Thursday, April 25, 2024

Cocktail Review - Frozen Coke and Jagermeister

Frozen coke and Jager with the St. George and the Dragon Statue in the background
St. George, the Dragon, and a Licorice Treat!

Google, “Where is the frozen Coke and Jager at Epcot?”


Google, “Where can I buy the frozen Coke and Jägermeister at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot?”

Results…at a kiosk inside the pavilion.

I searched and searched and searched for an answer to this. Honestly, as a grown man, I hate asking for directions. I just want the web to tell me where to find stuff. I’m also a weirdo in two ways. I love black licorice. I don’t know anyone else who does in my world. But I love it. So usually a licorice-inspired beer is something I don’t need to share but get all to myself. Also, in the days of my super productive young adulthood, I never had a Jager era. I’ve never had it! I was too busy working when I should have been drinking this spirit! But when my wife found a TikTok with a frozen Coke and Jager that tasted like black licorice, she told me this unicorn was out there.

A coke and jager on ground.
A tasty cool treat!

This drink is 100% what is advertises itself as. It’s a frozen Coca-Cola with a heavy pour of Jägermeister liquor in the bottom. When you get the cup, there is a clear line between the Jager and the frozen Coke. With the straw at the button of the cup on a first sip, you get a shot of the dark Jager and only the Jager. If you pull the straw into frozen Coke, you get all Coke. This leaves you to finish the cocktail by stirring stirring stirring so the two liquids marry each other. Yes, this will melt quite a bit of the Coke, but the layer left on top will keep the drink nice and chill on a nice day. The taste is exactly what you expect a cola with a licorice tone…a light one in my eyes. 

A German building at Epcot with a Green Beer sign.
Look for the Green Bier Sign

Where do you actually find this? I saw posts, there were not a lot, that said, deep into the Germany Pavillion. That is incorrect. It’s found at the Germany Bier Stand near St. George and the Dragon. Me, I was thinking I would need to go back as far as Sommerfest, but you can see it easily on the walkway and jump in line. But middle-aged men beware, you may need to ask like I did. It’s not on the menu, though you can clearly see the frozen Coke machine from the line. This just reminds us, sometimes when you explore the world it can be a struggle to find the treats you are looking for!

Who Drinks This?: Weirdos like me! I don’t drink a lot of pop, but this might be a way for me to drink Coke. I just don’t see myself drinking a lot of it as there are many options to consider. But on a hot day when I want something black licorice in tone, I would 100% do this again. If you don’t like black licorice, you need to stay away!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Brewery Review - Home State Brewing Company

The front door to Home State Brewing Company, a store front with glass windows.
Home State Brewing Company

Home State Brewing Company in Winter Garden, Florida, got me to visit through a theme park connection. What I found on our visit was a comfortable space and well-crafted beer that made for a fun afternoon.

Home State Brewing had a logo and name that did not tell me much about the vibe and story of the brewery. I’m not from Florida and I’m not sure if the owners are from Florida. I definitely don’t know if they are trying to masquerade as a local spot or explain what Florida means to them. A small part of me thinks they are trying to express their out-of-state roots, without emphasizing their transplant to Florida. Maybe they come from Nebraska? All in all, the logo was cosmic to me, without good old home vibes. So after a fair amount of research on my part, apparently, the owners are nerds, who chose a logo that made sense to them but not to me. After sleuthing up an answer, I knew why they chose their logo, but the issue still remains that I, as a common consumer, have no idea what their vibe was going to be.

I was there for Mammoth Club, the theme park YouTube channel. They were having a meet-up at Home State at the end of the week. Unfortunately, a meet-up I was going to miss. Alan and Molly had worked with Home State on a beer collaboration. As a proud drinking member of the MamFam, I needed to at least try and rate their IPA creation.

Expecting more, my expectations diminished when we arrived at a strip mall. A smallish strip mall brewery, likely with the typical cramped feeling setup that tries to fit ten times as much seating into the room as possible. Expecting the worst, I was surprised to open the door and find an unexpected phenomenon to my left. It was there I saw a large and spacious patio complete with games and an outside set of taps currently not in use. Additionally, the inside offered a roomy, clean and welcoming taproom. It was obvious time had been invested to set up a taproom that provided a consistent feel instead of one that haphazardly filled a room with mismatched furniture.

But hey, why are we here? Obviously the beer! I could care less about the atmosphere if the beer is worth the pain. So, is the beer good? Yes, the beer is well-executed. All in all, Home State makes a super drinkable beer.

