Listen up, beer aficionados. Your time has come.
Sunday, Jan. 16 marks the beginning of Columbia Craft Beer Week, with more than 50 beer events to choose from.
Now in its second year, the week gives local retailers an opportunity to feature beers and pairings they wouldn’t normally have, said Donna Rodgers, the marketing manager for KW Beverage, which organizes the week.
It’s also a chance for bars and restaurants to show their creativity with craft beer. Some of the events include tap takeovers, beer and chocolate events, beer and cigars, beer and yoga, even beer and waffle dinners.
“I think the idea that one size fits all in beer and food is a wrong concept,” Rodgers said. “It’s what you might like to try and your own palette. So this is an opportunity where things are served in sample sizes and you get to try it at your favorite pub or restaurant.”
And then, of course, go to the World Beer Festival in Columbia on Jan. 23 and try even more craft beer.
COLUMBIA CRAFT BEER WEEK HIGHLIGHTS
WHEN: Jan. 16-22
WHERE: Various venues around Columbia
DETAILS: For a full schedule and ticketed event information, visit http://columbiacraftbeerweek.com/
BEER AND CIGAR PAIRING AT CONQUEST BREWING CO.
Cigars don’t just go with whiskey anymore. The guys at Tobacco Merchant will give a tutorial about cigars and Conquest Brewing will talk about the how the cigars and Conquest beer go well together.
“Some cigars are milder, so those will be the ones we pair with our lighter beers, like Artemis Blonde, Seven Seas Pale Ale, and our Winter Warmer,” Conquest’s marketing manager Wilson Bame said. “The more robust and darker cigars will go with something like our Brutus Imperial Stout, which has a lot of flavor and alcohol warmth, so they really complement each other in that respect.”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13 at Conquest Brewing Co., 947 S. Stadium Road, Bay 1
If you miss it, there’s a second cigar and beer pairing event on Tuesday, Jan. 19 with Palmetto Brewing Co. at Lite Um Up Cigar Lounge, 4435 Hard Scrabble Road, No. 102. Or head to The Cigar Box on Main Street on Wednesday, Jan. 20 for a pairing with Carolina Brewery.
REDHOOK CHICKEN AND WAFFLES AT THE WHIG
The Whig is bringing back its semi-regular chicken and waffles night and pairing it with all of Redhook’s flagship beers. It will also mark the Columbia debut of Redhook’s new Blackhook Porter, which The Whig will use to make waffle syrup.
“Fried chicken and carbs always pair well with any beer,” owner Phill Blair said, “and I think our version of the dish is more geared to that than others.”
The pairing is optional if you just want the chicken and waffles, but Redhook beers will be available at a reduced price.
Sunday, Jan. 17 at The Whig, 1200 Main St.
CHOCOLATE AND BEER PAIRING AT DIPRATO’S
There are two beer and chocolate pairing events during Craft Beer Week, but the one at DiPrato’s takes place after hours when no one else is in the restaurant, and it’s $1 cheaper. Sample Chicago brewery Goose Island paired with Evolution through Chocolate truffles.
“The explosion of craft beers with their subtle nuances and intricate tasting notes now rival some of the complexities of wines,” Evolution through Chocolate owner Joseph Vernon said. Vernon also likes to use off-the-wall flavors like blood orange, loquat, and the citrus fruit Buddha’s hand in his chocolates.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 at DiPrato’s Delicatessen, 342 Pickens St. Tickets are $15 and available at DiPrato’s.
SMOKE AND BEER DINNER AT CITY ROOTS
Executive chef Frank Bradley from Bourbon and executive chef Henry Griffin from Ristorante Divino will prepare a family-style, farm-to-table dinner featuring various smoked meats paired and prepared with local Conquest Brewing craft beers. There also will be a complimentary beer cocktail prepared by Bourbon.
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 at City Roots, 1005 Airport Blvd. $75-$80.
KONA BEER FLOAT NIGHT AT KAMINSKY’S BAKING CO.
Taste test ice cream floats made with Kona craft beer. Free Kona Koko Brown Chocolate Float and Kona Pipeline Porter Vanilla Float samples.
Thursday, Jan. 21 at Kaminsky’s, 930 Gervais St.
AND, THE GRAND FINALE ...
The beer week grand finale is the World Beer Festival on Saturday, Jan. 23.
The event boasts more than 200 beers in more than 50 styles.
“The idea of the festival is to try new things. Always go in with an open mind,” said Adam Harold, the director of beer programing at “All About Beer” magazine and the producer of the festival.
But also recognize that you’re not going to be able to try everything, he added.
So read our highlights with Harold’s insider tips, and check out the festival map beforehand for an optimal boozy experience.
WORLD BEER FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 23
WHERE: Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St.
COST: General admission is $40 in advance, $50 day of festival (if tickets are still available). VIP admission is $85 and includes access to a private lounge and a bonus selection of rare beers. Tickets can be purchased online, at Craft and Draft and both Green’s Beverages locations.
OF NOTE: All ticket holders must be 21 years old and bring a valid photo ID. No one under 21 will be admitted.
EXTENDED BEER SELECTIONS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
There will be a contingent of breweries representing the Palmetto State, with the addition of Legal Remedy from Rock Hill, Southern Barrel from Bluffton, and Birds Fly South Ale Project from Greenville.
Be sure to try Southern Barrel’s frozen barrel milk stout, which is a dark beer with big chocolate coffee flavors and a silky mouth feel.
Brook Bristow, executive director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, will give a presentation on the South Carolina brewing industry.
Ashley Bower, who runs Girls Pint Out, will host a panel on sour beers.
The beer and cheese seminar is back and bigger than last year, but is unfortunately already sold out.
OK, so not everything in this article is about beer.
For a beer break, head to the new Cider Garden to sample more than 20 ciders, from traditional to experimental. The quality of Bold Rock Cider out of North Carolina is incredibly high, Harold noted. Their IPAs (India pressed ciders) are worth a try.
“Usually, IPAs tend to be super hoppy, and this is so perfectly balanced, people will go nuts over it.” Harold said.
Access to the Cider Garden is available to all attendees.
BELGIAN BIER GARDEN
In the Belgian Bier Garden, you can enjoy 20 different beers specifically from Belgium. (Read: No other countries allowed.) Try malt-forward Belgian ales like Dubbel and Tripel, plus some tart, sour beers.
Tickets are an additional $15 for general admission ticket holders. VIP ticket holders can enter the Belgian Bier Garden area for no additional charge.
For a crazy, out-there beer, Harold recommends the ¡Ándale! Pale Ale from Frothy Beard. An abundant amount of jalapenos and cilantro give this spicy beer a nice burn in the back of your throat.
MORE BEER EVENTS
Soda City Suds Week: Friday through Saturday, March 18-26 throughout Columbia
Cream of the Crop Beer Festival: Saturday, March 26 at City Roots