While the Ontario craft beer scene has just started to really pick up, the US craft scene has been alive and kicking for a good while. We can’t resist checking out the local beer wherever we happen to travel, so we decided this month we’d do an “All-American April” to feature some of the US places we’ve been.
Disney World may seem like an odd choice for two adults, but once we heard about “drinking around the world” at EPCOT’s World Showcase, when we happened to be in Orlando, we knew we had to try it. Here’s our best bets for craft-beer-lovers in EPCOT.
To start, the World Showcase is a ring of eleven “countries” surrounding a lagoon. In true Disney fashion, the attention to detail in each one is exquisite (from food to architecture to the staff that come to work there, everything fits the regional themes), but there’s a bit of generalization in most of the pavilions. E.g. Canada consists solely BC and Quebec. You can start the ring at either Canada or Mexico, but we opted for the familiar first.
Totem poles, mountains, Butchart Gardens. And a couple of beer choices: you could go with Moosehead, Moosehead Light, or… a Unibroue! Try La Fin du Monde from the little cart out front, or from the cozy steakhouse, for the certainly superior choice.
It’s a charming little village with a mishmash of UK shops, restaurants, and staff. Based on a recommendation, we popped into the Rose and Crown Pub for some excellent, hearty pub grub – we heard the fish and chips stand out front is also very good – and went for pub blends as our beer. The whole beer-blending thing was relatively new to us but the Black Velvets were delicious. There was also a decent UK beer list available in the pub.
The real country isn’t exactly the biggest beer country and the Disney version wasn’t much different. The only beer option was Kronenbourg. We opted out of beer on this leg of the trip, and instead went for boozy slushies made with Grand Marnier and Grey Goose – delicious, and extravagant. And try the ice cream, it’s delicious (you can also meet Belle from Beauty and the Beast here if that’s what floats your boat). Josh particularly liked the salted caramel ice cream.
Morocco was probably the prettiest “country” with its colourful tile-work and shops tucked away in corners. We sat on a ledge at the edge of the country with an overly familiar squirrel and split a sangria and a Turkish beer – Efes Dark from Anadolu Efes (unfortunately, there were no Moroccan beers available). It was a thin-bodied yet malty, nutty, and roasted offering, good for hot weather.
The bulk of Japan is a store, but each section of it has a different theme and exuberant Japanese staff that seem to really enjoy what they’re doing. We’d done our research and knew that we had to make our way to the very back of the store to the sake bar, where in addition to trying sake, we could try Ginga Kogen, a Japanese Hefeweizen. Certainly one of the more unique beers to us at the showcase.
Like a 19th Century small town city hall, flags and all, the American Pavilion is appealing American. The Block and Hans booth right front and centre has everything a craft beer lover would want, with a nice little selection of rotating US craft beers, all of which we’re unable to get at home.
An interesting amalgam of various Italian town squares, we spotted references to several famous cities. You might not expect Italy to be a beer country, but the Moretti La Rossa that you can get from Via Napoli is definitely worth a try. A malty doppelbock, much different from the more common Moretti lager you see regularly.
Not a surprise, Germany was a beer drinking destination. It was also overwhelmingly Bavarian in theme, with cuckoo clocks and steins everywhere. The beer list is solid at every food vendor, but we went for an Altenmunster Oktoberfest, which he had yet to see in Canada. Nicely balanced between light and rich.
Not an actual “country” in the World Showcase (and really not a country at all – why not choose a country instead of a continent?). We chose not to include it as an official stop on our drinking around the world, as the beer selection also wasn’t very exciting!
Apparently you can also get a draft Tsing Tao (which we only ever see in bottles at home), but we were entranced by the idea of trying plum wine. It was so good, we decided to take a bottle home with us.
Norway seems to stand in for a generic Scandinavian/Nordic country, with one section of the “country” being replaced with a Frozen ride while we were there (it might be ready by now). The drinks stall out front had the beer that would become our winner at the park entirely: Einstok White Ale, a crisp, clear, fresh and fruity Icelandic beer. You could also have a Carlsberg, but you may find it for a lower price outside the showcase.
We chose to go with a non-beer offering again. Modelo was a decent option to try, but we’d had it before, and had heard the margaritas at La Cava del Tequila, inside the Maya pyramid, where not-to-be-missed. We agreed! We had an amazingly juicy mango margarita rimmed with cayenne pepper.
When the trip was over, we surprised ourselves by agreeing that we’d come back some day! Maybe ten years down the road. We’d recommend it to adults travelling to Orlando who want a trip around the world without leaving Disney.
As a bonus, Orlando Brewing
We also had time for one local craft brewery on our trip, and opted for Orlando Brewing. Totally worth the cab out to the brewery, it has a nice tropical feel to it, both inside and out, and a long beer list. Some winners for us were the Eminent Domain Scottish Ale and Blackwater Dry Porter.
Visit date: February 2016