I had intended this article to talk about grapes, but instead it looks like we are talking about Disney.
I recently opened my bottle of Mr. Tom’s Muscadine Saison, one of the gorgeous Farmhouse options that come from Hourglass Brewing in Longwood. I am a big fan of the muscadine grape, as it’s pretty much the only grape that will grow in the state of Florida. If you’ve ever had wine from San Sebastian or its sister winery Lakeridge in Clermont, those are predominantly Muscadine.
They also sell just straight muscadine juice, which I really enjoy. It’s very sweet, very tart, and refreshing, more so than commercially available grape juices.
Reading the saison bottle, Hourglass mentions more than once that the muscadine grapes used in the saison were sourced from Mr. Tom DeWolf, the Mr. Tom in the aforementioned beer name. I had no idea what a major role Mr. DeWolf had in the expansion of Central Florida.
Let’s go back to the 1960s. Orlando’s biggest employer was defense contractor Martin Marietta, now known as Lockheed Martin. Most of the area around Bay Lake was wetland or citrus groves, owned by a smattering of people in and around the area.
This area is where Walt Disney Productions decided their new east coast version of Disneyland was going to be located. But Disney had a logistical problem.
If you are someone as well known as Disney, you can’t go and buy land in your own name. Once a seller finds out Disney is buying, the land prices would skyrocket.
Instead, several dummy corporations were set up to purchase the land. Who would have guessed that companies with names like Latin-American Development and Management Corp. and Tomahawk Properties, Inc. was really Disney in disguise?
Tom DeWolf, a lawyer practicing in a firm based out of Miami, was the lawyer that created those dummy corporations. He led the legal team in purchasing the land on behalf of Disney, but not giving away the true nature of what was really going on.
His hobby, however, was horticulture, specifically growing the muscadine grape on his plot of land in Clermont. He even went so far as to write a book about the specific varietal he was growing. That book is still available, albeit excessively scientific.
Hourglass purchased the grapes for Mr. Tom’s Muscadine Saison (Saison, 6.6% ABV, 30 IBU) from Tom DeWolf himself. The grapes aren’t the base of the beer. Instead, Hourglass used their oak foeder-aged house saison and added piles of grapes after primary fermentation with a healthy dose of brettanomyces yeast.
Interesting enough, Hourglass finished the Saison very dry, leaving only the slightest hint of that electric sweetness that I love so much from the grape. There are also fantastic citrus notes along with a light hazy straw aroma and color that has a lightly Chardonnay quality in terms of dryness, while still giving enough attention to the fruit flavors in the adjuncts and coming from the yeast.
Carbonation is a bit higher, so this particular saison dances on the tongue, leaving just a bit of that tang on its way down. Mr. Tom himself never tried the beer, as he had unfortunately passed away at the age of 91 before its release.
But the beer, like the massive resort that he played an instrumental role in creating, will live on as a legacy for him and his accomplishments. And those grapes.
Seriously, I love those grapes.
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