Greenville Craft Beer Festival 2014

On a cool, sunny Saturday morning, Fluor Field came to life with tents, taps and a throng of enthusiastic beer lovers. The Greenville Craft Beer Festival‘s second annual run proved a huge success, with a large crowd tackling more than 30 breweries and attending beer classes.

I had a fantastic time pouring and chatting at the Brewery 85 tent; craft beer drinkers are always the nicest! I saw a ton of familiar faces as well as a met a few new craft connoisseurs Thank you to the readers who stopped and said hi!

My favorite part, though, was spending the afternoon with the freshest face on the scene: my brother, who was celebrating his 25th birthday that day (thank for the Catawba Brewing Company glass, Billy!). I was proud to introduce him to the joys of beer fest drinking, and he offered intriguing new perspectives on beers. My favorite of the afternoon was when he took a whiff of an IPA and deduced it “smells like the downstairs while mom is cooking spaghetti.” I was floored by such a unique description.

When it was all said and done, I had the pleasure of heading to Mac’s Speedshop with a Brewery 85 regular and new friends for even more memorable beer drinking.

My sampling total was underwhelming this timejust 29 beers!but I still found a few new favorites:

  1. Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal and Celebration
  2. Lagunitas DayTime
  3. Natty Greene’s Red Nose Winter
  4. Unknown‘s Pregame Session – The festival was this NC brewery’s first visit to Greenville. Hopefully we’ll see more of their beers soon.

I was also more focused on experiencing the festival with my brother than taking photos, so for GCBF images, visit the Facebook page or check out Marv Parker’s photos at HeadforBeer.com.

Did you attend the beer festival? What were your favorite beers?

 

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Columbia’s World Beer Festival 2014

It’s hard to believe that at this hour one week ago, I was getting started tasting the multitude of brews at the World Beer Festival. My dad tagged along, and I was happy to share in this first-time experience for him. It was nice to have someone to discuss beers and swap glasses with so I didn’t have to stand in the long lines a second time.

A little summary of the event: World Beer Festival, run by All About Beer magazine, featured 77 different breweries, both international and local. From big names like Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) and Diageo (Guiness, Harp, Smithwicks) to craft brewers from SC’s own backyard, the festival had something for everyone.

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With so much beer available, I sought out names I’d never tried and knew I would not have easy access to. Dad and I began on the lower floor with Palmetto Brewing Company, hopping from line to line until I’d tasted all the musts. Then we headed upstairs, where most of the bigger names were located.

The upstairs also featured some booths with raffles and information, a Duke’s Jerky table, a silent disco area and most of the bigger name breweries. At one point, the lights upstairs went out completely—talk about a sure-fire adrenaline rush to clear the booze fog! Thankfully that was the only technical difficulty of the night.

Of the 34 beers and ciders that I tried, these were the standouts:

  • Conquest‘s Beer Fest Beer– This English Porter was a beer fest exclusive.
  • Four Friends Brewing Company’s I-77 – A chance tasting because they ran out of their brown, this IPA surprised me as a manageably hoppy beer I look forward to drinking again.
  • Merchant du Vin’s Orval – My first authentic Trappist beer
  • NoDa’s Hop, Drop ‘N Rolla – Again, I’m not an IPA fan, but I tried this one after the guy behind me called it the best IPA in the building.
  • Palmetto Brewing Company’s Yammer Thyme Coffee Porter – These guys went all out, actually bringing thyme to sprinkle into each beer.
  • River Dog’s India Red Ale
  • Smuttynose’s Scotch Ale
  • St. Killian’s Crabbie’s – This alcoholic ginger beer was an unexpected, but tasty, option.
  • Windy Hill’s Ginger Gold – Their sweet, crisp ciders were a welcome reprieve from heavy beers.

After trying beers from all over, I’m pleased to see that the majority of my favorites came from the Carolinas.

During my time volunteering at the first session, I heard seasoned volunteers tell stories of rowdy tasters, fights and drunken shenanigans at previous festivals. I worried about my experience that night.

But left and right, I ran into congenial folks. Many had traveled from the upstate and coast and were eager to talk about their favorite brews. I was happy to be one guy’s “beer mate” for the length of River Dog line, where we talked about how much Greenville has changed over the years. Later, I ran into a volunteer I had had lunch with that afternoon, giving us a better chance to talk about Columbia breweries and what’s to come.

While upstairs, I spoke to the women at the Girl’s Pint Out table and were pleased to hear there is a Greenville chapter. I also chatted with the folks at the up-and-coming Columbia brewery, River Rat, letting them know I’ve been eagerly watching their Facebook page for an opening date. As luck would have it, Brew Master Mark Walters called me on Sunday to say I’d won their raffle for the VIP opening event! He’s projecting a March date, and I look forward to attending this big party and meeting him (and blogging about it, of course).

I highly recommend attending the first session of this festival. Given the quantity of options and presence of actual reps at most booths during that session, it’s easy to get your money’s worth in good beer and brew knowledge.

Beer Events This Week – Jan 13-19

Mark these dates in your calendar:

Jan 16Brewery 85 pre-opening tasting at Community Tap, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Jan 18World Beer Festival at the Columbia Convention Center
I will be volunteering at Session 1 (noon-4 p.m.) and drinking at Session 2 (6-10 p.m.)

Jan 19Biggest Little Beer Festival at Barley’s in Greenville, 2-6 p.m.
Learn more at the Barley’s website and the Greenville News.

If you know of any other big events in the area, please share!

World Beer Festival in Columbia – Jan 18

Let the countdown begin to the Sixth Annual World Beer Festival in Columbia, SC, on January 18!

World Beer Festival Columbia Logo

The list features a lot of South Carolina brewers:

  • Thomas Creek Brewery
  • RJ Rockers
  • Conquest Brewing Company
  • Hunter-Gatherer Brewery
  • Coast Brewing Company
  • Holy City Brewing
  • Palmetto Brewing
  • Westbrook Brewing
  • New South Brewing
  • River Dog Brewing Company
  • Windy Hill Orchard

I’m excited to sample some old favorites, such as Allagash Brewing Company, as well as some new ones. Authentic Belgian Trappist beer from Orval, anyone?

I’ll be volunteering during Session One. If you’d like to learn more about volunteering, fill out this form.

Photo credit: World of Beer Festival website