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One of the really fun things about our trip last week was that we did a bit more exploration than usual and tried out a lot of things we hadn’t done on previous visits.  For one of our first new adventures we drove about a half hour south of our home base in Sorrento to the city of Winter Garden. Lured by the discovery of a new (to me) brewery called Crooked Can, we decided that it looked like a good place to grab lunch and a few drinks.

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Crooked Can’s brewery and taproom is located downtown at the end of a small market place it shares with several artisanal food stands and shops.  Everything we passed by looked amazing, especially the cuts of meat at the butcher stand, but most of our food for the day came from Morthan Cheese.  Honestly, I don’t think I can say enough good things about that place.  The food was absolutely delicious, we each had roast beef sandwiches and shared a surprisingly large order of pretzel bites topped with their mild cheese melt, and the man behind the counter was incredibly friendly, offering samples and even bringing the food to our table while we sat outside!  The food and service were both top and I’d highly recommend giving them a try if you’re in town. If cheese doesn’t happen to be your thing, there was a pretty diverse range of options available at the other stands so I would image almost anyone could find something they’d like.

Beer, however, was my main focus of the day.  As I mentioned above, the brewery was located at one end of the market and took up maybe a quarter of the building that housed the market.  There was some indoor seating available in the taproom itself, though considering the nice weather there was no way we weren’t going to take advantage of the market’s ample outdoor seating.  Decorating the taproom was a large electronic screen listing the day’s tap list and several posters of the brewery’s label art featuring silhouettes of a steampunkish Victorian-era man engaging in various shenanigans.  It seems like such a little thing in retrospect, but that art was indeed it a big part of the reason we chose to visit Crooked Can over a couple of other options in the area.

There were more than a dozen beers in a variety of styles on tap that day, so my wife and I decided to divide and conquer by each ordering a flight of our own to get as much of a feel for the place as possible.  Our original plan was to try everything, but by the time we finished lunch my father-in-law and son were both ready to head over to our next stop so we packed up and moved on. I do feel like I have unfinished business there now, but at least it gives us a good reason to go back!

Our flights were served in iron airplanes that, in addition to being really cool looking, complimented the overall aesthetic of their can art quite nicely.  While we liked to loved everything we tried, rather than run through the whole list of our samples I’m only going to touch on our top three. The consensus favorite was (appropriately enough) a Golden Belgian Strong Ale named Domestic Bliss.  Checking in at 9.5%, it tasted a lot lighter than its ABV would suggest and offered all the glorious bubblegum yeast, banana esters, and mild peppery notes you want from the style.  My personal highlight was Freedom Ride, a creamy 5.0% milk stout that had just the right amount of mild roast on the end.  It was the only stout on the list that day and it did not disappoint! My wife on the other hand was a huge fan of a 5.5% red ale named Tri-Wishes.  Since she was pretty attached to her sample, I’ll rely on her word that its smooth, sweet malts and light grains made for a highly enjoyable drinking experience.  Lastly, because we enjoyed this place so much, I’ll also give an honorable mention to King of Shoals, a 5.6% IPA with a clean, light bitterness and nice lime/citrus notes.  It was a nice, light flavorful that was great to drink outside.

Between the wide variety of great beer, wealth of delicious food options, and relaxed outdoor seating we all had an amazing time here and are highly likely to come back again the next time we go down to Florida.  This was a fantastic all-round experience and I highly recommend stopping by the market for food and some beer if you happen to be in the area!