We love our craft beer in Austin, and the abundance of breweries popping up around CenTex proves it. The Texas Craft Brewers Festival, launched in 2003, has grown into a highly popular annual event. VIP tickets sold out early, but Designated Driver and General Admission tix are still available. The festival holds closely to its pledge to support, respect and appreciate the community of brewers and beer lovers. This year’s lineup of brewers is stellar, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out on sampling their brews.
At the time of this post, there are 65 Texas craft brewers listed, with the caveat that the brewers and beer list is subject to change. Changes or not, it’s an impressive list of old timers like Saint Arnold, Real Ale, and Live Oak alongside newer breweries such as Bindlesticks Brewery, Blue Owl and Last Stand Brewing.
Your GA admission wristband gets you in the gates starting at 2pm, with tokens for eight 3oz. beer samples (and a commemorative cup). Additional tokens are available for purchase for $1 each, a bargain considering you can choose any beer available. And boy, are there some outstanding beers at this fest! My “must try” list includes St. Arnold’s 20th Anniversary Ale Aged in Cognac Barrels (sure to be a delicious barleywine), and Karbach Brewing‘s BBH with Vanilla (bourbon barrel aged Imperial Porter with vanilla beans), both on the rotating tap list. Another one to stand in line for is Uncle Billy’s Schutzenfest. This Lichtenhainer, a variation of Berliner Weisse, boasts smoked wheat malt and a few days of souring, and promises to be unforgettable.
If you’re new to craft beer, or to Texas craft beer, or to beer in general, this festival is a perfect introduction to the varying styles being produced. There are ample hop-forward options, and several all time favorites (shout out to 512 Brewing‘s Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter and St. Arnold’s Pumpkinator 2013) to be sampled, and everything from cream ales to quadrupels. If you’re the Designated Driver, please note that your ticket comes with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.
Food vendors will be on-site to help you soak up the beer with offerings from Salt & Time, Noble Sandwich, the entertainingly-named Joe’s Sweet Balls, and more. Whole Foods is conducting two beer and cheese pairing classes onsite. Please remember to drink responsibly, don’t drive buzzed or drunk (why not spring for a non-imbibing friend’s Designated Driver ticket*?), leave the children and dogs at home, and when you find yourself waiting in a long line in the sun, strike up a friendly conversation about favorite beers with those around you.
*Think about it. Ten bucks is way, way less than paying for a DWI.