Local beer of the week: Crushed Velvet, Red Cypress Brewery

The small, independent brewery is finished, but there’s still some beer left to remember it by.
Bottles of Crushed Velvet will be slightly tricky to track down, but they’re worth the chase.   Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson
Bottles of Crushed Velvet will be slightly tricky to track down, but they’re worth the chase. Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson
Published June 7

It’s always sad when a good brewery closes its doors. That’s the case with Winter Springs’ Red Cypress Brewery, one of the Orlando-area originals, which opened in 2015 during the height of the brewery boom. By all appearances, it seemed like a success, but last month it announced it would cease operations May 31.

So let’s take the opportunity to try some of Red Cypress’ excellent beers before they’re gone forever. Fortunately, you’ll find the brewery’s flagships in cans at beer shops across the bay area, along with a couple of noteworthy bottle releases that really showcase the quality for which Red Cypress was known.

Crushed Velvet may be the best of the bunch. It’s an American wild ale, fermented in oak and aged on 800 pounds of strawberries and 200 pounds of cherries. It’s a tart brew, with a low-level funk and, unsurprisingly, loads of fresh-fruit character.

While wood-aged wild ales are becoming less of a rarity in recent years, it’s always a treat to find one that punches well above its weight class. Crushed Velvet tastes like a beer that’s been fine-tuned over the course of years, not a limited bottle release that’s been out for only a year. It’s layered and complex, with an absolutely fantastic balance of ripe fruit, crisp acidity and a creamy, satisfying base brew. It’s an absolute shame that it won’t be made again.

While Winter Springs isn’t local per se, you’ll have no trouble finding Red Cypress’ core beers at your local shop. Bottles of Crushed Velvet will be slightly more tricky to track down, but they’re worth the chase (try Rally in St. Petersburg and Total Wine in Tampa).

Sometimes, good — and even great — beer isn’t enough to overcome the challenges of operating a small, independent brewery. All we can do is enjoy the beer while it lasts. Red Cypress is finished, but there’s still some beer left to remember it by.

— Justin Grant

Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email jg@saintbeat.com.

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