Beer Festival Rules:
1. Pace yourself so that you can enjoy all the beers that you will be sampling.
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. Take regular food breaks.
4. No matter how much you pace yourself, no matter how much water you drink, and no matter how much food you eat, you are going to end the day drunk and fucked up, so make sure you have nothing on your schedule for the next day.
I attended the inaugural Big Texas Beer Festival this weekend and I tried following Rule #1, but that is more an aspiration than a realistic goal, so I failed miserably on that front; I did follow Rule #2, and it helped; I did not follow Rule #3, which caused great pain; and I luckily followed Rule #4, so was able to lay around on Sunday and emerge slowly into the day.
I made a point of trying the Texas beers first, as I wanted to hit those before my taste buds were shot.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company – The Double Brown Stout and the Rye Pils were both outstanding. I liked the Chocolate Cherry Stout but did not notice much cherry. Their India Pale Ale is winner.
No Label Brewing Company – I was looking forward to trying No Label’s beers as those are not readily available in Dallas. The Elda M. Milk Stout was excellent. It was rich and creamy, with just a hint of chocolate and coffee in the palate. I also enjoyed the El Hefe Hefeweizen, with those lovely banana and clove flavors that come from the hefeweizen yeast. I was not a fan of the Don Jalapeño Ale. It had too much of a pepper burn for me. I am in the minority on this, as people were raving about that beer, both at the festival, and afterwards on Twitter, but to me it was a big swing and a miss.
Jester King – These folks are becoming my favorite brewers. Jeff, my brother in law, struck up a conversation with Ron from the brewery and he hinted at some cool stuff coming up for Jester King, including a collaboration with Mikkeller called Beer Geek Rodeo which I got to sample. I loved the hell out of it, but by that point I was three, four, maybe even five sheets to the wind, and my tasting notes are gibberish. Earlier in the day, I sampled Boxer’s Revenge (a barrel aged wild ale that is a funky motherfucker), Das Wunderkind (a sour saison that was delightful), and the Sour Black Metal (their imperial stout pitched with farmhouse yeasts, and which is an improvement over their already excellent stout).
Saint Arnold – I tried their Endeavour Imperial IPA and the Bitter Belgian. The Endeavour was nice but not outstanding. With the Bitter Belgian, Saint Arnold takes their Elissa IPA, but uses a Belgian Trappist yeast strain, rather than the usual ale yeast. The yeast really changes the flavor profile of the beer, adding a candy like sweetness which offsets the hops.
Real Ale – The barrel aged Lost Coast IPA was a big winner. The Lost Coast IPA is a good IPA to begin with, but the barrel aging adds dimensions of flavors (some vanilla and fruit flavors) not otherwise present.
Shiner – First time trying the Wild Hare Pale Ale. As they say about the Holocaust, Never Again.
On to some non-Texas brews:
Maui Brewing – The La Perouse Witbier was light and refreshing and crisp, with some mango and pineapple flavors. I have never seen this before, and I really hope that it shows up in local shops when the weather turns hot and nasty, because this would be a great beer to drink during the brutal Texas summer. The Coconut Porter was also excellent, although I did not notice much coconut in this beer. It is a fine porter.
Unibroue – I tried the Epherme Apple White Ale for the first time. It will not be the last as this is a fresh, crisp beer that would be great on a hot day, and Texas has plenty of those. It tastes like a funky saison, with the apples lending a tart aftertaste. If you are a fan of hard ciders, you should try this.
Blue Moon – Nope, I did not try any of their beers. I am onto them and there wily ways. They are brewed by Coors, a fact which they take great pains to hide. Blue Moon hired the prettiest girls they could find to serve their beers, but that ploy did not work, as no one was sampling their beers. Beer dorks are lonely and horny, but you need to do better than just having pretty girls smiling at us to get us to drink.
Suggestions for Next Year’s Festival
Seats. If there were any at all, other than in the toilets, I did not find them. Parking my ass down and taking a breather now and then would have been helpful. Other than that, the Festival was fantastic.