What’s on tap for the Texas Craft Brewers Festival and the 6 beers you’ve gotta try

The 2015 Texas Craft Brewers Festival returns to Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, September 19, 2015. The state’s largest craft beer event serving beer made exclusively in Texas got even bigger this year with 65 breweries pouring around 170 brews.

Hops & Grain, Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter Culture
Hops & Grain, Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter Culture

 

There will definitely be a style of beer to suit any palate, as brewers will bring out their year-round beers, seasonals, and special beers to pour at the fest. In addition to the beers poured at each tent, there will be more than 20 special brews that will be tapped on the half hour.

To help you narrow your quest at the fest, CultureMap has selected six top beers to seek out at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival. Here are our picks:

Blue Owl Brewing: Spirit Animal Sour Pale Ale

Blue Owl Spirit Animal
I’ve been salivating with anticipation of the brews from Blue Owl Brewing and now we have our first chance to taste them at the Texas Craft Brewers Fest. This sour pale ale is made with a mix of GR Magnum, Crystal, Centennial, Citra, and Galaxy hops along with pale, Munich, honey, and Carahell malts. Blue Owl calls it “the marriage of sour-mashing and dry-hopping” to create a “truly unique animal.” This quenchy, low alcohol (5.1 percent), citrusy hoppy ale will be great on a hot summer afternoon and will be released at the upcoming grand opening.

Independence Brewing Co.: Reaper Madness

Independence ReaperMadness_front
Independence always brings out something interesting for the Craft Brewers Festival. Head brewer Brannon Radicke brewed a black IPA for Independence’s ninth anniversary party way back in October 2013; the beer was so popular that it was resurrected and reincarnated into Reaper Madness. A gorgeous blend of Columbus, Summit, and 07270 hops and Vienna, Carafa III, and Midnight Wheat malts give it dark and bold, piney and hoppy flavors balanced with mild biscuit and roasted-malt flavors. Its moderate alcohol of 6.1 percent won’t be crippling in the afternoon, and it’ll pair well with boudin balls from the Red’s Porch food truck at the festival.

Hops & Grain: Volumes of Oak Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter Culture
The Volumes of Oak series is all about bringing out complexity in beer with oak aging. The brewing shamans at Hops & Grain converted their delicious Baltic porter, called Porter Culture, into a lush brew with layers of chocolate, coffee, oak, tobacco, and vanilla with a velvety smooth finish by aging it in heavily charred American Oak barrels that were previously used to age bourbon whiskey. It’s made with pale and Munich malts with a touch of chocolate wheat for a smooth vanilla and coconut flavor to balance the heat of the bourbon booziness. Speaking of booziness, this one packs a punch at 9.4 percent ABV, so stick to just one 3-ounce taster of it.

Jester King Brewery: Amicis Mortis
Jester King is well known for its creative beers made with atypical ingredients. This year Jester King is bringing Amicis Mortis to the fest. It’s made in collaboration with the brewers from Brasserie Dunham in Quebec and inspired by a sweet potato, chili pepper, and coconut dish the folks at Jester King enjoy with Dunham. The unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally conditioned farmhouse ale is made with Zythos, Saaz, and Cascade hops along with organic pilsner and raw wheat malts fermented with a mixed culture of brewer’s yeast, native yeast, and bacteria harvested from the air and wildflowers around the brewery. The dry, mildly tart, earthy, funky, and mildly spicy beer is versatile and food friendly. Only 2,400 750-milliliter bottles of this were released last month, and the fest is one of the few occasions where it is available outside of the Jester King tasting room.

Save the World Brewing Co.: Froctum Bonum Saison Ale
This 1-year-old philanthropic brewery is starting to show up in more locations around Austin, but it’s still one to grab at the festival. Its Saison, made with Czech Saaz, East Kent Goldings, and Perle hops and Dingemans Pale, Dingemans Cara 20, and Briess Red Wheat malts, is a refreshing example of the traditional farmhouse ale. It’s a robust and versatile ale with assertive aromas and sweet malts, zesty citrus, and peppery spices with a hint of earthiness followed by a crisp dry finish. This will go great with The Knuckle Sandwich at the Nobel Sandwich food truck at the fest. If you miss it on Saturday, it’s available in cases of 12 22-ounce bottles year-round in stores, bars, and restaurants in Austin.

