Drink Your Way Around the World in Eight Hours

July 24, 2017

By Chris Woodard, July 24, 2017

If you’re planning a trip to the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida, that probably means you’ll be committing a good chunk of your time to activities for your children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. Visits to these parks can make for some seriously long days and even at the happiest place on Earth, you’re going to find yourself seeking a beer stand.

You will find no such thing at the Magic Kingdom though. If you happen to be visiting some of the other Disney parks like Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, you may find the delicious nectar you seek. However, all the other parks pale in comparison with the beer-rich Epcot.

After a few days at the rest of the Disney parks, you’ve undoubtedly served your young companions and/or inner child well and have earned yourself an adult day. That said, hopefully you’ve brought along your parents, in-laws, or anyone else you might trust to watch your children (Who am I to judge?) on said vacation.

Epcot’s World Showcase features eleven countries and about 100 yards of Africa (Yes, just Africa) complete with regional architecture, music, food, and of course beer. The Showcase has everything you need to relieve any pent-up beer desires by providing you the chance to drink around the world. 

Epcot"Drink and eat your way around the world" is a decent alternative to another day standing in line with the kids.

Assisted by my Disney parks expert level navigator of a fiancee and equipped with (not nearly enough) sunblock, I set off on my drinking around the world journey. Approaching the World Showcase, my party and I set off to the right, bringing us to Canada.

Here, we found a collection of beers that I couldn’t pronounce properly. I simply ordered “the saison” for fear of butchering its namesake. A Tout Le Monde by Unibroue. As a person who doesn’t do saisons, this was a nice saison. It turned out the employees of this section of the park actually hail from the country that corresponds with their section of the Showcase. After selecting and enjoying my saison, I stumbled upon some familiar names: Molson and Labatt Blue. Happy with my selection and having seen all of the flannel offered in fake Canada, I continued on to the United Kingdom (no, there’s no geographical continuity here).

I could smell the fish and chips, and it was approaching lunch time, but I was on a mission. The first beer stand in the U.K. offered Bass and Newcastle but I promised myself at the outset of this adventure that I wouldn’t have any beer I had previously tasted. Instead, I chose a Samuel Smith Organic Lager.  It was a fairly pedestrian tasting lager but not like the ones with the dirty aftertaste from the States that sometimes produce an instant headache.

Perhaps I should’ve guessed I wouldn’t find much but wine in France. After searching a few different eateries and beer carts, I found that they all only had one beer. The Kronenbourg 1664 would have to do. I like wine less than any beer but I’m sure the wine selections in France would’ve been much more exciting.

At this point, I still hadn’t eaten and was bored with the monotony of bland lagers. I did happen to find myself an extremely bready, big French sandwich to soak up the three beers I’d consumed in the young afternoon.

It was, perhaps influenced by the situation, the best porter I’d ever enjoyed.”

In Morocco, I found all kinds of beers that... weren’t specific to Morocco. The beers here were labeled as Mediterranean beers. Having never heard of anything brewed in Morocco though, this might have been less than unexpected. I selected a not-particularly-inspiring Efes pilsner from a cart in an effort escape from a seemingly permanent lager taste in my mouth. Although – what Morocco lacked in beer selections, it redeemed itself in live music.

Everything to this point had been fun but really nothing special. Japan is where things started to get interesting. After passing through all of the cool shops with anime merchandise and samurai swords, I found a beer cart serving frozen beer. Frozen beer? Yes, frozen beer!

The Kirin Brewing Company Ichiban Lager looked so inviting. A delicious golden treat with a frozen topping. Such a cool idea but it turned out (probably should’ve seen this coming) the frozen topping wasn’t delicious; it was flat, disgusting head. Maybe I just imagined it but the entire beer tasted flat. What a letdown. Disappointed and just intoxicated enough to do so, I cut my losses and drank the Ichiban lager as fast as I could while trying to avoid a brain freeze.

Home sweet home. My crew and I made amazing time crossing the Pacific, onto American soil. At this point, I was thoroughly exhausted with plain-tasting lagers. Dying to get the taste of the frozen atrocity out of my mouth, I approached the first beer cart I could find. I had no idea I would find such a gem here. Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter provided much-needed relief (or exercise?) for my tastebuds. It was, perhaps influenced by the situation, the best porter I’d ever enjoyed. I believe I equated it to drinking a marshmallow. This one beer inspired confidence that the rest of the journey would be vastly better than the prior leg. Honorable mention: Motorworks Lavender Ale.

The sights and smells in Italy made up for the lack of beer selections. At this point, though, I was on a mission and had no room for carbs derived from solids. I found myself a Birra Moretti lager and moved along. Perhaps if you’re not dedicated to a beer from each country, you could take one to-go from America and enjoy some delicious Italian food instead.

Chris WoodardThe author and his friend reenact scenes from Frozen, if only to purge their memories of the frozen beer.

Having visited the real Germany before, I had extremely high expectations for the beer in the fake one. I was not disappointed. My crew and I found all kinds of excellent glassware from fine pilsner glasses to semi-authentic steins. I searched for beer for some time before finding a herd of bottles taking an ice bath inside a souvenir shop. Naturally, I grabbed three different bottles of beer and proceeded to the checkout.

I thought I might have one now and save the other two for later. You might imagine the look on my face when the cashier popped the tops off all three bottles and promptly poured them into plastic cups. Luckily, I had companions on this trip who were gracious enough to suck down free beer. Although I do enjoy a nice hef, I passed off the Franziskaner Hefeweizen and greatly enjoyed the Erdinger Dunkel I chose to keep.

On our way to China, we passed through Africa. Seriously though. You can’t just try to pass a continent off as a country. The only beer to be found here was an Old Elephant Foot IPA by Tampa Bay Brewing Co. It was much more tasty than one might imagine an elephant foot could be. Very juicy and highly recommended. Not brewed in Africa, which is not a country.

I entered China with rightfully tempered expectations. But I was committed and at this point and had turned into somewhat of a bottomless beer pit. I proudly continued my streak of drinking only new beers, selected a Tsingtao Lager, and disposed of it into my belly. 

You might just find yourself drinking an unfamiliar style that’ll change your taste for beer.”

With as many lagers and pilsners as I had consumed to this point, I was elated to find another porter in Norway. The Einstock Toasted Porter was a stellar choice among some of my questionable decisions on the day. My Untappd check-in for this beer stated: “Apparently I’m a porter whore.” I also may have been spotted posing in front of a topiary of Elsa and Anna from Frozen.

Mexico was the last stop on our loop and probably the most entertaining country in the Showcase. Most of the marketplace was under one delightfully air-conditioned roof. After examining my sunburn the next day, I realized this was really the only significant amount of time I spent inside all day. 

There were many beers to choose from in the market but in addition to the $7 can of peanuts I bought, I found myself a Pacifico draft with some sort of delicious pomegranate additive that pushed this beer way beyond any of my expectations. Performance enhancers or not, this was a tasty beer. Gracias, Mexico.

After having spent an entire work day’s time walking around the world and consuming beers, I can safely say that some of you die-hards may not be stunned the offerings at the World Showcase but it’ll surely make for a fun day. If you’re a dedicated beer-head, It gives you a reason to see some cool sights, listen to some good music, and try some great food. 

If you’re a casual beer fan, you might just find yourself drinking an unfamiliar style that’ll change your taste for beer. The World Showcase is highly recommended and a reminder that the Disney parks aren’t just for the little ones.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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