Yesterday was one of my favorite beer events here in Durham – All About Beer‘s annual World Beer Festival. The festival features about 100 breweries with a wide collection of beer, although fall styles play a big role, considering the time of year. This year’s even was perhaps my favorite yet and here are some of the highlights:
Top of the Hill saison – based in Chapel Hill, Top of the Hill is a brewpub and a newly minted distillery as well. Their beers have always been great and their saison that was served yesterday was an absolute perfect example of the style. The beer was light and crisp with wonderful citrus and banana notes on the nose and tongue. While the pour was only a couple ounces, I could tell the carbonation was spot-on and the light, golden beer had a great ivory head. A great palate cleanser and not knowing the specific ABV, it could be a perfect session beer during the waning summer days here in North Carolina.
Abita Andygator – while this brew only has an 80 on Beer Advocate, I’d consider it for a higher number. I’m not crazy about bocks, but this dopplebock was something I really enjoyed. It sits at 8 percent ABV, but you wouldn’t know it and the smell is something more akin to a sour beer in the vein of Brux – very light and crisp with a definite lead aroma of tart cherries. The taste was nothing like the smell, however, with a typical malty sweetness leading the charge. I loved the color – a near transparent gold that sparkled in the sun.
NoDa Coco Loco porter – The name says it all. This Charlotte-based brewery knocks it out of the park with this beer, which is brewed with coconut but I couldn’t tell at all. Everything is dominated by an incredible characteristic of roasted cocoa nibs. There’s just a hint of coffee on the nose, but chocolate and brown malt make this a beer Willy Wonka would be proud of. I was most surprised by the ABV – 6.2 percent – which is right near the top limit of the BJCP guidelines for a “robust” porter. I just haven’t typically seen a porter that strong.
Noda Hop, Drop ‘n Roll IPA – NoDa hit back-to-back homers when I tried their IPA, which showcased all the resin of the Citra and Amarillo hops and none of the bitterness. It was super-clean, crisp and just had amazing citrus flavor. I’d dare say it would be among my favorite straight IPAs I’ve had.
Two other big highlights after the jump.
Mystery Brewing had four beers to pour and they were all amazing. As far as I’m concerned, they stole the show and had people waiting in line the entirety of the festival. Their Papa Bois blew me away – it’s a foreign extra stout brewed with lemon peel and lemongrass to offer a wonderful citrus touch to ride alongside the chocolate malt.
A “real ale” cask tent featured eight cask beers from local breweries and my favorites were a stout from Lonerider that was wonderfully chocolate and had amazing, smooth mouthfeel coming from the cask. I also loved the casked version of Fullsteam‘s rye IPA. I really like IPAs from a cask because I think it helps to bring out a lot of the great citrus and floral aromas and flavors of the hops and this was no different. I always get this if it’s available at their brewery, but this was a special treat.
Next up – the Great American Beer Festival in just a week!