Whole Foods Market Brewing CompanyNo Escape Imperial Coffee Stout
What’s that? A grocery store brewing beer? Yep! Whole Foods Market has an in-house brewmaster, David Ohmer, who will pour a massive stout, billowing with molasses, vanilla, and milk chocolate flavors. It has more than enough hops to keep it from being too sweet with a blend of Horizon, Pacific Gem hops, and pale, Special B, Carafa II, Crystal 77, and roasted barley malts to give it those rich chocolatey flavors. If the initial rush of flavors doesn’t wake you up, the blitz of coffee will: It’s made with Ethiopian Suke Quto espresso beans for a big coffee flavor. Speaking of big, this bruiser packs a 10.8-percent ABV punch.

If you are looking for the No Escape Imperial Coffee Stout, you’ll only find it in the “Whole Foods Market presents: What’s Brewing?” interview series. Austin American-Statesman drinks-writer Arianna Auber and I will each interview brewers throughout the afternoon, including Ohmer.

What’s Brewing? Interview Schedule

Moderator: Arianna Auber (Liquid Austin, Bitch Beer)

  • 1 p.m. – Chip McElroy, Live Oak Brewing
  • 1:30 p.m. – David Ohmer, Whole Foods Market Brewing with Tiffany Cunningham, Whole Foods Market talking Beer & Cheese
  • 2 p.m.  – Jeff Young & Suzy Shaffer, Blue Owl Brewing
  • 2:30 p.m. – Scott Metzger, Freetail Brewing

Moderator: Matt McGinnis (CultureMap Austin, What Are You Drinking?)

  • 3 p.m.  – David Ohmer, Whole Foods Market Brewing with Tiffany Cunningham, Whole Foods Market talking Beer & Cheese
  • 3:30 p.m.  – Marco Rodriguez, Zilker Brewing
  • 4 p.m.  – Trevor Nearburg, Uncle Billy’s Brewery
  • 4:30 p.m.  – Quynh & Dave Rathkamp, Save the World Brewing

The event starts at 11:30 am for VIP ticket holders and 2 pm for general admission and closes at 6:30 pm. VIP tickets are sold out. General admission tickets sell for $30 on the Festival site and entitle guests to admission, eight 3-ounce sampling tokens, and a tasting cup. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

This story was originally published on CultureMap and has been slightly modified for the blog.

Disclosure, my marketing communications agency, Pen & Tell Us, represents Uncle Billy’s Brewery, which is mentioned in this story.

What are you drinking?

17 Things that Start with B Seen at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Yes, there is a firkin lot of great beer at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival (see my 5 favorite beers) , but if that’s all you go for, you are missing half the fun. The people watching is where its really at. Here are 17 things that start with the letter “B” that you can see at the annual beer bash.

Brewers

One of the best things about the Brewers Fest is the opportunity to meet so many of the people behind the creation of the beer. Most of the 57 breweries send the brew master and other brewers who are happy to talk about their craft and their babies with guests.

Beer Scientists

 

Bree Clark the beer scientist at Hops & Grain
Bree Clark the beer scientist at Hops & Grain

 

Bree Clark uses her smarts, education and experience to ensure the consistency and quality of Hops & Grain Brewery’s beers. She developed the know how by earning a master’s degree in bio chemistry and as a high school chemistry teacher and now serves as one of only a very few brewery lab technicians in Texas. Quick with a smile and a pint, she’s a great person to have in the industry.

Beards

Beer dudes and beards. Duh.

Bright Red Mohawks

Bright red mohawks are a gender-neutral fashion statement among beer lovers.

Bitches

Bitchbeer.org bloggers
Jessica, Caroline and Ari from Bitchbeer

 

The ladies from the influential and insightful beer blog, Bitchbeer, are a fixture at most major beer events, gathering information at mixin it up with the brewers. Want to get the inside scope on the best beers around, check their blog.

Bloggers 

Speaking of bloggers, the Texas Craft Beer Festival draws some of the best beer writers around from sites and publications like Austin Beer Guide, Craft Taste and Stay Hoppy Austin among others.  These guys may be excellent beer bloggers, but they sure as hell are not easy on the eyes. Especially the dudes from Austin Beer Guide. You’ll thank me for not posting a photo.

