2009-01-02 / Business

World Beer Festival comes to Columbia

By John Temple Ligon temple@thecolumbiastar.com

On Saturday, January 24, the World Beer Festival opens for a day inside the convention center on Lincoln Street. The festival will take place in two sessions, 12- 4 pm and 6- 10 pm.

According to All About

Beer Magazine, the mission of the World Beer Festival is the education of the public about beer appreciation and beer quality. The World Beer Festival is in its 13th year in Durham, N.C., and 5th year in Raleigh, N.C., and presumably Columbia is another home for the long haul.

The Durham do was featured in USA Today as one of the country's top 10 great beer festivals. Durham usually has at least 300 different beers and 8,000 total person visits, which affords a local economic impact of more than $1,350,000 and almost $50,000 in local tax revenues.

Designed as a beer tasting, the World Beer Festival encourages small samples from a wide range of world- class beer styles. With different areas devoted to beer, entertainment, food, merchandise and relaxation, the festival creates an atmosphere that promotes respon- sible consumption.

The World Beer Festival has two sessions ticketed separately. General Admission tickets are $40 per person, and VIP tickets are $75. The VIP ticket includes a World Beer Festival commemorative glass, complimentary food, and access to the VIP hospitality area, where selected beers are offered that are otherwise not available. For more about the festival, including tickets, visit www.allaboutbeer.com/- wbfcolumbia/

In Columbia, the evening VIP tickets have sold out, but the World Beer Festival is still looking for volunteers to help run the festival, where the proceeds will benefit Columbia Opportunity Resource and The River Alliance.

Though volunteers can't drink beer while working at the festival, they are treated to a volunteer- only party about a week after the event that includes sampling of beers from the festival, tasty food, and a raffle for lots of beer stuff.

Most volunteers will be pouring samples for festival guests, while others will be working the entry gates, taking tickets, and welcoming guests.

Volunteers must be 21 years of age. They are required to attend an hour- long training session during the week before the event.

Volunteer recruitment is underway. Visit www.allaboutbeer. com/wbf or www.ourcor.org. For information about volunteering, email worldbeerfestivalsc@- gmail.com.

Daniel Bradford of All

About Beer Magazine says the world has about 90 major beer styles.

His favorite three beer countries are Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Also, considering its pilsner, the Czech Republic comes in as a strong fourth.

In the U.S., specialty beers, the kind sampled at the World Beer Festival, are only about 5% of the total beer market, which is dominated by the Buds and Miller Lite. But at a nice restaurant, going with the usual Bud or Miller just won't do. The food is too good, sometimes extraordinary, to go with an ordinary beer.

Beer, according to Bradford, goes better with food than wine, especially some foods that almost never go with wine. Chocolate, for instance, is not considered a wine accompaniment, but stout and chocolate is a marriage for life. A hamburger doesn't like wine, but a hamburger loves brown ale.

To take a break from the typical call for wine, Bradford recommends two adjacent charts, food on one side and beer on the other, that situate basic main courses and match them with beer. Roast chicken goes well with chardonnay, say, but even better with pilsner. Prime rib always suits with a cabernet, but Bradford likes a porter.

The next trip to Washington, D.C., should include some hopping among the town's Belgian beer bars. Bradford likes Monk's in Philadelphia for its food and beer matches, as well as the Gramercy Café on Third Ave. in NYC, as opposed to the chi- chi Gramercy Tavern on 20th St.

Point being, beer is a food to be taken in moderation with other food.

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