Tourists stream into central Florida during the summer to visit the many attractions built in and around the Orlando area. Undeterred by the pounding heat, they queue up for attractions at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. But, not all are seeking the newest thrill ride or attraction; some are seeking relief from the relentless heat and humidity by quenching their thirst with cold beverages from around the world. And there is no better place to accomplish this feat than Walt Disney World’s Epcot.
In Walt Disney’s original vision for Epcot, the park would be a model of synchronistic living. It would showcase how people could live, work, and play in the same community using eco-friendly means. But, after his death, the park took on a much different look. It became more of a showcase of innovations and of world cultures than a community.
It is the World Showcase half of Epcot that provides the venue for the popular activity known as “Drinking Around the World.” The idea is to have an alcoholic drink, in this case beer, in each of the 11 countries surrounding the World Showcase lagoon at Epcot. Considering that each beer will cost anywhere from $6 to $10, this could be an expensive undertaking. But to those who take up the mission, it can also provide a number of insights into the beer that people drink around the world. Because 11 alcoholic drinks over the span of six to eight hours can have quite an impact on your sobriety, it is suggested that you have a designated driver for the end of the evening.
Traveling counter-clockwise around the World Showcase lagoon, you will encounter Canada first, followed the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. Each country is represented by an area designed and built to imitate the architecture of its host and are populated by cast members from that country as well.
Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Canada with over 46% of the adult beverage market. Canada’s oldest independent brewery is Moosehead, located in Saint John, New Brunswick. The brewery was founded in 1867 by Susannah Oland and is still operated by the Oland family, now in the sixth generation of ownership under Derek Oland. Moosehead is also one of the brews you can try in the Canada pavilion at Epcot.
Moosehead is a lager style brew that presents a sweet, grain aroma and crisp, moderately malty taste. It is a refreshing and balanced brew perfect for quenching the thirst of vacationing guests as well as taking the edge of the Florida heat. Canada also serves Molson and Labatt Blue, and occasionally Unibroue products like La Fin du Monde and Maudite.
England is well known for its love of beer in all its glory. Pubs are a way of life for many Brits and a pint or two and the end of the day is a ritual many would not think of foregoing. Epcot provides guests with an authentic pub experience at the Rose & Crown pub complete with traditional pub foods and beers. Behind the bar a British lad or lass will cheerily and properly draw you a Guinness, Boddington’s, Bass, Harp, or Stella lager. Or, if you are in the mood for something a little different, you can get a Strongbow hard cider. Whatever your choice, be sure to raise your pint high before your first sip and give your barkeep a hearty, “Cheers!”
The French have mastered the art of fine dining and elegance. In Epcot you can choose from two award-winning French restaurants and a patisserie. But, the French have never really been known for their beers which is a shame because they have several interesting brews that should definitely be tried. At Epcot there is only one beer available to sample, but it is one of those worth a try.
Kronenbourg 1664 is a pale lager that clock in at 5.9% ABV. The brewery was founded in 1664 by Geronimus Hatt in Strasbourg as the Hatt Brewery. The name comes from the area, Cronenbourg, where the brewery relocated in 1850 and the year the original brewery was founded. As with most lagers, the brew has a sweet, grainy aroma punctuated with grassy hops. The taste is mildly bitter with sweet corn and grain notes. The brew is highly drinkable with a light mouthfeel.
It is somewhat puzzling that there is a Moroccan beer available since Islam, which strictly forbids any form of alcohol, is the majority religion in Morocco. But never-the-less Casablanca beer is readily available at stores until 8:00 p.m. in the evening. Casablanca lager, brewed in its namesake city, is a generic, inoffensive brew that is rather unremarkable in both aroma and flavor. The aroma has hints of grain and herbs, while the flavor is sweet from the grains, but thin and somewhat watery.
Those who patronize Japanese restaurants will be familiar with most of the beer choices in the Japanese pavilion of Epcot. Kirin Ichiban and Ashai are the two predominant brews available. But, if you are looking for something a little different, go in to the Japanese department store and work your way all the way to the back where there is a saki tasting bar. Along with the saki, they occasionally have Ginga Kogen beer.
Ginga Kogen started as a project in 1998 to economically develop Sawauchi village in Iwate prefecture, by Isao Nakamura who established Higashinihonhouse Co., Ltd. The beer is an unfiltered, German-style heffeweizen, with an abundance of fruit on the nose and the rich banana flavors you would expect from the style. At $10 per bottle though, it is an expensive indulgence. Still, you may want to give it a try for the novelty.
The beer choices here are limited you could choose a mass-produced macro lager or Sam Adams. Occasionally you will find seasonal offerings from Sam Adams here as well.
Like the French, Italians are not really known for their beer. The only choices available in this pavilion are Birra Moretti and Peroni. Both are inoffensive lagers, but nothing special. Still, to accomplish your mission of drinking beers around the world, grab a Peroni and enjoy the crisp and slightly bitter flavor before heading on.
When conversation turns to beer, Germany is almost always part of the discussion. With a history steeped in beer-making the Germans have become undisputed masters of the craft. And, at the Germany pavilion you can sample several examples of German craftsmanship as you peruse a shop filled with steins, das boots, and all manner of German drinking vessels.
The German pavilion changes their beers out rather often but there are several staples that are generally available. On a recent visit, Radeberger Pilsner was being served. With an ABV of only 4.8% this pilsner is an excellent thirst quencher as well as a good choice for tis stage of your “Drinking Around the World” expedition. It is a classic example of the pilsner style and is slightly bitter with a crisp, clean finish.
Other brews that are often available at the pavilion include Warsteiner, Spaten Oktoberfest, and Altenmunster Oktoberfest.
There is only one Chinese beer choice in China and it is Tsingtao. This is an adjunct lager similar to American lagers, but not as flavorful. It is drinkable, but not really all that noteworthy.
Copenhagen, Denmark is home to the Carlsberg Group makers of Carlsberg lager. Carlsberg was founded by J. C. Jacobsen and his first brew was finished on November 1847. While not technically a Norwegian beer, the brewery has been owned by Norwegian conglomerate Orkla ASA since January 2001.
As is the case with many European pale lagers, Carlsberg has a slightly skunked smell and flavor, but is otherwise a pleasant enough lager.
Cerviceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma has the distinction of brewing many of Mexico’s most popular brews. Tacate, Dos Equis, Sol, and Bohemia are all brewed there. They are also all lagers with Bohemia being the best of the group. Bohemia is a Mexican pilsner with a nice bouquet, slightly bitter and crisp finish. It is, like most pilsners, a great beer to drink very cold on a very hot day.