A Chat with the Matt Leff of The Dallas Winter Warmer Beer Festival
Tapping into the burgeoning local craft beer scene, The Dallas Winter Warmer is a one-day craft beer festival on December 15 featuring some local and national craft brewers.
Dallas Winter Warmer
Today I spoke with the architect of this event, Matt Leff of Rhizome Productions out of Nashville. Inspired by the unique camaraderie often found among hopheads, two years ago Leff left an exciting career in information technology to the doldrums of organizing beer festivals. It was a hard trade off, but one he tries to make the best of.
Leff has orchestrated seven beer festivals around the Nashville area, including the 12 South Winter Warmer in Nashville last weekend that sold out in nine minutes. With his entrepreneurial spirit in his front pocket, he decided to take his show on the road.
The Dallas Winter Warmer at the AT&T Performing Arts Center will have local breweries Community Beer Company, Firewheel Brewing, Four Corners, Franconia, Lakewood, Rahr & Sons; and several from around the state, including (512), Real Ale, Saint Arnold and Shiner. Plus, there will be 19 breweries from out of state.
Leff keeps all of his events small. Tickets for The Dallas Winter Warmer are capped at 2,000. His goal is to keep the drinker-to-brewer ratio low to create more personal exchanges. As part of that, Leff primarily tries to get brewers to commit to having someone from the brewery at the event, although on occasion a highly knowledgeable distributor may fill in.
"I think it creates a sense of camaraderie, and I honestly don't want it to be a big drunk party," Leff says. "The intent is to reach aficionados and people who have a new appreciation for beer. I really want everyone there to feel like part of the event."
He goes as far as to say he views these events as more of a "tasting" than a festival.
With seven "tastings" under his belt, Leff has learned a few things about running a successful brewhaha: "Never run out of beer, always have more than enough toilets and offer high-end beer."
The event is from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 15, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Annette Strauss Square in rain, snow or shine.
For a $45 ticket, festival-goers get a brandy snifter and 12 2-ounce samples. Additional samples are $2 per 12.
Nibs and nourishment will be provided by Wolfgang Puck -- not the man himself, but through the events center. No kids, dogs or cats, please.
There are special tickets for designated drivers.