As someone who, we have established, loves food, loves reading about food, and has made butterbeer from scratch 5 times, one of the things I was most excited about when visiting Harry Potter world was seeing what official butterbeer tastes like. It was a super hot day, so the lines for butterbeer were super long, but it was worth it. The butterbeer kind of might have been one of the best things about Harry Potter world. By the way the butterbeer in the park is J. K. Rowling approved– many concoctions were made and given to her to test, and she picked the one that matched the version in her mind.
Some other facts about butterbeer! From Wikipedia:
- J.K. Rowling said in her interview to Bon Appétit magazine that she imagines it “to taste a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch.”
- Butterbeer was a real drink, the earliest reference to Buttered Beere is from, ‘The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin’ published in London in AD 1588, made from beer, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cloves and butter back in Tudor times. Another old recipe for Buttered Beer, published by Robert May in AD 1664, from his recipe book, ‘The Accomplisht Cook’ calls for liquorish root and anniseeds to be added.
So, for my review in two words: magnficently delicious. My brother said it was the most delicious beverage he had ever tasted.
The more detailed review: The park serves 2 types of butterbeer: the soda form, and the frozen slushie form, and we drank both (yes that us in 2 different lines). You have to ask for the frozen form if you want it– if you just say “butterbeer” they don’t even ask which type you want and just give you the soda type. They’re both very sweet, at the edge of being to sweet but not yet crossing too sweet. The frozen kind is slightly sweeter than the soda kind. I preferred the soda: the soda felt more authentic, for one– it has creamy foam and it’s bubbly like you’d expect of something called beer, and also it isn’t as cloyingly sweet. They were both butterscotch-y and also reminiscent of a shortbread cookie. The flavors were relatively simple.
By comparison, the recipe I’ve used for butterbeer in the past was more complex, since it had cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice. A bit more grown up and sophisticated maybe, and more similar to the medieval recipe. A friend who watched Harry Potter 6 with me to prep for DH2 and was my first taste tester even described it as “Chai Tea: The Soda”. The additional solid ingredients made the soda a bit thicker, though, so I enjoyed the texture of the official Hogsmeade butterbeer. I also liked the foaminess of official Hogsmead foam (just slightly foamy), so I would whip my foam less when making my own in the future. But overall, it was nice knowing that I had made something so close to (and maybe even slightly better than) the original!
I kept my mug of course. It is waiting in my kitchen cabinet for me to make some more butterbeer (soon!)