Five Beers to Try at the Big Texas Beer Fest

Categories: Hophead
Big Texas Beer Fest.JPG
Don't forget: Big Texas Beer Fest is 1 to 6 p.m. tomorrow, and noon for the VIPs who paid $25 more for the opportunity to be first at the taps and close down the event at the Deep Ellum Brewing Co. after-party. 

But if you haven't gotten around to obtaining a pass, you've still got a few hours to buy general admission tickets online at $35. If you're the last-minute type (or a stripper, drug dealer or paranoid type who trade in cash) you can buy them at the gate for $40. Designated-driver tix are $20 apiece online or at the gate, but the VIP tickets ($60) are only available online. 

Bring a few singles with you to buy extra sampling cards, which are good for another dozen 2-ounce samples, for $2 apiece. (TABC regulations limit beer events from providing more than 24 ounces per purchase. Thank you for protecting us from ourselves, Lone Star Nanny State.) 

Download and peruse a digital version of the program here for the schedule and map. And a glance through the list of participating breweries ought to convince any beer lover that it's a worthy event. 

A few things for attendees to remember: Bring a valid ID. Do not bring anyone younger than 21 -- not your kids, not even your infant. If you're driving, enter the fairgrounds at Gate 5 or 6 and be prepared to pay $10 cash. I'd recommend instead taking the DART Green Line to Fair Park; all-day DART passes are in most cases less than the parking cost ($4, $7 or $10, depending how far) and could save you from having to bring a designated driver or limit your consumption. Bring a printed copy of the Eventbrite ticket, which should have been emailed to you. And bring cash for food, sample card refills and merch. The grounds have ATMs, but do you really want to stand in another line? 

The event has a few beers that are rare, new to Texas and even some festival-only exclusives. Here are five beers or breweries worth seeking out and standing in line for. 

1.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company Vanilla Pug firkin. Firkins are smaller, holding only a quarter barrel, or enough for 72 pints, so this could run out early. While connoisseurs may not consider Ugly Pug an especially interesting beer because of its year-round local ubiquity, it is nonetheless a solid black lager, and the vanilla addition and cask-conditioning should make it taste like a different beer altogether. Unfortunately, the brewery pulled its Sorachi Ace dry-hopped Belgian IPA.

2. Jester King Beer Geek Rodeo. This will be the first time the Imperial Oatmeal Stout brewed with smoked malt, chipotle peppers and Vietnamese coffee, a collaboration with Mikkeller, will be available outside the Austin brewery. That may sound like a lot of crazy things to add to a stout, but Mikkeller has a way of making a beer that sounds like a train wreck on paper work in your mouth.

3. Rochefort. This Belgian Trappist brewery recently re-entered the Texas marketplace. It makes only three beers, 6 (strong dark ale), 8 (a dubbel) and 10 (quad), and they're all incredibly good and incredibly expensive. This is a good chance to try them without shelling out $5 to $9 for a single 11.2-ounce bottle.

4. Ballast Point. The San Diego brewery's Sculpin is considered by many, including Beer Advocate users, to be among the top IPAs in the world. I'm not so sure, but I look forward to comparing it side-by-side with Deep Ellum's IPA, which I think may be even better. Try it before paying as much as $16 for a six-pack.

5. Deep Ellum and Peticolas brewing companies. Aside from just showing support to the locals, both these breweries make some great beers. Deep Ellum's IPA, Rye IPA and Rye Pilsner are all outstanding, and Peticolas' Velvet Hammer is as well. While a final beer list still isn't available (and if it isn't by this point, I'm doubtful it ever will be), they're sure to bring some special offerings. Fellow newcomers Lakewood Brewing Company and Denton's Armadillo Ale Works will be on hand, but unfortunately will not be pouring samples (though Armadillo will have sodas).


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28 comments
primi timpano
primi timpano

I am so tired of craft beers (especially ones with stupidly ridiculous names) and douche bag bars.  Give me a dark bar, a good juke box, decent waitstaff, and a whiskey straight with a Schlitz chaser.  Even better if they serve short beers and chili.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

I'll be there! VIP, bitches. (Not because I'm special, but because I want to be in and out before the frat boy-types go into full douche mode. And, at the spectrum's other end, before the hipsters engage the brewers in a very detailed conversation about the exact make-up of the brew and debate whether there are notes of this or hints of that..... JUST GET THE EFF OUT OF THE WAY OF MY BEER SAMPLE, TURD.)

