The Durham World Beer Festival opens Saturday, October 8th at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Local beer aficionados are no doubt well aware of this event, as this is the 16th year in Durham. But those of us that are relatively new in our appreciation of fine beer may not know what we’ve been missing for the past fifteen years. I found out last April at the Raleigh World Beer Festival.
When I first heard the name, I wondered if the promoters had over-committed by the use of World. How could this event possibly live up to its title? Believe me, it did. Over 100 breweries from all over the world sent representatives to Raleigh, along with kegs of almost every type brew imaginable. As attendees passed through the festival gate, they were given a slim 6 oz. sampler glass. Just steps from the gate was the open end of a tent that ran the length of one side of Moore Square. The tent was only about thirty feet wide, but lined down each side were brewer booths, one every ten feet, for as far as I could see. Each booth included at least one beer tap, most had two or three taps, some had as many as six taps. Between the two rows of brewer stations, there was a throng folks buzzing around like bees in a hive, sampler glasses in hand, happily crisscrossing from one booth to another as they made their way towards the other end of the tent.
As I entered, I quickly recognized some local micro-breweries, Aviator, Lonerider, Big Boss, to name a few. The brewery at the very front was Fullsteam, featuring an unusual, but very tasty sweet potato beer. I quickly discovered that the opportunity to sample the exotic is one of the best reasons to attend the festival. I soon found myself sampling all sorts of beverages that would otherwise never touch my lips. And, like the Fullsteam Carver sweet potato ale, I was often pleasantly surprised.
It appeared that local and regional breweries were located relatively close together near the entrance. In almost no time, I had sampled over a dozen beers by several North Carolina breweries. As I progressed through the tent, I visited breweries from up and down the east coast and across the nation. After about 45 minutes of sampling beers, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, pilsners and some styles that I can’t remember how to spell or pronounce, I realized that I’d better pace myself or I’d never make it to the end of the tent and still be standing, much less last the full four hours of the festival session. That’s when I decided to be more selective and spend more time talking with the exhibitors. Some brews were served by the brewery owners or brew masters themselves, happy to describe the ingredients or brewing processes that make their particular brews special. One such person was Oscar Wong, owner of Highland Brewing Company, a personal favorite. Mr. Wong took several minutes talking with me as I sipped Tasgall (Gaelic for “cauldron of the gods”) a Scottish ale that is only produced once every two years. I walked away from the Highland booth a new fan of Scottish ales and a greater fan of the brewery.
It took nearly two hours to make my way to the far end of the tent to discover another tent that turned the street corner and continued along another side of Moore Square. Wow! I had just passed by about 60 brewery booths and was only half way through. This was a good time to take a break and step out onto Moore Square where a wide variety of food vendors were stationed. While grabbing a bite to eat, I could either listen to live music or attend one of several mini-seminars on beer appreciation or brewing. After a short break from the main attraction, I returned to the second tent, which contained another two rows of beer exhibitors from all around the world. I proceeded to sample beers from every continent but Antarctica. The variety was incredible.
The Durham World Beer Festival should be very similar to the Raleigh festival, which is world class. Both festivals are organized and promoted by the folks at All About Beer Magazine. If you drink beer because you like the taste, you can’t afford to miss this opportunity to taste some of the world’s best brews. You surely will leave the festival with a new found appreciation for brews you had never tried and breweries you had never heard of before.
Durham’s World Beer Festival returns for it’s 16th year!
The festival will be held October 8, 2011 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
For one day, the World Beer Festival in Durham will allow visitors a chance to taste and sample craft and specialty beers in two-ounce pours while supplies last.
The festival offers two four-hour sessions:
The first session will be from noon to 4 p.m. and the second session will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Standard admission to a single session is $40 in advance ($50 day of the event if available), which includes samples from a selection of more than 300 beers from more than 100 breweries, music by local bands, educational sessions by industry experts, and a festival tasting glass.
Click here to get tickets before they sell out!
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