We used to think that the only good things to ever come from Waco were tiny pigs and whiskey. But, all that changed last year when we heard the legend of The Dancing Bear Pub. Tucked away in a small Waco strip center housing a gas station and sandwich/smoothie joint, The Dancing Bear is a highly respectable craft beer bar offering beer from breweries hailing from Austin, Dallas and beyond.
Every year, owner Paxton and company invite Texas brewers out for a good ol’ fashioned beer festival. The fourth annual Texas Craft Beer Festival was held last Saturday, and featured 25 breweries pouring more than 50 different beers. Though we may have ‘heard tell’ of the Dancing Bear many months ago, this festival marked our first (glorious) trip.
There are many reasons why it’s worth venturing to Waco for this festival, but the most important is its size. With attendance capped at just a couple hundred people, it has an extremely intimate feel (i.e. lines were non-existent and kegs lasted the whole fest). The fact that it was a small festival didn’t stop the brewers from bringing out some big beers either. Some of our personal highlights included Jester King Viking Metal, Austin Beerworks Barrel Aged Battle Axe, Hops & Grain Mean Irene, Karbach Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter, Lakewood Bourbon Barrel Temptress and Thirsty Planet’s 2012 whiskey barrel aged Franklin Smoked Porter. Okay, so that’s a lot of highlights and a lot of them seem to be housed in boozy barrels…call it a sign of the times.
The festival was also a great chance to try beer from some of the newer breweries popping up around the state, and even right there in Waco. Scars and Stripes Brewing, which is owned by Army veterans and is currently the only brewery operating in Waco, made a solid debut with an amber ale and their Bosque Mammoth Stout.
The festival also raised money for a cause near and dear to our hearts, and the hearts of pretty much every craft beer drinker in the state for that matter–Open the Taps. A silent auction included swag from various breweries and custom TCBF growlers filled with each beer tapped at the festival. The auction raised a total of $1700 for the organization which is currently advocating for legislative reform to Texas’ outdated, anti-small business beer laws. Let’s all hope the money will help to spread a little more awareness about the game changin’ measures going before the Texas House of Representatives in the coming days.
Now, check out the photo gallery below for some of our favorite moments from the festival!