A flight of four beers sitting on a table.

  • “SheMAMigans”: The Mammoth Club collaboration is to me a light hazy IPA. Light in the sense that there is a lower-level citrus taste, not a juice punch. But it is also not coming at the drinker with an excessive hop bite. I think a lot of MamFam members may not fully be in the “I love IPA” camp. For those drinkers, this is super approachable, something that they can share in without feeling excluded. And maybe, they can enjoy one of their first IPAs.

  • “Big Dark Energy”: I love Imperial Stouts. They are my jam. This version was roasty and toasty. I could cuddle up next to a fire with this beverage. Oddly, it seems like a good-tasting non-Imperial stout and the 9% ABV doesn’t slap one in the face. Honestly, that high ABV is super sneaky so watch out. But I do wish that it had lived for a while in a barrel.

  • “Doctor’s Orders”: This is a well-made on-model Hefeweizen that gives you the banana and cloves vibe. It’s exactly what one wants when ordering this style.

  • “The Audacity - Strawberry Peach” - I was worried this sour would be too puckery, not something that I enjoy. This is not a lactose-type sour that tastes like a fruity cocktail with the mouth feel of a smoothie. But it has a light pucker with a celebration of fruit flavor and a mouth feel that comes across as well, beer. It could serve as an introduction to traditional sours for some drinkers as it’s not overpowering.

  • “The Selective Eccentric” - I am not a Saison fan. But this was still something that I could sit down and enjoy if there were no other options available. It could have easily been the addition of peach and blackberry, as I’m not sure I have had an adjuncted saison before.

  • “Octoberfest, Ja!” - Yep, that’s a Marzan! I loved the bubbles, the perfect Marzan caramel color, and it’s one of my favorite representations of an Octoberfest this fall!

Overall, everything was approachable in a sense of style, and something that I could recommend to friends. But on this day, there were no unicorns that were must-haves that I would chase upon release. There were numerous to-go options if you wanted a great-tasting beer back at your resort.

For food, we just had the always-welcomed big pretzel, which was good. However, we did not go deeper into the menu because we noticed that there was a Pizza Press nearby. This was an unexpected find for someone who has fallen in love with this freshly made pizza joint in the shadow of Disneyland. So stumbling on one located in the Orlando area completely derailed the food plans of my party.

For the non-drinkers, there was an array of non-alcoholic beverages. Along with craft beer, Home State offers craft coffee. Specifically, Filigree Coffee is located within the same building but as a separate business. 

Second Sips: Recently I stepped in for a second visit on a Saturday.  And I loved that the outdoor patio was vibrant full of people visiting and enjoying the sun.  Some where there for a conservation event but others were just there using the large open space to socialize...and enjoy what is really is, a friendly open, neighborhood space.  I only grabbed one taster

  • "Sweet Nothings": To me this tart cherry stout is an experiment, trying to create a chocolate covered cherry.  I got the tartness instantly, but maybe not as much of the cherry as I wanted.  It was easy to drink, but maybe not something I would order more of. 

Who Drinks Here?:  Honestly, if one were visiting Orlando for a theme park, it’s hard to recommend a side trip to this brewery as a must-do. On the days we visited, no beer screamed, “Everyone must drink this!” However, if you need to get away and want some space, Home State would guarantee well-crafted and executed beer in a friendly environment. The beer is well-made, and delicious, and offers a menu where almost anyone can find a style that fits their tastes. It is a safe bet to keep a craft beer fan satisfied within a clearly theme park fan-friendly environment.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Beer Review - Dark Forest Ale

A pint of Dark Forest Ale sitting on a wall in front of the Velicoaster Track
A Pint of Dark Forest Ale

I’m in a mood! But maybe I did it to myself. I love dark beer. It’s my favorite. When I saw Dark Forest Ale in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios at Universals Islands of Adventure I was excited.

I saw dark…and assumed it would be at least a brown ale.

I saw forest..and I thought woodsy, maybe a little spicy.

And I swear I saw spice in a description somewhere. But maybe I tricked myself!

I thought, yes something different and new, I bet it’s a spicy winter warmer style beer that will remind me of cold days as I see the snow-capped buildings of Hogsmeade.

I was wrong!

