The second annual Houston Beer Week kicks off this year on an auspicious date: 11/11/11. That's when the big craft beer festival will celebrate its sophomore year with a kick-off happy hour at Ziggy's Downtown, from 5 to 7 p.m. The restaurant will be offering $2 appetizers and $1.75 Lone Stars, but it wouldn't be true to the spirit of Houston Beer Week if you didn't enjoy a craft draft instead, for only $3.
The purpose of Houston Beer Week, after all, is to celebrate and promote craft beers in a state that doesn't exactly make it easy for small breweries to survive.
Local craft beers from breweries like 8th Wonder, Karbach, No Label, Saint Arnold and Southern Star will be featured in special dinners and happy hours all week long, while craft beers from around the state and the nation will be fêted at the big Monsters Of Beer Charity Festival on Saturday, November 12.
This year, HBW organizers hope to expand the offerings at the Monsters of Beer festival to accommodate 50 breweries, 100 beers and 3,000 guests. Guadalupe Plaza Park and its beautiful view of the downtown skyline will host the festival, which costs $35 in advance or $45 at the door. Net proceeds will go to benefit the Live It BIG charity.
But that's far from the only big event planned for Houston Beer Week.
The next day, Whole Foods Montrose is hosting the Night After Monsters party for those beer lovers who couldn't get enough of the stuff -- and who are willing to pay extra for a seriously unique experience. Famous brewmaster Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller Brewery in Denmark will be making his first ever appearance in Houston, and he's bringing his beer with him. Tickets are $100 for the Night, but the cost includes an incredible sampling of rare beers that can't be duplicated: After all, some of the beers -- like the Mikkeller BooGoop -- are one-off collaborations that will never be brewed again.
Even more events will be announced throughout the week. Beer dinners and tastings are taking place all over town and at every price level; here are the ones that are already on HBW's calendar:
Monday, November 14:
$3 Pints at Liberty Station: The Washington Avenue bar that famously advertises having "No crap on tap" will be offering $3 pints of craft beer all day long.
Meet Mikkel Borg Bjergsø: The second of Mikkel's three appearances in Houston will take place at the Flying Saucer at 2 p.m., but that time is subject to change. Stay tuned to the HBW website for more details.
Mikkeller/Jester King Beer Dinner at Haven: Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Jeff Stuffings from Jester King Brewing will be showcasing their beers along with Kevin Floyd of the upcoming Hay Merchant, with food provided by chefs Randy Evans and Chris Shepherd. Tickets are $120. Haven at 7 p.m.
Rahr & Sons Beer Dinner at Rockwell Tavern: Tony Drewry, the "Beer Pedaler" of Rahr & Sons, will be hosting a beer dinner with a few surprise beers in store. Tickets are $50. Rockwell Tavern at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, November 15:
New Belgium "Bike-in Movie" at Liberty Station: Showcasing the Lips of Faith dark beer from New Belgium along with cult classic movies for free. Pints are $4 and food will be available from The Modular. Liberty Station at 7 p.m.
Brooklyn Brewery's Garret Oliver: Meet the world's foremost authority on beer and sample three beers and a Brooklyn-based cocktail. Copies of Oliver's most recent book, The Oxford Companion to Beer, will be available for purchase and signing. Anvil Bar & Refuge from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Meet James Cunningham of Saint Arnold: Hometown heroes Saint Arnold Brewery started the craft beer movement in Houston. James Cunningham -- who's been responsible for everything from running the line to painting Saint Arnold's mural -- will be speaking and sampling beers. Tickets are $11.25. The Ginger Man Pub at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, November 16:
Meet Ash Rowell from Duff Distributors: Houston's own Duff Distributors features great beers like Southern Star, Brew Dog, Bear Republic and Pike. Rowell will be on hand to sample and speak, and food pairing will be provided. Tickets are $50. The Ginger Man Pub at 6 p.m.
Thursday, November 17:
New Republic Brewing - "Meet The Brewer" Event: College Station's own New Republic Brewing and brewmaster Dean Brundage will make an appearance to discuss the fledgling brewery's new beers. Rockwell Tavern at 6:30 p.m.
Meet Andrew Emerton from New Belgium: Andrew Emerton from New Belgium Brewery will be speaking and sampling a collection of the Colorado brewery's beers. Tickets are $11.25. The Ginger Man Pub at 6 p.m.
Food Truck Beer Dinner at Liberty Station: Three food trucks, three breweries and six courses of food. Austin's (512) will team up with Houston's Saint Arnold and Karbach for the beer, while H-Town Streats, Eatsie Boys and The Modular will provide the food. Tickets are $50. Liberty Station at 7 p.m.
Wild Game Beer Dinner with Saint Arnold: Chef Scott Castell of Brenner's Steak House will be cooking an all-game dinner with wild game provided by Broken Arrow Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Ticket prices yet to be announced; stay tuned for more details.
Three Texas Breweries at Alamo Drafthouse: Austin's (512) and Houston's Karbach and Southern Star breweries will all be on hand as Alamo Drafthouse at West Oaks screens a vintage selection of beer-related film clips curated by Skip Eisenberg of AV Geeks. Tickets are $50.
Friday, November 18:
North Coast Beer Dinner: An amazing seven-course dinner will be served by chefs Michael O'Connor and John Moore at Vic & Anthony's, featuring pairings for each course from North Coast Brewing in California and Tom Allen, North Coast's founder, will be speaking. Tickets are $85. Call 713-228-1111 for reservations.