Craft Beer in Orlando
It’s ubiquitous. You can find beer in any bar. However, you don’t always find specialty craft beer in every bar. Try something interesting and unique. There is a thriving craft beer and microbrewery scene happening all over Orlando.
For those visiting around International Drive, we mention two of our favorite restaurants that have their own craft beer offerings. If you like dark beers, we recommend BJ’s Brewhouse. If you’re after something lighter, or perhaps some fruity ciders, we recommend Yardhouse.
Both have great options across the board, but these are our preferences.
Going slightly off International Drive up on Dr. Phillips Boulevard, you can also find World of Beer.
If you’re willing to venture deeper into Orlando and Winter Park, please check out Orlando Brewing for their organic brews. Cask & Larder is a great choice for family-style southern cuisine with its own craft brewery.
You can find links below to all of these places to find craft beer in Orlando.
More Than Just Craft Beer
OK, I apologize for saying “just” craft beer.
However, man does not exist by beer alone. He also needs nachos!
BJ’s Brewhouse & Brewhouse and Yardhouse were also some of our favorite family restaurants with plenty of menu options and some nice desserts. Lately, they aren’t doing such a good job with their service. Craft beer is still a good choice.
I absolutely love the Jambalaya at BJ’s Brewhouse. Even the servers tell me it’s the best thing on the BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse menu.
They have lots of things from salmon to ribs to burgers and more. Even deep dish pizza, too. Yet I ignore all of that because I love the Jambalaya.
BJ’s has a signature dessert called a Pizzookie, which is something of a cookie in a pizza pan with ice cream on top. Different flavors and you can also get mini versions.
Yardhouse is right by the Orlando Eye (not far from BJ’s). They also have a Jambalaya, but I haven’t tried it. For some mystifying reason, they put a cream sauce in it (that’s just wrong).
Fortunately, there are a lot of other great items on the menu in Yardhouse. They have plenty of southern comfort food and several Asian-inspired dishes. I thought the BBQ Chicken Pizza was very well done, too.
THE ORLANDO LOCAL SHOW
William: Welcome to the Orlando Local Show, episode number thirty-five.
Hey, thank you so much for joining us on the Orlando Local Show. Today we are going to be talking about beer and where to find it.
There is a lot of beer in Orlando and we are not going to talk about every place, but we are going to talk about a couple of places that we have visited and we enjoy very much in the International Drive area.
And we hope that you will enjoy it too. We are also going to list a few other places. We will have them in the show notes of where you can find beer in Orlando, not just in the tourist area, but also in some of the other parts of town.
But we wanted to give you a little bit of an overview of a couple of them that we like. Both of them are chains. They are kind of nice restaurants as well as craft beer places.
But before we get into that, I just want to let you know that show notes are going to be available at orlandolocal.com/35
You can find a transcript of the show there for free and of course there will be links to subscribe to the podcast at orlandolocal.com.
My name is William Beem.
Lee: My name is Lee Beem.
William: And we are here to talk about beer.
William: I have a confession though. I don’t drink beer.
But you get more of an in-depth understanding of what it takes to run the show behind the scenes, see the animals from a different perspective and if you’ve ever wanted to take a picture of a Kilimanjaro Safari tour bus filled with tourists, this is probably the only way to do it.
Lee: I do!
William: I know! That’s why you’re going to be the star of this show.
OK, we are talking about a couple of places on International Drive. One of them is, I think, a rather well known chain. It’s called BJ’s Brewhouse. And that is going to be right by International Drive and Sandlake Road. There is a little shopping plaza there and if you don’t like beer, there’s a Coldstone next door. But it’s also one of my favorite restaurants because of the food.
I mean, I really love the Jambalaya there.
Lee: Yes. We have a good time when we go there.
William: Yeah, all of our family. We go there like maybe once a month almost. If not once a month, at least every other month. But we go there quite frequently. And we enjoy it.
You’ve got a favorite brew when you go there.
Lee: I like my Tatonka stout. I do like the dark beers and this is their own brew and they do a really good one. If you are a fan of Guinness, this is quite similar. It’s got a little bit more of like a bitter, chocolate flavor to it. It’s lovely. Very smooth.
William: Now, did you try any of the other beers while you were out there.
Lee: I have because there were ... I think twice we were there and they didn’t have it or there was something going on and so I tried something different. I don’t recall the others because when I go to BJ’s, I go there for my Tatonka stout.