Babes 

 

Twin Peaks found it appropriate to bring beer babes.
Twin Peaks found it appropriate to bring beer babes.

 

The craft beer industry is all about keepin’ it real. Brewers show up at events in t-shirts and jeans. Let the beer speak for itself. This year Twin Peaks, a breastaurant chain that brews its own beer, stood out in the crowd with attractive women with bare midriffs pouring their beer. It seemed a bit off to me, but maybe it worked.

Buds

 

My buds Beth Thornton and Jessica Dupuy
My buds Beth Thornton and Jessica Dupuy

 

There is nothing better than drinking beer and sharing laughs with good friends. The Fest was filled with groups of friends comparing notes on beers and telling stories. Makes for a lovely afternoon.

Butts 

Butt

It seems the world is obsessed with booty right now. Some people at the Fest chose to call attention to theirs with really short shorts (see mention of Twin Peaks babes) or by slapping a sticker on their ass. Made ya look.

Bellies

Big Belly

Come on, its a beer festival. Big bellies are almost as ubiquitous as beards.

Bavarians

It hasn’t been that long since Oktoberfest in Munich ended. Its hard not to roll out the traditional beer drinking garb and make believe your 4 ounce plastic tasting cup is a liter stein.

Bands

Band

Bands played all afternoon in the pavilion. Live music is always a welcome touch.

Bros in Kilts

IMG_8992

There were more than a few groups of guys sportin’ kilts at the Fest – and not just brewers promoting Scottish ales.

Beer Socks

Lots of people were decked out in beer themed fashion. My favorite is the beer socks that is prevalent year after year.

Bankers

 

The bankers from Craft Royalty Partners
The bankers from Craft Royalty Partners

 

The insane growth of the craft beer industry has several breweries scrambling to expand to meed demand. The dudes at Craft Royalty Partners set up a bank dedicated to funding the growth of Texas craft breweries. Sounds like heroes in pinstripes to me.

Bring Your Own Snacks

Texas Craft Brewers Festival Snacks

Sure there are tons of great things to eat from several food trucks at the Fest, but why stand in line when you can bring your own snack. These people went for convenience with pretzel necklaces. Brilliant.

Big Ass Lines

 

Big ass line at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Once the gates open for general admission, the lines start to form at all of the beer tents with insanely long lines forming for the special tappings that happen every 30 minutes. The biggest line of the day is the one to get into the park. It snakes for blocks from the gate to the lake. My advice, spring for the VIP if you can, get there as early as possible or just be prepared to wait.

What did you see that was really interesting at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival?

My other posts on the Fest:

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary media pass.

What are you drinking? 

 

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? 

 

Biggest beer bash ever: 120 brews on tap for Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Texas Craft Brewers Festival FanIt seems like there is a new brewery or brew pub opening somewhere in Texas every month. It would be a daunting (but fun!) task to try to visit all of the breweries; fortunately the Texas Craft Brewers Festival will bring 57 of the best brewers in the state together for its biggest event ever.

This year, 120 different beers will be available at the annual event, which takes place at Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, September 27. The festival’s growth mirrors the booming Texas craft beer industry — the Texas Craft Brewers Guild reports that beer production increased 44 percent in 2013 with around 225,000 barrels brewed in Texas.

“One of the big draws of the festival is the opportunity to taste beers that are hard to find or that are made specifically for the event,” says Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Build. “We will feature a Rotating Tap list of 20 special beers that will be poured each half-hour throughout the festival. We’ll publish the list before the event so people can be on the lookout for specific beers. One beer I’m excited about is the Revolver Brewing Fracker Barrel #1, a barrel-aged beer.”

In addition to the special brews, there will be a slew of Indian pale ales, pale ales, sours, saisons, farmhouse ales and a bunch of pumpkin ales to wet your whistle. Local brew pubs (which are now allowed to sell and distribute their beer off premises) that will be pouring at the festival include Black Star Co-op Pub & BreweryKamala Brewing at the Whip In, Oasis Texas Brewing Company and Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse.

The beer bash starts at 2 pm and goes until 6:30 pm. General admission tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. That will get you six 4-ounce sampling tokens and a commemorative tasting cup. Extra tasting samples are available for $3 a pair.

The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is put on by the Young Men’s Business League of Austin and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Proceeds benefit Austin Sunshine Camps, a nonprofit providing mentorship, education and personal development for high-potential, low-income girls and boys throughout Central Texas.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

Bitch Beer at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

What Are You Drinking? 

