The Columbia version of the World Beer Festival was wonderful. With two other very mature, very savvy events, I’d forgotten how much fun a beer festival in a new, fresh town could be.

The average age was higher. People talked beer with the brewers, with each other. They took notes in the program book. (Shazaam!) No “wahoo!” whenever the bottles were dumped into the recycling. And they left when it was last call. Sweeeet!

With the expanded All About Beer Magazine team, even my role had improved. With a bit more time I elected to try some of the beers. My strategy was to taste everything I believed I’d never had, largely the offerings of the South Carolina breweries.
After the first two beers I remembered the behavior of such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Roger Protz, Stephen Beaumont, Jay Brooks, Stan Hieronymous, Lew Bryson, virtually all of the people that I admire. Little books and scribbled notes. To be honest, I found the juggling of pen, paper and glass a bit much, keeping the paper dry difficult, and, later, reading my notes impossible. Another thing to learn on this quest.
Furthermore, I exposed a pathetic vocabulary. Red Brick Oatmeal Porter — creamy with a burnt finish. (Like, duh!) New South White Ale — light refreshing, short clean finish. (Oh slay me with thy erudition!). My favorite comments; Coast Brewing Co. IPA — cloudy, medium body, light amber, dry bitter finish. (Nailed that one, old sod.)
Seriously, I could see the need for developing sensitivity and, at the same time, expanding vocabulary. Enter Randy Mosher and the Siebel Institute. I have the galleys for Randy Mosher’s new book Tasting Beer: an Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink. I’m also planning on heading to Chicago to take the Siebel course that Randy teaches.
Back to the beers at the festival, I did notice that, with few exceptions, the beers of South Carolina were all very well made with a lighter profile than I would have expected, much subtler than style interpretations around the country. Welcome to the South. I also noticed that there was a universal focus on dry and refreshing, long big chardonnay finishes. Except for Palmetto Brewing Co. They showcased a range of beers that were all exceptionally rounded and evenly balanced. They really stood out.
One thing I am learning about this world of blog, it requires more attention than I’ve been giving it. As Maureen Ogle wrote me; now that you have a blog you have to write. Another lesson to learn.