SeaWorld Craft Beer Festival Walkaround Day One 2020
August 28th, 2020
| by Mealtrip
I recently had an opportunity to visit the 3rd Annual Craft Beer Festival at SeaWorld, Orlando
— and I'm very happy to report that this festival is shaping up to be a really great late summer (or early fall, depending how you look at it) event!
Welcome to the 3rd Annual SeaWorld, Orlando Craft Beer Festival (2020)!
Special thanks to SeaWorld's Social Media department for inviting me out and sponsoring my visit!
Before we get to my "day one walkabout" report — a word about safety, health, and covid. If any of you know me… I've been erring on the side of caution though all of this… only going out when absolutely necessary. I haven't even visited an indoor restaurant since last March.
You can't control people, you can only control your actions… and so the big question in my mind while on this visit was… could I safely evade any non-masked, nose breathers — should I happen to come across any.
The SeaWorld, Orlando Craft Beer Festival Logo is looking pretty good on top of the new dark wood booths.
The reduced capacity in the park made it very easy for me to maintain more than six feet of separation from all people. Mask compliance among cast members was 100% and I'd say somewhere around 98% for guests. It's very easy to be standing at one of the many highboy tables, finish your food and beer sample, and then just start walking — forgetting that you didn't pull your mask back up. Cast members were quick and polite with reminding guests to "pull up the mask", and on my visit — I didn't witness any negative pushback from guests, when being reminded.
If you know the layout at SeaWorld, Orlando, there are a couple of pathways that get a little narrow, but by simply being mindful and hanging back for a second or two allowed me to stay a safe distance from all people. At all the beverage and food booths, there were these neat markers on the ground placed at least six feet apart, forming a line — and with the exception of a rouge baby inexplicably whacking me in the leg with a stuffed dolphin — everyone obeyed the markers and social distancing guidelines.
Just like the Seven Seas Food Festival, each of the food and beverage booths have numbers on them… however, not all of the booths are up and running. I assume, if park attendance were to go back to full capacity, more booths could be opened up — for the time being though, all the culinary booths are open, and a couple of the "beverage only" locations seem to be missing.
Here's a map of the main culinary booth at the SeaWorld, Orlando Craft Beer Festival for 2020.
The booths and kiosks for 2020 have a great new look, all in matching dark wood, and a couple even have little beer carts and photo vignettes set up near by that make great backdrops for selfies!
Awe, what a cute little cart! There's a few of these environment pieces tucked away in different locations throughout the park. They're great backdrops for selfies and food photos!
Even though the price has gone up a little bit this year, the "Sampling Lanyard" is by far, the best and most economical way to pay for the food and beverage items at the festival. Most of the individual food items this year are between $6.99 and $9.99 each.
The SeaWorld, Orlando Craft Beer Festival Sampling Lanyard for 2020. This is a 12 sample lanyard. An 8 sample lanyard is also available.
The "Sampling Lanyard" can be purchased in 8 and 12 sample entitlements — which are then scanned whenever you get a sample and a little "punch" is made in the card as a reminder of how many items you have left.
The 12 Sample Lanyard is $60 (plus tax), which makes each sample just over $5! That's more than a 40% saving from buying items out of pocket. A single "Sampling Lanyard" can be used by your entire party, and on any weekend date that this year's festival is taking place on. So if you're going to visit the festival on multiple days, and only get three or four items each visit — it's still a great value! You can purchase a Sampling Lanyard online, or at any of the festival markets.
Booth number one, also kind of doubles as a "welcome center" of sorts. There are some beers on tap here, and because of it's location, this is a great spot to purchase a Sampling Lanyard if you don't already have one.
One of the big changes this year to the food line-up is the inclusion of beer — in some of the actual food recipes — and not just food items that would pair well with beer.
Case in point, my first stop over at the Waterway Bar (the festival's only indoor booth), the really great and not so skimpy portion of "Summertime Jambalaya" featured a Yuengling® Golden Pilsner used as a cooking liquid for the Cajun Rice — and also includes Andouille Sausage, Shrimp, Smoked Pork, and a couple of veggies that you would typically find in a vegetable stock… onion, yellow and red pepper, that sort of thing.
The "Summertime Jambalaya" from the Waterway Bar location features a Yuengling® Golden Pilsner used as a cooking liquid for the Cajun Rice — and also includes Andouille Sausage, Shrimp, Smoked Pork, and a couple of veggies!
This was a great dish that would pair well with just about any beer, and even had a little spicy heat to it (about as much as you can give something, and still make it appeal to a wide range of guests). The Shrimp, Smoked Pork, and Andouille Sausage were all bite-sized so you could totally fork this one, with no cutting.
Speaking of beer pairing, this is the location where you'll find the most options to choose from at the Festival. There's usually around 10 beers on tap at this location, and many, many more in cans — and even a couple of wines are available.
The Waterway Bar location and menu sign.
There are several beers on-tap at the Waterway Bar location, along with even more craft beers in cans, and even some wine too!
Here's a closer look at the craft beer cans at Waterway Bar.
There is ample indoor and outdoor seating at the Waterway Bar, all with socially distanced tables and chairs.