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Lots of those "participating" breweries sound a lot like brands carried "literally" by the boys over at Ben E Keith 

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

YES Abita - they should have way more presence in the DFW

NO Real Ale Brewing - Those boys cant blame them I mean who wants to leave the hill country this time of the year to hang out in fair park

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

24oz isnt even enough to get warmed up, All I can think of is Peter and the fake Peters in line at the Sams/Costo episode 

jdaylett
jdaylett

Thank you for this great starting point for trying the good stuff tomorrow. I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty overwhelmed by the awesomeness.

Kergo1 Spaceship
Kergo1 Spaceship

Wish I could go to this; but, kid stuff takes precedence. Ummmmmm, beeeeeer.  "Proof that god loves us, and wants us to be happy!"

Mervis
Mervis

Do you drink alot of craft beer primi?

Mervis
Mervis

Very Cheery!  ;)

wearedevo
wearedevo

Man, snark-quotes around literally... that kind of "blows" my "mind". BTW What's wrong with Ben E. Keith? They have the largest craft beer portfolio in the area.  Plus all the other distributors are represented as well, such as Andrews, Duff, & Favorite Brands. Ignorance and self-righteousness is a dangerous combination.

Mervis
Mervis

Real Ale is listed in the final program that you can view on that website. Logo and write up, I'll bet they are there.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

You can thank the TABC for that limit, Gus. I don't know if changing that is on Open the Taps' agenda for the next lege session, but it's probably worth addressing in the near future. At least the refill cards are really cheap.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 As little as possible as my disappointments out number the pleasures.  For non-Schlitz events (and I think Schlitz is a nice lager, so I am probably not a likely participant of the craft movement) I like a Pilsner Urquel, Bohemia and a rare Guiness. A beer connoisseur I am not, but I do recognize silliness more times than not, and it is hard to get serious about beers named Palate Wrecker, Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Mama's Little yellow Pils, Hop Stoopid, HopHead Red, Pecker Wrecker, etc., ad nauseum.  And never a draft.  Always flat and a touch warm; likely to be dangerously bacterial.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Hope springs eternal.  Often I have to read something to know whether I will like it or not. Sometimes I learn things from items I did not enjoy.  First time in my life to be reprimanded for reading something which from the title it was likely to be about something I do not like.

Why did you read it?

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

No sorority affiliation, sir. (Ho affiliation possible.)

Brad Perkinson
Brad Perkinson

FireWheel brewing Co will be there as well. Not serving, but will be here!

Mervis
Mervis

Nothing wrong with the distributors. They do a great job at promoting craft beer and the scene wouldn't be anywhere today without them......but......there is alot of non-craft beer on that list. The vast majority of the imported stuff is AB-Inbev or SAB Miller stuff.

Props to Chad and Nellie for putting this together. I hope they have a sucessful day tomorrow and this festival moves forward as an annual deal.

Open The Taps
Open The Taps

This was something our members ranked as important, so it is definitely on the list!

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Tried wine--raisin and even some packaged grenache--when I was about 15 and trying to avoid the alcohol age requirements.  Terrible stuff, completely undrinkable, even by a 15 year old.  I hear beer is a lot trickier and things can even explode, but that home beer is much better than home wine, and often better than store bought.

If I start a new hobby it will either be mushroom hunting or a modeling agency.

Zarbo
Zarbo

primi is verry funny. I like most beers. You should try home brewing. Will give you a whole new outlook on beer.

Paul Hightower
Paul Hightower

Not sure I agree with the statement, "there is alot of non-craft beer on that list." Just because a brewery is owned and/or distributed by ABInBev or some other corporate conglomerate does not automatically knock it off the "craft beer" standing.

Unibroue is owned by Sleeman; Hoegaarden by InBev; Widmer by Anheuser-Busch. But I wouldn't call any of these "non-craft" breweries.

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

I don't hate the dist but they shouldn't be listed as breweries , our laws Texas our Texas make them necessary

Ok I am a freshness nazi so maybe the distributions can do a little more

Mervis
Mervis

I've seen arguements both ways. Some of the micro/craft brewers are self-distributing already and if they can handle the expense then good for them.

It's good that there are a couple of "little guy" distributors now so if the big boys continue to pressure their own distributors to not carry any other products then there will be an alternative for the little guys.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

Not sure I would agree there's nothing wrong with distributors. Our local ones are good about getting craft beer out, and support a lot of great events and nonprofits such as Art Conspiracy. But the scene would probably be a lot healthier if breweries weren't forced to use them in the three-tier system.

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