The slow but steady transformation caused by the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival’s popularity is positively affecting beer selection in the park. But all pavilions are not equal. Considering selection, ambiance, and variety, what follows is my attempt at ranking Epcot beer options. Please note this list excludes full service restaurants from consideration and is not meant to be exhaustive.
The nation of China is not well known for beer, and the pavilion reflects this with its position at the bottom of the list. Thirsty guests will find two beers on draft: Tsingtao and Tsingtao Pure Draft. Both options are standard American style lagers and are unlikely to offend anyone but probably will not impress either. Ambiance and practicality take a hit too: the pavilion doesn’t have many shaded areas to drink and the few that do exist are mostly in the quick service restaurant. Both beers can be found at the Joy of Tea kiosk and Lotus Blossom Cafe.
Norway just barely edges out China. Its single draft offering, Carlsberg, is a little tastier with just a slight hint of hops. I do give them an extra point because it’s a beer rarely seen in the US even if the flavor is not outstanding, where Tsingtao is available at most Chinese restaurants in the States. Finding a good place to enjoy the beer nearby is a challenge. Only the dining area next to the Stave Church is shaded and it’s crowded and noisy. Find Carlsberg in the Bakery and at the drink cart.
France loses out in selection, having only one beer available, but it’s a good choice. Kronenbourg 1664 is a light, pleasantly fizzy lager. In contrast to the boring and tasteless lagers in Norway, Japan, and China, this has a nice clean hop bitterness and a little malty finish. The carbonation is champagne-like and refreshing.
This one breaks my heart. With full disclosure, I am a die hard La Cava del Tequila fan. They used to have one of the most unique beer offerings in all of Walt Disney World: Day of the Dead beers. These were craft brewed, and from Mexico. There were three available and all above average. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell well and are no longer available (but still appear on the menu). They were replaced by a Heineken produced beer (though apparently brewed in Mexico — I’m skeptical) called Desperados. The description “blended with tequila barrel aged lager” confused me at first. What is blended with the lager? The answer is in the taste as this appears to be a malt beverage blended with a hint of lager. It’s sweet, lime flavored, and tastes more like soda than beer. Also available are the standard array of Mexican style lagers including Sol, Dos Equis, and Tecate. All fine, but far from an unique experience. Still, the Mexico Pavilion is an excellent place to enjoy your beer with air conditioning and a festive but quiet atmosphere.
Another nation that drinks very little beer. The quality here is a marked improvement over the previous four. The native beer here is Casablanca which is strangely called just “Casa” on almost every sign and menu in the park and is the first appearance of a pale ale. They also offer Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat which is a decent American craft beer, but is poorly fitted to the location. The only connection I can make is sharing the word “Tangerine” with the Cafe of the same name. Speaking of which, both beers are available at the Tangerine Cafe as well as the Juice Bar. Ambiance is superb though. Grab a Casablanca and find a quiet cool spot in the back of this detailed pavilion.
If you decide this is the place to drink, the Kabuki Cafe is your best bet. Japan gets a fair bump on uniqueness. Here you will find a beer quintessentially Japanese: Frozen Kirin. The whole thing isn’t frozen, just the cap, forming a cold, thick “head” on the drink. Underneath is icy cold but not frozen Kirin Lager. The cold is the whole gimmick here since this rice lager is virtually flavorless. But it is a good gimmick as the frozen top keeps the beer cold for a long time, even in the Floridian sun. The garden in this pavilion is my favorite spot to relax anyway. Combining its cool shadiness with the frozen drink rivals air conditioning on a hot day. They also offer Asahi from a bottle which is a little better tasting than the Kirin and much harder to come by in the US.
When I think of Italy, I think of wine. But this pavilion has a great selection of beers at Tutto Gusto. The Moretti and Rossa are pale and amber ales, respectively, and are fair examples of the styles. The real standout here is the Southampton Biere De Mars a bière de garde made in New York. It’s not Italian, but we won’t see a beer this good until #1.
5. United Kingdom
This pavilion has almost everything you would expect, and that’s a good thing. The beer kiosk in front of Rose & Crown Pub has Bass, Newcastle, Strongbow Cider, Magner’s Perry, and Guinness. Comfortable locations to enjoy your British brew are few, but the selection and quality wins out. Bass is also available at Yorkshire County Fish Shop, but that line is long if there are a lot of Brits in the park.
4. American Adventure
With a rotating seasonal tap of Samuel Adams (Summer Ale right now) and Yuengling at Fife & Drum Tavern and a new kiosk devoted to craft beer called Block & Hans, it’s hard to go wrong with the American Adventure area. Block & Hans currently has available Abita Purple Haze, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Hopageddon, Bell’s Oberon Ale, and Victory Garden Golden Monkey. Given this selection (you can’t go wrong with any of these) this location has #1 ranking written all over it, but there are two catches. All of these are in bottles and cost as much as $9.00. Hopefully they will add taps soon and add some Florida breweries.
Surprised? Me too. This has long been known as a beer wasteland offering only the misleadingly labeled “Safari Amber.” Times have changed. You can now get Orlando Blond Ale from Orlando Brewing and Florida Lager from Florida Beer Company in Cape Canaveral. Having local beer pole-vaults this up the list. Grab one of each and enjoy at the umbrellaed tables across the path along the waterfront. Maybe someone will even serenade you with drums.
No surprise here. Anywhere in the Germany Pavilion that you can get a beverage you can get beer. The popular Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Wheat beer is now available year-round. Also available is Hövels, Altenmünster Oktoberfest, and Radeberger Pilsner. However, they are all on the light side and miss some important German styles like Altbier and Berliner Weisse. So this pavilion isn’t as well rounded as it should be, but there isn’t a better atmosphere to enjoy a brew. If you want to escape the heat, carefully browse the shops with your drink.
Le Fin Du Monde. On Tap. QED. Also by Unibroue is Trois Pistoles and Éphémère. Yes they still have Moosehead, but come on!
Honorable Mention: Sunshine Seasons
Nothing too remarkable here but it’s one of the few places you can get a beer before World Showcase opens. The Yuengling here is probably your best bet for breakfast.
Agree with my rankings? Have your own? Let me know in the comments.