The Loews Royal Pacific Resort near Universal Studios is home to Jake’s American Bar, a cool little spot that features an ever-changing assortment of craft beers. Jake’s hosts a popular monthly beer dinner where diners enjoy pairings of craft beers and food. This October, however, they amped up the experience by introducing Jake’s Beer Festival. This Friday evening event took over a large outdoor area at the resort, and hundreds of beer aficionados enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars.
One of the highlights of the evening was the music of Florida’s own Hindu Cowboys, an alternative country group that really rocked their covers of Johnny Cash, along with their own material. Festival-goers relaxed around the fire circle and danced to their rootsy rendition of “Ring of Fire.”
Fruit flavored libations were heavily featured on the menu, and were a good way for craft beer newbies to explore brewery offerings. One of the first drinks to sell out was the Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider. Liefmans Fruitesse was a delicious lambic made with France’s traditional five berries: an exciting twist on the classic framboise lambic brew. One unusual fruit brew was the very popular, light and fresh feeling Pyramid Apricot Ale.
For those seeking something bolder, the crowd-favorite was Fat Cat Beale St. Brown Ale, with plenty of rich nutty flavor. Several new beers were introduced at the party, including the sellout Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA, the brewery’s bold answer to the light beers of summer- a perfect way to welcome fall!
The chefs at Loews created special menu items to pair with the exciting brewery offerings. A crowd favorite was the soft, chewy waffles with crispy fried chicken and bacon-infused syrup. Another standout entrée was the Sauerbraten, a rich and savory braised angus beef scented with juniper and allspice thyme and parsley spätzle tossed with Emmentaler cheese.
The house-made soft pretzels were amazingly light and tender, and tasted divine dipped into the four-cheese porter fondue. Desserts included a delicious apple strudel with creme anglaise and lebkuchen cookies that tasted amazing with Left Hand Milk Stout. Each menu item was paired with a recommended craft beer, and the suggestions were spot on. It was easy to tell how the beers changed and enhanced the flavors of the foods they were paired with.
Orlando’s Lady Crafters club of craft-beer loving ladies was well represented at the event, and the members appreciated the opportunity to taste a number of rare and unusual brews. One crowd favorite, found only in the VIP area, was the Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Lisa Wilk of Lady Crafters noted that this brew is different every year, based upon the pumpkin harvest, and this year’s Good Gourd had a spicier palate, with Zanzibar cloves in the mix.
Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale tasting notes: Pours orange in color with notes of buttered pie crust, roasted pumpkin, and a melange of pumpkin pie spices. Medium bodied, flavors of caramel and roasted pumpkin notes, hoppy bitterness at the end. Harmonious flavors of pumpkin pie spice, finishes dry with caramel.
Lady Crafters Founder Kelli Matheny summed up the event perfectly: “This was an awesome event! Amazing beers, great food, wonderful weather and some really cool swag in our gift bags. We had reserved seating in the beer garden, [a perfect way to enjoy a balmy, Florida evening] and was much appreciated. Cheers to Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando for a great event!”
Craft beer lovers take note: Loews is planning to host this event twice a year, in the fall and spring. And if you can’t wait that long, their monthly Jake’s Beer Dinners are a great way to sample the latest and greatest in craft beer.
Our recommendation: put it on your calendar early. The next one may just sell out.