About 30 minutes north of Orlando is Longwood, perhaps most famous as home of the Senator, a 3,500-year-old tree that was both the biggest and oldest bald cypress in the world before it was set ablaze by an arsonist in 2012.
That same year saw the opening of Hourglass Brewing, now one of Florida’s most adventurous and experimental breweries, specializing in unusual brews driven by exotic and locally foraged ingredients not typically found in beer.
A collaboration with Tarpon Springs’ Saint Somewhere Brewery — which celebrated its one-year anniversary at its picturesque downtown location last weekend — was only natural.
Saint Somewhere is a kindred spirit, emphasizing the use of local microbes and unusual Florida herbs, spices and fruits in its rustic ales. The two came together last summer to produce Wild Florida Saison, an ambitious brew spiced with acorns, pennywort and wild-foraged lemons and tangerines.
After these ingredients were added to the barley, wheat and rye saison base, the beer was fermented in an oak foeder with a blend of wild and traditional yeast before being transferred to classic green bottles, producing a mild lightstruck character commonly found in Belgian farmhouse ales.
The resulting beer is a treat, boasting an endless stream of funky and pleasantly unexpected flavors fading in and out of the foreground, ending in a brisk, lightly tart finish. You’ll find notes of citrus and herbal tea, along with a light spiciness from the addition of Saaz and Strisselspalt noble hops. There’s a heck of a lot going on in there, which makes Wild Florida Saison’s relative overall cohesiveness remarkable.
You’ll find Wild Florida Saison in 750-milliliter corked-and-caged bottles for less than $15 at select beer shops across Central Florida. Try Jug & Bottle Dept. in Tampa and Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe in St. Petersburg, for starters.
— Justin Grant
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