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Flowers & gardens & booze, oh my!

Flowers & gardens & booze, oh my!

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I'm really excited about this year's Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Normally it's just nice to get out and experience Spring as the frigid Central Florida weather starts to warm up and it is once again becomes possible to go outside after the horrifically cold 50 and 60-degree weather has passed (I grew up in Jersey and lived in Boston for 6 years ... So I can now  make these jokes and rub it in to all you Northerners a bit).

The topiaries and the flower displays are always nice. But this Festival (in my mind, anyway) never held a candle to the ultimate Epcot event: The International Food and Wine Festival ... At least not until this year!

You see, this year for the first time ever, some genius at Disney realized that the only thing that could make the majesty of the floral arrangements & displays at Epcot seem even better would be that critical missing ingredient: booze.

Photo by Max Schilling

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this year they have pulled some of the booths that they use for Food & Wine out of backstage storage and then planted them around World Showcase Lagoon selling beer & wine & tasty snacks... I can't fathom why Disney didn't do this earlier, but hey I'll take what I can get.

The Festival opened last Wednesday (March 6th) and runs until May 19th. I drove over this past Friday and checked out the festivities. And later my wife showed up to join me when she got out of work. She drove my drunk-ass home and we went back to pick up my car on Saturday. (That is how our trips normally go: I drive there. She drives back) We also made it back on Sunday as the weather that day was too nice to stay inside (Plus there was beer to drink at Epcot!)

One thing I am always somewhat disappointed by at the Food and Wine Festival is the lack of beer varieties. They have gotten a bit better in the last few years though, with most of the booths having at least one beer selection. That said, I was actually pretty impressed with the selection offered at the Flower and Garden booths. They have 19 beers spread across 12 booths so that's nothing to sneeze at. I was especially excited to see two offerings from the local (and fabulous) Orlando Brewing Co.

Photo by Max Schilling

Beers (and the ones I have already had... Hey don't judge, this stuff is important!)

  • Orange Blossom Pilsner
  • Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry
  • Sam Adams Cream Stout
  • Liberty Ale (Anchor Brewing Co.)
  • Mama's Little Yella Pils (Oskar River Blues)
  • Red Ale (Orlando Brewing Company)
  • Blackwater Porter (Orlando Brewing Company)
  • Tsing Tao Beer
  • Biere Kronenbourg Blanc 1664
  • Krombacher Hefeweizen
  • Florida Avenu American Wheat All (Cold Storage Craft Brewery. Tampa, FL)
  • Honker Ale (Goose Island Brewing Co. Chicago, IL)
  • Toasted Lager (Blue Point Brewery. Patchougue, NY)
  • Birrificio Del Ducato
  • Birrificio Le Baladin
  • Birra Del Borgo
  • Frozen Kirin Ichiban
  • Corona Light Draft Beer
  • Casa Beer

Not to toot my own horn too much, but I will say I think I made an admirable attempt at the list of beers on the first weekend. Of the 19 beers offered this year, I've already *sampled* 10 of them. So I'm over halfway home at this point. (Mind you, I'm not saying that Saturday or Monday mornings were fun, but...) And granted I've had nearly all of these beers before. But in the name of science, I felt honor-bound to make sure that I sample each beer in their native environment at the Festival. It was just the right thing to do.

Photo by Max Schilling

I'll be doing a full food and beer (and other drinks) review likely next week, but even I, with my iron stomach (and designated driver), will need another few days to make it through all 12 of the booths and to try all the food and beverages in order to be able to be able to properly review (and remember!) them all.

One of the beverages that I was most looking forward to, after perusing the list of goodies on the official Flower and Garden website, was the Frozen Kirin Ichiban. It was a little too cold to really *need* a frozen beer. And to be honest, frozen beer violates all of the beer purist in me. Frozen mugs suck the life out of good beer. But, well, I don't think Kirin Ichiban actually falls in the "good beer" category. So I figured this would be interesting...

Well, it wasn't. In fact the Frozen Kirin Ichiban sucked. I figured they would do something to make it closer to a beer slushy. But no. All they did was pour a regular Kirin and then put some supposedly lime-flavored frozen "foam" on top ... I mean, I think it was supposed to be lime-flavored. But not of the margarita variety. If I had to chose, I'd say it was the industrial cleaning supply lime-flavoring. Recommendation: Avoid this featured Flower & Garden beverage like the plague.

Photo by Max Schilling

Overall though, the food offerings we tried were exceptional and the portions were bigger than you normally get at Food & Wine in the fall. My somewhat cynical take on that is that Disney is trying to lure people in with the larger portions and that next year the prices will go up and the portion size will go down. But for a first pass at this, I definitely approve and will be heading back often enough that I may even be able to discern a flower or two out of the hazy green fog that has been my vision for these past two trips to that theme park.

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  • I like your review of the flower and garden ,beer. My only concern  is that having 10 of the beers would make it hard to choose the best.(for me ) the last beer always tastes the best . But  there again I am not a beer judge.

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