Texas is the new star of craft beer and the variety of beer festivals held throughout spring and summer prove that Texans are quickly gaining enthusiasm for craft beer. This past weekend, the local craft brew chain Flying Saucer held its 4th annual BEERFEäST, where 500 of the craziest beerknurds battled 100° temperatures for samples of delicious craft brew from more than 50 breweries across the world.
This was my fifth festival this year, and while all of them delivered great beer, the BEERFEäST was uniquely catered to the Flying Saucers’ beerknurd population (those of us participating in their repeat customer incentive program). As a beerknurd, I dedicate many hours at the bar making new friends and working tirelessly on my plate (the reward for tasting 200 unique brews), counting down the beers till I can proudly declare my prowess to the world. The beerknurds eagerly anticipate festival season and share our ideas with the Saucer to make each year better than the last. Is there any better way to toast our devotion to beer than to organize a festival featuring a killer lakeside venue, great swag, good eats, and entertainment from DFW’s unofficial craft brew band, Fish Fry Bingo? I think not. BEERFEäST felt like a party among friends rather than a public event.
As with all festivals, VIP is the way to travel and it is especially great for the Flying Saucer BEERFEäST. This year, the VIP ticket included a festival T-shirt, sunglasses, an air-conditioned private room with an all-you-can-eat buffet, and most importantly, the coveted VIP hour. This VIP hour was shared with about 100 of my fellow beerknurds, who like me enjoyed the first pick of rare brews and the opportunity to socialize with each other. In addition, the VIP hour is the perfect opportunity to talk beer with the brewers and brewery representatives. If you were not lucky enough to snag a VIP ticket, no worries. Unlike other festivals, the GA crowd was allowed to leave and re-enter to seek respite from the heat inside the restaurant. When the crowds grew, this advantage made a huge difference!
The beer selection was also diverse, promising a little something for everyone among the 60 brews poured. Only 60 you say – oddly enough, it was the perfect amount. Since the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission(TABC) restricts tastings to twelve 2 oz. pours, I often find myself carefully selecting and often compromising on tastings. Should I try one brewery’s bourbon barrel aged beer or should I use my tasting for a seasonal brew? (Among the dilemmas I face when the selection is vast and my punch card is so small.) At BEERFEäST, the limited selection gave me the freedom to try more and even be adventurous (mead – yum!). That is not to say that the selection was poor. Quite the contrary, the beer selection featured an all Texas cask ales table, collaboration brews, and seasonal brews. I also applaud the Flying Saucer for the variety of breweries, with representation from Texas, Europe, United States, and Asia. The sweltering heat also played a part in my beer selection. After reviewing my Untappd app, I noticed that I tried lots of fruit beers, a huge departure from my go-to stouts and IPAs.
Overall, I had a great time, drinking great brews with great people. I thank the Flying Saucer for really getting to know their beerknurds, sharing our love of good beer, and throwing us an amazing party. I look forward to the encore celebrations in Austin and Ft. Worth! Prost!