Last January, I reported on the success of the second-annual World Beer Festival — Columbia, hosted by All About Beer Magazine. If you missed last year’s event (or the year before), you’re in luck: All About Beer is bringing the World Beer Festival back to Columbia for a third straight year on January 22nd, and you know how the saying goes — third time’s a charm!
One can only hope so, but I can say from personal experience (which you can also read about in the aforementioned post) that the second go-around was nothing to look down on. A plethora of breweries sent their wares for the event, and there were several hundred different beers available to try. There were even a few surprises, such as the venerable and outrageously popular Sexual Chocolate from North Carolina’s Foothills Brewing Company, which sees limited production each year and an exciting release party. There’s always the chance that the brewery will want to build even more excitement for the brew at this year’s WBF, as the release party for this year’s batch follows a week later at the brewery on January 29th. No guarantees, of course…
The festival is more than just unlimited samples of beer, though. As with before, this year’s World Beer Festival will feature great food and live music, and for those who are in need of a bit of good beery education (or for those like me who just can’t get enough of it), educational seminars will be offered throughout the fest (and not to worry, beer is usually involved — hands-on learning is a must in the beer world, after all, and often there are beers included in the seminars not available elsewhere at the festival). There are also plenty of vendors involved in the event, selling all sorts of merchandise and services: last year, for instance (and I suspect they will return this year), Columbia’s only homebrew supply shop, Bet-Mar Liquid Hobby, was on-hand with a happily-fermenting batch of Belgian-style ale and plenty of info for those interested in getting into the wonderfully rewarding hobby of homebrewing.
If you’re looking to get drunk for cheap… well, I can’t deny that the festival provides an ideal atmosphere, but that certainly isn’t the point. And even if that’s your goal, I can guarantee that, once you become immersed in the brewers’ wares and perhaps the educational offerings from the AAB staff, your goal will quickly change. This is a perfect opportunity for Augusta natives to check out some of the nation’s premiere craft breweries and their beers at one of the premiere craft beer festivals in America, hosted by (arguably) the premiere craft beer publication in the States.
For more information and to purchase tickets, check out the event’s official website. The event is held in two sessions, one from 12 pm – 4 pm, and the second from 6 pm – 10 pm, with General Admission tickets ($40 per session pre-sale, $50 per session day-of if not sold out) landing a 2-ounce tasting glass and unlimited samples along with an event program; VIP tickets (as of this writing, sold-out for the afternoon session and likely with limited availability for the evening session, costing $85 and available only during the online pre-sale) earn a special commemorative glass, an upscale food buffet, special hospitality area and exclusive beers not available to the general public.
For those planning on attending, I hope to see you there! If you happen to spot me, please give a shout-out! If you can’t make it, don’t fret too much — the festival should return next year (but you never know, so you might want to cancel your plans now).