William: You do and it’s almost at a point now where we see the same server and they know that you want your Tatonka. They are getting where they recognize us. They know I want my Jambalaya and you want your Tatonka beer.
William: I know they’ve got something called a Nutty Brunette and there are a few other flavors out there. One of the reasons that you like this restaurant though, I think, is specifically because of that Tatonka and the darker beers that they have.
Lee: It is. And it’s on tap. Because a lot of these places that you got to locally, Guinness was always my go-to and you get it in a can or a bottle and it’s good; but it’s just not the same.
William: How when you get this at BJ’s, we’ve been to a few different ones around town and there is the one we told you about on International Drive, but they do have other locations in Orlando and the surrounding area. Are they consistent?
Lee: Yes. Exactly the same.
William: So you know when you go there you’re getting exactly what you want.
Lee: I know what I’m getting. Yeah. I’m trying to remember. I really enjoyed the other brews that we tried. I think there was one about six or eight weeks ago where we went one evening and I tried something different and I did really enjoy it. I just don’t recall what it was. I think that’s partly because in my mind I know that next time I come back it will be here and that’s what I’m going to have.
William: They’ve got some interesting flavors there and like you said, you are into your dark stout, so you’re going to go there and get the Tatonka. It’s hard to pronounce that for me. It’s consistent every time you go through.
In addition to that, we like the restaurant itself simply because ... partly because of the atmosphere. I think it’s not dead quiet. It’s not too rowdy like an open bar; it’s a family place that we can actually go and take our daughter along with us.
Lee: It is and we like the variety on the menu because we all have such widely varying tastes in food.
William: And they do have a big menu. They’ve got their deep dish pizza. I’ve said a couple of times already, I go for the Jambalaya. There are burgers, they’ve got quinoa.
Lee: I’ve had that there before.
William: I know you and Tové both love that and it’s something that I guess we don’t find in many of the chain restaurants. Like if you’re looking for a different kind of grain.
Lee: Yes, they’ve got their healthy side of things.
William: One of the things we like about the menu is, being so large, we’ve got different tastes; we each get something different out of that and everything from the appetizers down through I guess the main meals and the desserts. One of the things that I know Tové really likes is their signature dessert. Something called a pizookie, which is really just a cookie in a pan with some ice cream on top and they’ve got a number of different flavors.
Lee: She really likes that. I think she likes the salted caramel. They also do seasonal varieties. They’ve got the usual chocolate chip and triple chocolate and things like that. They’ve got a trio of mini pizookies.
William: And they’ve also got mini sizes that you can get even if you don’t have the whole trio.
Lee: Which doesn’t specifically say so on the menu, but they will do it for you.
William: Now from what I understand, they will also do seasonal beers that come through.
Lee: They do. Because at Christmas they had something festive and I did try it and really liked it. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you what it was.
William: But you’ve got your favorites that are there and then every season they’ve got something new that you can get and try.
William: Alright, so we really enjoy BJ’s Brewhouse and we’ll recommend it and of course, I’ll have a link to that in the show notes.
Another one is not very far from the BJ’s Brewhouse on International Drive and it’s called Yardhouse. And that is from Darden Restaurants and it is right by the Orlando Eye. I mean you can look out the window while you’re sitting in the restaurant. So Yardhouse is also a craft beer place and they’ve got plenty of choices there, but their choices are kind of different to what you find in BJ’s.
Lee: Much more variety there because they also do ranges of fruit ales and ciders. So if you are not a beer drinker, but you sort of lean in that direction and beer isn’t your thing, they have that as well. IPA’s, a lot of their own brews.
What I will forewarn you, I went in there once and I didn’t feel like anything to eat. I really enjoyed the beer I tried so I had another one and I could barely walk when I was leaving. The alcohol volume in some of these things (they do actually list it on the menu but I never think to look). I think I posted it somewhere on social media and somebody said, “Do you realize that’s nearly ten percent?” Which is very high for beer. Yeah, so two pints of that and I was gone!
William: So if you want to get dark stuff, you go to BJ’s Brewhouse. If you want to get knocked on your ass, you go to Yardhouse.
Lee: Yeah, really! I mean it’s not all of them. It just happened to be the one that I chose and I was going to try two different ones and I liked the one I had. It was also a dark one.
