It’s no great mystery that we love Disney almost as much as we love better beer. That’s why we maintain the Hoperatives Guide to Better Beer at Walt Disney World and we’re working on adding Guides to Better Beer for Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line too. But, there’s one location at Walt Disney World that is definitely our Disney Better Beer home – Big River Grille & Brew Works.
Located on Disney’s Boardwalk, Big River is the only brew pub on Disney property and consistently has some of the best beer on site. Their standard beers include Southern Flyer Light Lager, Steamboat Pale Ale, Gadzooks Pilsner, Rocket Red Ale (one of Carla’s all time favorites) and a Brewer’s Choice dark which was an oatmeal stout the last time we were there. There’s also always a seasonal beer. It’s currently their Summer Wheat.
Seating is available both inside and outside on the boardwalk. Big River is very popular with folks attending conventions at either the Swan or Dolphin or Disney’s Yacht Club so they can be busy with lunch crowds when there is a big convention.
The interior was recently re-done, changing from a more cold, industrial look to warmer colors and wood instead of metal stools and chairs. You can see what it used to look like if you go to their official web site.
[ Attn. Big River corporate office: You really need to get some updated photos on there! And the hours are wrong too. ]
Unlike what another web site claims, all the beer is made on site. We’ve seen past brewer Evan Carroll and current brewer Kent Waugh haul many, many a 50 lb. bag of malt and hops into the brewing area from a Cushman truck parked on the boardwalk.
Besides the great beer and the opportunity to talk better beer with Kent (and previously Evan), there’s another reason we always make Big River our first stop at Big River: Ursula. We first met Ursula in October of 2007 when she was our server. Since then, she’s moved into bar tending and you can tell how much she loves it. Big River has quite a few regulars (both locals and frequent Disney guests like us) and Ursula makes them all feel like VIPs.
So the next time you and your family are heading down to Orlando to visit the Mouse, stop in at Big River and tell Ursula that the Hoperatives sent you. You’ll be glad you did!