Big Texas Beer Fest Was Even Better the Second Time. Here's Why.

Categories: Hophead
camo dude and brunette.jpg
Mike Brooks
Big Texas Beer Fest wasn't the best place to check out the ladies, but it could be done, as the dude in the camo shirt can attest. (See more of our photos from the event here.)
More than two hours in to the second iteration of Big Texas Beer Fest, I ran into organizer Chad Montgomery and asked him what beers he'd had so far that really impressed him. The answer shocked me: He hadn't had a sip yet, he was so busy. 

Montgomery's dedication to making the event run smoothly meant he missed out on most of the coveted rare and unique beers. But while the early-entrance VIP crowd didn't leave the most sought-after brews for the single most VI of the Ps, he did have the satisfaction of seeing 5,300 happy ticket-holders -- and his favorite part, hearing the roar of the crowd pass from one side of the Fair Park Auto Building to the other every time someone dropped a sample cup.

His next favorite aspect of this year's fest was the huge increase in Texas brewers, he writes by email a few days after the event: "The more and more we can focus on Texas brewers, the more we can narrow down our American and International craft brewers and be more selective with those."

His wife and co-organizer, Nellie, adds that she'd like the festival's popularity and reputation grow to the point that it's a destination event for out-of-state visitors. "These days, we have so many legit craft breweries in the Dallas/Fort Worth area -- we have a lot to be proud of," she writes. "From Great American Beer Festival award-winning breweries like Peticolas to breweries that have been around for almost 10 years like Rahr, we're in the midst of a really cool paradigm shift in craft beer. And with big breweries outside of Texas (finally) getting TABC approval here like Firestone Walker, it's getting pretty exciting."

Considering that the event grew from 4,000 tickets sold last year to selling out at 5,300, it certainly looks to be on pace to do just that. And aside from the chance to enjoy great beer and the economic impact events like BTBF can have, there's a charitable reason to hope it continues to grow: The event raised more than $10,000 for the North Texas Food Bank this year.

Two huge improvements I noticed were the line and the food. The wait went much quicker and more smoothly than last year's, at least during the VIP entrance. All VIPs were inside the building in 12 minutes, Chad says. (Also, the Platinum Security guy with a bullhorn issuing one-liners and making fun of people in the line was pretty funny, which helped alleviate boredom and impatience as we stood and waited.) And choosing which food truck to buy from took almost as much time as standing in line and waiting for my order.

Choosing beers, of course, was much more difficult. I'd scouted out online some of the gems I wanted to try during the early-drinking VIP period, but my mind went completely blank when I got inside and beheld the seemingly endless array of breweries. Having a list of each brewery's offerings in the program would have been helpful, but I'm sure the printing press deadline was well before those selections were finalized. A few that really impressed me were Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s 2011 Darkest Hour, which was even better than I remember the imperial stout being at the time; Community Beer Co.'s Inspiration, an outstanding dark Belgian strong ale; Schneider Weiss Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin, a weizenbock that showcases one of my favorite hop strains; and Franconia Brewing Co.'s double IPA, which sees the McKinney brewery straying outside its usual Bavarian-style lineup with a great DIPA that offers an explosive blast of hops.

If I had to quibble with anything, it would be that the bands played outside, away from the beer sampling. The sound was much better than last year, when they played inside the rather acoustically challenged building, but not having music inside lent something of a trade-convention feel to the festival. The Montgomerys are already thinking of ways to improve next year's fest, so perhaps that will be one tweak they make. Maybe they'll get it running so smoothly that they even get to enjoy some of those tough-to-find brews. Chad did eventually manage to have a few drinks, though.

"The Liefman's Goudenband is a great sour, so I really enjoyed what I had of that," he writes. "The one special beer I did get to try was Peticolas Great Scot! with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs, which was excellent."

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I prefer the bands outside. Yes, the interior might have a "trade-convention feel" but I'll take that trade-off for the ability to hold a conversation.

Must say, great execution on just about all fronts.


ok, look at THIS freaking trolls, she "ain't that hot!" christ man, she's pulling bacon out of her   beard! WTF?

ps-with that, I pack the vehicle with the 4 wheeler, steaks, beer and head north.........I recommend anything north of Memphis, south of Little Rock, and west of Crowley's Ridge.

kingbrad2534 1 Like

Good write up, but the bands being outside this year was an IMPROVEMENT. Last year you had to yell to be heard, and this year you could actually talk to the brewers and the brewery employees and discuss their beers. 

Jesse_Hughey 1 Like

@kingbrad2534 I figured that was the reason, and am not surprised some people disagree with me that the bands should play inside. Maybe just some music over the P.A. or piped in from the stage, but not too loud, would have been good. 

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