William: You tried a couple of the ciders there as well.
Lee: I think I ended up with a flight like a sampler.
William: I think you got a flight. Do you remember much about how those were?
Lee: I got to choose the ones that I sampled so you could build your own little sampler tray. I don’t know if that has changed. That was the first time we went there and I liked it so much that I got a sampler of some beers.
William: That’s one of the things that I remember. BJ’s you go in there and you order what you want, but at Yardhouse, they actually brought a sample or two out for you to try out before you placed an order.
Lee: Yeah, I’m a big believer in a liquid diet, just in case anybody is wondering.
William: Well that’s why you are our beer expert. And just in case, for some reason, you don’t like beer; like I’m just not as beer drinker – both of these restaurants have a nice range of cocktails. They’ve got a full liquor bar if you are looking for something else to drink. They both have rather large menus to go along with them. And so everything, like if you’ve got a group of people and not everybody likes the same thing, I think either one of those restaurants could probably handle what you want. I would probably give the edge to Yardhouse for variety inside of the menu.
Lee: Yes. Extensive range, specifically with the bar, I would say. I don’t know. I think with the menu they are probably on an even. Different types of food, but the bar, most certainly, Yardhouse – if you want a range of variety and you like to keep going back somewhere if it’s close by and you want to make a few trips so you can sample different things, that would probably be the place to go if you want to get through a whole lot of different tastes.
William: Yes, and the nice part is both of them have free parking. So I know on International Drive sometimes parking can be at a premium. If you are parking over by the Orlando Eye, there is a parking garage there and you can easily walk from there to Yardhouse. It’s just two minutes walk, if that much.
And BJ’s Brewhouse that is on International Drive has a parking lot behind it. It’s actually where you kind of go in off the street, go back behind the buildings and park and the entrance is by the parking lot rather than out on International Drive.
of them you kind of have to walk in from what would seem to be behind it, if you are driving down International Drive. So they are very close together, they are easy to get to, they’ve got an extensive range of choices of beer, they’ve got a wonderful broad menu at both places. And some nice desserts!
Lee: Yes. They’ve actually got lovely mini desserts as well at Yardhouse. That’s something else to mention. You know, if you just want one portion. Because sometimes at the end you really feel like dessert, but you don’t really have room for it.
William: That’s one of the things I like about them. And I think it’s because it’s Darden and they also have Seasons 52, which, if you’re a wine drinker, go to Seasons 52.
Lee: Yes. I’m a wine drinker too.
William: They’ve got these little mini desserts. They are about four or five bites, maybe, but you get the flavor of it; but that way if you’re stuffed from everything else and you want dessert, you get a nice flavor, but you don’t have to sit through and take down a huge, enormous dessert.
Lee: Also as a family if you want to get some variety, you can order three different things and put them in the middle and everybody can have a taste, which is kind of nice.
William: Alright, these are two of our favorite places for finding beer in the International Drive area. There are a few other places in town and there is too much for us to go through, but I want to mention a few places and I’m going to put links to each of them on the show notes at orlandolocal.com/35.
World of Beer: there are a few places in town but also not too far from International Drive. It is on Dr Philips Boulevard, so if you are on International Drive you would head a little bit west towards Bay Hill and Restaurant Row and you’ll find World of Beer.
In Winter Park there is the Winter Park Beer House. There is also Cask & Larder and we have our own little micro brew in here called Orlando Brewing. They don’t use fertilizer, they don’t use anything that is unnatural in the ingredients. I think they are one of only nine natural breweries in the country. If you are into your natural beer, they’ve got a few different choices there and there are many others.
I’ll put some links down to as many as I can remember. We haven’t been to them all, but there is plenty of beer in Orlando and we hope you like it.
William: Thank you so much for listening to the Orlando Local Show. I would like to tell you that we had a studio audience today. Our dog, Milo is sitting behind us and we want to say thank you very much Milo for not barking during the show.
I appreciate your support of the show. Shop with our advertisers at orlandolocal.com. If you like this show and you want to find some show notes, go to orlandolocal.com/35 As I mentioned, not only will we have links to Yardhouse and BJ’s Brewhouse, but we will also have links to other places in Orlando where you can find good quality craft beer.
And finally, if you would like to subscribe to the show, we would really appreciate it. There are going to be plenty of links available at orlandolocal.com/35
Have a nice time! We’ll talk to you again next week!