Full Theme Park Review of Bier Fest at Busch Gardens

The thrills are on tap at Busch Gardens Bier Fest! If you’re looking for delicious tavern fare and refreshing craft beer, then come on out to Busch Gardens first annual Bier Fest taking place on weekends now through September 16th, including Labor Day! The combinations and pairings are nearly endless. The best way to experience the delectable event is with a sampler lanyard. Unlike some food and wine/beer festivals that seem to never have enough hightop tables and shade, Busch Gardens has made sure that there are plenty of places to gather around with your friends and family to enjoy the bountiful bier and food.

With so many taverns to choose from, the most difficult part about the experience is just knowing where to begin. Late august early September tends to be a slow time in the parks, so the event was developed as a way to bridge the gap between Summer Nights and Howl-O-Scream. And the decision has been a hit! Nestled in the area of the park that is largely seen as a pass through to the Australia and Sesame areas, the layout of the taverns provides a quaint feel that gives it that quintessential festival ambiance that creates an incredibly inviting atmosphere. Complete with Instagram Walls, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to take memorable photos as well. I encourage you to head out to Busch Gardens to experience it yourself!

The festival grounds begin just before you arrive at the old Gwazi courtyard and continues to Australia and up to the back entrance to Gwazi field. Greeted by some fun Instagram walls, a giant menu of all the beer, and friendly welcome center, you have all the tools necessary to plan your time at Bier Fest. Between the handy festival guide and large print menus at the taverns, you’ll never find yourself wondering where something is or feel overwhelmed because the guides make the info easy to digest, if you will. In addition to the tavern fare and craft beer, you’ll also be able to enjoy bourbon and wine tasting! I recommend the Angel’s Envy!

In order to take a break from the Florida sun and humidity, I highly recommend cooling off at the “hottest show on ice” Turn It Up! With several showtimes during the event, you’ll certainly have time to make your way over to the Moroccan Palace Theatre for this award-winning show.

Here are my recommendations for tasty pairings:

Cheese Curds with Truffles & Pilsner lager

Pretzel Bratwurst & Oktoberfest beer

Chicken Kabob & Pineapple Coconut hard water

All Beef Slider & Vibin’ lager

Grilled Lamb Kefta & Rose Cider

Fish ‘n Chips & Cucumber weisse

For all the event has going for it and has brilliantly executed, there are a few items of mention that I think would be great modifications and additions for next year. One thing I noticed is that the food taverns only offered commercial beer (Bud, Miller, Coors, ec). So, I found myself going from a food tavern across the festival grounds to a craft beer tavern. Although I understand the importance and strategy behind consolidating the craft beers to their respective taverns, I think that at least one craft beer option should be at each food tavern. Even though you don’t typically think of sweets at an event that is all about the savory, I would like to see a few dessert options available for purchase. The frozen drinks do hit the sweet spot, but even a couple sweet items amongst the variety of savory would be great.

You’ll definitely enjoy the live entertainment and atmospheric music from the speakers. Busch Gardens offers a variety of live music guests and house music of chill covers of some of your favorite songs. Even Cyndi Lauper’s timeless classic Time After Time  gets a male vocal cover that pairs nicely with your food and drink. The live entertainers take the stage towards the back of the festival and each one I heard did a great job of interacting with the park guests.

I had so much fun, and I know that you will too! For the best way to experience the festival, you’ll want to purchase a sampler lanyard. There are two affordable options, and a special offering for Annual Pass Holders. Aside from the financial savings, the sampler lanyard also allows you to save time and increase the convenience of ordering your food and beer. I’ve used the sampler lanyard at other Busch Gardens festivals, and have always enjoyed it!

Cheers!

For festival details, please visit the Busch Gardens website

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#CorksAndCoasters: Full Review of Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival

Delightful, delectable, delicious! It’s back, folks! And bigger, better than ever! Though only in its third year, Busch Gardens Tampa’s annual Food and Wine Festival demonstrates measurable growth in excellence in food, wine, brews, and entertainment. The number of kiosks and food and drink selection has increased, and the variety is outstanding. With a wide variety of sweet and savory foods as well as wine and beers from dry to sweet, you are sure to find multiple somethings to satisfy even the most discerning of pallets.

I highly recommend purchasing the punchable lanyard because it will speed up your time at the register and increase the enjoyment level of your experience. There is a sampler lanyard for every budget. Annual Passholders get the 15-item lanyard for the same price as the 12, and that’s what yours truly did. Every item I had last night was delicious! Used 8 of my punches so I can go back another weekend and sample some more. That’s right! If you do not use all your sample punches in one visit, you can bring your lanyard back another time. Pace yourself. There is so much to eat and drink that you’ll not want to overdo it in order to truly allow the unique flavor of every dish and delicacy to dance upon your taste buds.

Strolling along the main festival road in Gwazi Field, you’ll catch enticing aromas from the numerous kiosks aligning the meandering pathway past topiaries and vendors. If you have a question about anything at Food and Wine, incredibly helpful team members are always close by, and are eagerly awaiting to help direct you or offer suggestions to create a memorable experience that will earn your returned business. The printed festival guide makes locating what you want to eat and drink easy! In addition to food and drink listings, there is other helpful entertainment and park information as well. This is my third year at the festival, and I still pick up the guide because I want to make sure that I don’t miss a single opportunity for enjoyment. Since the concert last night was for a group that I am unfamiliar with and was mostly in Spanish (great for Spanish-speaking guests!), I did not take the time to chillax with the live music; however, I headed over to my favorite show at Busch Gardens and favorite theme park show period: Turn It Up: the Hottest Show on Ice.

So, what Food and Wine items did I select last night? I’m happy to share those with you! The first item on my list, which was recommended to me by a helpful team member, was the wine filled chocolate truffles! You heard me right. Two of life’s greatest enjoyments all rolled up into one amazing treat. If you love chocolate and wine like I do, you will not want to pass this item up. Following the chocolate truffles with wine, I went for the beef brisket on a spiced corn waffle with Amerbock BBQ sauce and paired that with Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec. Couldn’t ask for a better pairing of food and wine. I suppose I could’ve had the chocolate truffled filled with wine for dessert, but I just had to get those as soon as I found out about them.

Returning again this year is the wildly popular bison bacon sliders on a toasted brioche bun! Typically served with sriracha ketchup and a pickle, I don’t care for sriracha nor pickles, so the chefs in the food cabin were happy to modify my slider. I paired the slider with an Alexander Valley Merlot. After I finished my delicious bison slider, I headed over to the Moroccan Palace for Turn It Up! After the show, I made my way back over to the festival grounds to tickle my taste buds some more. For my final meal at the festival (for this visit anyway), I selected the Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich with raspberry drizzle and Short Rib and Brie grilled cheese on house-made brioche. Paired this savory and sweet offering with the William Hill Estate pinot noir. Scrumptious! Every item I selected during my first visit to the festival was a sheer pleasure!

I am looking forward to my next visit–I have 7 more punches on my sampler lanyard, after all. But will likely make a few more visits during the nearly two-month run of #CorksAndCoasters. If you are looking for some tips to enhance your experience, the festival is generally less crowded on Sunday than Saturday; however, the concerts can affect this. With the park hours extended until 9pm during the festival, you will have plenty of time for Busch Gardens’ famous coasters.