Being “Cyber Monday,” there’s a good chance you’re perusing the web for all sorts of good deals this afternoon. You’re probably doing a bit of shopping for yourself, and maybe (read: hopefully) you’re doing a bit of gift shopping as well. Want to grab a stocking stuffer and an ego puffer at the same time? All About Beer Magazine may have just the ticket — literally.
Tickets are now on sale for the fourth annual World Beer Festival Columbia. The event returns to the Palmetto state once again on January 28, 2012, and there are no indications that it will be any less of an event than in years past. The third annual event, which took place in January of this year, did a wonderful job of highlighting the growth of South Carolina’s craft brewing industry, and the event itself does a spectacular job each year of introducing new beers and beer styles to the South’s drinking masses.
A combination of large tasting areas and smaller educational seminars, the WBF allows beer lovers novice and experienced alike the chance to sample from over 300 different brews and engage with other drinkers both on the floor and in the rather less raucous educational events, the latter of the two being, in my opinion, indispensible for many of those new to the wide range of flavors and styles presented to them on the tasting floor. Last years’ seminars included “Beer 101,” a basic introduction to the beers and styles presented at the event; “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which introduced patrons to the wide range of flavors and characteristics of dark beers; and “Breweries of South Carolina,” which introduced festival goers to, and helped them connect with, some of the brewers crafting beer right there in their backyard.
The list of breweries for this coming year’s event has yet to be released, but there’s always a great representation present, and last year’s line-up even included a meadery and a “Flavor Station” that highlighted beer-and-food pairings.
Tickets are available through All About Beer’s website. The festival is split into two sessions, each of which is four hours long — the first runs from 12-4 pm, the second from 6-10 pm. General admission tickets entitle the patron to a two-ounce sampling glass (for unlimited samples) and a festival program and run $40 per session (if ordered online; tickets will be available the day of on an as-available basis for $50 per session); VIP tickets, which are only available online and are limited in quantity, earn the festival-goer a commemorative World Beer Festival glass, an “upscale” food buffet, a private hospitality area, and beers not available to general admission ticket holders (in addition to the unlimited samplings already available in the main areas). VIP tickets run $85 per person per session, and while I haven’t had the opportunity to experience the VIP area myself, I have been told that the availability of food and a place to relax amidst the organized chaos is well worth the extra ticket cost.
For those making the trip from Augusta who might need a place to crash afterward, festival attendees are also entitled to a special rate at the Hilton Columbia Center.
Do yourself (and someone else) a favor this Cyber Monday and ditch the gadgets and gizmos and go with something that will last a lifetime — a great experience.