My 5 Favorite Austin Beers at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Texas Craft Brewers Festival VolunteerOceans of beer flowed freely at the 2014 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. More than 150 types of beer were poured by 57 brewers at Fiesta Gardens. There is absolutely no way to taste all of those beers, so I took a simpleton’s approach to the beer bash this year: I tasted only what came to me in the VIP session and after that I tasted only beer that I can readily buy in Austin.

Notes on my approach:

  • VIP is the only way to go if you want to avoid the insanely long lines that come with general admission. Sure you’ll miss some of the special tappings that happen every 30 minutes going later into the day, but you will get to taste almost anything else you want without wasting all day in line.
  • It sounds counter-intuitive to drink Austin based beers when the whole state is coming to Austin. Why the hell not taste what I can’t get normally? Yes I drank other beers, but when I needed to actually seek a beer, I wanted to know that if I like it, I can buy it again after the fest. This wasn’t an exercise in total exploration.

Here are my five favorite Austin beers poured at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival:

Austin Beerworks, Sptunik

Austin Beerworks SputnikThis Russian imperial coffee oatmeal stout is as smooth as any oatmeal stout you’ll encounter with a bit of an edge from coffee from Cuvée Coffee Roasting Company. It wasn’t listed in the official program, but poured during the VIP session. This isn’t one of Austin Beerworks regular line up, but you can get it on tap around town seasonally.

 Hops & Grain Brewing, Double IPA 

Hops & Grain Double IPAThis bad boy was not listed on the official program, but was poured at the Hops & Grain booth along-side its Greenhouse IPA. Richer in color, with a bolder citrus and herbal punch, this 2X IPA cut through any beer lingering on the palate from a previous pour. I’d love to see this released in a can in the Greenhouse series.

Independence Brewing Co. Prickly Pear Stash IPA Firkin 

Amy Cartwright digs on the Stash IPA prickly pear
Amy Cartwright digs on the Stash IPA prickly pear

 

The folks at Independence spiked a batch of its Chinook hops Stash IPA with a dose of deep purple prickly pear juice made by heating, but not boiling, the luscious fruit. Neon pink, this beer stood out. It kept the familiar hoppy bite of Stash, with an added layer of melon flavor. Lots of fun.

Jester King Snörkel

Ron Extract pours a Jester King Snorkel
Ron Extract pours a Jester King Snorkel

 

This was the most interesting beer I tasted all day. The sour German Gose style beer is made with wheat, oyster mushrooms grown near the brewery and both sea salt and alderwood smoked sea salt. Funky, light and low alcohol, I could drink this stuff all afternoon. More please.

Real Ale Oktoberfest 

Erik Ogershok pours the pumpkiny goodness
Erik Ogershok pours the pumpkiny goodness

 

Real Ale made a traditional Bavarian style Oktoberfest with German malt, hops, and yeast and then spiked the bad boy with pumpkin pie spices. While it had the typical body and character of a Märzen, the pumpkin pie spice gave it an extra festive flavor without overwhelming it. Deelish.

Tell me what I missed. What were your favorites?

What are you drinking? 

 

My top 3 picks to celebrate Austin Beer Week

What in the hell is going on? Every time I turn around there is another reason to drink silly amounts of fantastic craft beer. A couple weeks ago it was the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, last week the Great American Beer Festival and next week its the Austin Beer Week with more tap draining events than you can shake a stein at. More than 45 breweries and brewpubs are participating with special keg tapings, tastings, tours and dinners. Silliness.

A couple of the absurdly awesome things to hit up are:

  1. The Banger’s Beer College: This is a series of sessions hosted by beer experts like Matt Abendschein of You Stay Hoppy Austin, Chip McElroy of Live Oak Brewing, Caroline Wallace of Bitch Beer, Ron Extract of Jester King, Josh Hare of Hops & Grain, John Brack of Austin Homebrew Supply, Chris Booth of Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden and John Sikes, Independence Brewery all teaching us about the beauty of various styles of beer. Bliss!
  2. The Uncle Billy’s Wild Game Brewer’s Dinner: Fresh from winning a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival, the hot shot brewers are going to show their swagger by pairing five beers with five courses of Texas wild game at the Lake Travis Location on Thursday, Oct. 25. My mouth is watering already.
  3. The Austin Beer Guide Presents – Ultimate Fanboy Showdown Bike Pub Crawl: who can resist the potty-mouth bitches that write the fantastically awesome Austin Beer Guide? If you’re not a fanboy yet, one look into their dreamy eyes and you will be for life. Put on your skinny shorts, mess up your beard and straddle your single speed bike on Sunday, Oct. 21 for a ride you’ll never remember.

There are a ton more gut bustingly good events to check out all week. Drink up!

What are you drinking? 

Release party for Austin Beer Guide Summer 2012 issue set for June 28

Summer 2012 cover art by Michael Sieben

Do you need an excuse to drink beer this week? Got one. The beer-swilling potty-mouths that put together the stellar Austin Beer Guide are throwing a release party for the Summer 2012 issue at 7pm on Thursday, June 28, 2012 on the patio of Billy’s on Burnet, 2105 Hancock Drive.

Whether you are an ironic-t-shirt-wearin-over-grown-beard-sportin-yeast-strain-braggin beer geek or just someone who wants to know where to get a good beer in Austin, the Austin Beer Guide is the best source for information on the craft brew scene in Central Texas. The Summer 2012 issue explores Austin’s dive bar culture, looks into the future of packaged beer, has brewers’ opinions on wheat beer, describes the best and worst drinking holes of New Braunfels, has a profile on Austin’s newest brewery, Rogness Brewing, and has an interview with award winning brewer, Brian “Swifty” Peters of Uncle Billy’s.
The brilliant editors of Austin Beer Guide are calling the release party “PATIO-BEER-MAGEDON!”  The bash will, of course, feature a sea of casked, kegged and canned rare and special beers. Austin Beerworks will be debuting their Summer seasonal berliner weisse Eisenhorn, Hops & Grain will bring a keg of Barelywine, a first of the Volumes of Oak series, Jester King will have a cask of their Drinkin’ the Sunbeltcollaboration beer with Danish Gyspsy brewer Mikkeller and Live Oak will bring a rare, secret and unnamed cask of mystery beer.
I can’t imagine you need an additional reason to go grab a beer than the amazing line up of brews the good folks at Austin Beer Guide have lined up, but they are also throwing in free, collectible Austin Beer Guide #Brewmore or BeerTownAustin ‘Stache glasses.

What are you drinking?