Through the years Disney’s EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival has slowly but surely upgraded its beer selection, but this year, craft beer seems mostly to be treading water. The festival runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14 at Walt Disney World in Florida.
While definitely a wine-centric festival, a decent number of US craft and better imported beer selections will be available at specialty exhibits, programs and the 27 International Marketplaces—kiosks that feature themed food and beverage selections from around the world. Overall, the number of available beers seems to remain about the same as last year.
As in the past, the craft beer line-up will be led by Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams brand. A Hops and Barley marketplace will offer nine Sam Adams selections including a 15th Anniversary Festival Beer, sold only at the EPCOT festival, and the new Latitude 48 IPA. Unfortunately, Sam Adams has cut back its level of participation and is no longer hosting the popular beer-component and beer-styles tasting program, History of Beer in America.
Taking the place of last year’s Beer Hop experience is a new experience called 15 Beers For 15 Years. While the beer selection is not yet announced, if similar to last year, it could include selections from Florida Beer Company, Kona, Abita, Red Hook, Widmer Bros., AB-InBev and more.
It is great to see local microbrewer Florida Beer Company getting in on the action. It produces a number of lighter-styled lagers and ales perfect for Florida’s sun-drenched climate. Too bad other great Florida craft brewers such as Cigar City and Dunedin Brewing apparently won’t get tapped.
The festival’s special foreign beer tasting experience, called the Brewer’s Collection, will this year offer eight interesting German beer labels not commonly seen around the US. Headlining these will be Hövels Bitterbier, Radeberger Pilsner, Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen, Schlosser Alt and an Altenmünster Oktoberfest.
Due to the addition of a Belgium Marketplace this year, AB-InBev, which normally offers only basic pale lagers, has added Hoegaarden Wit beer and Leffe Belgian ale to its offerings. The Belgiam Marketplace will sell steamed mussels with roasted garlic, along with fresh-baked waffles sauced with a berry compote. Can’t wait to try them.
Another intriguing addition this year will be the Charcuterie & Cheese Marketplace that will feature Sonoma County, California’s Ace Joker Cider.
Most all of the above beers are in addition to the regular selections offered at the various restaurants and bars in the World Showcase international pavilions. Those largely unexciting regular selections usually include commercial lagers from Kirin, Harp, Dos Equis, Spaten, Stella Artois, Becks, Peroni, Moosehead and Bud; and mass-produced ales from Guinness, Boddington and Bass.
The six-week festival, which offers presentations by top-notch restaurant chefs, TV food personalities, wine experts and food educators, annually draws thousands of guests that range from everyday families to foodie fanatics. Now in its 15th year, it has developed a large contingent of repeat guests that look forward to its special themed dinners, food and beverage pairings and educational presentations. Additional information at http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/about/2010-epcot-international-food-wine-festival/