Munich may call it “Oktoberfest,” but here in North Carolina, we know it as, “the World Beer Festival, Durham Bulls Athletic Park.” And Saturday’s celebration, under the tents and the clear blue October sky, lived up the all the hype of the 17 years WBF has been held in Durham.
Just a day after the winners were announced in the first EVER NC Brewers Cup, the festival gave NC beer lovers the opportunity to find many of the winners, all in one location. When I complimented Aviator Brewing Co. on their five prize-winning beers, they thanked me with an Aviator sticker. (Okay, everybody got a sticker, but for me, it meant something.)
If you’ve never been to the Durham festival, there are large tents on the outfield – one for NC craft brewers and one for beers from around the world. At the gate, you get a plastic cup marked for 2 ounce beer pours, and you take it from brewer to brewer for samples of featured beers.
There is also lots of food, live music, a lounge tent for eating, and a couple of smaller tents for some of the really large breweries. Need to get out of the sun? Wander into the stands and look out over the infield, out to brew tents, the office buildings that tower over the stadium and the historic Bull from the movie, Bull Durham.
One festival tradition is wearing elaborate pretzel necklaces, either to clear the palate between tastings or to keep food in your stomach as you drink. (I ate all of my pretzels, and shared a taco and burrito.) In the Art of Beer area, guests could sample Sam Adams beers, paired with various cheeses and a bonus, chocolates from Raleigh’s Videri Chocolate Factory.
So I tried all my usual favorite NC craft brews, and ventured out to try some new ones. Here’s what I discovered:
Papa Bois, Mystery Brewing Co., Hillsborough
A Foreign Extra Stout with a refreshing twist — lemongrass and fresh lemon zest.
Triangle White Ale, Triangle Brewing Co., Durham
Belgian Witbier brewed with red and white wheat from NC’s Scotland County. A blend of spices gives this beer a complex smoothness.
Honey Wheat, Railhouse Brewery, Aberdeen
Made with white wheat and Munich malt – refreshing.
White Street Scottish Ale, White Street Brewing Co., Wake Forest
Dark, mahogany beer with complex taste – coffee, spice and caramel. This brewery opened just last month in Wake Forest.
Watch the World Beer Festival website for the date of the 2013 Raleigh WBF!