Another piece of the ever-changing puzzle that is refurbishment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios fell into place last weekend with the opening of the new Baseline Tap House, designated as part of the new Grand Avenue but connected to the classic favorite Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. With a substantial outdoor seating area, Baseline is far less miss-able than its predecessor, the Writer’s Stop, but still could be overlooked by guests on their way to and from Star Tours.
Inside, the space is actually rather small, and not laid out very well in order to allow even distribution of guests to registers. There is only one entrance, and the bar runs along the back of the room with the registers evenly spaced along the bar. This meant that when the room got full, people would just stand in the line closest to the door, without realizing that there were two other lines they could potentially go to.
However, while waiting in line, we noticed a number of awesome décor points of interest, some of which harken back to the room’s time as the Writer’s Stop, and some of which are more like Disney Easter eggs. Still no Hidden Mickeys spotted, but you can bet we’ll be on the lookout the next time we go back.
The industrial atmosphere and acoustic-pop-cover background music lend themselves well to the idea behind Grand Avenue and Baseline as a whole, as the Tap House is intended to be a stop for laid-back, true “Californian” beer lovers, perhaps of the hipster variety. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough indoor seating for us to be able to sit inside, so instead, we opted for one of the outside seats, which all had umbrellas! In addition, there were various fans located around the area, pointing in different directions, to ensure that as many seats as possible got some air flow to lessen the impact of the hot Florida sun. We’d love to go back at night to see what kind of aura it takes on after dark!
As far as the menu selections, there were eight beers and a cider, plus two cocktails and two wines, all from California. There are also non-alcoholic options for those traveling with kids, as well as a few small plates to supplement your drinking experience. Traveling with a few beer-drinkers paid off for me, since I’m not really a fan, so we’ve got the low-down on some of the best beers on the menu, as well as some of the other best-sellers.
On his first round through, Stephen chose the Golden Road Hefeweizen. One of the lighter options available, the Hefe is a wheaty, filtered beer with clove and nut notes in the malty aftertaste. A “local” Los Angeles beer, the Golden Road Hefeweizen has a 5.0% ABV, which is on the lower end of the alcohol content spectrum Baseline serves.
JohnMark chose the Stone Delicious IPA, which is on the higher end of the ABV spectrum at a 7.7%. Stone Brewery beers are known for their strong, hoppy taste, and the Stone Delicious is no exception. It does have a lighter body, but with a darker back end with hops that can really pack a punch.
I, on the other hand, went for a California Sunset, one of the two cocktails on tap at Baseline. Pre-mixed Absolut Berri-Acai vodka and Southern Comfort combine with orange juice and sweet-and-sour for a sweet but tart mixed drink straight from the tap, and then a floater of pomegranate juice is added by your bartender. This one is for all you drinkers out there who can’t get on board with the hops and malt. There’s definitely more vodka taste to it than SoCo, which gives it almost a classic screwdriver feel to it. I felt like I should be eating breakfast with it, like an egg and bagel sandwich! It was really refreshing and definitely more up my alley than any of the beers.
Instead of going back for a full second round, we decided to opt for one last beer and a little snack: the Bavarian Pretzel. What was probably a very delicious sourdough pretzel underneath was obscured by the massive amounts of salt on top that totally killed the natural flavor of the pretzel. However, it came with a honey mustard and a beer cheese dipping sauce, the latter of which was good enough to drink.
Our final beer of the afternoon was the Napa Smith Lost Dog Red Ale, which, much to Stephen’s dismay, was the darkest beer on the menu. Rumor has it that there may be room for more varieties in the keg cooler and that darker beers are being considered, but only time will tell. In the meantime, this red ale was actually pretty good, even to someone who isn’t a big beer fan like me. With a medium body and a smooth, malty flavor, the Lost Dog does have a little bite of a bite and was somewhat hoppy on the end. Hailing from Napa Valley, the red has a 7.2% ABV, putting it just behind the Stone Delicious as far as concentration of alcohol.
Overall, we absolutely enjoyed our time at Baseline Tap House. The bartenders were friendly and informative, the food and drinks were excellent, and the prices weren’t bad, at least for your typical alcoholic purchase at Disney. All the beers were $9.50 for a 22oz draft, and my cocktail was $11.25 for a 16oz pour, which is actually a larger pour than your typical mixed drink at Disney. There’s also a make your own flight option, which lets you try 5oz pours of four of the different beers – whichever ones you want! – for just $10.50. That’s kind of a steal, especially for those who might be more indecisive or for big parties with lots of varied tastes. We also caught a glimpse of what looked to be the California Cheese & Charcuterie plate, and it is definitely on our list to try on our next visit! Overall, we’d give it a grade of 87%, with just a few points off for lack of indoor seating, poor line layout and the overly salty pretzel. Baseline Tap House is a great addition to the ever-changing landscape at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and we’re looking forward to our next visit.