There are plenty of socially distanced tables and chairs inside the Waterway Bar location. There are even more tables around the outside of the building.
Also down around this general area of the park is Mama's Pretzel Kitchen, and they were offering Cinnamon and Sugar Nuggets and Pretzel Nuggets.
The Mama's Pretzel Kitchen location and menu board.
I didn't make it over to Mama's Pretzel Kitchen this year, but here's a photo of the Cinnamon and Sugar Nuggets that were also offered at last year's festival.
Swinging on over to the opposite side of the park, Captain Pete's Island Hot Dogs was hosting two items on the "culinary beer trail" (I just made that up). I didn't get a chance to sample the New England Chili Fries or the Crispy Waffle Fries topped with a Sam Adams Boston Lager Chili… but I bet both are good items. Captain Pete's is usually serving up hot, fresh fries all day long, so topping those with some added flavor and texture from chili is a great idea.
Captain Pete's Island Hot Dogs is one of the Craft Beer Culianry locations for 2020. Here's a look at the building and the menu board.
I just wish there were a few more Beer Festival booths in-between Captain Pete's and the rest of the Craft Beer area. As far as I can remember, there have always been a couple items up here at the northern most dining location during the Craft Beer Festival, but I always seem to focus most of my time in and around the other booths, located more on the south end of the park.
If you're just coming into the festival (after a couple of beverage related booths), you'll find Café de Mar, which is a permanent location, and not a booth so much. This is where you'll find a couple of Cheesecake Cones.
The Café de Mar location and menu board for the Craft Beer Festvial 2020.
Right across from Café de Mar though… is one of the first major culinary booths of the festival. It's Brews and Chews. There's three new items here this year.
The Brews and Chews booth and menu board at SeaWorld, Orlando's Craft Beer Festival 2020.
On this walkabout day, I tried the Buffalo Chicken Empanada with Buttermilk and Celery Dressing.
The Buffalo Chicken Empanada with Buttermilk and Celery Dressing from the "Brews and Chew" booth.
This was a fairly mild version of "buffalo" (spice / heat-wise) but that Buttermilk and Celery Dressing (served to the side in a little cup) was really pretty great. It's not the best photo-wothry items, but anyone familiar with Empanadas will feel right at home with this one.
A look at the insides of the Buffalo Chicken Empanada with Buttermilk and Celery Dressing!
The Empanada was slightly over baked, but not to the point where it was hard… it was more flakey than I was expecting. The flavors were great though, and that Buttermilk Celery Dressing provided a nice contrast with the semi spicy pulled chicken.
There are a few seating options around the booth location, and a couple of more private "off the main path" standing spots to the left of the booth. The tables were all spaced more than six feet across.
Seating around the Brews and Chews booth.
Working my way over to the Yuengling Pub Grub booth, I found three more all new items this year — and this is one booth you don't want to miss! All of the items at the booth are just amazing, but on this walkabout day, I sampled just one item, the Traditional Lager Battered Fish and Chips.
The Yuengling Pub Grub booth and menu board for 2020.
This item is $7.99, but the basket that you get is brimming over with waffle fries, fish, tarter sauce (which you can request to the side, or not at all, if you're not a fan), and even a lemon!
Yuengling Traditional Lager Battered Fish and Chips with Tarter Sauce!
They didn't skimp on portion size, and I couldn't be happier about that — because this was one of "the" dishes I'd recommend at the festival (assuming you like fish and chips). The Yuengling batter on the fish (which I'm guessing is cod), gave it a great golden hue and the batter didn't weigh the fish down either. It's not light like a tempura batter, but it's not super heavy, undercooked, or gummy (we've had a couple of those before at different festivals, and they're not so good).
The basket of fish and chips stayed hot from beginning to end and it showed a real culinary appreciation for what a traditional Fish and Chips should be. At $7.99, the size and quality are on-par (and maybe slightly above) anything you could get at one of the quick-serve restaurant locations — and with a 12 Item Sampler Lanyard — this Lager Battered Fish and Chips ends up being just $5.39!!!!! What?!?!?! Shhhhhhh — don't tell anyone and make sure you get a couple before they figure it out!
The Pub Grub booth at SeaWorld, Orlando's Craft Beer Festival for 2020.
One of the beers at the Yuengling Pub Grub kiosk was a Black and Tan Porter/Lager Blend, which would be a traditional pairing with Fish and Chips. But I wanted to try a sample of Yuengling's "Flight" Lager.
Contrary to what the name might suggest, this isn't several small cups of beer, but is Yuengling's brand new, premium-level, light beer. Flight… Light… my beer is so light, it's taking flight… you get the idea.
A sample sized portion of Yuengling's new "Flight" Lager.
The reason I wanted to try this… is because this poor little beer just didn't get a fair chance to shine. It's roll-out and big marketing splash was set to happen — just after the virus shut everything down. Which is too bad, because it's really one of the best "light" beers I've tried.
There's very little after taste, has a moderate to light mouthfeel, is very crushable, and fairly robust when compared to other ultra light beers. It's probably not going to become your new favorite "high flavor IPA" — but at 95 calories and with just 2.6g carbs — it's very drinkable, practically guilt-free, and pairs with all kinds of food.