Dark Forest Ale by Crooked Can is a drinkable 5% ABV copper-colored beer with no IBUs. It is light, drinkable, and reminds me so so much of Yuengling Traditional Lager! The color is similar and I think the flavor is similar. I walked away wondering if that was what I just drank. But nope, it was a theme park specialty beer that I hoped was going to be different than other offerings, but I think I could have just been as satisfied with another copper-colored beer in Dragon Scale which also has no IBUs.

So first, let’s be fair. I do love a themed beer and I love craft beer. So I do tip my wand to Universal for choosing again to partner with Crooked Can as a local craft brewery. I also think that Crooked Can as a brewery has dialed in making a drinkable crowd friendly beer. I just wanted something dark, spicy, and as dangerous as the scariest creatures in the Dark Forest.

Who Drinks This: You like lagers, you like Yuengling, and you want to be themed so you find yourself with a dilemma as you spend a buck fifty more for this draft than you would outside of the Wizarding World for Traditional Lager. Then you flipped a coin and selected this potion over Dragon Scale!


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Beer Review - Yuengling Traditional Lager


A Pint of Yuengling Traditional Lager
A Pint of Yuengling Traditional Lager

It’s not everywhere. In fact, only around half of the United States gets it. 

But it’s everywhere! Wherever you look you will find this strange-sounding beer is on tap, in cans, and in bottles in Central Florida. If you are in a theme park, you will likely stumble onto Yuengling Traditional Lager.

I’ve mostly lived in states that didn’t get Yuengling and I have only recently had a pint despite the fact that it is honestly the most prevalent craft beer in Universal Florida or Walt Disney World. 

A 16 ounce can of Yuengling Traditional Lager
A Can Seen Throughout Theme Parks!

Recently, I acquired some pints of Yuengling Traditional Lager. I was overjoyed by the light brown amber color. Despite the color, the word that best describes this pint to me is light. It’s crisp and clean. The malt which gives it color also adds a very slight but not overpowering malty flavor…but not too much. It claims to have 12 IBUs, but really when it’s that low and light is anyone asking? The 4.5% ABV, makes it easy to drink a few, as this lighter amount of alcohol makes it easy to have more than one. It was not my favorite lager, but I do enjoy the malt flavor. But I can think of others that I would rather have. It does the job, and is a recipe that out of all craft lagers has had the most time to be perfected.

I mentioned a long time, right? Yuengling is a craft brewery that is mentioned numerous times in any craft beer history. It was founded in 1829 as Eagle Brewery by David Jüngling, which he anglicized to Yuengling, in Pottsville Pennsylvania. David was born in Germany, where his father ran a brewery. The first beer he introduced was a German lager. Now five generations later, the company president still shares the Yuengling name. Another German brewery, Anheuser-Busch, wasn’t founded till 1852! In fact, Yuengling is the oldest brewery in the United States.

I keep calling it craft beer, but is it? According to the Brewer’s Association, two things must be true for one to be called a craft brewery. It must be small, which they define as under 6 million barrels of beer or less. Now anyone who knows the history of craft brewing knows this number has increased as some craft breweries saw increased markets and production, much like Yuengling has. This brewery is considered small by the Brewer’s Association. It must be independent, which means not under the control by another brewery. I mentioned five generations of presidents with the name Yuengling right? Not only is this a craft brewery, but it is according to the BA the largest craft brewery in the United States.

But, let’s not convince ourselves that Traditional Lager has a century of history. It does not. The current recipe was introduced or reintroduced in 1987 as a pre-prohibition lager. And yes it does have generations of family beer-making know-how behind it. After its introduction, it rose to become Yuengling’s flagship beer and is in grocery stores, restaurants, and theme parks wherever their distribution takes them.

Who Drinks This? I have a few ideas here. First, if you are a craft beer nerd, and you don’t always get access to this brewery you really need to have one to check off the list. But you may not need a second. Second, if you are a craft beer nerd and have your choice between a traditional lager or a macro lager at a beer cart…this is your choice. It will pack a little more flavor but not be overpowering. Third, if you want to dip into the boozy pond of craft beer but are a little afraid, this is a brew that can help ease you into the hoppy waters. But honestly, there are so many other beers to sample in the world so one may be truly enough. It won’t change your world, but you need to mark it on your scorecard.

A shot from the top of a Yuengling pint showing the high foam level

On a side note, I will say that a beer you may need a whole six-pack of and should have every year is the Yuengling Octoberfest. That is a caramel-colored malt bomb that is currently the best American representation of the Marzan style. If you like Sam Adams’ version, I think in a taste test this bottle may have it beat!

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