I was fortunate last week to dodge some of the coldest, bitterest weather that Pennsylvania has seen in years by fleeing to Florida. While the weather in Florida was unseasonably cool, sunny skies and highs edging towards 80 degrees is vastly preferable to the bitter wind chill of single digits back in PA.
Florida is a big state and I managed to end up visiting the middle of the state, midway between Tampa and Orlando.
When traveling it can be difficult to know where to go to get a good drink. Certainly Florida breweries have a reputation for greatness outside the boundaries of the state they are in. Last time I was in Florida I was very impressed by the all organic Orlando Brewing Company. I’ve also been a huge advocate of Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing Company which has huge distribution, even locally.
While visiting breweries is often the easiest way to insure a great drinking experience it is rarely the way local indulge in their craft beer fix. So Mike suggested I check out Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour in Orlando Florida. So I made the hour-long trek to downtown Orlando to experience a Floridian craft beer bar.
The bar is in a reclaimed warehouse. With enough head space to stack giraffes the building still had an industrial vibe while having a highly stylish graphic design flare. From the old neon air conditioning company sign to the huge graphite bar this place felt rugged, sturdy, and masculine.
The beer choice was fantastic. They had 15 beers on tap that rotated daily. Their beer list had not only the beers on tap but what was “on deck” as the next keg once the original beer had kicked. This was a nice touch as it meant you could plan to see what was coming for popular beers. I was impressed that they had less popular beer styles like a Kriek and a Gose on tap. These are generally much more expensive and less known beer styles so gambling that customers will finish the keg before it goes bad is a risk.
The bar was enormous. It encircled the bottled beer refrigerators in the center of the warehouse. The refrigerators were arranged by style which made it difficult to see what beers they had of a certain brewery but it made it extremely easy to window shop for the style you wanted. The bottle selection was also impressive as there were many beers that we have in Pennsylvania, many more we don’t get, and plenty of imports that I had never seen before. It was a drinkers paradise.
The vibe was surprisingly mellow and quiet. There was certainly some spirited (no pun intended) conversations but the woman next to me was quietly reading a book at the bar.
The closest thing it reminded me to was the Fridge back home. Though they had probably four times the real estate to work with. This is pretty much exactly how I would want my local watering hole to be. From the impressive selection of bottles, the great and varied styles on tap, knowledgable and courteous staff, hipster yet respectful clientele, over abundant space both for tables and bar, and an overall cool vibe. And at the end of the month they were going to play Shawn of the Dead for customers free with popcorn.
If I were to have a complaint it would be that the architecture and design weren’t very inviting. While I dig the industrial look I can see how the some might find it too utilitarian or cold. It doesn’t have a homey feeling to it. But given the overabundance of British or Irish style pubs that sometimes feel a bit too homey so that you never want to go a change in the essence of a place could be welcome. Depends on the drinker.
While I didn’t try their food and I was only there for a couple of hours on what really looked to be a slower/quieter night I would highly recommend checking this place out if you are in Orlando, Florida. It was a really great place to get a few pints and I enjoyed the staff, the ambiance, and especially the beer.