There's a brewery in Palmetto cranking out some seriously delicious beers. Corporate Ladder Brewing Company, which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, has received national awards, including two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Having tasted the beers, it's no surprise.
"In the short amount of time we've been open, we are super proud that we've become one of the highest-rated breweries in Florida," says Blake Kleppe, who co-owns the business with James Herrholz. "It's both the local support and the beer nerds who have sought us out and turned us into what we've become."
Corporate Ladder's selections run the gamut from IPAs to stouts, but it's the heavily fruited sours for which they're famous.
"We come at it from the unique position of drawing inspiration from the culinary world; thinking about it like chefs," says Kleppe. He talks about whimsy and nostalgia, and as I sample the beers, those are the words I return to, too.
"Do you remember Tang?" the beertender asks as she pours bright orange liquid from the tap. It's Intangible, a sour beer brewed over tangerine and vanilla. It's also reminiscent of an Orange Julius, and the nostalgia immediately kicks in. I'm suddenly 15 again despite drinking a 6.5% ABV beer, not a mall kiosk beverage. Appropriately, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" begins blasting over the speakers. I'm filled with joy.
The facility is a working brewery and the walls are lined with giant steel vessels that Kleppe tells me are fermentation tanks. I can hear pressurized liquid rushing out of something in the back, and while I can't see the action, I know the team is hard at work creating the inventive beers I'm enjoying in the brewery's tasting room.
Kleppe joins me with a flight of sour beers and explains each one to me. I'm intrigued by the Paid Time Off, laden with tropical fruits like pineapple, guava, passionfruit and a touch of coconut cream.
"James is a massive tiki lover," Kleppe says of Herrholz. "We've been trying to recreate some of those classic flavor combinations." The beer is bright and refreshing, the perfect accompaniment to a day by the pool.
We finish the flight with the Mango Coconut Swirl, made with vanilla ice cream. The head of the beer is comprised of large bubbles that pop under my nose as I take my first sip, releasing mango aromas for a full sensory experience. It's thick, almost chewy, but somehow still refreshing. I've never had anything quite like it.
"People seek us out for these beers because they are super unique," says Kleppe. I can see why.
Corporate Ladder Brewing Company is located at 4935 96th St. E., Palmetto. For more information call (941) 479-4799 or visit their website.