CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I recently attended a beer festival in downtown Raleigh, N.C., at Moore Square. The World Beer Festival, as it was named, featured about 110 different breweries, each serving several of its range of beers, easily totaling 500 to 600 beers to choose from. This is an impossible task even for the thirstiest of beer geeks!
The best way even to attempt to scratch the surface when it comes to tasting a good cross-section of these beers is by proactive planning and moderation.
Upon entering the festival grounds, each participant receives a beer program and a small sampling glass designed to hold 3 to 4 ounces if filled to the rim. Breweries were asked to pour 2-ounce samples.
The reasoning was stated on signage throughout the venue: "We pour 2 ounce samples so you can taste more." I thought this was a reason well stated; after all this was a craft-beer festival, not a sink-or-swim beer bust.
Some aficionados take planning to an extreme, making a list of the breweries and beers they want to taste during the festival. I often saw a group of these hard-core tasters huddled off in a corner somewhere poring over their beer lists and making notes, oblivious to the hordes of people clamoring to get that next taste of whatever is being dispensed at the nearest tap. Kudos to them, but I am not that disciplined or organized.
Craft-beer aficionados often find themselves faced with so many great beers and so little time -- and not just at festivals. This can happen just as easy at a local beer bar that may serve 40 or 50 craft brews!
What's a beer geek to do?