Big Texas Beer Fest: Breweries, Food, and More Beer
We have been lucky in Austin over the last couple of years for breweries. Our brewery scene has been leading the state for some time. We have had the most number of breweries, the most variety in styles being made, and arguably, the best beer being made in Texas. I hate to say this, but Dallas is gaining on us quickly. By my last count, DFW has overtaken Austin for the number of breweries and brewpubs in their area. This is not to say that I think they have a better beer scene, but they definitely have some great beers worth checking out.
Which is why for the 3rd time, I made my way to the Big Texas Beer Fest in Dallas this past Saturday. It is an annual festival with over 120 breweries and 500 beers to choose from that takes place in Fair Park in Dallas. I see it as a chance to take in all that is happening in the Dallas beer scene.
The Big Texas Beer Fest is a great way to experience them. Along with all of the national breweries, Big Texas Beer Fest does a great job bringing in all of their local beers, most of which do not make it down to Austin. Some of the new breweries that were represented included Collective Brewing Project, TUPPs, Panther Island, and Bitter Sisters.
Onto the beer at the festival, there were definitely some highlights. Collective Brewing brought a great Petite Golden Sour. It was unexpected surprise as I had not had any of their beers up until this point. It was just tart enough yet an easily drinkable beer. Collective Brewing only opened their doors in Ft Worth back in November. They are mainly distributing on draft currently, but you can also get crowler fills at their brewpub. Rabbit Hole Brewing brought in a Rapture Fusion Brown Ale, a Brown Ale cask conditioned with Ethiopian Coffee. It was a great combination of coffee flavors with their brown ale.
Austin breweries also showed up for the festival. Jester King brought a cask of Montmorency vs Balaton. Seeing how this beer has really only been sold at the brewery, it was the first keg to go. It lasted around 45 minutes into the VIP part of the festival. Rogness, Independence, Pinthouse, Adelbert’s, and Oasis also made a showing.
Since we were up in Dallas, we also decided to swing by some of the local breweries. We started off by stopping by Texas Ale Project. They are officially having their grand opening at the end of April, but the taproom is already open to visitors. For a brewery just starting off, they definitely have a nice facility. As for their beers, we mainly focused on their 50 Foot Jackrabbit IPA and Naked Truth Wheat (all of which were also available at the festival). Both were solid examples of their styles.
Braindead Brewing is also in the processes of opening in Deep Ellum. It is the works of a couple of industry veterans. Currently, they do not have any of their own beers on tap, but those should be showing up in May. We went mainly to try the food and check the future brewery location out. The food was excellent (I recommend getting the Coma Burger). Even without their own beer on tap, they still had a tap wall of other great beers.
One of the breweries that has seen some major expansions in Dallas is Lakewood. They have just completed a great looking new taproom after expanding onto their old building. Along with this, they have new expanded taproom hours that make it much easier to visit. As far as the beer selection goes, they had a couple variants of Temptress on tap, along with a Red Wine Barrel Aged Till & Toil. While certain stores around Austin do receive some Lakewood (WhichCraft being one), we likely will not see many bottles of their limited releases any time soon.
We closed out our visit with a couple of quick stops at Small Brewpub, Four Corners and LUCK. Small Brewpub is another brewery that opened recently with (apparently) a great kitchen. We were disappointed that we weren’t hungry, so we can not verify that. They had four of their beers on tap, including their always $3 beer called Cheap Beer. Four Corners is relatively close to Small Brewpub and their taproom had all of their mainstays. We ended the trip with a stop by LUCK. LUCK is a great gastropub that focuses on very local beer. Everything on tap is from within 75 miles of Dallas.
There is a reason we try to make it up to Dallas each year for the Big Texas Beer Festival. Too many great beers are being made up there that we do not get a chance to see in Austin. With the number of breweries that have opened in DFW, it makes for a solid weekend trip.