The Yuengling booth is right next to the Pub Grub booth.
You might be able to find a limited number of cans and bottles out there, but there's very few (if any) places you can try Yuengling's "Flight" on-tap… which makes this an exclusive preview of sorts,
Yuengling's new "Flight" Lager has just 95 calories and 2.6g carbs!!!
Right next to the Pub Grub booth is a smaller Yuengling booth, where you can talk directly to a couple of very knowledgeable Yuengling reps. This is a new inclusion for the Craft Beer festival this year, and it's a great idea.
A closer look at the Yuengling booth and their new "Flight" sign.
Beer reps are great to talk to, they have all kinds of knowledge about their brand's offerings, and they usually bring cozies and other little branded goodies with them! Make sure you stop by and say hi. They're not really trying to sell anything, they'll just tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Yuengling!
The reps at the Yuengling booth had some Yuengling swag to give out, if you stopped by and talked to them for a couple minutes!
The final two items I tried on this walk around are both from the same booth, the "Sam Adams Best Bites" booth — and this is another one of those "must try" booths at this year's festival.
The Sam Adams Best Bites booth and menu board.
Before I talk about the food, this is a good booth to show (more or less) how things work at the booths. Most of the larger culinary booths have smaller "order and pay" carts before you get to the actual "food making and pick up" kiosk.
Here's what a typical "order and payment" cart looks like. They're usually in front of the larger culinary booths at the festival.
The payment and order carts have a plexiglass shield between you and the cast member taking the order. If you look down in front of the booth, you'll notice these little "safe distance" circles on the ground and in a line. This is the direction that the line for the booth should form in.
These "safe distance" circles are on the ground, and help you figure out how far six feet is between your group and the next group.
Sometimes parties will stand on the circle, sometimes between the circles, but either way… they offer a way to tell if you are six feet from the party in front of you, and for the party behind you to keep six feet behind you. In most cases, guests were respecting the safe distance guidelines.
It may get a little tough to figure out when there are five or six people in your group (a group that size would need more than six feet), but everyone was trying their best.
Lines can sometime look quite long at the booths, and I did see a couple times, where there were more people wanting to get in a line… than there were small circles on the ground. Here again, most guests were still trying to self-enforce the distancing measures the best that they could.
The Sam Adams Best Bites booth.
If you use a Sampler Lanyard at the booths, there is some contact involved. After you place your order at the small payment booth, you do have to give your lanyard to the cast member behind the plexiglass window, so they can scan and punch the lanyard. It's the one tiny hiccup in the otherwise, really great lanyard system.
Fortunately, there's giant gallon sized bottles of hand sanitizer positioned just after the payment cart, and usually near the food making and pickup booth as well. There were no utensil dispensers this time… instead, plastic wrapped disposable knifes and forks were handed to you with the food item(s).
Okay, back to the food! All three items at the "Sam Adams Best Bites" are new this year! The Sam Adams® Cream Stout Braised Short Ribs are as amazing as they sound — they're served with Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes (which I could eat a whole plate of), and topped with crispy Onions!
The Sam Adams® Cream Stout Braised Short Ribs were actually quite herbal and the Cream Stout seemed to bring out notes of rosemary in the short ribs.
This is another one of those $9.99 items, which by itself, is totally on-par with the quality and portion size you would find in the restaurants — but with the 12 Sample Lanyard, is just $5.39!!!!
The Stout Braised Short Ribs had a decent balance of meat, caramelization, and a little pillow fat too. Different tastes like seeing all of that on Short Ribs… in the US, short ribs tend to be served very well trimmed — but in some cultures, that pillow fat is a prized part of the rib. The portion here is large enough for you to decide which parts you want to eat, and which parts you want to trim away.
Here's a look at the Sam Adams® Cream Stout Braised Short Ribs served with Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes and topped with crispy Onions!
The flavor itself was actually quite herbal and the Cream Stout seemed to bring out notes of rosemary in the short ribs. Beer really makes a great braising fluid that adds a subtle crave-worthy quality to meat and veggies like onions and garlic — all without overpowering the primary meat.
Also at the Sam Adams Best Bites booth, and in a totally different direction is an amazing little Sam Adams® New England IPA Drunken Shrimp Taco, served with Serrano and Coriander Salsa Verde!
Here's a look at the Sam Adams® New England IPA Drunken Shrimp Taco, served with Serrano and Coriander Salsa Verde!
I don't know where this Salsa Verde has been hiding, but it's such an amazing punch of flavor — that isn't like anything else at the festival!!! It's such a refreshing flavor profile that would pair well with any beer. I think I'll see you again little drunk taco — at least one more time before the festival is over!
Next week, I'll be posting my "Walkabout Day Two" article with more food and beverage photos from around the festival.If you want to read more about the Craft Beer Festival event at SeaWorld, click here and check out our SeaWorld, Orlando Craft Beer Festival page!If you want to read more about the Sampling Lanyard options, click here to visit the official SeaWorld, Orlando page directly