Beer’s a Big Part of SeaWorld Orlando Festival

Image courtesy of SeaWorld OrlandoI’ve noticed that as the craft beer scene grows in Florida, it slowly seeps into places that you might not expect. Case in point: Theme parks.

Though you’ll still find mostly macro-brew offerings at the drink stands in the parks, the restaurants, clubs and other such venues are starting to put more local and microbrew beer taps and bottles on their menus. The variety and quality of beer at the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival increases each year.

My friends at the website Party Through The Parks do an excellent job of cataloging these offerings – as well as spirits, wine and food.

The latest hope that you might be able to visit a theme park and drink a beer that isn’t one degree away from water comes from SeaWorld Orlando. The home of Shamu – along with Tampa’s Busch Gardens – is ready to kick off its annual Band, Brew & BBQ festival and concert series, and they promise “nearly 60 craft beers from 21 different domestic and international breweries” at its new beer garden.

Here’s the list they sent me:

  • Widmer Brothers Brewing Company: Hefeweizen, Deadlift IPA, Drifter Pale Ale, Drop Top Amber Ale.
  • Kona Brewing Company: Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale, Pipeline Porter.
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company: Gemini, Unearthly IPA, 422 Pale Wheat Ale, Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale, IPA.
  • Florida Beer Company: Swamp Ape, Key West Sunset Ale, Key West Southernmost Wheat, Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner.
  • Victory Brewing Company: Prima Pils, Hop Devil, Golden Monkey, V-12.
  • Blue Point Brewing Company: Toasted Lager, Blueberry Ale, Rastafa Rye Pale Ale, Hoptical Illusion IPA.
  • Magic Hat Brewing Company: #9, Howl, Circus Boy.
  • Starr Hill Brewery: The Love, Dark Starr Stout, Northern Lights IPA, Jomo.
  • Redhook Ale Brewery: ESB, Longhammer IPA, Mudslinger, Blonde.
  • Effinheimer Beer: Ale, IPA.
  • Woodchuck Cider: Amber, Pear, Granny, Limited Release.
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery: Blonde Bock, Marzen, Maibock, Polar, Famosa, Tona.
  • S.A. Damm: Estrella Damm, Inedit, Daura.
  • Others: Leffe, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Bass, Beck’s.

No matter what your taste in beer is, you’re sure to find something in that list to satisfy your palate. If you can’t decide, 12-beer variety samplers will be available. That’s a pretty amazing size for a sampler; most places offer no more than six different beers in their flights.

Though some – OK, many – of my favorite craft brewers are missing from the list (Rogue, Dogfish Head, Cigar City … and on and on), I’m encouraged to see the offerings from Effinheimer Beer. They brew at a small operation in the Central Florida town of Minneola, about 10 minutes from my house, and produce some really tasty stuff. Kudos to SeaWorld for including some locally produced beer.

The event does look like it will be a rollicking good time!

Here’s the press release SeaWorld sent out about Bands, Beer & BBQ:

ORLANDO – Central Florida’s can’t-miss BBQ festival and concert series kicks off its four-weekend run on Saturday, February 12, at SeaWorld Orlando.  The park’s Bands, Brew & BBQ is back and bigger than ever with more BBQ variety, more brews and the best in country and classic rock.

Bands, Brew & BBQ is included with park admission.  The hot event also takes place at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on Sundays with even more country and classic rock stars.

NEW – SeaWorld partners with Central Florida’s favorite BBQ restaurants to bring an even richer variety of great food.  Local BBQ biggies – Four Rivers Smokehouse (Orlando Sentinel reader’s top choice for best BBQ in Orlando), Texas Cattle Co. and Smokey Bones – will be cooking on-site and SeaWorld’s own team of chefs round out the menus with home-style beef jerky, kettle chips, buffalo chili and much more.  VIP tickets are available and include BBQ and reserved seating for the day’s concert.

NEW –  Wash down that tasty BBQ with an ice-cold brew at the all-new Beer Garden featuring nearly 60 craft beers from 21 different domestic and international breweries.  Ale, stouts, porters, lagers – can’t decide on one?  Try a 12-variety brew sampler.

Bands, Brew & BBQ also has top headliners in classic rock and country in afternoon concerts at Bayside Stadium.  This year’s lineup includes:

February 12   Huey Lewis & The News

February 19   Willie Nelson

February 26   REO Speedwagon

March 5         Josh Turner

The Fun Card is the way to go for unlimited admission!  The best way to take in Bands, Brew & BBQ, all the concerts and all of the one-of-a-kind thrill rides and up-close animal adventures is with a SeaWorld Fun Card.  The fun is all year long, too.  Paying just a day’s admission means coming back again and again to enjoy every one of SeaWorld’s events, including Summer Nights, Halloween Spooktacular and the park’s Christmas Celebration.  This spring, there’s even more when Shamu takes center stage in an all-new, must-see killer whale spectacular.

Fun Cards are valid for unlimited admission through Dec. 31, 2011 and available at SeaWorld’s front gate, online at or by calling 888.800.5447.

To get all the details on Bands Brew & BBQ and more, go to and

Additional charges apply to all food and beverage items; must be 21 years or older to purchase alcoholic beverages.  Event talent, dates and times subject to change and/or cancellation without notice.  Seating capacity is limited to first-come, first-served.

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