Fans of beer innovation might have to travel a bit for this particular beverage, but it's totally worth it.
Frozen Kirin Ichiban is available at more than 1,300 restaurants throughout Japan. It's also available in Hawaii. If you're looking to find the frosty beverage without flying halfway around the world, there's only one location in the continental United States where it resides full-time, and that place is only a short drive from Miami. Epcot.
According to a PR rep for Walt Disney World, the frozen draft beer is available for $8.25 at the Garden House and the Kabuki Cafe in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase.
This past weekend, I drove to the theme park to try it and found it wasn't at all what I had expected.
The search for a cold beer is universal.
First off, this is not a "beer slushy." It's a regular Kirin Ichiban, poured so as not to have a head. Then the beer is capped with something that resembles soft-serve ice cream. That "beer snow" is actually more Kirin, poured into a special machine that blows air into the beer as it's stirred and chilled into an icy, white foam.
The frosty head, by the way, doesn't taste like much by itself, so the correct way to drink your frozen Kirin is to incorporate both beer and foam into each sip. But there's an even cooler aspect to this beer that makes it more than just a theme park novelty.
This little stand holds the key to surviving Epcot.
The frozen cap forms a protective insulation that keeps the beer cold for about 30 minutes. That means that in the heat of an Orlando afternoon, your last sip of beer is as refreshing as the first. And it works. Traveling from Japan to Canada in my search for Epcot's other rare delight, the croissant doughnut, my beer remained cold and delicious underneath its layer of frosty foam.
As for the croissant doughnut ($4.49): Too much cinnamon sugar overpowered the flaky, buttery layers. It's available at the Refreshment Port near Epcot's Canada Pavilion if you want to try for yourself.
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No matter, the Kirin frozen beer was worth the trip. If only someone in the Magic City could get hold of one of those machines. Just imagine the possibilities of your beer staying cold while everything else melts during a Miami summer afternoon. Beer nirvana.