With so many earnest brewers adding lagers and IPAs to Orlando’s ale trail, visitors can try a new flight every night of their stay. Autumn is an especially satisfying season, as the city’s brewmasters add hearty elements to their harvest brews. Some venues host Octoberfest events, too. Here are four of the best taprooms for indulging, and, well, if you can’t make it to any of these taprooms, cheer up and chin up. The Cask & Larder inside Orlando International Airport serves up its signature brews near the Southwest gates.
Dead Lizard Brewing Company
Not far from the spiffy Mall at Millenia, Dead Lizard is an industrial-looking microbrewery located in a former sign factory. As October rolls in, owners Richard and Patricia “Storm” Dine harvest hops from artesian waters on a family-owned Ohio farm; two days later, those lovingly raised ingredients are on tap in Orlando as part of the “farm to kettle” South Bound and Down fresh-hop harvest ale. Dead Lizard’s seasonal harvest festival is in November, but stop by anytime for fall flavors like an English-style mildly sweet Uncle Pudgy’s Two-Fisted Porter or a hoppy, malt-forward Anole Nut-Brown Ale fermented with oak bourbon barrel pieces.
Seven seasonal brews greet the cooling fall air at Crooked Can, an indoor-outdoor brewery in up-and-coming Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market, due north of Disney World. An Oktoberfest lager with a caramel malt aroma and a bold-hop bite is most apt, but don’t overlook the Pumpkin Spice, with hints of the gourd’s pie, or traditional German beverages like the Weizenbock, Hefeweizen or Schwarzbier.
The brewmasters at Hourglass are so serious about their suds that its taproom in suburban Longwood draws aficionados from near and far. Sour and wild ales are its best-known brews, but those in the autumnal spirit have plenty of options. A farmhouse ale fermented in an oak foeder, Saison Du Dablier, has die-hard fans. Or, taste Temporal Distortion Red Rye IPA with hints of citrus and tropical fruit.
The granddaddy of Orlando breweries—and the only organic one around—this friendly, woodsy hangout knows how to mix beer with conviviality. Whether you join the annual September Oktoberfest celebration or stop in another time, you can get into the spirit with a malty lager called Marzen—or spice it up with an amber ale called Grateful Pumpkin.