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Monday
Feb142011

SeaWorld Bands, Brew & BBQ 2011 Review

SeaWorld has really stepped up the level of Bands, Brew & BBQ for 2011. There are more food booths, drink booths and overall entertainment than ever before. In addition to their own BBQ specialties, they have invited a few BBQ restaurants to set up booths including Texas Cattle Company, Smoky Bones and 4Rivers. All of this tasty goodness can be found along the waterfront path.

Food
2/19/11 We returned for another round of bbq, beer and Willie. On the food side, we tried the SeaWorld Ribs again and found them fatty and tough . . . again. Zambia Smokehouse over at Busch Gardens has some of the best ribs around; SeaWorld's team could learn a thing or two from the guys under Sheikra. We also had SeaWorld's Pulled-Pork Sandwich which was tender, juicy and delicious - but remember to throw some sauce on or you'll miss out because it's served without. The hands-down best item was the
4Rivers Brisket Sandwich. Whew, this boy's tasty! The little bit of crispy bark on the outside of their sliced brisket and beautiful pink smoke line is exactly what every BBQ enthusiast wants to see. As you're probably already thinking, this stuff's gooood. You'll also want to top it with their signature BBQ sauce, available in regular or hot. While the hot won't make you sweat, it's got a great sweet and smoky flavor and a nice kick from black pepper - we'll be asking if they sell it by the bottle (or 55 gallon barrel) next visit.

2/12/11 We only tried a few items our first visit, including SeaWorld's Ribs, Buffalo Chili and homemade Jerky. The Ribs w
rere OK, but a bit fattier than we prefer. We'll give them another chance. The Buffalo Chili is a unique surprise, nicely flavored and a good amount of food for the price. The big winner of the day by far is the homemade Jerky. You get about 5 pieces in a bag for $4, and we went through 2 bags! It's a great snack to bring back to the Beer Garden. If you love jerky, heck, even if you're not a big fan, you've just gotta give it a try.

Our complaint about the food so far is that they no longer have the 'sampler' option and now if you feel like ribs, you'd better feel like a biscuit, beans and slaw too. They're all fine but we'd much rather just get a few ribs for a few bucks less like in past years. We ended up tossing the unwanted sides - beer money down the drain. By being froced to purchase the platter it discourages the type of grazing from multiple stands we always enjoyed. Food & Wine seems to do it awfully well over at Epcot; I think it'd work here too.


Beer Garden
We ended up spending most of our time in the new Beer Garden (shocking, right?) To take part in the Beer Sampler, you purchase a lanyard for $20 (or $18 with an annual pass) and receive 12 3oz. samples of your choosing. Let me tell you, that is a lot of variety in one afternoon! The Beer Garden is located just off the path of the main event in one of their special event areas. Back in the Beer Garden you'll find several beer booths set up, along with a few high-top tables and a few benches. There are restrooms back here as well. There are plenty of places along the main path to purchase the Beer Sampler lanyard, but only one booth set up back in the garden itself. Obviously, pick one up before you get back there and save yourself 10 minutes of standing in line. The lanyard is not required for entry and beer may be purchased individually as well.

We decided we're not going to do a full beer-by-beer review, there's quite simply too many to keep track of - over 60. What we will say is that there's clearly something to satisfy everyone's beer palate here, we had some that were sweet and light, and some very hoppy and bitter. Dark beer, blueberry beer, ciders, IPAs...you name it, you'll find it! Our stand out favorite is the V-12 by Victory. But don't expect to sample any typical Bud products here. They're for sale out on the main event pathway. If you are a beer person or want to expand your beer horizons, this is a great opportunity to do so.





Throughout the afternoon, the Beer Garden stayed moderately busy, but we never waited behind more than 3 people to get our next sample. However, as the weather warms and draws out the locals, longer lines will be expected. You are more than welcome to bring in your BBQ and eat in the Beer Garden, and children are allowed in as well. Read over the full list of craft brew options here.

If we could change one thing about the Beer Garden it would be having actual beer representatives (or at least people that are knowledgeable of the beer) doing the pouring. We asked a few employees pouring the beer for a recommendation and they would say they didn't know - haven't had the beer. Something to think about for next year, SeaWorld.

Drinks Available
If you aren't a beer fan, don't worry because out on the main BBQ path there are a few booths with hard liquor and wine available.
Cocktails - $6  |  Budweiser, Bud Light - $5.50  |  Bud Light Lime - $6  |  Wine - $6



Concert
2/19/11 The venue for Willie Nelson began filling up very early, so if you want a good seat get over to the stadium at least an hour ahead if not more. They should start at 4:30, but check the times when you arrive. We decided to avoid the big crowds and enjoy Willie Nelson from the back of the stadium. He delivered a great show to a very enthusiastic audience. Hearing "On the Road Again" made us happy campers.

Another performer who was at the smaller stage deserves a big shout out too - Suite Caroline. This 13 year old girl has an amazing voice and performance talent. This young lady could very well be the next Taylor Swift! We're not sure if she'll be returning the next 2 Saturdays, but if she's performing while you're there be sure to stop and watch.

2/12/11 We enjoyed the sounds of Huey Lewis & the News from the BBQ area and the Beer Garden. Next week we'll be getting seats to see Willie Nelson, so more photos to come. Click here for the full line-up.


General Area

Once the concert started at 4:30, the main BBQ pathway and Beer Garden thinned out considerably. We remained out on the pathway and watched one of the big screens showing the band. There are also monitors in the Beer Garden showing the concert as well.




Here are photos of just a few menus. The smaller booths have various items as well, like the chili, jerky, roasted corn and more.


Before the main concert begins you'll find some ho'down fun over at this smaller stage on the pathway. Country line dancing is pretty much a requirement for this event, and you'll find plenty of hot cowboys and cowgirls encouraging onlookers to join them. Want a souvenir to remember this event? They've got T-shirts and pilsner glasses for sale.


Now this is a Beetle that we would drive! Not only is it sportin' the mohawk, but there is a tap coming out of the trunk!


Overall we are pleased to see how much bigger they made this event this year. If you have always thought about coming to one of their events, this is the time. We'll be trying more food & beer over the next few weeks as well, so new updates will be posted.

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