Friday, May 23, 2008

Microbrew in Orlando?

This week I had to go to Orlando for a quick work trip and not surprisingly as soon as I go the work portion of the trip over I was off to see if I could unearth any good microbrew. According to Beer Advocate there was a brewpub not far from my hotel so I felt it was my duty to check it out. When I got in the cab the guy didn’t know where it was so had to call the number I provided him to get directions. It turns out Big River Grille and Brewing Works is on the “Boardwalk”. I didn’t have high expectations and they fell even further as I walked up to it.
Following our general rule I headed straight for the bar and promptly ordered a sampler. Scott, the bartender, brought over their Southern Flyer Light Lager, Gadzooks Pilsner, Steamboat Pale Ale, Rocket Red Ale, Wowzer’s Wheat and their seasonal, a bock. The first good sign was his instruction to drink the red last as the pale was an American pale ale and not very hoppy. All of the beers were pretty cold, had no aroma and no head. As would be expected the lager was a lager and the pilsner a pilsner. Scott was right that the pale ale wasn’t very hoppy but the flavor was intriguing probably because I couldn’t quite put my finger on where part of it was coming from. Maybe the American Perle hops? The flavor came across on the back of the tongue and I thought it was reminiscent of rye. The wheat was surprisingly flavorful and lightly spiced to be very drinkable although I detected a slightly off/sour flavor. The red was my hands down favorite and one I ended up having pints of. It was a beautiful mahogany color that went down easily, was well balanced and after having the opportunity to warm up a bit had a slightly sweet hoppy aroma.

In addition to a great bartender I ended up talking to a guy from Chicago and a couple of folks from Cincinnati, one of which is currently living in Chicago. Having just been out there last July we had plenty of places to exchange comments about. The night turned out much better than I feared it would so if you’re ever in the land of Mickey, Snow White and way too many children try to get over to the Boardwalk and belly up to the bar at Big River. While it’s not Portland quality micro, it’s still pretty good and I’m willing to bet some of the best you’ll find in the area.

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