Refreshing Citrus Brews: Orchid Island
My name is Alden Bing, and I am the co-owner and co-founder of Orchid Island Brewery. So, I grew up here in Vero Beach, I'm a Vero Beach native, and since I can remember, I have grown up adjacent to citrus groves. One of my favorite things growing up was climbing trees. Most of the fruit that we use is grapefruit, all varieties of grapefruit, white, pink, red, but there's a chemical compound called linalool that is in very high concentrations also in hops. So, the peel oil, in a sense, gives us the ability to complement and amplify the flavors that already occur in popular beer styles such as IPA. The style of beer that plays very well with beer and really enables us to showcase the citrus is a style that originated in Florida about ten years ago over in the Tampa area called a Florida Weisse. And a Florida Weisse is an evolution of a much, much older style of beer that comes from Berlin, Germany, called a Berliner Weisse. And this style of beer was described by Napoleon when he invaded Berlin as the champagne of the north. So, it's a very refreshing style of beer. It's also been called the most refreshing style of beer that you can get. It's a low-alcohol, typically around 3 or 4 percent tart beer or sour beer. And then what we do is to balance out that tart flavor is will add back citrus in the sugar and the sweetness from the fruit to balance that beer out. If you can think of the perfect refreshing Beach beer, that's what this is.
The beer that we've invested the most time and passion into is Star Ruby, which is our grapefruit double IPA. It has become what Orchid Island Brewery has become most synonomous with. So, grapefruit conveniently works really well for Star Ruby, but it's also what Indian River has that the type of citrus that Indian River has become most known for. I chose to promote Indian River citrus with Orchid Island Brewery because it's something that we're very proud of. Even though my family doesn't come from a long heritage of Indian River citrus industry or business, being in close proximity to it and having consumed it and learned about it from the time I was a little kid, I've always taken ownership, in a sense, to it.
I think the last time we took account, we sourced fruit from about 20 different citrus families. I think it's fair to say that most of our citrus at the moment comes from Schacht Groves. We use their grapefruit, the Ruby Red grapefruit, first for our Ruby. One of our next projects is harvesting grapefruit blossoms from some of the abandoned groves because we don't like to take the flowers from trees that are otherwise gonna produce fruit, but there are several abandoned groves where we're gonna be harvesting blossoms from, and we're gonna treat a whole batch, six-barrel batches of Star Ruby with it. I don't know that any other commercial example of beer has been treated with blossom before. You may see other commercially advertised beers that claim citrus blossom, but my hunch is that a lot of those beverages have flavors that are engineered. Trying to replicate that is near impossible.
The brewery has given us an artistic outlet to express ourselves individually, but it has also given us an avenue to help preserve the agricultural legacy of the area. And it gives us a deep sense of pride to be able to do that because in a day and age where you can order something online and have it shipped to you the next day from halfway around the world, I think a lot of identity is being lost with local cultures, and this is our way of pushing back against that.
Citrus Beer Guide: Orchid Island Brewery's Artistry and Pride
Growing up surrounded by citrus groves in Vero Beach, Alden's deep connection to the region's citrus heritage inspired the creation of their most renowned beer, Star Ruby, a grapefruit double IPA. In this captivating video, Alden explains how the natural chemical compound called linalool, found in both hops and grapefruit peel oil, allows them to enhance popular beer styles like IPA, creating a perfect harmony of flavors. Orchid Island Brewery's innovative approach introduces the Florida Weisse style, an evolution of the Berliner Weisse, which perfectly complements the refreshing qualities of citrus. These low-alcohol, tart, and sour beers are balanced with the sweetness of Indian River citrus, offering a truly refreshing beach beer experience.
Star Ruby, the beer they've poured their hearts into, has become synonymous with Orchid Island Brewery's reputation. Alden takes pride in using Indian River grapefruit, especially from Schacht Groves, to craft this distinct beer. To add a touch of authenticity and innovation, Alden shares their upcoming project of harvesting grapefruit blossoms from abandoned groves to treat a batch of Star Ruby, an unprecedented endeavor in the commercial beer world.
Beyond the artistry, the brewery serves as a platform to preserve the agricultural legacy of the region. Alden believes in celebrating local culture amidst the modern era of global connections, and Orchid Island Brewery stands as a testament to their commitment to preserving the essence of Indian River citrus.
Join Vero Heritage Center in this citrus beer guide, where passion, heritage, and artistic expression converge to create a truly unique experience. Discover how Orchid Island Brewery's dedication to Indian River citrus brings together the best of the region's flavors and traditions. Raise a glass to the spirit of craftsmanship and community, as Orchid Island Brewery continues to push the boundaries of beer brewing and preserve the soul of Vero Beach's citrus heritage.