North Carolinians love their special beers. Big time. The 11th annual World Beer Fest took place last Saturday on an un-beerfest-like cold and rainy day. The weather didn’t prevent nearly 7,000 beer lovers from coming out to sample over 300 beers available from more than 150 breweries representing U.S.-brewed and imported beers.
This beerfest always takes place under huge tents on the outfield of the ball field made famous in the movie Bull Durham. This beer fest offers other perks besides roaming the beer booths, seeking extraordinary beers. During both the afternoon and evening sessions there were “Tutored Tastings” of classic beer styles, beers with odd ingredients and pairings of beer with both chocolate and cheese. And this year, historian Maureen Ogle attended the fest, presenting two talks based on her newly-released book, Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer,” the first American beer history book written by an actual historian, rather than a beer enthusiast.
Beers presented during the talk titled “A Tour of Classic Beer Styles” included both ales and lagers. First up was the Belgian-style wheat beer Ommegang Witte (5.0% abv), brewed in Cooperstown, New York, by Brewery Ommegang. This pale, golden-yellow, cloudy (because of yeast purposefully left in the bottle) beer brewed with unmalted wheat and barley malt includes as ingredients both a touch of Curaçao orange peel for a mild citrus sweetness and coriander for bitterness. With a big, white frothy head, Witte, poured from a cork-finished 750-ml bottle, is a light, soft, remarkably tasty ale.
In “The Weirdest Beers at the Fest” tasting, perhaps Fraoch Alba Scots Pine Ale (7.5% abv) was the winner for most different, coming from the Heather Ale Brewery of Glasgow, Scotland. The tawny brown ale with a woodsy spruce aroma and a sweet malt backbone is brewed from a traditional Highland recipe and includes Scots pine and spruce shoots picked early in the spring.
The World Beer Fest returns to Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 28, and to Durham on either September 29 or October 6.
Gregg Glaser is the editor of Yankee Brew News and writes about beer, saké, spirits, cider and mead for many other publications.
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