Run by family, friends and a few beer nuts, Lakeland’s first microbrewery serves up tasty brews and bar room food. The atmosphere is old school, yet hip, and the lakefront view may be the best in town.
Lakeland's First Microbrewery
The only thing that makes a warm Central Florida day better is a sip of a tasty cold brew and a beautiful view. So t’was a fine (or hoppy) day indeed,when Lakeland got its first microbrewery, Lakeland Brewing Co.
Tap Room - The Old School Annex
Lakeland Brewing Co. and its tap room, The Old School Annex, can’t help but be cool when you consider the property’s previous purpose was a skate park known as the Old School Compound. The tap room’s title was partly inspired by the location’s previous title, Lakeland Brewing Co.’s interpretation is a little different. You see, “Old” pays homage to the building’s rich and slightly unusual past, and “School” refers to their goal of educating about beer and spreading the flavor of great brews to locals and Central Florida visitors alike.
We can definitely vouch for the learning aspect. We have yet to visit this Lakeland brewery when there wasn’t an owner or one of the brewers out on the floor “talking beer” with a guest.
Step inside the brewery and it’s obvious you aren’t in Kansas anymore. It’s industrial, yet refined. The ceiling is lined in embossed tin, the tables feature beautiful hand-rubbed wood, and the wall separating the brewery from the taproom features large windows that allow guests to look into the brewery. Oh and there is a gigantic chalk board paint wall behind the bar feature beers “Brewed Here”, beers “Brewed Elsewhere” and specials. And of course they’ve got a huge shelf of growlers.
Outdoor Patio and Central Location
Ask any local and they’ll likely agree that Lakeland Brewing Co. and The Old School Annex have one of the best views in Lakeland. The patio provides you with a front row seat to historic downtown’s lovely Lake Mirror, which has served as back drop to many of weddings and host to fantastic Central Florida events including Red, White and Kaboom, the Lakeland Swan Derby and the Lake Mirror Classic auto show that attracts nearly 35,000 spectators.
The breweries 15-barrel brewhouse and 30-barrel fermenting tanks are looked after by some heavy hitters: head brewer Joe Pierce who spent seven years with Milwaukee Brewing Co. in Wisconsin, and assistant brewer Rob Harriage who got his wings at the well-loved Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. They keep the core beers brewing, and let their imagination soar with their seasonal one-offs.
Food - Small Plates
They aren’t serving three course meals, but they aren’t serving your typical bar food either. Their menu contains a curated array of small dishes that will not only complement your brew, but are the perfect size for sharing – or not. If you do happen to see a familiar dish, expect an unfamiliar twist.
What’s Brewing and On Tap
The recipe for what’s on tap in The Old School Annex is simple: Six core beers, one seasonal and a beer or two from a guest brewery. You can try them by the glass, in a flight, or take em’ home in a growler.
These core beers are mainstays on the menu, and are some are even featured at other restaurants and breweries around town.
- Portico - East coast porch ale
- Pah'le Ah'le - Way west coast style pale ale
- Acer Nook - Florida wheat * Award Winning *
- Damn it, Janet! - Red rye
- 80Acres Abraham - India pale ale
- One-Eyed Revenge - Mocha stout
Seasonal One-Off Beers
One-off beers are essentially beers brewed in small batches, so they don’t typically make it to the bottle, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty. On the contrary, these curious creations are high in flavor; they are the product of the brewer’s imagination and worth a try. Lakeland Brewing Co. aims to serve a new one-off beer seasonally.
In order to provide a little diversity to their guest, and show a little love to their fellow craft beer brewers, Lakeland Brewing Co. aims to feature a brew or two from a guest brewery alongside their mainstays and seasonal offerings.
The Beer Garden and Silo Stage
In addition to the ambiance provide by the Old School Annex and its lovely patio, guest can treat themselves to a more secluded sipping at the back of the building in what is being called the beer garden.
Lakeland Brewing Co. also plans to host live entertainment, and they’ve already got the stage picked out. The deck adjacent to their loading dock which houses their brand new 50,000 pound silo, has been dubbed the “Silo Stage” and will be where the magic happens.