One of the reasons I love Florida so much is citrus. Oranges, lemons, grapefruit on occasion, other weird kinds of fruit. For some reason, the fruit here is perfectly juicy and sweet. It’s made me a bit of an orange juice snob; if it’s not fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice, I just don’t want it. It doesn’t taste the same. And with places like Al’s Family Farms so close by, there’s no reason to be without it.
So, of course, let’s get this in some beer, right?
There are a number of breweries, especially in South Florida, that will have one or two beers that may have a citrus element. Orchid Island Brewing, located in Vero Beach, is making their name with an entire lineup of bold, fruit-forward beers that reflect the natural citrus-growing power located within the state.
I was able to try a few of their beers while at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest last month. While there, I spoke with co-owner Valerie Bing about Orchid Island Brewing and their use of citrus. Orchid Island is perfectly situated in Indian River County, so they have partnerships with local farmers to get some of the freshest and tastiest citrus in their brews.
Their signature beer is Star Ruby IPA, a heavily hopped Double IPA that has added grapefruit flavor. And by added grapefruit, they had a Randall system set up full of grapefruit zests that they ran the beer through. I’m not a big fan of Double IPAs, but there sure was a lot of big citrus flavor that served well to cut some of the hop bitterness. It’s probably not my go-to beer, but it was such an incredible taste that I would definitely try again.
Jungle Trail was a very good, very unique beer (with a pretty awesome name to boot). It’s a black IPA, so it uses darker roasted malts instead of the traditional light malts that most IPAs use. Plus, Indian River oranges (!) are added to the beer. What you get is a dark, bitter but sweet, bold and juicy beer.
Citron (I wonder what hops they used) is their saison using Indian River lemons. Once again, a fantastic beer with a fruit I love. The lemon pairs nicely with the rough flavors of the saison to make a truly refreshing beer.
Orchid Island just opened their taproom in Vero Beach. While they aren’t close to a major state-wide player yet, They have carved out a very tasty and unique niche for themselves. I cannot wait to try more.
Drink Florida Craft,