What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Thousands to converge on Durham for World Beer Fest

Posted October 2, 2013
Updated December 20, 2013

— Looking forward to World Beer Fest Durham? Then expect to be in good company!

According to the 2013 edition of the World Beer Fest Durham Beer Guide, more than 8,000 people are expected to take part in sampling, learning and general beer-frolicking on Saturday.

In conversation with Keith Klemp, writer for All About Beer Magazine (the event's sponsor), at Brixx Pizza in Brier Creek, we talked through the ins and outs of great beer making, did some tasting of hop-forward Red IPA Sierra Nevada Flipside, and wet hops Harvest Ale on tap, and talked about beer styles.

Klemp has been brewing since 1987. He also brought two previously released essential style guides from All About Beer Magazine, “All You Need to Know to Choose a Good Beer” and “Over 30 Craft Beers Await Your Discovery.” Leafing through, it was easy to feel just like the average visitor to World Beer Fest.

“Where to start?!”

All About Beer has a guide to the festival and list of available brews on their website. Planning is encouraged for good reason! There are over 110 different breweries participating this year. It is recommended to select a targeted approach to beer tasting.

As Klemp discussed, stylistically, industry trends run the gamut, from classic top-fermenting ales and bottom-fermenting lagers, to hybrids like American Cream Ales, and all kinds of experimental and unique craft brews. Also to be considered are specialties such as protected and uber-traditional Belgian Lambics.

Speaking of trends, the featured beer for World Beer Fest Durham has a “hoppy” nature, and the beer tap was simultaneously at Fullsteam Brewery on Rigbsee Avenue and Bull City Burger and Brewery on Parrish Street on Thursday. Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam stated that the cooperative brew was a NC locally-produced whole hops and barley sessionable brown ale with 4 percent ABV.

Wilson noted that this brew will be full of fresh, grassy flavors with a clean palate and nutty character to it. Scott Sumrall, a manager at BCBB, made the studied observation that the hops-focused brew would go well with rich flavors such as bleu cheese and smoky bacon.

Food and beer author Johanna Kramer will marshal the food and beer pairing at the Art of Beer Village at the festival. Unique to this year, the pairings will be scheduled with six to eight different chefs, each with two food items to pair with a beer, and tastings will be scattered between sessions.

The spotlight has been shining on craft breweries since the mid-1990s, and the metamorphosis of beer has reached a point where cicerones, or beer experts, are now becoming as established as sommeliers, or wine and beverage experts.

The idea is to understand what kind of beer one personally enjoys. According to Durham World Beer Festival 2013 Guide Julie Johnson, "taste is very subjective and individual." In a tasting sequence, lighter, more delicate beers begin the spectrum, and darker, heavier beers line up at the opposite end. With so many varied characteristics, tasting beer is as unique as the art of beer making itself.

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