Texas Craft Brewers Festival taps booming beer market

“This has never been seen before in Texas,” mused Tim Schwartz, president of the  Texas Craft Brewers Guild and owner/brewer at Real Ale Brewing Company, as he looked around at the 39 Texas craft brewers and a growing crowd of thirsty people at the 2013 Texas Craft Brewers Festival, held at Fiesta Gardens in Austin on September 28. He was referring not only to the growth or the Festival, with 13 new breweries participating this year — up from 28 in 2012 and 18 in 2011 — but also to the vibrant development of the industry.

“We’ve more than doubled the number of brewers coming to this festival in the past few years,” said Schwartz. “That’s because there are a lot of new breweries opening up around the state. There are more breweries in Texas now than there ever have been. The increase in the number of people who drink craft beer has been fueling that growth. We see it at Real Ale. We’ve grown by 30 percent this year and will be producing more than 50,000 barrels.”

Schwartz has data from a recent study by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to back up his enthusiasm. According to the study, Texas craft brewers produced 42 percent more beer in 2012 than in 2011.  From the looks of the expected sellout crowd of 6,000 at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, there are enough eager beer drinkers in the state to gulp down all of that brew.

More than 130 local beers were on tap at the festival. Intrepid beer fans sought out the breweries that were new to this year’s festival, including Armadillo Ale Works, Branchline Brewing, Brigadoon Brewery, Buffalo Bayou Brewing, Cedar Creek Brewery, Community Beer, Cycler’s Brewing, Infamous Brewing,  Karbach Brewing, Lone Pint Brewery and Stones Craft Brewing. Clay Wicker, brewer and owner of Cycler’s Brewing, hopes to take advantage of cyclists’ proclivity to down a few pints after a hot ride with his cleverly named beers.

Returning breweries brought special and seasonal beers that aren’t readily found in bars, restaurants and retail shops.Independence Brewing Co. broke out a Muggles Double Cask dry hopped with Galaxy, Live Oak Brewing Co. introduced its Smoaktoberfest, Austin Beerworks tapped its Einhorn, Hops & Grain poured its Greenhouse Baltic Porter and the always inventive Jester King Brewery dazzled with Atrial Rubicide. The biggest crowds queued up for the special tappings that happened throughout the day.

With a mind-numbing variety of beer styles — from Czech, to Belgian, to German, to Texan — there were too many fan favorites to crown one king. A few that garnered audible oohs and aahs were Adelbert’s Brewery Barrel Aged Dancin’ Monks,No Label Brewing Black Wit-O, Pedernales Brewing Lobo Oktoberfest and (512) Brewing Company Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter.

Despite the oppressive humidity early in the day and the sudden downpour in the afternoon, the crowds were in good spirits, luxuriating in barrel after barrel of locally made craft brew. It’s a good time to be a Texan beer lover.

 

 

This story was first published on CultureMap.

Disclosure: I was provided a media pass to attend the Festival free of charge. 

What are you drinking? 

Your guide to the best Texas-style Oktoberfest celebrations in Central Texas

One of the best things about having thousands of German immigrants settles in Texas beginning in the 1840s is the proliferation of Oktoberfest celebrations that happen each autumn. Just like the German Oktoberfest, which is held each year in Munich for 16 days from late September through the first weekend in October, our Texan versions of the festival place a strong emphasis on beer and traditional Bavarian food.

The differences between our local festivals and the original Oktoberfest are that Texans don’t stick to the exact dates, nor do we serve only German beer. Here is a rundown of where you can hoist a liter in your lederhosen starting today, September 28 and going straight through November.

AustOberfest
Saturday, September 28
Scholz Beer Garden, Saengerrunde Hall
1607 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX
Admission Price: $35.00

In its first year, this Bavarian bash features open taps pouring German beers like Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr and piles of German-style sausage and other eats from Black’s BBQ, Easy Tiger, Frank, Louie Mueller, Meyers Elgin Sausage, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Opa’s, Salty Sow Southside Market, School House Pub and Taylor Cafe. Work off a few calories by dancing to live music from White Ghost Shivers, Possum Posse and Off The Grid. All of this, along with full access to the rooftop biergarten and the bowling alley are included in the price of admission. Proceeds from the event will benefitFoodways Texas.

