Friday, August 04, 2006

More Orlando adventures in beer with Tom Moench.

As noted previously, the estimable Tom Moench rescued us from an afternoon of Orlando resort hotel boredom (and $6 half-pints of Guinness served in stemware) during the family reunion weekend.

Tom is a sixth-generation Floridian and a former union stagehand who gave it up to do more than complain about the “beer wasteland,” as he pegs the Central Florida area.

In a two-decade stint as regional beer advocate, Tom has brewed at home and commercially, judged small and large competitions, invented useful beery gadgets, and founded Unique Beers, which aims to redress the imbalance between craft beer and dreadful industrial swill of the sort dominating his neck of the woods.

It turns out that Tom and I once met over a decade ago at Rich O’s, version 1.0, and he was a subscriber to the FOSSILS club newsletter during those heady pre-Internet days when we mailed copies all across the country and thought we’d change the world. Actually we succeeded, though not in the way hoped, but that’s another story for another time.

Our first stop in Orlando last Saturday afternoon was Knightly Spirits, where we met the great Jason and gazed upon the lovely Belgians that he has stacked to the ceiling of the shop (see Orlando: One hell of a package store, Jason.)

Next we proceeded to lunch at one of Tom’s star accounts, the unprepossessing but thoroughly savvy 903 Mills Market, a residential neighborhood, street-corner gathering place that’s part funky grocery, part rock solid deli, and with plenty of great beer (much of it from Tom’s wholesale house) happily co-existing with kegs-to-go of Miller Lite.

Alternatives are good. As we sat outside munching and trading war stories, an art exhibit to benefit a local artist preparing to move to Atlanta was being set up.

Here's another account of the eatery.

Tom’s own creation, Orange Blossom Pilsner, is available at 903 Mills Market on draft and in bottles (and many other places, too).

Currently he contract brews this pleasing, 30% honey beer at Frederick Brewing in Maryland. Infinitely preferable to those American mass-market lagers with whom it competes to introduce people to an expanded flavor profile, it made a wonderful hot weather aperitif as we waited for our sandwiches to be prepared. I grabbed a Boulder Mojo IPA from the bottle cooler when my Rodger Dodger (corned beef and roast beef on marbled pumpernickel) arrived.

Next: Wildside Bar & Grill BBQ & Tom’s Pub. Posted by Picasa

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