World Beer Festival Recap

What would you say to the term “Beer Carnival”?  Sounds curious and impressive, and at the least, a good time, doesn’t it.  Bring together nearly eighty breweries, each with as many as six beers to sample from, hold it underneath two enormous circus like tents on an island squeezed between the natural beauty of the James River on one side and downtown Richmond towering as a backdrop on the other, and the word “carnival”, with its implied large scale proportions and unembarrassed spectacle of over the top, sheer fun, seemed to fit the World Beer Festival, held in Richmond this past Saturday.  I admit, the thought “how could a few hours of beer tastings held in downtown Richmond possibly not be a success” crossed my mind prior to the festival, but I had no idea to what extent it would be.  It was part social event, part beer lover’s paradise, a bit of a party, but all a blast.  For the All About Beer Magazine staff who put together these World Beer Festivals (two have already occurred earlier in the year, with one still to go in the fall) that the turnout at the first Richmond version was reason enough to assure that – as Publisher Daniel Bradford put in a post Monday on the magazine’s website – “next year’s return engagement is a guarantee”.

Under the huge tents, guide books handed out by the magazine staff helped navigate the dizzying selection of beer.   I’ve said it before, and continue to do so – festivals such as this give us, the “beer curious”, the best opportunities to sample styles and selections perhaps we haven’t had before.  Adding to this education that just happens to occur while sipping good beer, a few brewery representatives were thankfully on hand to answer questions.  I enjoyed meeting briefly with several, including the V.P. Dave Gott and the rest of the team from Legend Brewery, as well as Jonathan McIntire from Heavy Seas in Baltimore – it’s always a blast to meet people obviously doing something they love.  But even the volunteers who were helping out, and baking in the 90 plus degree heat for our enjoyment I might add, were enthusiastic as well as pretty well informed about the beers they were pouring.

So whHeavy Seas Tap Handlesat were my taste buds’ big wins from the event?  There are simply far too many to list here, but names that jump right to memory include Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA, Full Sail’s IPA, Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale, Blue Point’s Hoptical Illusion IPA, Boulder Brewing’s Cold Hop, and basically all the Legend brews.  Heavy Seas’ Smoke On The Water Imperial Smoked Porter was a delicious and delicate yet rich malt experience with just a hint of smoke, and the appearance of Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere ale, with its fresh hop flavor and super balance between malt and hop, was more than a pleasant surprise at their booth.  Two Belgian Strong Dark Ales, Unibroue’s Maudite, and Dupont’s Moinette Brune, I reluctantly admit I had also not had before the festival – both are outstanding and complex, and for me, feature some of the dark fruit, dark bread, and spice like flavors that first started getting me interested in good beer to begin with.

At the Starr Hill BoothNeedless to say, I’m planning on attending next year’s event in Richmond already.  For those of you beer curious types who didn’t make it, I’d do the same.  There are certain events that you come away from and perhaps feel just a bit spent from, but oh so pleasantly so.  As in, “wow, that was completely worth it”, all the while grinning from the memory of the experience.  From the fun of the event to the fulfillment of having satisfied one’s taste for good beer, from meeting some truly interesting people doing what they enjoy to gaining a bit more understanding of what one is seeking in good beer as well, festivals such as these are well worth making it a stop along anyone’s beer road.  Besides, how could anyone turn down anything being described as a beer carnival?

All About Beer Magazine

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~ by thebeerroad on June 16, 2010.

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