Co-Founder Hospitality, Craft Beer
This week I sat down with Robert Scott, Co-Founder of Crooked Can Brewing Company in Winter Garden, FL. My interest in craft beer began in 2008, simply as a patron to local breweries. I loved that you could visit a place, enjoy a great tasting beer, and turn around and shake hands with the person who made it. The craft beer culture celebrates all things locally made. The development of Crooked Can Brewing Company and Plant Street Market has opened the doors for local startup restaurants and shops to take advantage of the collaborative foot traffic generated from each one. The atmosphere is designed to cultivate community and the positive results are in plain sight everyday. I hope you enjoy Robert’s story, his insights into the industry and how he defines The Orlando Life!
Robert Scott graduated from culinary school in 1994 and moved to Orlando in 2000 from Pennsylvania. His passion for the combination of food and craft beer was already on his mind in the 90’s when he and a couple others laid out the vision for starting a brewery called Hickory Knob Brewing Company as a project while going after their degrees. While he moved to Winter Garden in 2003, it wasn’t until 11 years later that his dream was finally going to take off.
Robert met his partners Andy Sheeter and Jared Czachorowski in 2005 playing flag football. The football game was planned out by the local mommy group their wives had joined and their friendship took off from that point. Fast forward to January 2014, the families got together for a trip to Colorado.
Colorado was a location that was really driving the craft beer industry. After touring the breweries and seeing the uniqueness and creativity that each of the breweries had put out, it was such an inspiration that on the flight back to Orlando, the three of them planned out an idea for their own brewery on the back of a napkin.
Robert talks about the culture of Winter Garden and some of the unique characteristics that he sees as a resident and local business owner in the community.
At this time, Winter Garden was already on an uphill climb and the culture and community had a really cool vibe that lended itself to the craft beer scene. All three men saw Winter Garden as a home run. Within two weeks of landing in Orlando they put in an offer on the property that had, at the time, 3 condemned apartment buildings. 14 months later, they opened for business.
With Robert bringing his culinary, sales and hospitality background to the table, his partner Jared bringing construction, engineering and architecture and Andy bringing finance, they were able to tackle the unexpected challenges of getting their business up and running, and did so effectively.
After their opening on March of 2015, Crooked Can quickly became one of the top volume taprooms in the state of Florida and continues to be ranked in the top 4 to this day.
Just like wine, Robert sees craft beer having the ability to fit all styles of palates. With 3 partners behind Crooked Can, I was curious to know the vision behind the style of beers they focus on creating. Robert dives into it in this video:
Crooked Can Brewing is currently doing somewhere around 3000 barrels a year that go into distribution. They work with five distributors around the state of Florida and encompass about 50% of the state with major markets in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Business is hyper competitive and trends are hyper local and received well. Robert indicates that the difficulty comes the further you get out of your home base due to the great quality of breweries in those local areas.
With Breweries beginning to pop up everywhere around the state of Florida I was curious to see what his take was on the industry in our state. Here's what he had to say: