Once upon a time

In 2005 Brent Hernandez was thirsty for craft beer. While a few bars and restaurants carried a small selection of craft products, none met the diversity Brent desired. The next logical step was to open a bar of his own, one that would not only offer an eclectic selection, but excel in introducing these heretofore obscure but delectable beverages to a community that did not yet realize it was on the cusp of the biggest beer revival since before prohibition.

With partners Dan Owens and Josie Fluri, Brent opened his bar on the second floor of one of the oldest buildings in Winter Park in a room that was often said to resemble the bottom deck of a pirate ship. They called it Redlight Redlight as a nod to the building’s sordid past as a hotel of ill-repute, and a new legend was born.

While craft beer was still seen as a novelty product by many consumers, Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour was able to grow in popularity through alluring shows with touring and local bands such as The Cook Trio, art events, and of course its singular atmosphere. Nevertheless, it was Orlando’s small, but enthusiastic craft beer community that proved to be Redlight Redlight’s most loyal and long standing regulars. From the very beginning Redlight Redlight made a commitment to never carrying a macro beer, and to this very day we are proud to say we never have.

In the years that followed, Redlight Redlight, its personnel, and customers had a lot of fun and saw many changes. While Brent was sorry to see Dan and Josie leave Orlando for Austin where they hoped to pursue their own musical career, their absence opened the door for your humble author/bartender/beer guzzler who has been honored to be with Redlight Redlight throughout the vast majority of its existence. Meanwhile, Brent, though he had made many memories in the cozy Winter Park location, was facing a frightening but potentially exciting realization. Redlight Redlight’s popularity was simply becoming too much for the small space; a change and expansion would soon be necessary.

"It became obvious that not only was the staff going to have to double at the very least, but the bar we loved was going to grow in ways we hadn’t even imagined."

2008 proved an eventful year for us when, after the usual delays, the Bennett Road location was opened with a staff of two, Brent and myself, just in time for Halloween. Like loosening a belt and taking a breath of fresh air, Redlight Redlight’s space and beer selection had doubled. Immediately, it became obvious that not only was the staff going to have to double at the very least, but the bar we loved was going to grow in ways we hadn’t even imagined.

2010 marked what is known nationally as the craft beer revolution. Additionally, Cigar City Brewing Company had opened its doors in Tampa to overnight adoration, placing Florida firmly on the map as a craft beer destination. Naturally, Redlight Redlight blazed the trail in Orlando, but soon found its reputation transcending the borders of the city and finally the state. In publications such as Orlando Weekly and Draft Magazine and websites like Ratebeer.com, Redlight Redlight was lauded as one of the best craft beer bars in the south, the United States, and even the world.

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The same year, Brent teamed up with long time friend Richard Sherfey to form a new partnership. Richard’s influence not only helped this rapidly growing establishment to solidify its brand, he was also instrumental in developing Redlight Redlight’s passport program, which has presented our guests with the opportunity to expand their beer knowledge, try styles and breweries they might not have otherwise discovered, and write their own name in a little corner of Redlight Redlight’s history. We do more than hand our citizens a t-shirt and send them on their way. Redlight Redlight citizenship is honored as long as we have a bar to call our own, and membership includes numerous surprises and goodies such as special dinners, meet and greets with the who’s who of international craft beer, and more raffles and prizes than we can name. At this time we have welcomed over thirty Redlight Redlight citizens into our fold with many more pursuing their own exciting journeys.

Life on Bennett Road was an overwhelming success with each passing year surpassing the last in terms of sales and acclaim, but little did we know, Redlight Redlight was only rounding the cusp of a fruitful adolescence. After Richard hooked us up with our first ever POS system (we only accepted cash the first half of our existence), we once again found ourselves bursting at the seams, and it became obvious that another expansion was necessary.

Moving into our current location in the Carrier Heating and Air-Conditioning building on Corrine Drive proved an arduous, but worthwhile task. In accordance with our DIY attitude and commitment to sustainable living, every bit of the historic building that could be salvaged was, from the tables hand-built from reconstituted wood, to the building’s original sign adorning our wall as testament to the rich, cultural tradition of old Florida style.

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Our move to the heart of the shopping district of Corrine Drive has allowed us to fully embrace our enthusiasm for community involvement. Our event planner Erica Abalos-Hernandez sits on the board of the Audubon Park Garden District with whom we partner whenever possible to participate in thrilling neighborhood activities such as the annual Zombietoberfest, which finds Redlight Redlight overflowing with hoards of beer-thirsty walking dead.

As the Carrier Building gives us plenty of room to stretch our legs, in 2014 Redlight Redlight proved that it was not done growing. That year Brent realized a personal dream when he built a small brew-system on the second floor of our spacious bar and we became Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour and Brewery. Met with eager enthusiasm, Brent’s concoctions are as colorful as his wild imagination and have included delectable suds such as the Cimarrones Berliner-Weisse, Should I Stay or Should I Gose, and the recent Bock and Roll released in conjunction with Mike Dunn’s newest album “Hard Luck Soft Rock.”

This year marks Redlight Redlight’s decennial. That’s ten year’s of bringing amazing craft beer to Orlando. When we opened our doors in that tiny, little space back in 2005, no one could have imagined how far we would go. Though a few of our original regulars have moved away from Orlando, their occasional visits are always a delightful surprise. Though we’ve seen the faces of our knowledgeable bar-staff change over the years, our commitment to friendly service with a focus on craft beer education remains the same.

Today every member of our staff is beer-sever certified through the Cicerone Certification Program. We boast twenty-four draft handles, two traditional hand-pumped beer engines, over three hundred bottled beers, and a fine collection of craft sodas. We’ve even begun a cutting-edge wine program developed by our former expert Sara Matthews and expanded by our new GM, sommelier certified Tyson Bodiford. While beer remains our foundation, you don’t have to be embarrassed for ordering a glass of wine at Redlight Redlight.

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We don’t know what the next ten years will hold in store for us, or the ten years after that, but with Brent and Richard at the helm and Mandy Protheroe functioning as our more than capable beer curator, our future is looking bright. We couldn’t be more grateful for our city’s continued support. Stop by on any given night and let us pour you a drink!

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Citizen Program

We basically ask that you try, rate, and inform yourself about 100 beers on out list which is divided into three passport booklets. As you complete each page in you passport booklet your bartender/course director will provide you with a stamp for your passport. Upon finishing all three passport booklets your bartender/course director will administer a basic beer exam testing the knowledge that you have gained throughout the course. Those who pass the exam will be honored as Citizens of Redlight Redlight and receive all rights and privelidges associated with said title.

1.  The citizenship educational course operates on the honors system. If you “cheat” you lose. Remember, as with all educational pursuits, you get our of it what you put into it.

2.  This course is NOT a race or competition to see how fast you can drink 100 beers. Should you be caught engaging in it as such, your right to citizenship will be revoked!

3.  Redlight uses the same 5 category (aroma, appearance, taste, palate, overall) rating system found at www.ratebeer.com. We intentioanlly used this system to encourage your participation and further education through their site.

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

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Brewery

Launched on April 7, 2014, Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour and Brewery employs a 50 liter brew house, three 14 gallon temperature controlled fermentors, and five full sized oak barrels that are also used as primary fermentors. The brewery specializes in sour and wild beers. Just one year into our venture as professional brewers Redlight Redlight has already begun to develop a strong foot hold in the budding Florida brewing scene. . With our Head Brewer, Brent Hernandez, at the helm, Redlight brought home a Bronze Medal in the Wood Aged Sour Beer category at the Best Florida Beer Competition for our Belgian Sour Stout, Black Morning! We are small, but we are MIGHTY!