For the fourth time, the annual Big Texas Beer Fest delivered on its promise.
This year’s event was once again held at Fair Park’s Automobile Building and featured more than 120 breweries pouring over 500 beers, ciders and meads to 5,000 attendees. However, beer was not the only attraction, as the festival also included a mustache see-saw provided by The Traveler Beer Co., ice cream made from beer via LUCK and even corn hole games as part of the massive Lakewood Brewing Co. booth. There was also local bands and quite a few local different food trucks serving everything from pizza to barbecue.
In terms of the breweries, the first booth I looked up was Austin, Texas-based Jester King; or rather, I tried to look it up. I actually walked right past it twice, since it did not have a sign or any indication at all about what was pouring.
Thanks to the incredibly informative festival guide that was handed out, I knew they were pouring both Montmorency vs Balaton (6.7 percent ABV) and Le Petit Prince (2.9 percent ABV), and wanted to make sure I got a sample of both before the majority of the crowd got to them. This proved to be a wise decision, as the line grew to well past 100 people mere minutes after the VIPs were let in. I was told later that Montmorency vs Balaton lasted all of 35 minutes before it blew, although Le Petit Prince continued to be poured for quite a while longer after that.
My next stop was Lakewood Brewing Co., whose booth included what seemed to be the entire left end of the festival, and featured multiple places to stand and talk as well as four corn hole games. The beers being poured were fairly standard, and I was slightly disappointed there were no Temptress variants available. However, one thing I was happy with was Brabo’s Reserve, an excellent 9.6 percent ABV Belgian-style dark ale that was aged in Syrah wine barrels for a year, which was quite distinctive and very, very good.
I then hit up Oskar Blues to try out the wonderful Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy imperial stout (10.5 percent ABV), my personal highlight of the day. The booth was great, the people were quite charming, and as always, they were giving out cut-out cans and beads.
While scoping out where I wanted to visit ahead of time, I noticed that New Holland Brewing Co. was going to be there, and wanted to see what was up. Their booth was dominated by a “Coming Soon!” sign that I was later told made people think that the brewery was not pouring anything at all. This proved to not be the case, as they were serving multiple beers from bottles, including their barrel-aged stout, Dragon’s Milk (10 percent ABV). Interestingly, while the Holland, Mich.-based brewery’s launch is not until May 4, this was the first time that New Holland beer was officially poured in Texas.
Next, I stopped by one of the most intriguing new local breweries, The Collective Brewing Project.
The Fort Worth brewery was at the festival last year, but could not pour any beers due to not having brewery approval. Owner Ryan Deyo was in the booth, and we had a nice chat while I sampled his excellent Petite Golden Sour (3.5 percent ABV.) Apparently, in addition to bottling his first ever beer over the summer, he is thinking of having a crowler-only release of one of his brews at some point. He also mentioned that they had purchased a foudre, and would possibly producing some variations of the Petite Golden Sour aged on fruit. In fact, the word “apricot” was mentioned more than once.
All in all, the fourth annual Big Texas Beer Fest was an extremely well run event, and props should be given to organizers Chad and Nellie Montgomery for putting on an extremely impressive event. They have learned from past years lessons, and it shows. Improvements included checking in all of the VIP attendees before the time that the event opened instead of one-by-one afterwards, and there were quite a few more breweries pouring better options than ever before.
I cannot believe how far along this event has come in the short amount of time it has existed, and it will only get bigger from here.