Texas Craft Brewers Festival
Saturday, September 28
Fiesta Gardens
Austin, TX
Admission Price: $20.00 general admission and $10.00 for designated drivers

While it’s not exactly an Oktoberfest celebration, this is one huge beer party with several Oktoberfest brews on tap. Sure you won’t find beer from Germany, but the Festival’s remarkable 130 beer selection includes several season selections such as Karbach Brewing Karbachtoberfest, Live Oak Brewing Smoaktoberfest, Pedernales Brewing Lobo Oktoberfest, Rahr and Sons Barrel Aged Oktoberfest, Ranger Creek Brewing Septoberfest and Rogness Brewing Rogtoberfest. Leave your dogs and kids at home. Lederhosen optional.

Banger’s Oktoberfest
Saturday, September 21 – Sunday, October 6
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
79 & 81 Rainey Street
Austin, TX
Admission Price: Free, with normal pricing for food and beverage

The second annual Banger’s Oktoberfest celebration schedule spans twelve of the sixteen days that our German friends are celebrating in Munich. The Banger’s bash has German food specials, featured local beers and games including chicken-shit bingo, a sausage eating contest, a keg roll, ladder ball and a stein race. The outdoor stage will feature lineup of live music from bands like Urban Achievers and Boxcar Preachers. Join the staff in wearing traditional Bavarian attire like dirndls and those felt hats with feathers. Proceeds from the event will benefit local charities Horse Boy Foundation and Austin Pets Alive!

Fredericksburg Oktoberfest
October 4 – 6
Marktplatz (Market Square) – 100 West Main Street
Fredericksburg, TX
Admission Price: $7.00 per person for a one day ticket and $10.00 for a two day ticket

For three days, the Hill Country hamlet of Fredericksburg converts its market square into a mini Bavarian town replete with oompah bands and food booths serving authentic German treats like sausage-on-a-stick, burgers, potato pancakes, and sauerkraut. To put you in the mood to polka all night, this Oktoberfest has more than 50 varieties German Texas and other beer flowing. The family friendly event includes a Kinderpark with activities like a hi-striker, duck pond, bungee jump, a slide and my personal favorite, Sunshine the Clown.

NXNW Oktoberfest
October 19 – 20
10010 Capital of TX Hwy N
Austin, TX
Admission Price: Free, with normal pricing for food and beverage

Now in its twelfth year, the North by Northwest brewpub’s Oktoberfest will once again roll kegs into the parking lot and bust out a German bash complete with special house-brewed Oktoberfest beer. The chef will whip up classic German food such as bratwurst, sauerkraut, red-cabbage, pretzels and Bavarian cobblers. Family-friendly entertainment such as live traditional German music, dancing, local artists, a bratwurst eating contest and a wiener dog costume contest.

Wurstfest 
November 1-10
178 Landa Park Dr
New Braunfels, TX
Admission Price: $8 at the gate and additional charges for food, beverage and carnival rides

This one may be the granddaddy of all Central Texas Oktoberfest celebrations. Billed as a “ten day salute to sausage,” Wurstfest is the only local Oktoberfest with a permanent biergarten and facilities dedicated to the annual festival. For the duration of the celebration, there are traditional Bavarian bands playing on three separate stages so there is no chance you’ll miss an opportunity to do the chicken dance. Multiple non-profit organizations and businesses sell German-inspired food from their semi-permanent store fronts and several traditional beers flow from multiple stations throughout the festival grounds. This is definitely a family-friendly event, and kids under 12 are admitted for free. There are also several carnival rides for those who haven’t hoisted too many cups of Spaten Münchner.

This story was first published on CultureMap.

Photos courtesy of the Fredericksburg Oktobergest, Banger’s and Wursftfest. 

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? 

Texas Craft Brewers Festival brings more than 100 locally-made beers to Fiesta Gardens

Instead of attending the same stale tailgate with unmemorable beers this weekend, trade in crap beer for craft beer at the 2012 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. Held at Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 6, this is the place to find almost 30 Texas breweries serving more than 115 locally-made craft beers.

The festival comes at a great time for the Texas craft beer industry, which is enjoying a booming business — the Texas Craft Brewers Guild recently released a study estimating the industry could have a $5.6 billion economic impact in Texas.

