It's been said that in the fall, a person's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of hops. Or if it hasn't, someone should have said it by now. The slightly cooler temperatures and less oppressive angle of sunlight, along with all of the vestigial indicators of the harvest season (lookin' at you, decorative gourds) create the perfect milieu in which to appreciate civilization's yardstick: beer.
The Orlando Beer Festival, produced by yours truly, is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of that cosmic alignment. With multiple varieties of beer from more than 50 different breweries, your refined beer-tasting palate won't be able to keep up. The slate this year includes local favorites like Ellipsis, Cask & Larder, Hourglass and Crooked Can, along with several breweries from across the state and country. It's a pretty representative sampling of what the craft beer industry looks like in the U.S. in 2018. In fact, the only import represented at the festival is Guinness, and aren't they just a classic?
While you're welcome to string your own pretzel necklace to bring in with you, we've delegated the curation of the food truck pod to A Lo Cubano Kitchen, and they've assembled a group of trucks that covers everything from cheesesteaks (Lee's Famous Cheesesteaks & Wings) to poke bowls (PokeKai) to doughnuts (Donut Central) to, well, even bigger pretzels (Amish Pretzel Shop). Plus, in an effort to relieve the line crush of previous years, the food truck area will be open to General Admission ticketholders beforehand, letting you get there early and grab lunch before the gates open for beer sampling at 2 p.m. VIP ticketholders, who get to access the beer tent area at 12:30 p.m., can browse the food trucks whenever they please (subject to space limitations).
Speaking of tickets and times, prices go up at the gate, so you can save a few bucks by purchasing ahead online. And showing up early to account for lines or take advantage of the off-site parking at Fashion Square Mall (there'll be a shuttle running to and from Festival Park) is a very prudent idea.
And even though we think our beer selection is second to none as far as area beer festivals go, we've worked hard to provide a myriad of other things to do to keep your mind and body engaged (so you don't have to leave early to go have a beer nap). The music stage this year, sponsored by Hard Rock Live, features local favorites like Kaleigh Baker's Someday Honey, along with Joseph and Jessy Lynn Martens' JUNOsmile performing covers of their favorite songs – because everyone knows music is better at a beer festival when you can sing along to it. The adult game zone (sponsored by Kings Dining and Entertainment) features a big-screen broadcast of the day's college football games, along with interactive inflatables and giant-size bar games. And Team Vision Dojo is setting up a full-size wrestling ring for a high-flying throwdown. Those who prefer grapes to grain can hang out at the Maxine's on Shine Wine Tasting Experience. Or you can take advantage of Publix Aprons Cooking School's beer pairing demonstrations. Sign up early for those, as there's limited seating.
Of course, if you plan on taking advantage of everything we have to offer, you'll want to spring for the VIP ticket. In addition to all of the beer samples and activities, you get exclusive access to a covered VIP area sponsored by the Princeton at College Park with – wonder of wonders – tables and chairs for you to rest at. You'll also get access to VIP-only restrooms – you know why – and the Banyan Reserve cocktail zone, the only place at the festival to get a craft cocktail. Plus, you get to go home with a swag bag with a commemorative T-shirt and etched glass to add a little definition to the fuzzy memories you'll Lyft home with.
Seriously, guys, use a Lyft or an Uber. There's no shame in being here for both a good time and a long time.