ORLANDO, Fla. -- Fans and beer go together in soccer as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly. Add in the extra ingredient of fan ownership of the beer, and the relationship reaches a whole new level.
Welcome to Orlando’s Broken Cauldron Taproom – brewery, community asset, and fan central.
When Orlando City SC announced their self-funding stadium deal in May 2015, the team indicated its intention to bring new business and foot traffic to the city's Parramore district. With the stadium open, now, the team's footprint is taking hold through spinoff business.
During the pre-match festivities, it's now all about the Broken Cauldron, a unique combination of two companies sharing one location. and becoming the latest social phenomenon for fans, little more than two blocks from the stadium.
Photo by Susan Veness
Originally, the place started as two distinct operations -- the Black Cauldron Brewery, owned by two Orlando City fans, and also the Broken Strings Brewery, owned by two more. Both had failed, individually, to find permanent digs for their embryo businesses, but together they came up with a unique solution.
They would both occupy the same facilities, take turns at brewing, and sell their products in the same pub frontage of the building. Now combined and known as the Broken Cauldron, this is the official game-day venue for supporters group the Ruckus, thanks to both their location and extensive property that allows for tailgating.
The brewery's run by husband-and-wife team Ken and Jeanna Malines on the Black Cauldron side. Charles Frizzell, his wife Elyssa, and Adam Peyrouse man the Broken Strings, and key investors Jeff and Julie Thompson help support it all.
“I believed so much in what the club would do, I was confident," Malines said about scouting their location. "Then, when the state funding for the stadium disappeared in 2015 and we had already signed the lease, it was terrifying to think all our plans might crumble.”
Then City’s majority owner, Flavio Augusto da Silva, stepped in to privately fund the stadium at the intended location after all, putting the Broken Cauldron back in pole position. The brewery opened on June 4, 2016, and the founders haven’t looked back, largely thanks to the fans.
Naturally, more than business sense went into the decision to open. The Malines have been members of the Ruckus since 2011 – “From the ground floor, when it was just a couple dozen people,” says Jeanna. Frizzell and Peyrouse were smitten by the Orlando soccer bug shortly after. The Thompsons, meanwhile, are also Ruckus recruits from early on, meaning the Cauldron is 100 percent purple.
“We knew each other through mutual friends, and knew of each other’s struggles to find the right location,” Frizzell explains. “I stumbled upon this building on Craigslist and it had everything we needed, infrastructure-wise. I knew Jeanna had already raised the idea of sharing a facility, so we just decided to combine resources. Instead of being two small breweries, we are one larger one.
“We each have our own brewing style, so we have an eclectic mix on the menu. We both brew specific beers to support the team and we just take it in turns to use the brewing equipment.”
Photo by Susan Veness
The Malines were already on the local beer scene with their Ruckus Red ale, which started as a home brew they brought to tailgates during the team's USL days. Now they just brew it in 93-gallon batches instead of by the keg. Frizzell and Peyrouse, for their mart, are known for their Purple Mane Pale Ale -- as well as an excellent Black Vinyl IPA, which is actually stocked by the local Ritz-Carlton hotel.
“The fans take pride in coming in and ordering a Ruckus Red, because not only are they supporting the team, they are supporting fellow supporters as well as a local brewery,” Frizzell says. “It’s also been a real homecoming this season. People were worried about where ‘home’ would be after Camping World Stadium, which had a huge field for parking and tailgating.
“As good as the new stadium is, parking is more of an issue and tailgating space is at a premium, so once we announced we could host fans here and provide parking, our phone was ringing off the hook and game days have just become huge.”
The Ruckus have certainly made the brewery their new pre-game "home," with a tent village, food (the brewery has no food service itself), games, merchandise – and great craft beer. From the Cauldron, supporters stage their March to the Match.
“We took on the responsibility of giving them a place to set up,” Frizzell adds. “It’s great for both parties and we’re seeing it all the time on social media, ‘Where do we go for the pre-game?’ And you see the responses, ‘It’s the Broken Cauldron.' That’s a huge sense of pride for us.”