Brian Swifty Peters“It’s an exciting time for the craft beer industry, and this festival is the epicenter of the industry,” says festival volunteer chairman Brian “Swifty” Peters. “The first Texas Craft Brewers Festival was held in 2003 and we only had eight brewers there. It’s really grown. This is one day that brewers from all over the state can come together and celebrate our success — it’s the single largest compilation of Texas breweries ever in one place.”

The fever for craft beer has spurred an increase in beer festivals around the state, but don’t get this one confused with the debacle that happened last spring: the Austin Beer Fest. The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is run by craft brewers for beer fans and casual beer drinkers alike.

Tim Schwartz, president of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and owner/brewer at Real Ale Brewing Company is evangelist-in-chief for Texas craft beer and takes that role seriously. “We approach the Festival with balance. In equal parts, we want to promote Texas craft beer, educate the public about beer and help the brewing community,” he says. “I’ve been brewing for 18 years. I love craft beer. I love Texas. I want to help bring craft beer to more and more people in Texas.”

Tim Schwartz, Real Ale Brewing This year’s festival will feature 10 breweries that weren’t in business — or were too new — to attend last year, including Adelbert’s Brewery, Buffalo Bayou Brewing, Deep Ellum Brewing, Guadalupe Brewing, Hops & Grain Brewing, Lakewood Brewing, Old Boxcar Brewing, Revolver Brewing, Rogness Brewing and South Austin Brewing.

Brewers new and old will bring seasonal and special beers to Fiesta Gardens. In fact, the festival may be the largest collection of unique Texas beers ever presented in one place, with more than 50 taps pouring unique beers you can’t get anywhere else. There will be a rotating schedule of ceremoniously tapping specialty or cask kegs or firkins every 30 minutes, so no matter what time you show up, you’ll find something unique.

Some of the special beers to try include Scot’s Gone Wild, a sour beer from Real Ale; Bouddha’s Brew and Whiskey Barrel Rodeo, an Imperial Oatmeal Stout brewed with chipotle pepper, smoked malt and Kopi Luwak coffee from Jester King Craft Brewery; Blood and Honey, an unfiltered American wheat ale brewed with blood orange zest and Texas honey from Revolver Brewing; Hop Dead Gorgeous, a bourbon barrel aged black IPA from Uncle Billy’s; and Bourbon Barrel Aged ALT-eration, Hop’s & Grain’saward-winning German altbier style beer aged in French oak cabernet barrels.

In addition to all of that great beer, there will be food available from Red’s Porch, The Peached Tortilla and Tough Cookie Bakery, as well as live music provided by the band Sugartrain.

NXNW Beerliner Back again this year are the wildly popular beer and food pairings, held in intimate spaces on the east side of the park. For an extra $20, guests can relax and enjoy a beer and cheese pairing hosted by John Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, beer and food pairing by NXNW Chef Clint Bertrand in the tricked-out Beerliner or a beer and chocolate pairing from Nicole Patel of Delysia Chocolate. These sessions only have space for 80 people and will likely sell out as they did last year.

Organizers are expecting up to 5,000 people to attend the festival, which is up from 4,000 last year, thanks to the support of Real Ale Brewing Company and St. Arnold Brewing Company (the title sponsors) and Young Men’s Business League (the organizers) which have kept the festival growing. As in past years, proceeds from the festival will benefit Austin Sunshine Camps, which provides education and personal development for economically disadvantaged children.

The Texas Craft Brewers Festival takes place Saturday, Oct. 6 at Fiesta Gardens from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (12 p.m. entry for VIP ticket holders).General Admission tickets are available for $20.00 ($25 at the door) and include a wristband and six tokens that are good for six 4-ounce beer samples tokens. VIP tickets are available for $65 and include a meet and greet brewers, a commemorative t-shirt and glass.

Insider tip: The best time to go to the festival is around 6 p.m., just as the sun starts to go down and the weather cools off. The crowd will be a bit mellower and there will still be plenty of beer.

This story previously ran on CultureMap Austin.

What are you drinking?

Discover the State’s Finest Brews at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Brain Peters, Texas Craft Brewers Festival Chairman

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 BeerworksJester 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.

The Stats:

  • 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.

If you need more information, please contact Jennie@chenergyconsulting.com. If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact @snax at http://bit.ly/nUyitT.

What are you drinking?