This past weekend I had the opportunity to come back into my old home town, Columbia, for the All About Beer Magazine World Beer Festival. The good people of Columbia are starved for good craft beer, so I am very happy to see the festival come back after a successful debut in 2009.
I wrote a full review of the festival over on HopPress, so you can read more there if you would like. Here I am posting the Untamed Beer – World Beer Festival Awards.
I only attended the noon to 4 pm session. There was another from 6 to 10 pm, but I was beaten down at the end of four hours of beer tasting and I had to get back to Greenville that night.
On a side note, I am also despondent that I missed out on the Beard and Mustache Society meeting later that evening. Darn obligations!
There were 250+ beers to try and sample in my four-hour window. I obviously did not get to them all. Actually, upon review of the list, I think I only had 20-25 beers. Beforehand, I had identified 60 beers that I have never tried, so I didn’t even get through one-third of my list.
So what the hell was I doing!?!? I was pacing myself, for one. I’m in the middle of marathon training and had to run 12 miles the next day. That’s no joke. I was also trying to spend more time talking to people, rather than racing around trying to slam as many beers as I could get my hands on. Call me what you will…
So, these awards are not a comprehensive overview of everything at the festival. Please feel free to comment if you have some other beers you found particularly great, interesting or terrible. I’d love some feedback from others to know what they thought.
Without further ado…
Best of Show
Thomas Creek Up the Creek IPA run through a Randal
For those that are unfamiliar with Randal, it’s an ingenious device that is constructed from a household water filter. However, instead of filtering water through carbon, you filter beer through hops. It adds an incredibly fresh hop aroma and flavor to beer that cannot be accomplished through traditional brewing and dry hopping methods.
Thomas Creek took their Up the Creek IPA, which is already a hoppy malt bomb, and ran it through the Randal containing Cascade and Amarillo hops. It took the beer to a new level of hoppy goodness. Up the Creek is such an intense beer (it’s 12.5% ABV) that it has a malt backbone that can easily handle more hop character and stay balanced.
I also give Thomas Creek kudos because that was the only beer I found at the festival that received any kind of special treatment to make it unique and different from what you can buy in the stores. I never found any other special rarities like barrel-aged, cask or special batch beers. Again, I didn’t hit every booth, so let me know if I’m mistaken.
- Koningshoeven Brouwerij Duppel
- Brasserie Lefebvre Barbar Honey Ale
- Avery Hog Heaven
- Coast Blackbeerd Imperial Stout
- Terrapin Hopsecutioner
Most Interesting Beer
Sweetwater Happy Ending
My first impression of the Happy Ending was that it had very little aroma, which was deceiving. The flavor had an intense smoke on the front end and it finished chocolaty. It totally took me off-guard.
Bud Light Golden Wheat
Even though I’m not much of a supporter of the Big Three, or two, or whatever they are now, I still feel that I need to give all beer a chance. My curiosity of the Bud Light Golden Wheat was compelling me to try it, but I didn’t want to invest in a whole bottle. That’s the beauty of a beer festival. I can try a small amount with no harm done.
Well, the Golden Wheat looked like a wheat beer. It was golden yellow and cloudy, as expected. It had an understated aroma. The weirdest part was the flavor. It wasn’t bad, but it reminded me of pizza crust. I can’t really explain it, that’s just what I tasted. Very weird…
Gigantic Brats Smothered in Peppers and Cheese
Courtesy of Friendly Catering. I didn’t have one, but it looked phenomenal.
Best Facial Hair
Alice in Wonderland
These lovely ladies were manning the Mellow Mushroom tasting station. Luckily, we also ran into them at the Mellow Mushroom after the festival.
Best Cardboard Body Armor
It gets physical at beer festivals. You can’t be too careful with your personal safety.