Craft breweries are popping up everywhere in Central Florida nowadays, but Toll Road Brewing Company is making its mark in downtown Ocoee. The cozy brewery opened back in June and is quenching thirsts with its signature brews.
Brewery founders and owners David Strickland, Duane Morin and Russ Balazs had been planning to open the brewery for the past three years.
Morin was impressed with the small breweries that he visited during a trip to San Diego along with the successful business models, which put the brewery plan into action when he returned to Ocoee.
Morin and Strickland had been brewing beer for the past 15 years. The time was right for taking the next step and fulfilling their brewery dream.
The brewery has been a labor of love. The owners did the building demolition and refurbishment themselves, but had technicians do the electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and plumbing.
The brewery’s name and location were a perfect match since it seems like you have to drive on a toll road to get anywhere in Orlando. Plus, State Roads 408 and 429 and Florida’s Turnpike all converge in Ocoee.
Toll Road Brewing Company’s tasty craft beer keeps the customers coming back for more.
“We serve sours and a lot of typical American style beers,” said Strickland. “We brew what we like to drink. Our plan is to have 8-10 beers rotating regularly and a few guest taps, a cider and glasses of wine.”
During my Toll Road Brewing Company visit, I ordered The Crowdpleaser. The refreshing and delicious Kölsch beer and the name said it all! I can see why this beer is a favorite with the brewery’s customers! Kölsch beer originated in Cologne, Germany and is fermented with ale yeast and then conditioned at cold temperatures like a lager. I’m a wheat beer fan, but this brew has become one of my top faves!
I also enjoyed sampling the brewery’s robust porter The Sheriff. My palate isn’t a fan of dark beers, but this brew didn’t leave an aftertaste in my mouth and was very rich and smooth. I finally found a porter beer that I can drink! Porter beer fans will rate this brew high on their list, that’s for sure!
My husband Dan drank the Irish Red called Shamrocks & Shenanigans. I thought this brew’s name was catchy and perfect for Irish beer aficionados. He loves malty beers and this brew passed the test! The porter is also Strickland’s favorite Toll Road Brewing Company beer. He says, “the beer is a little bit different from most porters you’ll get around town and has more substance.”
The comfy taproom has wood tables with high top chairs and stools for those who want to belly up and hang out at the bar. The walls are gray with decorative tile accents with neutral tones and the main seating area features faux red, white and blue painted panels. Plus, there are purse hooks and USB ports for charging your phone, which are nice touches. If you want to get some fresh air, then you can hang out on the outdoor patio. The brewery is also dog and kid-friendly and provides pooches with treats.
You can tell a lot of thought went into planning this neighborhood brewery in west Orange County. The owners went the extra mile to ensure the taproom had a homey ambiance.
“We wanted a comfortable taproom that was a low key place to hang out and have a few beers,” said Strickland.
His wife Donna Strickland added, “craft beer camaraderie is experienced at Toll Road Brewing Company. We want our customers to hang out, enjoy a good beer and experience Ocoee. We aimed at having the brewery to be a comfortable place where people feel like they’re at home.”
Customers can take a piece of Toll Road Brewing Company with them by purchasing one of the brewery’s T-shirts. Tasty Trivia, which has “Friends,” “Star Wars” and ’80s themes, is every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and happy hour features $1 off beers on Thursday evenings from 5-7 p.m.
The Toll Road Brewing Company is included on the Central Florida Ale Trail, which features 26 breweries, and is a must-see craft beer destination in downtown Ocoee.