I used to ride my road bike on a regular basis on the West Orange Trail, a bike and pedestrian path that cuts through Orange County, roughly 30 or so minutes from the Orlando attractions area.
One of the towns it cuts through is Winter Garden, a perfectly sleepy hamlet. The trail goes right through their downtown area, an absolutely charming area where huge Spanish Moss-draped oaks tower over quaint boutiques, creative restaurants, an absolutely killer French bakery (edit – this is appareny closed and it hurts my heart), and tiny regional theatre.
Not too far from there is the new-ish Crooked Can Brewing. Brewers Kent Waugh and Chad Holloway have concocted a pretty solid lineup of core beers that are starting to go into significant distribution in the Central Florida area.
As per their own website, they took the name crooked can since 1) they sell in cans and kegs, 2) they CAN (awful, awful joke), and 3) after taste testing the beers so many times, things tend to get a bit … crooked. Wink wink nudge nudge.
Take a look at pretty much every promotional graphic they have released, and you will see a snazzy gentleman with a bowler hat, tails, and crooked walking stick. That, dear readers, is McSwagger, Crooked Cans mascot and the representation of how it feels to get a little crooked and go steppin’ out on a Friday night.
So if you’re going to try some brews from Crooked Can, then McSwagger’s Own (Amber Ale, 6.8% ABV, 48 IBU) ale is probably a good place to start.
I’ve said this a million times; red ales go one of two ways. You can either be aggressively hoppy, or malty sweet.
Somehow, Mr. McSwagger managed to be both.
It’s actually quite interesting, and both flavors tend to hit at the same time. You get a very delicious sweetness from the malt, with lots of caramel and date flavors.
You also get a big dose of earthy hops, robust and packing quite the bite. It’s not something as bad as, say, an IPA, but they’re noticeable. It’s also worth noting that as you let the beer warm up a bit, the hops tend to take more of a starring role in the beer’s flavor.
Once again, I need to get there. It’s been a trip that is way, way overdue. I can get a little crooked, enjoy some great beers, and soak up the atmosphere.
But I’m not going riding on the trail afterward. McSwagger wouldn’t have it any other way.
Drink Florida Craft,