would be a suitable place for my sister to sit and study for her psychology degree (turned out it was!), I firstly noted the opening hours, 1-12. This is currently a rare find in London due to the cost to the brewery of having an evening/late license but also in some cases not being able to meet demand. So my sister and I headed out the hotel door at 1pm and as we drove alongside the Amtrak railway tracks in a taxi, I felt like I was heading towards familiar territory and I had a sense of homecoming when we turned into the industrial estate where the brewery resides.
As we pulled up, the first thing I noticed was the outdoor seating and stage. The stage was empty but even knowing that live music was an option filled me with joy as there aren’t many better combinations in life than good beer and live music. When I walked in, my first thought was that it felt more like a bar than most of the microbreweries in London. This is not a criticism, they both have their own charm but it was spacious and yet still intimate with tshirts and other merchandise lining the walls behind the bar, a beer filled fridge for takeaways and a proper bar, with stools. As well as the very welcoming and helpful bartender, there was also a guy sitting at the bar happy to offer advice, whether it was asked for or not…This is what makes visiting any brewery a good experience though, lots of people always eager to talk about beer!
To make the most of the short time we had there, I went for the flight of 4 for $8 option. $2 for a third does seem expensive especially as the ABV of most of the beers was not particularly high but if you were going for the more alcoholic beers then this would be no more than you would pay in London. The other tasting option was a flight of 8 for $14 so this way you’d be getting a better deal but most beers were also available by the pint or half. And of course the thing that you will find in pretty much every American brewery and also now in some London beer shops and pubs too, growlers, large and extra large.
Still ignorant in my assumption that the majority of American craft beers will be bursting with citrusy hops, I blindly ordered without tasting first and so ended up with two English style ales, a blonde ale and an Imperial Stout. My favourite of the four was actually their blonde ale. Browsing through Untappd afterwards, I noticed a lot of people commenting on how the beer did not represent the style well enough and admittedly it did taste more like a lager but I absolutely loved the flavour of the Hallertau hops. I will definitely be back for a pint of this. Their imperial stout was another highlight, one of my favourite styles but some can be overpoweringly sweet and dehydrating but this was smooth and went down easily. The Olde Pelican described as an English Pale Ale was pleasantly bitter but not really a patch on the pale ales coming out of England at the moment but I guess this is going for more of a style than something that is a knockout. The IPA (dammit didn’t make a note of which one), was perhaps my least favourite, again easy to drink, clean tasting but not much to it in terms of hop flavour.
Although my visit was fairly fleeting as we had to go and get something to eat (they don’t have food but there are several places that deliver there) this was the perfect spot for a Saturday afternoon, basking in the sun on the outside benches sipping on some ales. Next time I’m in Orlando I’ll definitely be heading there in the evening for some good beer and live music, something tells me I’d have a great time.
In my next post I will be reporting on Nassau’s first ever craft brewery, Pirate Republic Brewing.