Despite more than 1,000 attendees at Saturday’s Houston Press BrewFest, no one seemed to have any problems getting enough beer. A ticket got each attendee eight samples and extra beer cards were for sale (a mere $8 for eight more tastes). Even at the popular tables, lines were short and it was easy to jump in and get another pour.
After a week of heavy rains, the sunny, warm day was greatly appreciated. In fact, the temperatures that got up to the high 80s at the beginning of the festival made people happy that much of it was inside air-conditioned Silver Street Station.
42 breweries participated, each bringing at least three beers for attendees. Several, including Southern Tier, Squatters, Wasatch and local breweries Karbach and 8th Wonder, also stocked up a wall of 15 taps in the back area outside.
It was Sarah and Wesley Barnes’ first-ever beer festival and was a good introduction. Their favorite beers at the event were Founders Brewing Co.’s “Rübæus” and Freetail Brewing Company’s “Bat Out Of Helles.” Wesley Barnes described the Freetail offering as having “a lot of back-of-the-palate flavor and really pretty smooth.” Freetail is a San Antonio-based brewery that just started distributing in Houston in March.
Like many others, the Barnes were eager to get their hands on a juicy burger from Bernie’s Burger Bus around the midway point of their beer sampling. Bernie’s, as well as food truck Doughmaker and restaurant Houston Barbecue Company, were set up outside.
Folks who sprang for VIP tickets were treated to some extra-special goodies. There was an array of extra-special bottled beers to try and many were impressed by Green Flash Brewing Company’s “Silva Stout,” a 10.1-percent ABV double stout aged in bourbon barrels. There was also a table of food manned by Italian restaurant Ragu & Pesto where they served samples of Caprese appetizers (mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil), lasagna and Pesce Marinato, which is basically Italian ceviche. Italian food gave way to Mexican when South-side restaurant Habanera & the Gringo took over VIP food service from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
There was an abundance of brewery company swag to be had, too, including koozies, keychain bottle openers and tons of stickers. Little J’s Bar on Washington was giving out their own koozies and food coupons to guests who stopped by their booth.
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Occasionally, 16 people would leave all at the same time, but this was no mass exodus—they were just out seeing what it was like to be on a giant Pedal Party bike outfitted with beer kegs. Those who wanted to have a different kind of beer tour in the future got a peek at the upcoming schedule for the Texas Beer Bus.
Gabriella, a Houston-based representative for Laguinitas Brewing Company (with brewing operations in Petaluma, California and Chicago, Illinois) said the company participates in BrewFest because “it’s one of the big events in Houston and we like to expose our beer.” “DayTime IPA” and “A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’,” an American Pale Wheat Ale with a bold, slightly bitter finish, were two of the Lagunitas beers available for attendees to sample.
“Everyone’s really excited to be here,” said Monafeitha Darbonne, who was volunteering on behalf of Odell Brewing Company. “Everyone’s asking questions. The crowd is really bouncing off of each other and making recommendations [on what beers to try next]. I would absolutely love to do this again.”
We feel the same way.