While on our recent kid free trip to Universal Orlando, our brewery radar alerted us to a surprising find: Sea Dog Brewing Company was visible right off of I4! It was nice to realize there is more to Orlando than The Mouse and Harry Potter. Since this trip was a rarely occurring adult adventure, we figured it wouldn’t be complete without a brewery visit. (Ok, who am I kidding here, we visit breweries when it isn’t just the adults. Rhiannon loves them too!)
I have to admit I was a little confused seeing Sea Dog Brewing Company, I thought they were a Maine based brewery. The answer to that is they are, but they have branched out to meet demand as so many craft breweries have today. (Some great examples are Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oscar Blues, CA and CO based breweries who spread to the Asheville, NC area to bring great beer to us east coasters!) As an added bonus, this was actually like two breweries in one! Both Sea Dog Brewing and Shipyard Brewing are owned by the same company.
The Sea Dog Brewing Company was founded in 1993 in Camden, Maine as a small brewpub. In 1995 they moved to a larger location in Bangor, Maine. Shipyard brewing was established in Portland ME in 1994. In 2002 Shipyard purchased Sea Dog Brewing, and along with a couple other brewing ventures, plus craft sodas, they are now the largest brewery in Maine, and the 4th largest microbrewery in New England. That’s very impressive considering that includes the company of brew giants Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company), Harpoon, and Magic Hat, respectively. They currently have multiple locations in Maine, one in New Hampshire, and two in Florida: Orlando and Clearwater.
The restaurant/brewery is in a standalone building in a strip mall. It is pretty easy to get to and has access right off of I4. The outside is lovely, with a cape-cod style themed building. They had a cozy seating area out front with heaters and a cornhole game. My favorite was the massive pint glass of Shipyard beer out front all lit up!
Inside is just as inviting, with a small merchandise area (they have awesome shirts!), a friendly hostess, a large oval bar and a huge dining area. We love sitting at the bar to interact with the bartenders and be close to the beer! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they brew the beer right there at this location! It is so nice to know that even though they are based out of Maine, they are still making it in their local location.
They had 16 beers on tap that day! Tom and I each ordered a flight of 4 so we could taste several. Before I give you guys the deets on the beers, I first need to apologize to my hop heads. I prefer dark beer, especially in the winter, and Tom is a wheat/sour/brown guy pretty much year round. What I’m saying is we will be a little light on the IPAs. That just means you will have to go check them out yourself to try them!
Island Time IPA – The beer smells heavenly! This was a lightly hopped mango IPA that I surprisingly enjoyed. As mentioned above, I’m not a big fan of hoppy beer, but I liked the slightly fruity hoppy thing this one had going on. Tom didn’t like it, which didn’t surprise me (smile).
Longfellow Winter Warmer – While I normally love winter warmers, this was not one of them. It was on nitro and the only taste I got was a very chemical like flavor from the nitro. Even after it sat and warmed I still got chemicals with a slight bitterness.
Maple Bacon Stout – They had me at maple bacon. The smell was delicious, slightly smoky and heavy on the maple. The smell followed through to the flavor. I got heavy maple up front but not overly sweet with a light smoke and coffee on the back. This was also on nitro but it just added creaminess, just as it should.
Sea Dog Chocolate Milk Stout – OMG! This is like a liquid chocolate covered strawberry and perfect for Valentine’s Day! The smell is sweet, summery strawberries. The taste is creamy chocolate and coffee up front with sweet strawberries on the back. I should have ordered a whole pint!
Fireberry Wheat – They really have the aroma thing down! This one smells amazing. Fruity wheat beers are a match made in heaven and this one stay true to form. Lovely mixed berries with the light wheat is just delicious. This is a great spring/summer beer.
Fruit Basket – Another fruity wheat, but this one differs night and day from the Fireberry. This one doesn’t taste like beer at all. It is like a light fruit punch mixed with sprite, very sparkly and refreshing. Even though it is low ABV, I could hurt myself with this one! Tom agreed.
Hazelnut Porter – Smells very nutty and continues through to the taste. I got really strong hazelnut but not much chocolate like other beers I’ve had of this style. It reminded me of a hazelnut coffee. It was good but as I judge all hazelnut beers by Rogue Hazelnut Nectar, it fell a little short. I would order it again though.
And last but not least
Sweet Potato Brown: I saved the best for last, this beer is amazing! I love pumpkin and sweet potato beers and this is the best of either of those styles we have had. It is like liquid sweet potato pie. I would also say it is the sweet potato version of Pumking by Southern Tier. Vanilla, sweet potato, and brown sugar, it just doesn’t get better than that!
We really wanted a growler of the Sweet Potato Brown but they don’t sell growlers here. They will fill yours but this was the one time we didn’t travel with a growler! I’ll never make that mistake again. Which leads me to this post’s travel tip:
*Always bring an empty growler! Leave it in your car clean and ready to go. Even if you don’t “plan” on visiting a brewery. If you’re anything like us, you just find them when you’re even not looking!
Because you always need bubbles, we also ordered a root beer which they make themselves and it was delicious. We plan on trying some of their craft sodas while on vacation this summer in Maine.
They have a full menu but since we ate dinner at Universal, we opted for an appetizer of pulled pork nachos. As we visit Orlando pretty often to use our Universal season passes, I’m sure we will be back and I plan on trying some more food, it looked really good.
Stop in the gift shop on your way out and grab a shirt, glass, or stickers for the beer fridge!
This place would be perfect for dinner with adults or with the kids. It’s also nice to stop for drinks and/or apps. The restaurant is large and the staff is friendly and helpful. Most importantly the beer rocks! Don’t forget those growlers, you are going to want some beer to go!
Enjoy your brewventures and Live Your Adventure!