It's 5 o'clock on a Friday evening: do you know where your beer is? Thanks to the recent surge in craft beer bars, restaurants, and bottle shops all over Orlando, that question is harder to answer than ever. Let us help you break down some of the City Beautiful's most diverse and dedicated craft beer destinations.
GB's Bottle Shop and Tasting Room
GB's Bottle Shop and Tasting Room, the City Beautiful's parlor of beer learnin', begs the question: why hadn't anyone in Orlando done this sooner? The Virginia Avenue standout offers 20-plus drafts via three different pours—five, ten, and sixteen ounces—in the hopes of making self-taught beer nerds of drinkers all. And, for a nominal corkage fee, patrons can pull a brew from GB's eclectic can and bottle cooler to partake in-house, enjoying that fridge-to-table freshness usually reserved for your co-worker's awkward Super Bowl party.
"It's like going to the store and trying on a shirt before you buy it," GB's general manager Allex Englett says. "That's what we think GB's lets people do with their beer."
Your palate is officially open for business.
When Orlando's craft beer royalty, Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, decided to install a small-batch brew system at their Corrine Drive bar, owner Brent Hernandez wisely honored that old adage, "Give a man a beer, and he'll drink for a day. Teach a man to brew, and everybody will drink many more beers." Redlight already had the beautiful cement bartop, the stellar international and vintage bottle list, the industrial-chic accoutrements, the robust draft list, the massive bottle cooler, and the leather-bound menus fit for a Gothic church. By adding in-house brews to Redlight Redlight's embarrassment of riches, the rich, well, get richer.
This is your favorite sports dive with a bit of a nihilist streak. Former customer and patron saint of Orlando beer lovers Shawn Paris bought Oblivion Taproom in 2016 to prevent one of the city's most incredible stout and porter draft lists from being lost to foreclosure.
"We closed down for two short weeks in February of 2016 to make some improvements in the back of the house and some much-needed repairs, and we bought some extra equipment," Paris says. "We've added video games to the restaurant, we added a couch—other than that, Oblivion's still Oblivion."
Burgers, craft brews, smoldering skeleton murals, and the Detroit Red Wings rule this roost, with the sporadic Super Smash Bros. tournament thrown in for some tipsy, button-mashing fun. Add torch-bearer status for Orlando cider lovers—dozens of different cans and bottles call Oblivion's cooler and draft lines home—and you have one offbeat, wondrous watering hole.
Nona Tap Room
With its varnished high-tops, 50+ craft suds on draft, and some sumptuous pub grub on the menu, Nona Tap Room brings the gravitas of a golf and country club and the verve of a Mills Avenue mainstay.
Nona Tap Room's owner, Lyndsey Larouche, tries to champion Central Florida's craft beer on the regular with some hefty draft list real estate, and Larouche wants to put 15 local breweries' tap handles on the line to commemorate American Craft Beer Week.
"When we first opened, it was difficult to find a good selection of craft beer, let alone local craft beer," Larouche says. "That has changed so much over six and a half years, and we just want to focus on exposing people to as many of those local breweries as possible."
So when your favorite athletes lose that pivotal playoff game and your tears need a tasty, sudsy resting place, Nona Tap Room has all the local beer you can cry into.
Total Wine and More
Total Wine is like that gilded, glorious library from Beauty and the Beast, if Belle could have taken one of those books off its mahogany shelf, cracked it open, and poured it into a branded pint glass. The beer, wine, and liquor kingmaker hosts regular beer-tasting classes showcasing standout local breweries, and you can build your own weekend by mixing and matching up to six craft brews to bring home to your soon-to-be fawning admirers.
"We just completed a large-scale reset to put more local and national craft beer on our shelves," general manager Dan Konietzko says. "We know this is what our customers really appreciate: that diversity and those options."
But don't worry: Total Wine still carries enough imports and major brewery domestics to satisfy any tastes.
Perched on the food and drink lover's paradise that is East Colonial Drive, Lucky's Market harbors a bevy of brews that, like their locally sourced delectables, includes myriad Central Florida upstarts looking for a glass to call home.
"We place a huge emphasis on getting the best local brews we can for our coolers," general manager Michael Ryley says. "It's all about representing our local brewers, and giving them as loud a voice as we possibly can."
Lucky's gastro gurus host in-house tastings featuring local craft breweries' latest, greatest liquid, and the market's "Sixer-Mixer" program lets you recruit the top-flight beers fit for your fridge.
When UCF's premier bottle shop, Shamrock Beverage and Liquor, decided to open a bar and lounge next door to their existing business, it became official: you truly can never have too much of a good thing.
Public House takes Shamrock's diverse selection and quality and sits it at a gorgeous varnished bartop. Large-format sour beers, local IPAs, sumptuous stouts—the gang's all here, and the only thing missing is your butt on that barstool. Public House's proximity to University of Central Florida presents a unique opportunity to give all those college-age rapscallions a crash course in pinky-up beer drinking, especially with American Craft Beer Week right around the corner.
"We have this chance every day out here, but especially with this coming week in particular, to really show young adults that there's more to drinking than crushing light beer in your college apartment," general manager Drew Combee says.
At beloved sports and suds bar Rogue Pub, the friendly, knowledgeable staff will nestle themselves right into your beer-loving heart. This hotspot is serious about their craft cans and bottles, slinging dozens of delicious brews at unbeatable prices.
"Having those various, colorful cans and bottles in the cooler really gives guests a different buying experience than just ordering from draft," owner Tracey Cehovin says. "It also helps our local brewers build that familiarity with our guests."
The Unholy Trinity of dive-bar diversions—pool tables, electronic darts, and arcade games—are all well-represented, inviting guests to huddle around their brews and in the cozy confines of a quintessential craft beer bar.
Barley and Vine Biergarten
Poised at the center of the Milk District, Orlando's resplendent beer-and-sandwich quarter, Barley and Vine Biergarten flies its beer-geek flag high. Barley and Vine's tidy, Florida-forward draft list pours the local suds, while Barley's bottle and can cooler stocks national and international brews alike.
"When we look at the beers we order and the events we host, we make sure to create an itch only we can scratch," Barley and Vine owner Benji Gray says.
Barley and Vine's umbrella-ed patio puts guests' pups and craft pints at the fore, where, to celebrate American Craft Beer Week on May 17th, you can meet several of your newest friends while enjoying Bold City Brewing's latest and greatest and playing "True American" from the hit show New Girl.
The Thirsty Topher
A wooden-barred masterclass in pouring delectable beer at even more delectable prices, the Thirsty Topher is the anchor bar for Virginia Avenue, one of Orlando's best, most walkable craft beer crawls.
"It's what we've been saying from the beginning: Orlando's becoming an amazing beer town," co-owner Ron Didonato says. "We saw the potential here when we first opened on Virginia, and it's just so great to see that potential come to life."
The Thirsty Topher's warm environs pair perfectly with their two dozen cold local and national draft brews, with some of Orlando's most in-demand food trucks rolling up throughout the week, forming a WWE-style tag team to knock your taste buds into sweet, sweet submission.
It's almost impossible to imagine a time when a man couldn't sit down with his family and order a beer with his pizza. But, three short decades ago, those were the dark ages Orlando had to endure—that is, until Rossi's Pizza opened their doors in the early '90s.
"It's sounds crazy, but we were really pioneers in this area," owner Bill Rossi says. "We've been fighting the craft beer fight since the beginning, and we're really happy to see how far this movement has come."
Having served craft beer to thirsty, hard-working Orlando families since nineteen ninety-freaking-five, it's safe to say Rossi's had a finger on the city's craft beer pulse for some time. The cozy, casual pizzeria turns-and-burns their rotating draft selection regularly, always keeping two or three local brews on to champion the craft beer scene the Rossi family helped create.