If you’ve followed The Thirsty Beagle blog for any number of years, you will likely know that I am as equally enamored with Walt Disney World as I am with beer.
The Beagle family likes to make an annual journey to Lake Buena Vista for summer vacation, and if we’re feeling frisky we may throw in a little kid-less side trip for the Mr. and Mrs. as well.
We made just such a trip this fall to coincide with a 10-mile race (The Tower of Terror 10-Miler), and more importantly for the purposes of this blog, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Don’t let the name fool you, though, the beer is almost as prominently featured at the fest as the wine is.
So the basics: The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an annual event at Walt Disney World. This year’s fest was Sept. 27 to Nov. 11, and it’s held at roughly the same time each year. All 11 countries (Canada, England, France, China, Japan, America, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Norway and Mexico) in Epcot’s World Showcase offer a la carte food, wine and beer samples. Then, several other countries (Greece, Argentina, Scotland, Brazil Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Africa*, Poland, New Zealand, Belgium and Ireland) set up shop for the fest and also offer samples. In addition, there are non-country-affiliated booths offering beer, cheese and vegan options.
This event was an absolute blast, and offered numerous beer choices. The beer was served in three sizes (6 oz., 12 oz. and 22 oz. in a souvenir stein). I mostly stuck to the 6 oz. size to maximize my sampling diversity.
Here’s the rundown of beers I sampled, just to give you an idea of the diversity of selection:
-Florida Beer Company Devil’s Triangle American IPA
-Cigar City Florida Cracker Belgian-style White Ale
-Warsteiner Premium Verum
-Kona Pipeline Porter
-Dogfish Head Namaste
-Abita Fall Fest
Now, that’s just what I sampled. The fest featured several other beers: Leinenkugel Seasonal Shandy, New Belgium Fat Tire, Red Hook Audible Ale, Widmer Alchemy Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Kona Big Wave Golden Ale, Moosehead Lager, Guinness, Kronenbourg Blanc, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde, Casa Beer, Sapporo, Orlando Brewing Sun Shade Organic Pale Ale, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Sam Adams Octoberfest, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Moretti, Okocim O.K. Beer, Warsteiner Premium Dunkel, Tsingtao, Tiger Beer, Dos Equis, Xingu Black Beer and Napa Smith Organic IPA.
My favorites from the event were the Cigar City Florida Cracker White Ale and the Schofferhofer Grapefruit. Both were great — but I especially liked the Schofferhofer. Maybe it was the fact that temps were hovering near 90 degrees when I was there, but the beer/grapefruit combo seemed so refreshing and so perfectly blended — I could have enjoyed that one all night.
(Another favorite of the trip was the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA — they didn’t have that at the fest, but I scored it at my hotel and would have to say I count it as one of the best IPAs I’ve had.)
Overall, the beer and sampling experience was great. We also tried some wines that were quite nice. The food selection was probably even more impressive. If you’re a beer fan with plans for a Disney World trip and are flexible with your times, you can do worse than visiting during the Food & Wine Festival.