Great - another Austin beer festival
June festival promises dozens of craft beers at the Austin Music Hall
Get out your calendars, beer fans it's festival time. Last weekend the German American Heritage Society had their Maifest celebration, with springy German beers flowing. Next, if you feel like driving to Waco and really, who doesn't feel like driving to Waco? the Dancing Bear Pub is having its first Texas Craft Beer Festival on May 22, with at least seven Texas brewers, including locals (512), Real Ale and Live Oak. Search "Texas Craft Beer Fest" on Facebook for details.
That same day in Temple, O'Brien's Irish Pub in Temple is having its Texas Roots and Brew festival with music by Cory Morrow and craft brew samples. The fest should be pretty good because O'Brien's has the best beer selection in town, with almost 80 selections on tap or in bottles. Tickets are $20 through Front Gate.
Then there's the first-ever Great Austin Beer Festival set to go down at the Austin Music Hall on June 26. This event has had a rather spectral online presence for some time, but details were scarce. And after some fits and starts, it appears the thing is a go.
Promoter Blake Richards, a corporate event planner by day, said he and his co-promoters ("We're just some guys who got loans from our family and want to turn it into a bigger deal in the future") originally wanted the event earlier, and outside but "we had some issues with permitting and finding the best charity so we decided to not put it off a year, to take it indoors and start a new tradition and next year to take it outside."
Richards is expecting dozens of breweries to sign on by the time the kegs are tapped. Snobs likely will balk at Bohemia and Amstel Light — come on, everybody, let's get those noses in the air — but Richards said the goal was to get brews that would excite the Beer Advocate-reading crowd as well as more casual beer drinkers interested in learning more about craft beer.
"We will say no to people," Richards said. "And we have. We wanted craft."
The other organizers are local, but, as it happens, Richards lives in San Diego, although he has family here and visits a good deal. That part of the world is home to some very assertive, hop-forward breweries such as Stone and Green Flash, which have helped define what's come to be known as a West Coast-style India Pale Ale, not to mention Lost Abbey, maker of some of the best artisanal Belgian ales outside of Belgium. There are so many top-notch breweries in the area, in fact, that a company offers brewery tours seven days a week. Moreover, San Diego has no shortage of beer festivals.
On visits to Austin in the past year or two, he took note of the growing craft scene here — Jester King, Circle, (512), Thirsty Planet, South Austin Brewing, Hops & Grains and on and on — as well as an openness to try something that wasn't simply cold, flavorless and the color of hay.
"The palate in Austin has changed a ton in the last year," he said. "The beer movement has been awesome in Austin. It's time. People are ready for this."
Houston's Saint Arnold has signed on, and the guys are hoping to get a new offering out of Kevin Brand's (512). Real Ale hasn't signed on yet, but he's reasonably sure they will and they'll bring a cask of something or other.
I do wonder about the price tag — $30 for advance tickets, rising to $40 the day before. That sounds like a lot for a few four-ounce pours. A similar event at Fourth and Guadalupe streets five years ago — Rob and Amy Cartwright were just getting Independence of the ground back then — sponsored by the Texas society for Brewing offered beer from something like 40 breweries and five drink tokens for $10.
Richards' response, which he phrases very carefully so as not to draw the attention of his good friends at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, is this: "You're going to have the ability to drink samples throughout the night as long as you're responsible."
And plus also, it's $35 just to see the Goo Goo Dolls at the Austin Music Hall that same month. What's the smarter buy?
More information, including a brewery lineup and ticket link, at greataustinbeerfestival.com .
'Joe Dirt" White Trash Feast: You know those fancy beer and wine dinners they have at the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek with pleasing regularity? This is absolutely not one of them. They're screening "Joe Dirt" at 7:30 p.m. May 20, an attempted comedy starring nobody's favorite funnyman, David Spade, and have a trashy dinner to go along with it. It's brilliant: The menu will include: fried mac and cheese with ham accompanied by Red Dog, Dr Pepper baby backs paired with Lone Star, corn flake-crusted chicken-fried steak and tater tot casserole with Pabst, and for dessert, ‘nana puddin' with Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill and Mountain Dew ice cubes. Attendees are encouraged to wear trashy clothes. You hairy guys might consider shaving a No. 3 on your backs. Oh, and they're offering free mullet cuts. Details and $25 advance tickets at drafthouse.com .
American Craft Beer Week: It's May 17-20 and lots of places are having special events. The Draught House is having a different brewery representative on hand each night with special offerings. Flying Saucer is featuring Texas beers as well as Sierra Nevada, Ska, Harpoon and more. There's a database of events that's searchable by state at www.americancraft beerweek.org/apps/events/events.html .
Update: The date of the upcoming Great Austin Beer Festival was misstated in a previous version of this story. The event will be June 26.