Florida Craft Brewery: Orchid Island Brewery (OIB)
Established: August 23rd, 2014
Location: 2855 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32963
Known For: Orchid Island’s motto is ’Grove to Glass Craft Beer Project.’ The citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon, or key lime) is locally sourced from the growers of Indian River County and the majority of the beers they brew have citrus of some kind in the ingredients. The Star Ruby IPA is their most popular offering and is so popular in fact that it wasn’t available. Luckily I have had it in the past and it is a delicious grapefruit zest hop bomb.
Current Beer Menu: Because of OIB’s popularity and only having a 3 bbl (barrel) system they have a difficult time keeping their outside accounts and in-house taps flowing with their own beers. The four taps they did have on were the Duncan White Grapefruit Pale Ale, Indian River Grapefruit IPA, Jungle Trail Black IPA, and the OIB Berliner Weisse. To expand the beer list a bit OIB has been experimenting with boiling down fruit into a syrup, which is then added to the Berliner Weisse upon request. The two options were cherry key lime and ruby-red grapefruit. I was a bit skeptical at first, but both additions turned out to be very good. My favorite offering of the day was the Duncan White Grapefruit Pale Ale. It had a crisp, easy drinkability with just the right amount of grapefruit not trying to steal the show. The Indian River Grapefruit IPA was a bit more hop forward with the Ruby Red Grapefruit jumping through to smack your taste buds in just the right way. The base Berliner Weisse was a great example of the style, but adding the syrup to it really gave it that Florida Weisse tropical feel. The Jungle Trail Black IPA is brewed with Indian River White Grapefruit zest, Citra, and Nelson Sauvin hops. It was actually more brown in color than black, had a creamy mouth feel, and left intricate lacing on the glass down to the last drop. It was not as hoppy as I prefer and my least favorite out of the tapped beers, which isn’t saying much when the 3 beers I rated ahead of it were very good. OIB also keeps a hefty list of ten rotating guest beers that mainly represent Florida’s ever-growing craft beer scene.
Price Range: Flights consist of any four beers in 5oz pours for $8.00. A pint can be had for between $6.00 and $7.00. Growlers are available for OIB’s beers only and will run you $10.00 for a 32oz fill and $20.00 for a 64oz fill. If you don’t already have a growler to fill the glass will cost you $12.00 for the 32oz and $20 for the 64oz.
Wine Menu: OIB keeps the most extensive wine list (eleven white and ten red) that I have seen in a brewery to date. A glass will run you between $7.00 and $10.00.
Food Menu: OIB is on the rare side when it comes to food and Florida breweries. Unlike most they actually have an in-house kitchen. I ordered a bratwurst and sauerkraut with potato salad that I would absolutely order again. The general consensus in the room seemed to be that the food was damn good. You can check out the menu here.
Ambiance: OIB is a warm and welcoming establishment. Windows on three sides allow for an abundance of natural light to pour through while tunes from the likes of Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, and Rebelution play overhead. Being established in the Town of Orchid Island they, of course, have an abundance of orchids throughout the tasting room, which is a bit smaller than the majority of breweries I’ve reviewed but fits in perfectly with the small town feel. Vero Beach is a known vacation spot for South Floridians who want to get away from the city for a weekend and relax on the beautiful beach, which is walking distance from the brewery. The brewhouse is also open for impromptu tours as long as a bartender is available.
Bar Seating: Five high tops (4 – 6 seats), four tables (4 – 6 seats), and 18 seats at the bar make up the indoor seating while seven tables in the courtyard complete the seating arrangements.
Staff: Eric offered up informational tidbits and a tour of the brew house while pouring beers. Athena was called in from the bullpen once the crowd swelled and growlers needed filling. Both were very courteous and took my questions (while serving others) in stride like champs.
Merch: OIB keeps it simple by only selling men’s and women’s t-shirts, for $20.00 a piece, in a multitude of colors.
Membership offered: No membership or VIP is offered and nothing is planned for the immediate future.
Best days or time of year to go: I arrived at 1:00pm on a Friday and there was a steady flow of craft beer hungry folk coming in up until I left around 4:00pm, which is when the after work crowd really started to file in. Space at the bar literally shrank by the minute and from what I was told Saturday stays just as busy. If you’re looking for a time to enjoy a citrus infused brew without the crowd Tuesday through Thursday before 4:00 should be your target.
Regular Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30am – 10:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 11:30am – 12:00am
Happy Hour: Tuesday through Thursday all beers are $5.00.
-Alden Bing, owner and brewmaster, still holds a 40-hour workweek as a regional branch manager for a bank. Because of that, most of the brewing is done on the weekends.
-When OIB opened in August 2014 they did so with a three-barrel brewhouse, very small tasting room, and courtyard space. By November, they had outgrown that space and moved into The Tavern, which offers more seating and in-house served food.
-All of the citrus used in OIB’s beer are donated by growers directly from their home county of Indian River.
-Indian River County and the Town of Orchid Island are known for growing the world’s most premium citrus.
-There are plans in the works for a new twenty-barrel brewhouse off of Route 60 a mile or so east of I-95.
-OIB’s barrel program currently consists of five barrels. Four of the barrels formerly held Opus One red wine, while the fifth barrel held a Portuguese Port, Angel’s Envy Bourbon, OIB’s Black Orchid Imperial Stout, and now finally a dark saison. The four Opus One barrels currently hold OIB’s Citron Grovehouse Ale each with six pounds of Meyer Lemon zest. One barrel holds the saison with no treatment while the other three were treated with a yeast (Brettanomyces) and or a bacteria (Pediococcus and Lactobacillus). One barrel was treated with Brettanomyces, one with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus, and the third with Pediococcus Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces.
Overall Rating (1-5): A great atmosphere, courteous staff and delicious beer equal a rating of 4.75.
What was missing: Unfortunately, neither the Star Ruby Imperial IPA nor Citron Grovehouse Ale were on tap while I was visiting. With the demand for OIB’s beer being so high they have a hard time keeping their beer on tap in the tasting room. There certainly could be worse problems to have.
In closing, OIB may be a little out-of-the-way, but if you’re passing through the area or getting away from city life for a long weekend they are definitely one to check out.
Did I leave anything out or is there something else you would like to know about the Orchid Island Brewery? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.