Although this may surprise many of our fellow readers, most of us Aleheads hold day jobs to help pay the bills.  Writing for a blog that no one reads doesn’t exactly put food on the table.  The good Doctor recently had the misfortune of taking a business trip down to Orlando, and like all trips of this nature, went on a 3 day bender through the Sunshine State.  Be sure to BYO(Good)B if you head to Florida, because you’re shit out of luck once you get there.  

Day 1 – Pool Bar, Some restaurant I can’t remember, Emeril’s Orlando

Here’s my options:

Bud/Miller/Coors, as much as I’d like, all in bottles

Corona/Dos XX, the finest imports in all the land

Land Shark/Shock Top/Budlight Lime, their “Premium Selections” as noted by the $7 price tag

Well fuck me, I think I’ll go with a Land Shark Lager since it’s 80 degrees which for a Northener in April feels like 100.  The bar maiden assured me that it was just like Corona, but better.  Not exactly the hard sell I was looking for, but who the hell am I to judge.  I probably should have sent it back once I read the label – “Original Island Lager – Margaritaville Brewing Co.”  A tasting note would make sense here, but why bother, the waitress pretty much summed it up for me.  It’s just a corona, and that’s not a good thing.  0 hop rating, thank you very much, but considering my options I had 3 and called it an afternoon.  For dinner I ordered a bottle of wine and a Vodka rocks – Emeril’s didn’t offer much else.

Day 2 – Hotel Bar & Bennihana

Options the same as the day before, but the hotel bar adds Sam Adams Lager/Sierra Pale Ale/Guinness.  Bennihana throws in your typical Japanese selections of Kirin/Sapporro

At the hotel bar I went with the Shock Top Belgian White, just for a change.  It’s made by AB, so no description is necessary but you get the idea of what it tastes like by the bartender insisting that I take an orange slice with it.  Blue Moon looks like it’s made by Monks compared to this shit.  No more games, I went with the old standby next and ordered up a Sierra Pale.  We all know my love for Sierra, and they once again held up their end of the bargain, but I was completely disappointed by the frozen glass that it was served in.  Even after holding the damn thing for 10 minutes it didn’t warm up a bit.   At Benihana I took down one big bottle of Sapporro, not the worst thing in the world, but went right to some high-end Sake after that.  I won’t even mention what I was drinking at the bowling alley for late-night strikes, but you can probably guess it ended up in a pitcher and made me want to vomit (Not their fault, it is a bowling alley after all).  I got drunk, but I’m not happy about it.  Terrible beer day all around.

Day 3 – Hotel Bar, Charley’s Steakhouse

At the hotel bar I figured I’d give them one more chance and take a Guinness on draught.  Who can screw that up?  The answer is the stupid asshole that thought it would be a good idea to pour as fast as he could into a shaker glass and slide the beer across the counter.  If I hadn’t been waiting 10 minutes to get a beer I would have sent it back, but at this point, why bother.  Let’s just say that the appeal of Guinness is in the pour and it’s not the greatest beer to begin with, so dumping it into a frozen glass kills any hope I had for humanity.  After that I went to Vodka rocks since they obviouslly do “Cold” very well.  At Charley’s, said to be one of the best steakhouses in the country, I went straight to Manhattans since Bourbon was definitely in order.  On the beer side they didn’t impress, but we did order several bottles of Chimay Blue.  Clearly the beer is incredible, one of my favorites ever, but I got a kick out of how the waiter sold it.  “It’s not like the beer you usually get, this one’s an Ale, it’s totally different”.  K, I’m in, thanks kiddo.  Charley’s did well by Chimay, but not serving anything local is a damn shame.  The rest of the night was spent in the bottom of a Patron bottle.  Tequila, you saucy bitch.

In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “Go Fuck Yourself Florida”.  Call it what you will – America’s Wang, America’s Graveyard, I’m calling it the place where beer dreams go to die.  Should I base my entire opinion of Florida brewing based on 3 days in the lamest part of the state’s worst city?  I don’t see why not – I base everything else in life off outdated statistics, gross misjudgments, and a general lack of understanding.  Stay tuned for notes on my trip next week to America’s Belt Buckle – TEXAS!!!


  1. Excellent travelogue, Doc. I appreciate your snap judgements…it’s one of your finest attributes. But I do think judging Florida by the merits of Orlando is like judging Boston by Quincy Market or NYC by Times Square. It’s a big-ass state and it has some spectacular locales (parts of Miami, the coastal towns South of St. Pete, the Keys).

    That said, no one is accusing Florida of being an Aleheads dream state. It’s in the bottom 10 of all states in terms of breweries per capita and there isn’t a “prestige” ale factory in the state (maybe Cigar City in Tampa?). Although, avid reader Private Berg spent a weekend at the Pensacola Beer Festival and said the home-brewing community in Florida is outstanding. He raved about a number of brewers down there but said that to find them, you really have to frequent the local beer festivals. Ah well…it’s still better than Alabama.

    1. I should point out that I had family in Kissimmee and have had at least a dozen trips to central Florida over the past decade. I’ve also visited Miami a few times, Jacksonville, Fernandia Beach, the Panhandle and many other locals. That rant is just a culmination of lackluster Floridian beer experiences over the years. I happen to love Miami and would pop down there in a heartbeat, but Mojitos and light lagers are more the standard fare.

      At least when you’re in Quincy Market and Times Square you can pop into most bars and chain restaurants and see a few local offerings. Hell, Cheers in Boston lines up taps of Harpoon, Sam, and even rotates some other much smaller micros.

      Go to Beeradvocate, click on “Beer Fly (Have to be a member, which everyone who’s reading this should be), and check out the minor reviews of Florida breweries. Dunedin is the one that shines here, but I couldn’t find a damn thing from them and they’re only 100 miles West of Orlando. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Florida has some brewpubs, but they are dominated by a few big players “Hops” and Florida Brewing Company, who really seem to be more interested in peddling the brewpub image. And they don’t appear to market to grocery stores. The Key West brewery used to make some delightful beers, but I couldn’t find it with quick search so it may have gone out of bidness. My recollection of their beers (I liked the pale ale) also might be skewed by the fact that generally spend my yearly jaunts to Florida drinking Pacifico (when I can find it).

    Yes, FL has a very limited interest in beer other than crappy lagers, which sort of makes sense given that it’s 99 degrees with 100% for 5 months a year. I avoid visiting anytime after the end of March, but an IPA still hits the spot when its above 80.

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