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Your guide to Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival

By: Brandon East  |  08/31/2011

Your guide to Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival We could have done an interview with the creators of the Texas’ largest beer fest and simply regurgitate what you'll find on the event site, but we thought that instead we'd point you in the right direction, distill much of the information, and reflect on last year’s event so you can get the most out of the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival (formerly Brewmaster International Beer Festival) this weekend (September 2-5) at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Visit http://www.brewmastersinternationalbeerfestival.com for more vaulable information and to purchase tickets.

What to attend
• Obviously we highly recommend attending the Texas Tasting Tour on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. For $25 you can have a very intimate tasting (limited to only 50 people) and you can get a feel for the current landscape of Texas Beer while chatting with brewers and brewery reps. Boy, has the landscape developed just from last year! While there, head to visit the ever-friendly Rahr folks and congratulate Jason and Tony on their new Wall Street Journal-featured Ugly Pug Black Lager that was marked as America's top schwarzbier. Afterwards, we suggest driving, walking or cabbing to get something to eat. Then come back around 1:30 - 2:00 to get in line to attend the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting and use your 24 tickets to try other things (see suggested tasting list below).

• The main events are the Saturday or Sunday BrewHaHa Grand Tastings (3:00 - 6:30) which are a ton of fun but can get crowded right within 45 minutes to one hour of opening the doors. It is preferable to go to the Saturday tasting. You will most likely find all listed beers available for Sunday, but I wouldn't totally count on it. Remember, distributors and breweries want to get rid of all the beer they bring in, so depending on the demand of each beer, many breweries won't just hold out for Sunday if there are a ton of people asking for the beer. With either day, make a list of what you want to try. We recommend trying many seasonal, pre-release/new brews, or more interesting beers you may not inherently snag at your local store. Try not to taste those beers you see on a regular basis or have tried before. Save your sobriety!

• Last year, Spec’s Liquor hosted a beer-and-cheese pairing. Go to that if there is one, because
1) We didn’t have to burn through a single ticket to attend.
2) The pairings were actually quite nice, and they paired much better if you correctly remembered which number went with each cheese and each beer.
3) They had the best food there.

I believe this was about an hour or so from the doors being opened, so I would knock out some of your most sought after beers before.

Most Valuable TIPS for BrewHaHa from your friends here at TexasBrews

• Get there early if you care about tasting certain beers outside of the VIP area. Last year my wife and I got there 45 minutes early and there was a 600-plus person wait in front of us that wrapped and weaved throughout the entrance.

• Have a plan of what you want to try and rank those you want to try first. While waiting in line, compare your wants list to the map of breweries. Then, make your attack. Texas beers should be around the front and right perimeter of the building and we would suggest going to the left as many people will naturally go to the right.

• EAT BEFORE! This can't be stressed enough. It isn't just because you want to prepare your stomach for alcohol consumption, but because last year the food was limited to a hotdog cart that also served weak heaps of $5 heat-lamp nachos. Hopefully the choices are better this year, but regardless, it's always important to set a good food base before the beer bonanza. At the very least just make a pretzel necklace and wear it in -- pick up a box of Snyder's Bavarian or Sourdough large pretzels, slide a string through the pretzels and tie around neck. Bingo.

• Just about every pourer is very anal about the one-ounce line, so don't scowl at the meager pour. You'll occasionally find a generous server (and thank them!).

• Don't review a beer off a single one-ounce taste. If you're the reviewing type who takes tasting notes, try and think about this event as something to pique your interests or non-interest of beers you’ve wanted to try.

• Rinse your glass with the provided water before each tasting. Drink the water that you are rinsing, which is also great for hydration. I know we’re only talking a total/max equivalent of only two 12-ounce beers throughout this entire event (unless you go big-time and get another card), but it’s just good sense to keep hydrated for a session and your night and tomorrow will thank you for it..

• Each table will have several beers, and in most cases, each beer will have its own line. So pay attention which line you're in.

• With certain limited beers -- and especially heavily talked-about beers -- be prepared for some enormous lines with an ample wait. Last year I went later in the event to try Mikkeller's Texas Ranger and it was a 10-15 minute wait.

• Last year they had a beer list but not a beer list that separated out all the VIP brews, so every single beer I wanted to taste were in that VIP tent. This was fairly discouraging, but I knew some folks who were able to make some VIP samples happen without the VIP badge. Make friends.

Beer Recommendations

If in VIP Tent, burn through all ... yes ALL your tickets on multiple tastings or larger pours of:
• Boulevard BBQ (Bourbon Barrel Quad)
• Brooklyn Black Ops
• Deschutes Black Butte XIII
• Jester King Black Metal
• New Belgium La Follie
• 2009 Stone RIS

Whoa, that's a lot of stout -- but should be nice for some side-by-side comparisons.

Just realized and calculated that you could buy a full bottle of all above brews (all 750ml or 22oz bottles) for around, if not less than than the cost of a single VIP ticket (limiting you to only four ounces of each). However, some of those might be hard to find, so dive right in if it's new to you.

The suggested 24, one-ounce tasting scenario WITH Texas Beers for the “BrewHaHa with Keg Korner” $35:
• Austin Beer Works Black Thunder*
• Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
• Cornell Brewing Co. Maestrdon (vanilla Milk Stout)*
• Cornell Brewing Co. Smokin Hot Blonde (aged on charred poblano peppers, quite nice!)*
• Clown Shoes Clementine Belgian White IPA**
• Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber**
• Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA**
• Deschutes Black Butte XXIII** (if not available, grab the regular Black Butter Porter)
• Dogfish Head Namaste
• Independence Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout
• Karbach Brewing Co. Weisse Versa Wheat*
• Karbach Hopadillo*
• Live Oak Hefeweizen
• Maui CoCoNut PorTeR
• Monk's Café Flemish Sour
• No Label Black Whit-O*
• Ranger Creek La Bestia Aimable
• Ranger Creek OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale)
• Rahr & Sons Gravel Road German-Style Altbier*
• Rahr & Sons La Grange Farmhouse Ale*
• Real Ale Oktoberfest
• Saint Arnold Divine Reserve # 11
• Ska Modus Hoperandi
• Southern Star 2011 ProAm American Black Ale*

The Suggested 24, one ounce tasting scenario WITHOUT Texas Beers for the “BrewHaHA without Keg Korner” $25:
• Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
• Boulevard Tank 7 Saison
• Brooklyn Local 1
• Clown Shoes Clementine Belgian White IPA**
• Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber**
• Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA**
• Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA*
• Deschutes Black Butte XXIII*** (if not available, grab the regular Black Butter Porter)
• Deschutes Hop in the Dark
• Dogfish Head Namaste
• Great Divide Rumble Oak Aged IPA
• Langunitas Little Sumpin' Wild
• Maui CoCoNut PorTeR**
• Maui Mana Wheat**
• Monk's Café Flemish Sour
• Moylan's Hopsickle Triple IPA
• New Belgium Hoptober
• Ommegang Witte
• Rogue John John Hazelnut
• Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale
• Ska Modus Hoperandi
• Sierra Nevada Southern Harvest Ale
• Squatters Devastator Dopplebock
• Stone Japanese IPA

*New Texas beer
**Newly available in Texas

Be safe, and have a good time.
 


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