About a year ago, Orlando Sentinel reporters Lauren Delgado and Trevor Fraser set out, wagons in tow, to conquer the Central Florida Ale Trail. The scavenger hunt-like process required the brave to obtain a stamp from each of the then 17 breweries on a map that ranged from DeLand to Orlando and out to Winter Garden.
These crazy reporters decided to take on the trail again — sort of. Over the last year, about eight more breweries have opened in Central Florida and were added to the map (depending on which version you pick up from your local brewery). The hoppy duo visited each one, and offer their thoughts on each below — and suggestions on how to pair up the newbies with Ale Trail originals.
Deviant Wolfe Brewing
Downtown Sanford is becoming a hub for breweries. You have: Deviant Wolfe Brewing(121 W. 1st St. in Sanford; 407-878-6239; DeviantWolfeBrewing.com); Inner Compass Brewing Co. (300 E 2nd St, Sanford; 407-407-1792; InnerCompassBrewing.com); Sanford Brewing (400 Sanford Ave., Sanford, 407-732-6419, sanfordbrewing.com); and Wop’s Hops Brewing Co. (419 Sanford Ave., Sanford, 407-878-7819, wopshopsbrewing.com).
Lauren: Our bartender was very friendly and helpful as we debated over Deviant Wolfe’s sizable selection of in-house beers. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing a growler of this brewery’s Sourmanjaro, a COFFEE SOUR (caps indicate my excitement).
Trevor: This place has a real love for the outdoors, which is reflected in some pretty neat decor and a loop of videos of people dangling from rocks and such. And they host live music on occasion. The atmosphere is generally pretty busy, so it’s ideal for coming out to be social.
Hit up Ocean Sun Brewing (3030 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, 407-745-5551, oceansunbrewing.com) before or after visiting Ellipsis (7500 Tpc Blvd., No. 8, Orlando; 407-250-5848; EllipsisBrewing.com).
Lauren: Ellipsis is a nice hangout brewery with quirky board games; a TV and plenty of seating, including couches.
Trevor: This is one of those breweries for people who really want to dig into the facts of beer. The staff was knowledgeable and the selection was … pale ale-heavy, but that wasn’t as off-putting to me as it sometimes is. Let’s just say they had a healthy respect for hops.
Inner Compass Brewing Co.
See Deviant Wolfe Brewing’s for more info on the location of Inner Compass.
Lauren: I appreciated that Inner Compass rounded out its base brews (an IPA, milk stout, two Kolschs, and a saison) with guest taps that included ciders. No food here, BUT you’re in downtown Sanford. Order in or stroll to a nearby eatery.
Trevor: Boy, was this my kind of joint. By which I mean tiny. It’s a tiny joint. But it has windows looking out onto the street and some outdoor seating, so you won’t feel completely disconnected from the action during a Sanford block party. You’ll feel just disconnected enough, if that’s your thing. (That’s my thing.)
Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co.
Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co. (1300 Alden Road in Orlando; 407-270-6749; IvanhoeParkBrewing.com) is literally down the road from Redlight Redlight (2810 Corrine Drive, Orlando, 407-893-9832, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com) and Ten10 Brewing Co.(1010 Virginia Drive, Orlando; 407-930-8993; ten10brewingcompany.com).
Lauren: What a beautiful brewery. I like that it embraces its neighborhood, from fun beer names to a window that faces the nearby train tracks (who knew tracks could be so picturesque). Food trucks make a regular appearance at the brewery, which is also down the road from a few restaurants.
Trevor: Always nice to see people chilling with their pups and here there were four. The beers were a good mix of flavors (a blonde ale, a witbier and I was a fan of the guest taps).
Set in a nice spot in downtown Orlando, Orange County Brewers was paired with Ivanhoe Park Brewing on this abbreviated Ale Trail. If you’re taking on the full trail, consider visiting Orange County Brewers (131 N. Orange Ave. Orlando; 407-914-2831; theocbrewers.com), Broken Cauldron (1012 W. Church St., Orlando, 407-986-1012, brokencauldrontaproom.com) and Orlando Brewing (1301 Atlanta Ave., Orlando, 407-872-1117, orlandobrewing.com).
Lauren: Orange County Brewers went beyond a basic beer lineup with some interesting flavors, including an imperial coffee blonde and a green tea IPA. Pair those brews with some lobster-centric eats from Red Claw, a food stand within the brewery.
Trevor: Pro tip: Order your food from Red Claw before heading to the bar. At the bar, they will take your card to open a tab and then you’ll need your card to buy food. Other than getting this process down, this is a great location for starting a night out downtown.
Check out Toll Road Brewing’s listing for an outline of the ideal Suncreek Brewery trek.
Lauren: If you’re going to offer just one of your own brews, it’s nice to offer a primarily Florida-based lineup. Even better when restaurants Michael Ali’s Coal Fired Pizza and Savoree are on the premises. Look for corn hole in their outdoor seating area too.
Trevor: I love this location. Just across the street from the park at Lake Minneola on one side and the Moonlight Players Theatre on the other. And the brewery is downstairs with the sitting room upstairs, which actually takes care of my usual complaint of breweries being too cavernous for conversation.
Toll Road Brewing Co.
Sure toll roads aren’t necessary to reach the following breweries, but they sure might make it easier to reach each pub. Go from Toll Road Brewing Co. (101 W McKey St, Ocoee; Facebook.com/TollRoadbrewing) to Crooked Can Brewing Co. (426 W Plant St. in Winter Garden; 407-395-9520; CrookedCan.com) and finish at Suncreek Brewery (790 West Minneola in Clermont; 407-850-8810; SuncreekBrewery.com).
Lauren: Toll Road is definitely becoming a community spot, with pups (human and canine form) hanging out around the adults. Snag a game and hope some complimentary popcorn makes its way to you.
Trevor: We unfortunately were not able to sample any of Toll Road’s original beers. However, they had curated a fine selection of guest taps. (I was a particular fan of the Cider Boys’ peach cider and the Destihl Syncopathic sour.) If it’s any indication of their taste, I imagine their own offerings will not disappoint.
Wolf Branch Brewing
Prepare for a bit of a trek to downtown Eustis for Wolf Branch Brewing (119 N. Bay St. in Eustis; WolfBranchBrewing.com)
Lauren: Wolf Branch got two pale ale critics to enjoy its version, Parch’d. That’s some good work. Look for fun weekly events like trivia on Tuesdays; bingo on Thursdays and yoga on Saturdays.
Trevor: This feels like a good family bar, which fits right into the family aesthetic of downtown Eustis. Relaxing, bright and full of games. And yes, for someone who is not a pale ale fan, I did love Parch’d.