Florida may be a bit behind in the craft beer scene, but new breweries are on the rise throughout the state. With new breweries come unique beer activities to enjoy, from farm-to-table experiences to beer yoga, and fun runs where consuming beer is part of the race. Grab your beer-loving date by the hand and choose your own adventure from our favorite Central Florida craft beer experiences.
Central Florida Ale Trail
In response to the hoppin’ brewery scene in Central Florida, we now have an ale trail to call our own. The Central Florida Ale Trail includes 16 area breweries and craft beer bars. Beer lovers can snag a free ale trail map at any of the participating breweries. When you’ve completed the trail, the last brewery you visit will reward you with a special growler, good for $1 off fills at the breweries on the trail.
For those who need a little motivation in the exercise department, local breweries are offering quite the incentive: a free glass of beer. Head to your favorite local brewery for a one-hour yoga class, then sip a free pint of beer as your reward. In Orlando, Orlando Brewing ($12) and Crooked Can Brewing Company ($10) offer frequent brewery yoga classes.
Limo Cycle Craft Beer Tour
With several new breweries in the works and two already open, Sanford is quickly becoming a go-to hotspot for craft beer enthusiasts. The best way to get a taste of the local beer scene is via the pedal-powered Limo Cycle on a guided craft brewery tour. The tour, which lasts two hours, visits three local breweries and craft bars in downtown Sanford. Enjoy a flight of beer at each while getting face time with head brewers and fellow beer lovers. It’s up to you (and your pedaling skills) to get the Limo Cycle from one stop to the next. The craft beer tour is offered Wednesdays from 7-9pm. Tickets are $45/person and can be purchased online in advance.
Grande Lakes Farm to Foam
A brewery is probably the last thing you’d expect to find on hotel property but never say never. Whisper Creek Farm, part of the sprawling Grande Lakes property, plays an integral role in beer production for Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery located at JW Marriott Orlando. During the Farm to Foam experience, you’ll visit the brewery, learn about the farm’s role in brewing, and enjoy beer and food samplings.
Make Your Own Beer
Ready to take your love of beer to the next level? Learn to make it yourself! The Sanford Homebrew Shop offers monthly workshops that will teach you the basics of the brewing process. In Brew Class 101, you’ll learn the basics of the brewing process followed by a hands-on workshop where you’ll make your own beer. After your beer has fermented (2 weeks), you’ll return to the shop for a follow up bottling class. Learn about the bottling process, bottle your beer, and take home your six-pack to enjoy. Classes are $50/person. Reserve your space by calling 407-732-6931 or emailing SanfordHBS@gmail.com.
Cigar City Brewery Tour
If you take one brewery tour in Central Florida, let it be at Cigar City Brewery in Tampa. The $8 tour lasts about 45 minutes and is led by an entertaining and knowledgeable guide. You’ll get a souvenir pint glass to take home, and there are plenty of beer samples to enjoy during the tour. When my boyfriend and I took the tour, our guide was very generous with the pours. Tours are offered hourly from 11am-3pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with extended tour hours on weekends. There are no tours on Mondays or Tuesdays. Check out the calendar and sign up in advance online, as tours tend to fill up quickly.
Kayak, SUP, and Bike
Playalinda Brewing Company in Titusville has partnered with three local businesses for unique events pairing the picturesque space coast with craft beer. Paddle + a Pint is a partnership with kayaking tour company A Day Away Kayak Tours. Craft beer fans will embark on a 90-minute guided kayak tour in a nature preserve followed by a free pint of Playalinda beer at the Hardware Store location. Similar events include SUP + Sip (paddle boarding) and Bike & Brew.
Bottoms Up Beer Run
This year will be the 5th annual Bottoms Up Beer Run, a beer-centric 4K that takes place in Melbourne. During the run, stop to enjoy 4oz beer “shots” of four different homebrews. After you’ve completed the run, celebrate your victory with a full glass of beer. The date of this year's run is June 10, 2017. Online registration is $40 for runners 21+.
World of Beer Downtown Orlando puts a fun spin on weekend brunch with “beerunch.” Nosh on carb-heavy favorites like the tavern taters and the hangover skillet made with eggs, peppers and onions, sausage, bacon, cheese, and tater tots. To drink, choose from the menu of 500+ beers or sip a refreshing beermosa, World of Beer’s spin on the classic mimosa. If it’s nice outside, pull up a seat on the patio to indulge in your brunch while taking in scenic views of Lake Eola. Beerunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-3pm.
If you’d like to visit a piece of craft beer history, make the drive to Dunedin to pay Florida’s oldest microbrewery a visit. Located near the heart of Dunedin’s hip and artsy historic district, Dunedin Brewery serves 17 unique beers in addition to a hearty food menu (try the tater tot poutine). Brewery tours are offered Thursdays through Saturdays at 5pm. The $5 tour cost includes beer samples and a logo glass.
Take a Brewery Tour
Many local breweries offer regularly scheduled tours or will lead you on an informal tour if you ask nicely. The information you’ll glean will help you understand the brewer and their unique process. Locally, Orlando Brewing offers a free tour at 6pm Monday-Saturday. Learn about the organic brewing process in addition to unique programs offered at the brewery. Additionally, Crooked Can Brewing Company offers hourly tours on Sundays from noon-4pm. Check your favorite brewery's website in advance to see if tours are offered, or call to inquire.