Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Traveling the world a beer at a time

It’s not Oktoberfest, but that much was certain when the first thing I saw was a circle of men and women wearing kilts and playing “Auld Lang Syne.” I knew then that there would be nobody walking around in lederhosen that night.

From Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, South Beach hosted the 2003 International World of Beer Festival. The festival brought together beer distributors from around the world to give away samples and promotional items (free crap) and to benefit charity.

The festival took a dollar off each admission of those who brought canned food. The cans were then collected and turned into a “can castle.” Afterwards, the food was given to Canstruction, a charity that benefits food banks throughout the country.

For more information on Canstruction, go to www.canstruction.com.

The wandering brew

Inside the festival a plethora of tents were arranged as if to box in the beach. Two large and crowded tents attracted people as if they were shining beacons (or steins) of beer. Beyond that stood the gateway to 42 countries and 300 beers.

The large tent farthest away from the entrance housed the cask ale collection of Samuel Adams. Patrons could choose from 37 different ales from the United Kingdom and the US. This was the first time that cask conditioned ales were available in South Florida.

The other tent was well lit and its illuminating glow drew in more people than the ale tent. Inside it was like walking through the FAU breezeway during giveaway week, only people actually stopped and talked to the vendors. It was a far more diverse crowd than the ale tent, with beers from Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Taiwan, Russia, Eastern Europe and Germany.

Yet another draw to the well-lit tent was food. They served food from Italy (ok, it was pizza), India, Taiwan, the Caribbean and more. While one can get drunk faster on an empty stomach it’s not quite a “festival” without overpaying for a hot meal.

Feast your eyes and empty your wallets

It must be a rule that at any event with some sort of gate the food vendors must gouge the costumers as much as humanly possible. An added bonus to this event was that most of the food was either grilled or fried, meaning that the food was salty. Salty food forces the tongue to beg for water or in this case the next best thing.

Upon admission each person was given a number of tickets. These tickets were for free beer samples, but the sample cup in most of the areas was little more than the big brother of a shot glass. Once you ran out of tickets you could purchase more from the kiosk in the middle of the beach. They also sold tickets for food since the vendors weren’t allowed to take actual money. Needless to say, if you’re frugal you’d best eat before entering.

There was a fairly large variety of food to choose from. Two vendors had distinct advantages over the rest merely because of the overwhelming size of their booths. The seafood vendor rivaled the width of the two large beer tents and attracted crowds with its imposing arch and fishy smell.

The Jamaican food vendor wasn’t quite as large but it was out in the open next to the cask tent. The rest of the food vendors huddled underneath the popular illuminated tent.

When Irish guys are drinking

The tent next to the seafood vendor was a model of an Irish pub. Inside were bookcases, shelves, and a real Irish guy singing and making fun of people for requesting to hear “Oh Danny Boy,” (I’m still a bit upset over that).

The Irish guy was Cahir O’Doherty and he played sing along songs, drinking songs, and other people’s requests. He entertained for an hour and during most of that time people gathered around Murphy’s Irish Pub. They sang and drank and laughed, and those with two free hands clapped along as O’Doherty strung on his acoustic guitar.

Inside the tent volunteers and representatives from Fischer Beverages (who distribute Heineken) were giving out samples of Murphy’s Stout and Murphy’s Red (see sidebar).

Music makes the world go round

What’s an international festival without world music? Along with O’Doherty, the festival’s first day featured music from Cuba, Scotland, the United States, and another Irish band.

Opening the event was the Saint Andrews Pipe Band from Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church in Miami. Dressed in time-honored Scottish garb, these churchgoers entertained the early arrivals with traditional songs from Scotland.

The Cuban group Conjunto Progreso followed the pipe band. They played Latin jazz classics like “El Carretero” which was popularized by the Buena Vista Social Club. After their set, the busy Cubans packed up and left for their usual Friday gig at Viernes Cultural on Calle Ocho. For more information about Conjunto Progreso, go to http://conjuntoprogreso.tripod.com/.

The cask tent featured Piano Bob’s 88s duo with Lou Abbott. They played Boogie Woogie and New Orleans style blues. Piano Bob and Lou, who was on drums and sang, dressed up like rejects from Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble. He said, “We play old songs, that’s why I dress the way I do.” For more information on Piano Bob, you can visit him on the web at www.pianobob.org.

Closing out the night was the Irish punk band the Big Shilellaghs. Touted as “simply the best Irish band in Florida” they played for the final two hours of the festival. Their music was a mixture of punk rock and Irish melody. Accompanying guitar, bass, and drums was a bloke on violin. They entertained the drunkards inside and outside the event. More people were clapping and hollering from the outside of the festival than there were bystanders noticing they were on the stage.

Would you like some cheese with that…beer?

It wasn’t all about getting drunk and emptying your wallet, the festival also gave people the opportunity to learn from cheese connoisseurs. Cabot was on hand to allow people to sample their fine cheeses from Vermont. Their goal is to help find the best pairing of cheeses and beers.

At first this might strike some as odd, but it does seem like the next logical step from wine and cheese. To help with the decision Cabot offers two pamphlets: wine and cheese and beer and cheese. Interesting notables on the beer side are pepper jack and American Pale Ale, tomato basil and wheat beer, and hot habanero with India Pale Ale. For more information on Cabot, visit www.cabotcheese.com.

Stuff you don’t need

Scattered about the beach were little booths selling stuff that you’d need to be drunk to buy. One booth sold T-shirts, bags and sweatshirts to commemorate the festival. Each one with those sickly yet plastered “cool cats” toasting in front of a voyeuristic moon.

Another booth was dedicated to silly hats. It seems that they were counting on people to have enough samples and listen to enough Irish folk songs to feel compelled to buy a two-foot tall leprechaun hat.

The real kicker was one of the booths under the large, illuminated tent. They sold T-shirts and sweatshirts with beer quotes by historical figures. It was a bit disheartening not to find the famous drinkers conundrum: “I have two hands but only one mouth.”

That wasn’t even their best item. They proudly displayed a bottle holder with the slogan “Makes life better.” They call it the Beer Neck. It’s an insulated jacket for a beer bottle, and it comes with a bottle opener and a neck strap so you won’t have to hold or drop your beer. You can also buy a clip so that you can attach the beer to your pants or belt loop. If you really want to know more about this, go to www.beerneck.com.

Foreign beers you should try

Negra ModeloFor those of you who like Corona, their company also makes Negra Modelo. It’s a dark beer with a carbonated taste.For more information, go to www.gmodelo.com.

TinkovThis Russian beer was originally made to please Peter the Great, and that it must have. This pilsner was one of the finest beers in attendance.For more information, go to www.tinkov.com.

Xingu Black BeerThis dark beer from Brazil has a light taste to it. They’re also an all woman beer company that’s been selling in Florida for the past two years.For more information, go to www.amazonbeer.com

Cerveja SagresThis Portuguese brew was ranked number one in Portugal and won the gold in Brussels and Geneva. Also, the beer has no harsh aftertaste.If you can read Portuguese visit them on the web at www.cerveja-sagres.pt.

Murphy’s Stout and Murphy’s RedMurphy’s has been brewing in Ireland since 1856 but has only been available in the US since the early ’90s. Their stout has a full body taste and a creamy head, while their red is much smoother than ordinary beers.For more information, go to www.fischerbeverages.com

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