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Did you know that Butterbeer comes in SEVEN forms of deliciousness at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios? While the books reference that this iconic beverage comes as either cold and bottled Butterbeer, or piping hot in foaming tankards, the seven Butterbeer forms at Harry Potter World range in temperatures, as well as consistencies. That being said, each variety of Butterbeer available is very sweet and reminiscent of butterscotch, and with good reason— when J.K. Rowling was asked what Butterbeer tastes like in 2002, she told Bon Appetit “I imagine it to taste a little bit like less sickly butterscotch.” The final recipes for Butterbeer were approved by her, and the trademarked drinks cannot be customized when ordered— so there’s no way to order them without foam or with extra foam, etc. In the Harry Potter series Butterbeer has a nearly nonexistent alcohol content, but none of the versions in the WWoHP contain alcohol.
PRO TIP: All of the Butterbeer options are best when shared with at least one or two friends. In my opinion, since each Butterbeer treat is very sweet, the serving sizes are perfect for twosomes or threesomes. Here are all the types of Butterbeer you can get at Universal, and below are descriptions and where to find them:
Butterbeer Soft Serve Ice Cream
Butterbeer Potted Cream
Butterbeer (Pre-Packaged) Ice Cream
1. Cold Butterbeer
Cold Butterbeer is the only carbonated version of Butterbeer available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Butterbeer is difficult to describe, but I will try— To me, it tastes like a slightly creamy, somewhat fizzy butterscotch drink with a nondairy foam that has a subtle toasted marshmallow-like flavor. It is a smooth, rather refreshing drink. In the books, it is said to be bottled; and in the parks it can be purchased in a recyclable cup or a souvenir tankard (same for the frozen option).
Cold Butterbeer and frozen Butterbeer are the most abundant of the varieties of Butterbeer in the parks. In Diagon Alley, cold Butterbeer is available at The Hopping Pot, The Leaky Cauldron, and inside The Fountain of Fair Fortune. In Hogsmeade, you can quench your thirst with this drink at the Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head, and at various Butterbeer drink carts throughout the town.
If you are missing the real deal at home (or are preparing for a visit to Harry Potter World!), you can make your own! I have the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, and it does not disappoint! Their Butterbeer recipe is creamy and sweet, as it should be!
2. Frozen Butterbeer
Frozen butterbeer wins over cold Butterbeer, in my opinion. This is for a couple reasons, the biggest being that the park is sweltering most days, and the frozen Butterbeer is a nice reprieve from that. Also, it is a super sweet drink with a consistency of an ICEE, so the sweetness seems to fit better and not rest on your tongue as much since it’s served with a straw. Unfortunately, you’re left with the interior of the cup lined with foam because of this at the end, but it is a tasty experience regardless.
As mentioned alongside cold Butterbeer, the frozen Butterbeer drink can be found throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, in all the same places as the cold version of the buttery drink. In Diagon Alley, frozen Butterbeer is available at The Hopping Pot, The Leaky Cauldron, and inside The Fountain of Fair Fortune.
3. Hot Butterbeer (Seasonal Only!)
Hot Butterbeer as written in Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban, “Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.” Think of the first sip of hot cider in the wintertime, or hot cocoa on a super chilly day. This is the feeling hot Butterbeer exudes when you drink it— except it is far warmer outside in the WWoHP than Hogsmeade near Christmastime.
The flavor of hot Butterbeer is quite distinct from the cold and frozen variations. To me, the foam-topped hot Butterbeer tastes similar to a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks, but with an undeniable butterscotch flavor rather than coffee. I like the hot butterbeer best for a couple reasons, even though I am never cold enough to warrant it in the parks. Firstly, the hot Butterbeer is the version of Butterbeer I think of from the books. I’ve attached some nostalgia to it as the original drink and the comfort it brought my favorite characters. Secondly, I like its flavor the best of the three drinks because it isn’t so sweet.
When is Hot Butterbeer Available?
Hot Butterbeer is ONLY served in the parks when it is deemed cold enough by Universal. With the parks being in Florida, this is subjective and varies. That being said, count on it being served in December-February. (Sometimes it is available as early as November, and as late as March.) The hot Butterbeer is only available in the Three Broomsticks and in Hog’s Head (the pub attached to the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade) and the drink carts, and in the Leaky Cauldron and The Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley.
4. Butterbeer Soft Serve Ice Cream
Butterbeer soft serve is a delightfully creamy treat. This is one of my favorite forms of Butterbeer in the parks, mainly because it is refreshingly less sweet than many of the other forms. Every soft serve ice cream flavor at Florian Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour has a vanilla soft serve base, with a swirl of whatever flavor you order, including the Butterbeer flavor with its yummy golden brown swirl. This makes the flavor more muted than the drinkable options, but in a way that is easier to fully finish, in my opinion.
The Butterbeer soft serve ice cream is (quite obviously) available at Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, and less obviously PRO TIP: it is also available at the Hopping Pot and at the Fountain of Fair Fortune (all three shops are in Diagon Alley). You cannot get the Butterbeer soft serve in Hogsmeade, though as you will see in #7, Butterbeer ice cream is available in a pre-packaged form there.)
5. Butterbeer Potted Cream
Oh, Butterbeer potted cream, how your name made me hesitant. The name ‘potted cream’ reminds me of the British ‘clotted cream’, which is an atrociously named thick cream often served with scones or tea. Clotted cream and potted cream seem to be very similar desserts in more ways than their names. The Butterbeer potted cream is perhaps the sweetest version of Butterbeer available at the WWoHP after the fudge. It is essentially a cross between a frosting-like whipped cream and butterscotch custard. It is thick and creamy, and served in a tiny pot-like jar with a locking lid.
You can find the Butterbeer clotted cream at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, and at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
6. Butterbeer Fudge
This pains me to say, I am not a lover of the Butterbeer fudge. I love fudge, but the Butterbeer fudge is just so sweet that I find it difficult to even finish a small bite. It doesn’t have the same flavor as the drinks, but it seems somewhat butterscotch-y when you get passed the pure vanilla and sugar taste. This fudge flavor certainly looks like Butterbeer, it has two layers, the top one-third layer is a cream color and resembles the foam on the top of a tankard of Butterbeer, while the bottom two-thirds layer is a butterscotch golden brown. The two layers are distinctly different on the palate, but both are syrupy-sweet. The pieces are large, so you’ll definitely want to share.
Find the Butterbeer fudge (and other fun treats) at Honeyduke’s in Hogsmeade, and in Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop in Diagon Alley.
7. Butterbeer Ice Cream (Pre-packaged at the Three Broomsticks)
I have not tried the pre-packaged Butterbeer flavored ice cream that is available in Hogsmeade, mainly because the idea that it is pre-packed doesn’t seem magical enough to me. The hard-packed ice cream can be purchased at The Three Broomsticks. I cannot comment on its flavor, but would imagine it is less creamy than the soft serve option. Call me a (butter)beer snob, but if I were to try it, I would taste it as it is, and then likely buy a cold or frozen Butterbeer and ‘magically’ make it into a float with the remainder of the ice cream.
Which of the 7 Butterbeer varieties at Universal is your favorite and what do they taste like to you? I’ve often heard shortbread and butterscotch when others describe the flavor of Butterbeer— Tell me what you think!