2015 Flower & Garden Beer Reviews – Take 1
Ready for a long post???
A few weekends ago my friends and I headed over to Epcot to check out the 2015 Flower and Garden Festival that kicked off March 4th. This and Food & Wine are easily my two favorite times of the year at Epcot, for obvious reasons. Since I’ve been such a slacker with writing reviews for B&E, I forced the friends that were with me to try some of the beers and help give their thoughts. We didn’t get to hit all of the beers so hopefully there will be a Part 2 in the future (hopefully….).
We quickly decided to head clockwise starting in Mexico (we skipped Urban Farm Eats for now) so we grabbed a Passport to keep track of what we try and headed over to Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico). The line was surprisingly short and we were quickly enjoying our grub and drink. I’m a sucker for tacos and flan so this was a perfect start to the adventure.
- Tecate draft beer with a Patrón Citrónge floater
- Taco al pastor – Corn tortilla filled with achiote marinated pork, garnished with grilled and diced pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsa verde
- Flan de queso con chocolate abuelita – Mexican chocolate custard with whipped cream and cinnamon
The tacos were definitely in our Top 3 items that we tried that day. The flan was a little too thick for my liking and not too chocolate-y. And the Tecate with Patron floater? Hmm… lets just say that we should just ordered the tequila flight instead. This was a liquor/beer combination that non of us enjoyed AT ALL. It was just odd, and really strong. So I guess if you’re looking for some bang for your buck, attempt to drink a few of these. Even the big drinkers in our group were struggling to finish this one cup between a few of us.
We made a quick stop at the Lotus House for the Kung Pao Chicken Bun (it was tasty!) but none of us wanted to try the Tsingtao beer since it’s such a staple in Disney already.
The Florida Fresh booth was up next and our first beer flight! There was a few items I wanted to eat as well but I stuck to the watermelon salad (one of my fave combos is watermelon and feta and this didn’t disappoint). Others had the shrimp and grits and said it was delicious. Next time I’m going for the lemon tart!
But onto the beers, shall we? First thought when I went up to the beer area to pick up my purchase… All the samplers are sitting out pre-poured and waiting for their guests. Eh, so they weren’t as cold as I had hoped but we had seen this happen at Food & Wine as well. Luckily it wasn’t 923 degrees outside so it wasn’t too bad.
- Blonde Ale, Orlando Brewing Company, Orlando, FL
- Another beer found around property, you can see my old B&E review here from The Wave. Everyone agreed that this was an easy drinking beer, pretty plain and standard.
- Channel Marker Red Ale, 3 Daughters Brewing, St. Petersburg, FL
- This surprisingly got a thumbs up from everyone, including the random couple sharing the table with us. A traditional red ale for all you red ale drinkers.
- Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale, Florida Beer Company, Cape Canaveral, FL (Festival exclusive)
- Pretty sure this was the entire tables favorite of the sampler. Definitely some floral hints but not too hoppy. Pretty enjoyable on a warm day! I believe this debuted last year at Flower and Garden and is specifically brewed for the festival. Pretty snazzy.
- Jai Alai, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
- This baby can be found in almost every nook and cranny of WDW property. Like always, I’m not a huge IPA fan. Ok, I actually hate them. This was definitely on the lighter end of the hoppiness scale, but still I wasn’t a fan. My other friends said it was a decent IPA.
Italy was next on our journey but since none of us really wanted any of the food offered, we decided to head into Tutto Gusto and get the same beer offerings, and then some. We grabbed a table after some confusion at the hostess stand and ordered a sampler. The current offerings were Birra Moretti La Rossa, Birra Moretti (both offered at the Primavera Kitchen booth outside), TipoPils Birrifico Italiano, Anderson Valley Seasonal (Winter Solstice), Goose Island Seasonal (Ten Hills – I believe?), and Sam Adams Seasonal (Cold Snap).
I’m a little bummed that Tutto Gusto doesn’t offer more Italian beers, like they used to when it first opened. I know they have to appeal to the masses and such, and possibly a supply issue, but I can get Anderson Valley, Goose Island, and definitely Sam’s anywhere else. We could select 4 of the beers for the sampler so we chose everything but the IPA (Goose Island).
- Birra Moretti La Rossa – I’ve had La Rossa a few times (click the link to the left to read the reviews) and still think that it has a stronger hoppy flavor than what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. It went well with our meat platter
- Birra Moretti – I’ve also reviewed this one in the past and it’s still a typical lager. Nothing too amazing but I enjoy it
- TipoPils Birrifico Italiano – Another past review for me, a typical pilsner, easily drinkable
- Anderson Valley Seasonal (Winter Solstice) – probably our favorite of the entire sampler! Had a sweet flavor to it, caramel like. We were all fighting for the last sip!
- Sam Adams Seasonal (Cold Snap) – One of the better Sam brews in my opinion. Had a strong coriander flavor and everyone enjoyed it.
The Smokehouse was the next stop on our adventure and we were all excited to try the sampler. I think we all agreed that this was our favorite sampler of the festival.
- Floridian Hefeweizen, Funky Buddha Brewery, Oakland Park, FL – One of my favorites, very refreshing with some hint of bananas. We all agreed this was a winner
- Category 3 IPA, Due South Brewing Company, Boynton Beach, FL – Another IPA so it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that we weren’t fans of this one. Moving on….
- Maple Bacon Stout, Shipyard Brewing Company, Clearwater, FL (Festival exclusive) – I really enjoyed this! The maple flavor stood out for me with a slight smokey background. Not overly ‘bacon-y’ so don’t be scared!
- Billy’s Chilies, Twisted Pine Brewing Company, Boulder, CO – Another surprising winner in my mind. There was a slight kick at the end of this but not overpowering in any way. Dare I say refreshing?
Next on our list was Botanas Botánico. Unfortunately I didn’t try the Polar Beer this time around but we did get some good eats. The Cachapa con Queso and White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef and Chayote Slaw might be two of my favorite food items at this year’s festival.
To finish up our eating and drinking extravaganza for the day, I dragged my friends to the Urban Farm Eats booth for some healthier grub. The kale Salad with dried cherries, almonds, goat cheese, and white balsamic vinaigrette is easily in my Top 4 list of items (along with the two Botanas ones I mentioned above and the tacos from Mexico). Really wanted to also try the Urban Mary (their take on a bloody mary) but for the sake of this blog, I tried the Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider.
We all enjoyed the cider, which surprised even the manliest of men that I was with that day. It wasn’t too sweet or overpowering. Definitely refreshing and light!
After I was completely stuffed with kale salad (is that even possible?) we decided to call it a day, with the promise to return again soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to get you guys a Round 2 post before the festival ends!