Brew Blog: Texas Beer Fest

Despite having some really terrible beer laws, Texas has some really great beer. While efforts are currently underway to change the law, we don't have to wait to get our hands on some wonderful brews. Not only are there many bars around town serving up Lone Star libations, we now have the Texas Beer Fest to look forward to.

Texas Beer Fest, an offshoot of the so-called "Craft Brewing Revolutionary Guard," is the brain-child of Clif Wigington and Jake Lewis, CBRG's Manager General and Lieutenant General, respectively. The festival was born out of their shared love of beer, and a desire to foster Texas's craft beer community. The festival, scheduled for May 7 at the Humble Convention Center Arena, has been in the works for about a year.

"Since the beginning of April 2010, so just a little over a year," says Wigington. "At the time, it seemed like there was a gaping need for beer festivals in Texas and, while the state had a growing craft beer industry, there was not much support for our local and independent breweries or knowledge about their products. So, one day, as my Lieutenant General Jake Lewis and I were discussing our love of craft beer, we had an epiphany about creating a beer festival that would support and promote our local Texas breweries as well as craft beer from around the nation and the world." I think it's safe to assume that the birth of such a grand idea was encouraged by a more immediate appreciation of craft beer.

From that seed, the Texas Beer Festival has grown into a multi-day affair, with the main event preceded by a pub crawl, and bookended by a series of beer dinners pairing a wide range of area restaurants with local and national breweries. Restaurants with all kinds of personalities are included in the program, spanning the laid-back yard-party atmosphere of Moon Tower Inn to the white tablecloth sophistication of Cinq at La Colombe d'Or.

"The beer dinners seemed like an organic accompaniment to our mission. Most people in the 'foodie community' already are thinking local and independent in their menus, so reaching out to those folk to reconsider beer as a complement to any meal just seemed natural. The pub crawl was a later addition to the events leading up to the Fest, and the idea came from the fact that we all had so much fun at our pre-parties at local Houston bars that we wanted to make sure to include them in our festivities," says Wigington about the festival's evolution.

If you can't score tickets to one of the scheduled beer dinners, there are other options for local food and beer pairings on offer. Entry to the festival ($34 presale, $40 at the gate) includes coupons redeemable for 12 two-ounce samples of beer from local, national and international breweries, and festival organizers have reached out to Houston-area food vendors and gourmet food trucks. "As our festival lasts for nine hours, it is always a good idea to feed people who are drinking," says Wigington.

Food vendors range from the classroom-themed burgers of Bernie's Burger Bus to the Southeast Asian/Mexican fusion of The Rolling Hunger.

If you thought Texas Beer Fest was done with a simple arrangement of Pub Crawls, Beer Dinners, and a nine-hour festival serving up some of Houston's best food and some of the world's best beer, you thought wrong. While relaxing in the Duff Beer Garden (the festival's spot for those looking to enjoy more than a two-ounce pour), you'll be treated to musical entertainment from a host of Texas artists, from the country-folk stomp of Robert Ellis and the Boys to whatever's on the tables spun by Hi-Fidelity Mobile DJ Service. "The Texas Beer Fest is all about promoting local aspects of Houston and its surrounding communities, so we wanted to provide local, awesome musicians with the ability to perform and showcase their talents," says Wigington.

Texas Beer Fest is also giving back, partnering with Houston Food Bank to donate 25 percent of net proceeds.

"I am most excited about showcasing and sharing amazing craft beer, some which has never been tasted in Houston before -- such as Wicked Beaver (Lubbock, TX) -- with other craft beer aficionados. I hope that people will develop the same love that I have for our local breweries and leave the fest expecting to find those beers in their local bars and restaurants. We hope that our inaugural event sets the bar high for many years to come." So do we, Clif.

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall