Orlando's microbrewery scene keeps growing, and Hop On! Central Florida Brew Tours is a great way to taste the best it has to offer.
I love a good beer. Accordingly, no arm-twisting was required when I was invited to check out Orlando's Hop On! Central Florida Brew Tours, which ferries you by bus to breweries on the Central Florida Ale Trail. It was a deliciously unique experience — one that other beer lovers will definitely want to try the next time they're in town!
Hop On! Central Florida Brew Tours in Orlando
"Hop" has a double meaning here. You'll taste plenty of hops on this tour, but you'll also hop on — and off — a bus that carries you and up to 11 other people to Orlando-area breweries. (You don't need a 12-person group to participate, but operators reserve the right to cancel if fewer than four people are booked for a tour.
You will be joined by a guide and a driver, the latter of whom drinks no alcohol during the tour. Currently, Hop On! offers three, four-hour tours, each of which visits four breweries and can be booked through the company's website. They include:
- Downtown Route: Broken Cauldron Brewery & Tap Room, Dead Lizard Brewing Company, Orlando Brewing, Orange County Brewers
- Winter Park Route: The Bear & Peacock Brewery, Broken Cauldron Brewery & Tap Room, Deadly Sins Brewing, Ten10 Brewing Co.
- Seminole County Route: Bowigens Beer Company, Broken Cauldron Brewery & Tap Room, Hourglass Brewing, Red Cypress Brewery
Broken Cauldron, which is close to Orlando City Stadium in downtown Orlando, is the point of departure and completion for the tours. Also available is the six-hour What Ales Ya Signature Tour, which visits a revolving lineup of five different breweries. Other options include private tours and a four-hour Orlando City Ticket & Pregame Package.
Due to a later-than-anticipated start (caused by my group, not Hop On! staff), I got a shortened version of the Winter Park tour... but what I saw definitely left me thirsty for more.
Broken Cauldron Brewery & Tap Room in Orlando
Hope On!'s three main tours all start and finish at the brewery. (You will have to arrange for your own travel to and from Broken Cauldron. On-site parking is available, but if you don't have a designated driver in tow, please opt for a taxi or ride-sharing service.) The name is derived from the fact that Orlando's Broken Strings Brewery and Black Cauldron Brewing use the location.
Having always been partial to dark, rich beers, I chose their Breakfast Stout, which turned out to be the only thing on the menu not brewed in Orlando! Still, it was delicious, and the Orlando originals on tap earned rave reviews from my group.
Another nice aspect of this tour is that you get to get up close and personal with the breweries' equipment, starting with Broken Cauldron. Plus, the staff was eager to discuss their artistry at each stop.
Ten10 Brewing Co. in Orlando
I have to admit some bias here: I live just 10 minutes from this brewery, which is located in Orlando's Ivanhoe village district, so I was a fan long before our tour bus pulled up. With that being said, Ten10 has earned a well-deserved reputation for brewing fantastic beers. They're also area leaders in the growler and crowler movement.
If you're not familiar with those terms, a growler is a reusable bottle that can be filled at a brewery, enjoyed at home and brought back for refills. Crowlers are similar, but they're served in recyclable (but nonreusable) cans.
Showing my home-team loyalty, I tried two different brews. First was the Peddler's Nut Wrench — a peanut-butter cider that wasn't unlike dipping slices of a Granny Smith apple into a jar of peanut butter. In other words, delicious.
I also tried a white stout called Black Gold, which I liked so much, I came back a few days later to buy a couple of crowlers of it.
Deadly Sins Brewing in Winter Park
Our last stop for the night was Winter Park's Deadly Sins Brewing, about 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando. (Bear & Peacock was dropped from our tour due to the late start.) This is one of Central Florida's newest breweries, and with an "all organic" philosophy, it's also one of the most unique.
I went with two more beers at this location. The first was The Guilt Monk, a Belgian quad-style brew with a smooth, slightly nutty flavor.
I finished the night with the most Orlando-sounding beer I've encountered yet: The Orlando Phil, a delicious kellerbier named after the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. It proved to be the perfect finale to a great night, and I have a feeling I'll be back.