Each year, All About Beer brings beer education to the masses in Columbia, South Carolina, with their World Beer Festival. The WBF doesn't proclaim to be an extreme beer event, so those seeking to try off-the-wall, cask-conditioned, barrel-aged sours should look elsewhere.
WBF is about educating the public about greater beer by offering up samplings from breweries around the world. Every year features a lineup of breweries that range from the behemoths of brewing to local craft breweries, along with educational seminars that attempt to teach people about different aspects of beer, from the brewing process to style variations to showcasing the all-stars of the state's brewing scene who are helping to create fresh, local craft beer. Past seminars have included "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," which taught attendees about the different styles of "dark" beer and what differentiates them, and a session dedicated to South Carolina breweries that played host to brewmasters and owners from several of the Palmetto State's breweries.
Festival attendees can access educational opportunities at some of the specialty stations that have been steadily added in past years' events, including stations that let folks learn about food and beer pairing, and a station last year that featured several single-hopped versions of a cask-conditioned ale that allowed tasters to see for themselves the varied characteristics of different hop varieties.
The brewery lineup for this year's event currently features 69 breweries, and can be viewed here. A new addition to this year's lineup is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which hadn't been distributed in Columbia until late last year. Other new additions include North Carolina breweries such as NoDa Brewing Company, Four Friends Brewing, and Lonerider Brewing Company.
Food will be provided by various vendors, and this year will even include a special "Silent Disco," where folks enter the dance floor wearing headphones and only they can hear the music. Check out this footage from a past Great American Beer Festival to see it in action for yourself.
Tickets are on sale now through the event website or at participating vendors in the Columbia area. Tickets are sold for two separate sessions, an afternoon session running from 12-4 pm, and an evening session from 6-10 pm. General Admission tickets are $40.00 and include admission to the event and seminars, along with a souvenir sampling glass and unlimited 2-ounce beer samples. For $85.00, a VIP ticket includes all that is included with the General Admission ticket, and throws in a hospitality area, food buffet, special beer selection not available to regular attendees, and a commemorative festival gift.
Whether you're a seasoned beer veteran or new to the world of craft beer, there's always something awaiting you at the annual World Beer Festival - Columbia, so be sure not to miss out! And don't forget to have a designated driver, or check out the special accommodations provided to festival goers.