BeerFeast -- the first of many craft beer events to come from the Flying Saucer chain -- landed at Sugar Land Town Center this weekend, boasting a bevy of brews from across the country.
BeerFeast fired on all cylinders -- something few first-time festivals are capable of -- and it wasn't for lack of interest. When we arrived on the scene just after 1 p.m., soon after general admission began, Town Center's main square was filling up quickly. Flying Saucer Sugar Land general manager Jake Rainey estimated attendance at 1,100 by early afternoon, including over 750 pre-sale tickets.
Aided by excellent weather, the festival saw crowds still growing well into the afternoon. Rainey said that they'd be keeping a close eye on ticket sales at the gate as not to overcrowd the event, but it never became necessary.
Another big part of the festival's success was the staffing: An army of volunteer workers -- along with Flying Saucer waitresses and bartenders -- staffed the nearly 60 pouring stations across four tents, making lines all but nonexistent.
One line that did build quickly was for the bi-hourly rare-beer tappings. Signaled by a clanging cowbell that rang out across the main square, crowds would hurry into line to get a sample of beers such as the cask version of Deep Ellum Wealth & Taste, a beer made with Muscat grapes that was met with rave reviews for the few that were able to try it while it lasted.
While it was certainly the focus, beer wasn't the only thing on tap. Food and beverage vendors, including Katz Coffee, Blu Bar & Lounge and Just Tamales, were on site offering up their goods, but a common complaint was that several of the food tents were cash only. Which left us to ponder: What small-business owner doesn't know what a Square Reader is at this point?
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We also stopped and chatted with Open the Taps advocate and local beer blogger Leslie Sprague. Sprague gave the event high praise and added that traffic at her information booth had been brisk. Open the Taps hopes their presence at events such as BeerFeast will help spread support for their campaign to change current state laws detrimental to small breweries in Texas.
Between the great weather, the excellent selection of beers and the stellar organization, it was really hard to find much to nitpick with BeerFeast, something we haven't been able to say in the past. Here's hoping Flying Saucer has set the trend for Houston Beer Week and its upcoming events.