WINDERMERE If you’re not a craft-beer connoisseur yet, you will be by the end of a night out at the Windermere Craft Beer Fest.
The third annual festival, presented by Lakeside Realty Windermere Inc., celebrates local craft beer and brewers in a casual environment. This year’s event will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, outside Windermere Town Hall.
Melisa Rohrbach, vice chair of the Downtown Business Committee, is excited to have double the amount of brewing companies participating in this year’s festivities. She has watched the event grow from its inaugural year and is pleased that, at the time of publication, 23 breweries and four food vendors will be in attendance. As a Realtor with Lakeside Realty, she is also proud to be part of the company that is this year’s main sponsor.
“Lakeside Realty is the hometown real-estate group,” she said. “It’s great to have somebody local being the big presenting sponsor. They’ve given a good amount of money to make sure the event is up and running. It lines up with things we think our clients like. It’s a good event and it’s fun, it’s more of a casual, fun fall festival.”
Lyft, a transportation company similar to Uber, also is sponsoring the event and encouraging every attendee to make sure they get home safely when the night is over. Anyone who uses the code “WINDERMERE” at lyft.com/invite/WINDERMERE can get a free Lyft ride credit, worth up to $50.
Proceeds from the beer fest will benefit both the Florida Brewers Guild and the Windermere Police Department Foundation — an organization that strikes a chord in the hearts of many Windermere residents.
“Here in downtown Windermere, we lost Robbie German, and that was pretty huge for the community,” Rohrbach said. “Every opportunity we have, we try to give to that foundation.”
Brewers will be bringing their beers to Windermere from all over the state. Locally, Crooked Can Brewing Company will be in attendance, as will the Orlando Brewing Company. Other breweries are coming from Gainesville, Sarasota, Tampa, Boynton Beach and more.
“We have all different types of beer, seasonal and heavy, IPAs and ales,” Rohrbach said. “A lot of them are local Orlando breweries, so you get to try something completely unique and it’s all you can drink until it closes. You get a cup and go to every single tent and find your favorite.”
Toll Road Brewing Co. will be bringing four of its unique beers, including the Citra Rye IPA — an India pale ale with flavors of citrus, some spicy rye and toasted malt — a vanilla coffee cream ale, a Kölsch called the “Crowd Pleaser” and a porter called “The Sheriff.” It began brewing specifically for Windermere Craft Beer Fest on Sept. 24, nearly a month in advance.
“It’s (the festival) definitely expected to be the best one yet,” she said. “It’s pretty cool because we’ve already sold more pre-sale tickets than (the number of tickets) we’ve sold all together. We’re very fortunate because we put so much work into it in the first two years and now we’re already at double the amount of brewers.”
Early-bird specials sold out Sept. 30, but anyone interested in attending can still buy general-admission tickets for $30 or VIP tickets for $50, depending on availability. VIP tickets cater to the “hardcore craft beer lovers” and allow access to the VIP tent, where participants can sample specialty brews not otherwise available and receive a “swag bag,” which includes Lyft coupons and a commemorative pint glass.
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].