While it is unarguable that Walt Disney World is a great place for a family vacation, it is also unarguable that many people, after a long period of time with said family, could use a drink. Disney has always had a strange history with alcohol; Walt Disney himself was famously against serving alcohol in his theme park. Nowadays it has become commonplace to see someone wandering World Showcase in Epcot with a drink in hand. Disney has even begun opening more elegant drinking establishments, such as La Cava del Tequila (wonderfully summarized by my co-blogger Stacey) in Mexico.
While I have been known to enjoy an adult beverage from time to time, I am also a researcher. I am less concerned with putting large quantities of alcohol in my system and more focused on quality. My goal with this new series is to orient you to the choices in alcoholic beverages and give you some idea of where it came from. As a wise man once said, knowing is half the battle…
Since I am, at heart, a beer fan I have decided to start with a beer heavy location: the UK Pavilion in World Showcase. Obviously, when you think of grabbing a drink from the UK, you are going to the Rose & Crown Pub, so that’s where I’m going, too.
First, let me start out with some basic history of drinks in the UK. And the Brits sure do like their drinks. Due to the climate, the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish (also known as…the UK) are not wine drinkers. They just plain didn’t grow the grapes. What they did grow was barley, which is fantastic for making things like beer and whiskey. Not too coincidentally, they tend to drink beer and whiskey (see how I connected those dots? I told you I was a researcher).
The bar menu of the Rose & Crown features a lot of drinks…a real lot. If I went through every one of them you would stop reading even earlier than normal, so I’m just going to hit the highlights and let you comment below as to what I have missed.
Scotch Whisky (no, I didn’t misspell it, this is how it’s supposed to be…honest)
Spirits have been brewed in Scotland for centuries; so long, in fact, that no one is sure when the Scots started making them. To be officially considered a “Scotch whisky,” the spirits must be produced, processed, fermented, distilled, and aged (for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks) inside the borders of Scotland (and yes, there are very serious regulations about this).
In general, there are two types of Scotch; single malt and blended. To be called a “single malt,” a whisky must be produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery and mixed with no other batches of whisky (again, seriously regulated). Blended Scotch is what it sounds like, whisky that is mixed with other batches, possibly from other years, to make a more consistent product.
There are several types of Scotch available at the Rose & Crown, and the wonderful bar staff there can no doubt steer you around them. Scotch is most certainly an acquired taste and if you sample a few you will notice a remarkable differences based on maturity and the location where it was produced. Plus, nothing impresses people like being able to talk about single malt Scotch, right? Right? Never mind.
In my opinion (which matters for something, I hope), the UK has some of the best beers in the world. It is often overshadowed because they are not hip or trendy styles, just simple ales that taste good. Like Scotch, beer has been brewed longer in the UK than there has been written history. The beer was (and still is) stored in the cellar to mature and pumped up to the bar for service. This meant that the beer was cellar temperature (around 55 degrees, give or take) rather than “warm,” as so many people mistakenly believe. The pump system also means that carbon dioxide was not needed, which kept the beer smooth and creamy rather than gassy.
There are still beers served in England by pump, and there are others that simulate the effect. Two of those beers are on tap at the Rose & Crown: Guinness Stout (although not from the real UK) and Boddingtons English Pub Ale. Both use a combination of carbon dioxide and nitrogen to temper the carbonation, which is what makes them so smooth and why they have to “settle” before drinking them.
Other English beers that can be found at the Rose & Crown are Bass Ale and…uh…wait, that’s it!? Yes, Boddingtons and Bass are the only beers on the menu that are from the UK. The rest are Guinness (Republic of Ireland), Stella Artois (Belgium), and Harp Lager (Republic of Ireland). For shame.
One other fun thing to try from the Rose & Crown’s drink menu is the mixed beers. Yes, I know that sounds nasty, but bear with me. Some beers (specifically Boddingtons and Guinness) are chemically less dense than others. That means that they can “float” on top of another beer, making a tasty drink (and a cool looking one at that). A few of the better known mixed beers are the Half & Half (Harp topped with Guinness), Black & Tan (Bass topped with Guinness), and the Bumblebee (Boddingtons topped with Guinness). Another good option for those who think Guinness is too bitter (you’re wrong by the way…it’s perfect) is a Poor Man’s Black Velvet, which is a hard cider (such as Woodpecker or Strongbow) topped with Guinness. (In case you are curious, a Black Velvet is Champagne topped with Guinness, and it is kind of gross).
So that’s my rundown in 1,000 words or less. Yes, I know I missed some things, but I’m hoping this will give you a better appreciation of what you are ordering while enjoying the performances of The Hat Lady, sitting next to the lagoon, or simply trying something new.
Thanks for reading!