Texas is one hell of a great state for beer. There has been explosive growth in craft breweries and demand for the liquid gold. In the past year alone, several new breweries opened including Austin Beerworks, Jester King Craft Brewery and Karbach Brewing Co. to name a few. There has never been a better time to be a beer drinker.
The only problem is this state is so dang big, it would take weeks to drive around and sample beers from all of the fantastic breweries. To solve that problem, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild is resurrecting the Texas Craft Brewers Festival after a six year hiatus. Good god, Moses is bringing the mountain to Austin for Beer Christmas in September. This year’s Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Brian Peters is the volunteer chairman of the 2011 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. He earned that honor by being a board member of the Guild and a well-known brewer in town who practices his craft at Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que – and he raised his hand to do it. I had the privilege to get an exclusive sneak peak at the Festival’s plans over a few beers with Brian so I could share the inside scoop with you.
- When: Saturday, September 24, 2011, 2:00 – 8:00 p.m.
- Where: Fiesta Gardens, on the east-side of Austin Texas
- How much: $20 includes eight tokens good for a four oz. sample and a commemorative tasting glass. You can buy additional tokens for $3 for 2.
- When you go: Visit the website for ticket information
- The best bet is the VIP admission, which starts noon. Not only do you get 2 hours of relative calm, but you also get a rad T-shirt, a pint glass, access to the VIP air conditioned bathrooms, and an exclusive meet and greet with the brewers in the Pavilion. VIP tickets run $70 and are worth every penny.
- You must be 21 or over to attend. It is family friendly and children are welcome with parent or guardian. Strollers are welcome, but there will not be special kids’ activities.
- Limited parking in the Fiesta Gardens. Street parking is available in the neighborhood and the Guild is looking into the possibility of luring gangs of pedicabs to shuttle Festival goers to nearby surface lots. Ride your bike! There will be plenty of nice racks on site. Of course taxis will be available.
- Leave your chairs, coolers, glass and dogs at home. Cool glass dogs sitting in chairs are totally out.
- You can bring in water in factory sealed bottles.
This year’s Festival will feature 18 craft breweries from around the state, the majority of which are Guild members. The new crop of brewers will be there in force so you can be the first on your block to try beers that are just hitting the market. In fact 10 breweries are new to the festival including Alamo Beer Company, Austin Beer Works, Jester King, Karbach, No Label Brewing Co., Circle Brewing Co., Ranger Creek and Twisted X Brewing Co. These upstarts will be joined by stalwarts like Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Real Ale Brewing (both in the top 50 largest breweries in the U.S. and title sponsors of the Festival), Live Oak Brewing Co., Rahr & Sons Brewing Co, Independence Brewing Co., (512) Brewing Co. and Shiner Beers.
The beer is the star of the show with more than 75 brews on tap. Each brewer is encouraged to bring six beers and to focus on the limited releases and special beers that aren’t readily available at beer halls around the state.
With all that beer you’ll need to plan to eat something to slow the absorption of alcohol. There will be three food vendors on site including Chi’Lantro Korean BBQ, Red’s Porch and Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que. Uncle Billy’s will have its home brewed root beer free of charge for designated drivers. In addition to the vendors, there will be a Cheese and Beer pairing at 3pm and various food and beer pairings in the afternoon available for a small added cost.
It will be hot, so stay hydrated by drinking water in between samples of beer. The Festival will provide free water stations, but no plastic bottles. Use your tasting glass to chug down water while you are on your rounds from brewer to brewer. No plastic bottles means less environmental impact and fewer things for you to carry. Drink up Johnny.
Texas Craft Brewers Guild members intend to show us they know how to throw one kick-ass festival. Brian is joined by volunteers Rob and Amy Cartwright from Independence, Kevin Brand from (512), and Vickie Jones a Guild board member. This tight-knit brewer’s community will bring the authenticity of the original Texas Craft Brewers Festival and combine it with a commitment to host a world class event with the laid-back ease and friendliness that is synonymous with Austin. Fiesta Gardens has room for 5,000 people, so it won’t feel crowded. Run out of beer? Hell no! Long lines at the toilets? Not with 40 porta-potties at the ready.
I asked Brian what he’s most looking forward to at the Festival. “People saying ‘Thanks for coming back,’ and people happy to be enjoying Texas craft beers.” If you want to say thanks to him, you’ll find him walking around the beer booths in a big head dress.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the Young Men’s Business League and Austin Sunshine Camps.