By Daniel Reifsnider
Always stylishly late to the party, it’s time for the Stay Hoppy recap of this year’s Texas Craft Brewers Festival (TCBF), which happened this past Saturday, September 27th at Fiesta Gardens.
It was a day filled with mirth and happiness in all the right and wrong ways, with brewers and beer lovers coming together in a blessed union that transformed the peaceful park of Fiesta Gardens into an undeniable storm of relentless beer drinking and overall debauchery.
Oh who are we kidding, I don’t think any beer festival could ever be that much fun. But the TCBF always comes close and this year was definitely no slouch. In fact, dare I say it, this year’s romp through the land of blissful Texas beer was perhaps the best and biggest of all. To prove it was the biggest, here’s some numbers for you in case you glossed over them in other recaps: 46 breweries, 12 brewpubs, over 400 volunteers, and over 5,000 attendees. If I learned one thing in elementary school, it’s that those are some pretty big numbers.
While previous TCBFs have usually run smoothly and without incident (weather notwithstanding), this year’s fest was probably the best run and organized of all. Each brewer’s tent was clearly marked, as was the beer they were pouring for the day. Also, all around the festival grounds were nice, big posters of the schedule of special tappings that occurred throughout the day. Even the weather cooperated a bit more than it usually does (2013 craft mud fest am I right?) and provided a nice layer of clouds to block out the sun for most of the day.
While I (Daniel) volunteered and offered a helping hand passing delicious beverages to attendees, Carlos and Callie (@calfea) partook in the day’s proliferation of liquid, and surprisingly (or not) both of them lasted until the end. Callie stepped in for Matt who in typical Stay Hoppy Matt fashion was busy off attending his own birthday celebrations. So typical.
From a volunteer’s perspective, the TCBF is a familiar but different experience from a normal day of volunteering for beer, and the crowds are responsible for much of that contrast. Like most big beer festivals, attendees are required to hand over a ticket in exchange for a beer, and some attendees (a very inebriated very far north Austin brewery employee in particular) begin acting like little children and throw a fit when you reject them for not having a ticket. On the other hand, other attendees shout with joy at receiving a four-ounce pour of beer. This juxtaposition between man-children attendees and overly happy/euphoric attendees is always an interesting one.
On the other side of the bar, I heard and saw both Carlos and Callie rightfully enjoying themselves. Both had great things to say about the VIP session, which consisted of attendees and brewers mingling and talking all while drinking beer being poured by volunteers. It seemed to be a cornucopia of Texas craft beer, with plenty of opportunities to try new beers you wouldn’t have otherwise thought to exchange a golden ticket for. All in all, the VIP session definitely seemed completely worth it and you should keep this in mind for next year’s fest.
I spent most of my time pouring for both Hops & Grain and Huff Brewing, since both were located directly next to each other. If you didn’t know, Huff Brewing is a completely new kid on the block, and I actually went to graduate school with the founder and head brewer, Ryan Huff. Shortly after finishing grad school, Ryan threw caution to the wind and decided to brew professionally, and he’s now turning out two solid beers at the moment, a festbier and a pale lager.
All in all, it was a great day had in great company. I know I can say without a hint of doubt that the Texas Craft Brewers Festival never fails to be one of, if not the best, beer festivals in all of Texas. If you’ve been, then you will most likely agree with me, and if you’ve never been, then you definitely need to make it a top priority if you like drinking great beer produced in this great state.
The following beers are just some of the favorites from the day:
- Concentrated Dark Matter from Hops & Grain
- 2013 Sputnik from Austin Beerworks
- 2013 The Duke from Peticolas
- Legion from Community
- Portée d’or from Karbach
- Oktoberfest with pumpkin pie spices from Real Ale
Check out some more photos to either live vicariously through us, or laugh and make fun of us.