If you’re a regular Bitch Beer reader, you’ve probably caught on to a not-so-subtle theme on our blog–our shameful, reluctant, bewildered respect for the continually growing quality of Dallas-Fort Worth’s craft beer scene. It’s a dutiful preface we make to pretty much any story concerning anything north of Round Rock and south of the Red River.
From new breweries, to impressive craft beer bars, to quality beer festivals, Dallas’ beer scene is blowing up. Well, Big Texas Beer Fest, which just celebrated its second annual event Saturday, is now Texas’ largest beer festival, and serves as yet another example of this trend.
The festival drew approximately 5000 attendees, and featured more than 100 breweries, pouring something like 400 beers. In light of those big numbers, we’ll spare you the “aptly-titled festival” jokes, especially since we already made them in our preview of the festival a few months back.
Entry into the festival ran quite smoothly, especially for VIP ticket holders. According to Chad Montgomery, who organizes the festival with his wife, Nellie, 96 percent of VIP ticket holders were in the doors within 12 minutes. That’s extremely important when you’ve made the splurge and paid for an extra hour of leisurely beer sampling.
Held in the Fair Park Automotive Building, BTBF featured breweries from all over the world. On the festival floor, the layout was essentially divided between brewery booths and distributor/ importer booths. And, while the presence of some distributors pouring macrobrews may have seemed unfortunate at first, it was actually very vindicating to compare the desolate, practically tumbleweed-laden landscapes of distributor booths pouring beers like Corona, Shocktop and Modelo, in comparison to the bustling queues formed for beer from small breweries like Jester King and 512.
It’s that interaction between craft beer drinkers and craft brewers that makes Big Texas Beer Festival a labor of love for the Montgomerys.
“Putting [on] this festival is such hard work, but it’s totally worth it when you see festival attendees talking with the very people who are working hard to brew delicious craft beer for us,” Nellie said. “That connection is so important.”
What’s also important to have at a beer festival? food. While the majority of the festival was held indoors, an outdoor beer garden/ food truck park offered food, music from Fish Fry Bingo, The O’s and The Hanna Barbarians, and full beers available for purchase. The food truck lines did get pretty long towards the height of the afternoon, so we opted to sneak back in for a couple more beer samples while we waited for our order numbers to be called.
Outlined below, some of our favorite beers of the festival ran the gambit between perennial mainstays, special casks and some new surprises.
Some of our highlights:
512’s Double Whisky Barrel Aged Pecan Porter: Because, when is it not great?
2004 Alaskan Smoker Porter: You can call this beer George Clooney, because it only gets better with age. Kind of made us regret not getting some extra bottles for aging this year.
Lakewood Vienna Style Lager w/ ancho peppers and agave nectar: While only having minimal heat, the actual flavor of the anchos comes through really nicely here, playing perfectly off the sweetness of Lakewood’s lager.
Armadillo Ale Works Quakertown Stout w/ coffee: Strong coffee notes, great for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Deep Ellum Oak Aged Vanilla Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout: Exactly what you’d expect from this verbosely named beauty–a delicious, oaked up version of the brew with plenty of vanilla.
Moa Breakfast: We’ve been wanting to get our hands on this beer for a couple of months now, and definitely were not disappointed when we finally got to taste it in Dallas. A fruity, cherry lager with a good dose of Nelson Sauvin. Yeah, we’d drink this for breakfast.
Check out our photo gallery below for some of our favorite memories of the festival!