Stop by for a pint of liquid courage before taking that Forbidden Journey with Harry. Located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, connected to the Three Broomsticks Restaurant.
Hog's Head Brew, Strongbow, Bass, Guinness, Boddingtons, Newcastle, London Pride, Stella Artois, Miller Lite, Yuengling
Have you been to the Rose & Crown Pub at Epcot and enjoyed one of their pub blends? They have a few of those same beers on tap here. While not on the menu at Hog's Head, if you ask the bartender he'll pour one for you.
Golden - half Stella & half Bass
Black & Tan - half Bass & half Guinness
Bumblebee - half Boddingtons & half Guinness
Alcoholic drinks are available, but at limited intervals. During peak seasons they will be removing the hard liquor so they can turn over butterbeer pours faster. While liquor is available, the mixers you have to choose from are assorted fruit juices, tonic, soda water and sweet & sour.
All Import Draft Beers are 20oz. for $7.25, Domestic $6.75
Sit down to a feast next door at the Three Broomsticks. Need a dumb fact while you dine? The movie makers were said to be so impressed with how Three Broomsticks turned out, that had never previously been seen in a movie, that they used it in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.
The bar and restaurant are connected, but employees are "guarding" the dining area and won't let you pass between the two - you have to go outside and enter through the main restaurant entrance. Hog's Head Brew and Miller Lite are available at the restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at this counter-service restaurant. See the menu photos at the bottom of this post.
If you didn't know better, you'd think you just stepped into an old-world English-style pub – with a twist. The low ceiling and lighting give it a cozy, intimate feel. Universal did a great job making it feel authentically dirty and grimy - even the beer tap handles are realistically aged to look like they've been there for decades. Some of the props behind the bar are supposedly the real thing, actually used in the movies.
And you can't miss the bar's namesake - the Hog right in the middle behind the bar. It's frighteningly lifelike, especially when he moves his head, snorts & puffs at patrons. (I've heard from a good source that he responds to tips.)
You can find some fantastically cold AC spots in here too. But good luck finding a place to sit as the bar stools are 'here today, gone tomorrow'. There are only 4 tables (each seating 4) that aren't reserved for diners of Three Broomsticks. It appears J.K. and us may have a differing view on enjoying a cocktail at a theme park. Once the weather cools down a little you can relax on the large outdoor patio behind the restaurant with lots of shaded seating and a great view of the castle and lagoon. You'll find an ATM back here too.
The bar has ten beers on tap, from the very light Miller Lite, to the stand a spoon in it thick Guinness. They've also got their own specialty beer, Hog's Head Brew. HHB is a deep golden Scottish Ale that's heavy on the bitter hops flavors, similar to a Killians. A young lady that ordered one next to me took one sip and exclaimed "Ewww, it tastes like rust!" and sent it back for a Miller Lite instead. While it's not exactly my favorite type of beer, I'd say that review may be a bit on the harsh side. To each, his own, right? I've read that Hog's Head Brew is Anheuser Busch's "Red Amber" which is also sold as Darden's (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Capital Grille) own brew. Though they no longer carry Budweiser products, back when they did it made sense that it could be the Red Amber, and I do remember not caring for Darden's very hoppy beer either but it's been too long since I've tried it to definitively state they're the same.
The Hog's Head Pub also had another beer I've never seen, London Pride. London Pride is also a deep golden lager that's dry, heavy on hops, and light on malt flavor. The bartender compared it to a chardonnay. That's not exactly what I'd compare it to. London Pride has done something special for me that I won't soon forget, it's set a new low for how bad beer can be. Every sip was like licking the underside of an old bar table. But, I'm a trooper when it comes to biting off more than I can chew. I toughed it out to the very bottom - unfortunately, it didn't get better as I got closer to the bottom. It was like a marathon of terribleness.
Here's some good news, they've got one of my favorite uncommon beers on tap, Boddington's Pub Ale. The Boddington kegs are hooked up to a nitrogen tank, just like Guinness, so it does the same "building" after it's poured. The beer has a smooth, well balanced flavor and a slightly creamy mouth-feel. Also worth honorable mention, one of my favorite dark beers, Newcastle, and a great, crisp, dry cider, Strongbow, have found new taps to call home.
Let's not forget the N/A selection! So, what's our take on Butterbeer? First off, as you probably already know, it's available from a tap that's fed by a keg, like a real beer, or frozen, like a slush. Neither have alcohol so they're perfect for the children or the thirsty teatotaler. Butterbeer from the tap is extremely similar to a cream soda - so similar in fact that I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and an A&W. They top it with a secret concoction that tastes of vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. The topping gives it a unique creamy head that holds large spooky bubbles for a long time. After giving the stuff on top a taste, I'm fairly certain that it's whipped cream without an accelerant to make it frothy but with a little extra stabilizer, like soy lecithin, to help it hold bubbles for a mysteriously long time. Frozen Butterbeer comes out of a slushie machine and is similar to a frozen vanilla cappuccino. The slush is topped with the same whipped cream topping as is used on the tap Butterbeer.
I also got my hands on the surprisingly good (and surprisingly expensive) Pumpkin Juice. $6.25, including tax, got me a 16 oz. bottle of what can only be described as pumpkin pie without the troublesome chewing. The biggest other surprises about it, 1. pumpkin puree was one of the top ingredients listed, 2. it was pulpy. Make your own Pumpkin Juice at home - check out our recipe here, along with some alcoholic cocktails using the concotion.
Thoughts on Wizarding World
This new land is really something. It's far more immersive than any other theme park area and it really shows you the direction theme parks are going in the future. Even the most adamant Disney fans (you know, the ones that hate Universal) will have to admit, Disney doesn't have anything like this. Don't get me wrong, I love Disney parks, but this land is so impressive, so over the top that it makes the Disney parks look the 15 - 40 years old that they are.
(By the way, the Forbidden Journey ride is AMAZING. It's easily the best non-roller coaster ride I've ever been on. Minor spoiler alert about the ride mechanism - imagine Spiderman but with Sum of All Fears Kuka Arms mounted to the cars. If that's not a recipe for success, I don't know what is.)
Have you visited the Hog yet? Tried his brew? Hate that I called out the Disney "fanboys"? Tell us what you thought or just air your grievance in the comments!
Here is the Main Course Menu over at the adjoining Three Broomsticks Restaurant. Click to enlarge. Updated 10/12.