What’s exceptionally cool about getting off I-95 on your way to the Playalinda Brix Project is taking a right turn on Washington Ave. when you hit the water with the Kennedy Space Center VAB clear as day in the distance. It’s that huge.
Ten bucks native Space Coast residents just don’t see it anymore.
So Ron Raike’s Playalinda Brewing Company has easily outgrown its humble beginnings in a converted hardware store in Downtown Titusville. That’s why they recently opened the Brix Project, an all-in-one taproom and production facility literally a few miles away.
Brix, coincidentally, is the amount of sugar dissolved in a liquid. It’s important for brewers since yeast eats said sugar and converts it into alcohol. Monitoring the decline of brix is how they measure the alcohol in a brew. Here ends the lesson.
This converted lumber yard not only lent the physical space, but a lot of the wood within the taproom as well. Gorgeous tabletops and wall coverings are all around, framing an impressive bar with Playalinda’s huge fermenters and 30 BBL system in the back.
Those fermenters were in use when we visited, with Ron at the helm brewing a blonde ale that day. Unfortunately he was too busy to say hello or provide a tour, but we did have a great conversation with Mike Tacka, one of Playalinda’s assistant brewers.
As expected, the recipe creation tends to take place at the hardware store, with massive production taking place at Brix. Playalinda recently began to can some of their year-round beers, and a lot of that is taking place at the facility as well.
Interestingly enough, Mike let us know about Playalinda’s plan to take a separate part of the property, behind the production brewhouse, and turn it into a distillery. It’s not ready yet, but the plans are in the works, and my wife was definitely happy to hear bourbon will be one of the products getting released.
That’s in the future, though. The beer is here now, and we sure tried a lot of them. Here’s what we sampled:
Whiskey Sour Stout (Stout, 10% ABV) – This is their Go Big Imperial Stout with the benefit of aging in whiskey barrels. Even though it says sour in the name, for some reason, I never truly expected the darn thing to actually be sour. It was. Artfully and tactfully done, but still pretty heady. This was ne of Mike’s favorites, as he mentioned how difficult it is to have a well done sour stout. He’s right, of course.
Craft Root Beer (Root Beer, 0% ABV) – Yup. Root beer. I have a special place in my heart for brewery root beers, and not the alcoholic kind. Just a simple, straightforward root beer the whole family can enjoy. And enjoy we did. It’s nice and creamy with a great vanilla flavor.
On the flight deck, from left to right:
Pritchard’s Pilsner (Pilsner, 4.9% ABV) – James Pritchard was a Titusville pioneer, settling here in 1886, opening Titusville’s 1st bank, and building his historic landmark home in 1891. As an homage, Playalinda created this very textbook, expertly executed pilsner, just a touch easy on the hops (yay!). Enjoyable for days.
Psh, I Wish (Belgian Strong, 7.6% ABV) – Nicely sweet with a solid finish of traditional Belgian funk.
Surreptitious (Belgian Ale, 9.7% ABV) – This one’s a little interesting, being a belgian-style ale made with local honey. It’s strong, biscuity, and sweet, all at once with the addition of local honey bringing a really creative dimension to the beer. It sneaks up on you very easily.
Night Launch (Stout, 4.6% ABV) – Yes, an obvious (and well deserved) homage to their proximity to Kennedy Space Center. This is a pretty solid Irish Stout, served on nitro to give it that extra creaminess. Really solid and a great go to.
Tropical Wonderland (Wheat ale, 4.6% ABV) – Interesting one, this, and one of my favorites. It’s a hefeweizen with the addition of a heaping of locally sourced oranges. Not quite a witbier, which was nice. Incredibly delicious and refreshing; this beer is also an homage to a local nature park that closed in 1973.
Finally, we finished with a pint of Go Big (Imperial Stout, 11% ABV) – They’re not kidding with that name, y’all. At a whopping 11%, this beer can basically be a meal replacement. It’s thick and chewy, a massive malt bomb that needs to be tasted to be believed. My wife easily said it was her favorite; I need to head for slightly calmer waters.
It was a busy, busy day, but so incredibly worth it. One of these days I definitely need to head to the hardware store, their OG location which is still open. The locals love it, and they’re lucky in having two Playalinda Brewing locations to choose from.
While ignoring that huge building off in the distance.
Special thanks to Laura for helping set up our visit. We will be back!
Drink Florida Craft,