Quick piece of knowledge about Universal Orlando Resort: whenever something new gets designed and built, it gets a three-digit numerical project code. This way, when the publicly-accessible, legally-required building permits are filed with the city, all people see is details for ‘Project 722’ and not schematics that clearly state Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.
In 2015, eagle-eyed permit hawks found one such filing, one for Project 862. That permit ended up becoming NBC Sports Grill & Brew, opened in the space left by the shuttered NASCAR Café.
I’m happy about this, since my wife and I like NBC Sports. We’re pretty well glued every July for the Tour De France, and we watch for their NHL coverage the rest of the year (that they give absolutely no love to my Tampa Bay Lightning is the subject best left for another rant).
If you were at all familiar with the previous NASCAR space, Universal Orlando did a great job with refreshing the interior, with a lot of industrial loft-style fixtures and features. There are hi-def screens everywhere, not counting the absolutely huge ones outside the restaurant’s façade.
Beer is as big a focus as the sports. People walking though the bar entrance will walk under two stories of huge serving tanks, and there’s a lengthy and local tap list. None of which I was interested in, since NBC Sports Grill and Brew has their own exclusive beers: the 862 series.
The 862 beers, much like Duff at Universal Studios Florida, are contract brewed by Florida Beer Company in nearby Cape Canaveral. There’s always two on tap: 862 IPA is available year round, and even has a permanent place in their beer menu. There’s also a rotator that comes around seasonally. When I there, they had just tapped the first keg of their newest rotator, 862 Maibock (Maibock, 6% ABV).
The reason I didn’t go for the IPA is because I tend not to go for overly hoppy offerings. Having the other beer available be a maibock was a little jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Bocks are stronger beers, and the maibock is the lightest and hoppiest of them all.
With 832, the beer starts off with an interesting combination of might malt flavor and an almost ghostly effervescence that materialized out of nowhere once the strong kick of how heavy the ABV is comes around. It’s interesting to see a beer with a moderate straw color and light taste also have a heavy feel to it.
Some art of that is the malt, with a slight floral quality to the alpha acids in the beer. The hops don’t kill the malt any as much as they serve to solidify how bold the beer tends to feel. It’s definitely crisp, but you’ll feel it after a few pints.
The beers aren’t the cheapest, which really is par for the course when it comes to anything theme park. I didn’t try the food, but it would be worth it to go back and sit for a meal. I’m sure there will be another rotator available, and there will be plenty to watch while we sit.
Just ease up on my Lightning.
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