Including Dallas and Its Vibrant Craft Beer Culture into Your Special Day

Tomorrow The Beer Drinkers Society Editor-in-Chief, Jamie Norton, and our Beer Reviewer, Ben Webster, will be married. To say goodbye to what Ben was and to celebrate his new life, we bachelor-partied like only Beer Drinkers would. No, we didn’t rush off to Vegas or collapse, drunkenly, in arm chairs of multiple gentlemen’s clubs. Instead we toured as many local craft breweries, sipped as many craft beers and laughed with as many beer nerds as the day would allow. Read on and hopefully we’ll inspire you to do the same!

Our day began at 8:30 with Bill Shaw of Cobra Brewing located in Lewisville, Tx.
Bill Shaw Cobra Brewing Lewisville Craft beer

Bill talked to us about Cobra’s brewing system and about their expansion to a 10 barrel system by the end of the year. We also learned Friday night tours at Cobra are the best times to try some of brewer, Neil MacCuish’s small test batches. After the talk and tour, we got down to the business of tasting! Bill Shaw Cobra Brewing Neil MacCuish brewer tap room menu Each of us tried only 3 beers to keep our consumption at a responsible level. I tried their Hoppy Poppy “Dank”, a west coast style dank IPA that leans more toward fruity notes than the citrus of hops, Best Mistake Stout, which is a stout brewed with brownie mix (expect to see a nitro version) and Cobra’s Banana Hammock Hefeweizen, a German-style wheat beer brewed with bananas. All were amazing, but a bigger surprise than Cobra’s takes on these classic recipes was their hand crafted Cream Soda. Bill, happy with my surprise, said they keep a soda on draft at all times for beer floats and for those tourers that don’t imbibe beer.

To try some great brews head over to Cobra any Friday or Saturday night for some cooler brewery tours and remember that every 3rd Friday is Comedy Night, where you’ll catch a new and upcoming comedian.

FireWheel Brewing Logo
Our next stop was FireWheel Brewing and some drinking time with founder and brewer, Brad Perkinson. Perkinson was in top form in his usual sleeveless FireWheel Brewing t-shirt despite a long night of working on his next location for the brewery. Brad Perkinson brewer and found FireWheel Brewing That’s right, FireWheel Brewing is expanding to a new, larger facility! After having some Special #1, a not so average brown ale, Midnight Ninja, FireWheel’s imperial black ale that is “as dark as night” and Liquid Assets, a very flavor yet light ale, Perkinson tapped a keg of his maple root beer. While we drank our root beers, he walked us through the brewery, we chatted about the brew system and what’s next for FireWheel Brewing. Expect to see Das Achtzehn (German for The 18) whose name origin is top secret, Redneck Redemption, an undying double imperial red ale that formed out of a power loss and an unnamed cascading dark rye ale soon. FireWheel will also be adding 3 new variants of the StrIPA, their strawberry IPA. We will soon see apple, raspberry and peach variants.

We then headed over to the new brewery location. Perkinson showed us where the cooler, the new 15 and 30 barrel tanks and the bar are going to be placed. The new location will open with 24 taps of FireWheel drinks, 20 of them beers and 4 sodas (rootbeer rotaters, orange, raspberry and lemon lime). We also got to see the new brewery bomb! “There is actually a munitions plant in Rowlett. There’s a long story between my landlord, the mayor of Garland, a FULL size wheel of cheese and this 6ft bomb.”
FireWheel Brewery bomb

FireWheel tours run every Saturday 11-3pm. $10 gets you a glass and 3 pints of FireWheel Brewing beer! Keep checking back for updates on the new brewery details!

Lakewood's Craig Bradley serving craft beers
From FireWheel we headed over to walk the brewery and taste some Belgian-inspired brews from Lakewood Brewing. Craig Bradley, Lakewood’s gregarious and handsome Event and Marketing Manager, served up great brews in their beautiful taproom and led us out to the production area. Lakewood Temptress milk stout in the taproom

The first thing that catches your eye is the large brewhouse backed by rows of fermentation tanks. If you haven’t visited Lakewood and seen these fantastic steel monoliths, you should take a Saturday and do so. All these tanks add up to a 720 barrel brew system, but come January with Lakewood’s expansion, that capacity will double with the addition of four Lakewood Brewing brewhouse brew tank more 180 barrel fermentation tanks. That means they’ll send out even more beer for all us drinkers. The new building is currently under production with a proposed finish January 2015. That will give Lakewood 3 buildings all on Executive Dr; the original brewhouse which will contain packaging and the taproom, the new building will be all fermentation and the third building (aka House of Weird) is already used just for barrel-aging and cellaring those wonderful beers like the Bourbon Barrel Aged Temptress. When asked if Lakewood was going to release a one-off beer to celebrate the new building Bradley exclaimed, “I don’t know if there’ll be a special beer for the expansion, but there sure as hell is going to a big ass party.” Set your calendar to attend that party and expect to see even more barrel-aged Temptress and some new aged beers like Punkel at your local bar.

Sadly, we had to leave the good company, astonishingly great beer and mooi (look it up) taproom dedicated to Belgian brewing ingenuity because we still had more stops to make before the day was done!

28After a quick food truck lunch at the lively and packed Klyde Warren Park, we hoofed it across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to meet up with Tony Drewry, lead singer of Shotgun Friday and driver of The Beerliner, and George Esquivel, co-founder of Four Corners Brewing. Despite his hectic schedule, Esquivel poured out some beers and walked us through the ins and outs of Four Corners. (Some fun taproom facts you might not know, the bar front is the old gym floor from The 1st Baptist Academy in Dallas and the booths were from the old La Grange in Deep Ellum.) Esquivel led us over to the wall of “before George Esquivel co founder of Four Corners Brewingpics” that documented the Four Corners building remodel. Just the photographic history of what the building originally was and what it became is a testament of what Esquivel and partners, Greg Leftwich and Steve Porcari, had to do in 18 months to build the brewery. We learned that to add to their already impressive collection of beers like Local Buzz, El Chingon and Block Party, we can expect to see Dicel, named after an old, mislabeled diesel can left in the building by the former tenants.

Four Corners Brewing Bright Tanks in the breweryWe then headed out to the production floor after our walk down Four Corners Memory Lane. Standing between large fermentation tanks and pallets of cans stacked to the ceiling we learned Four Corners was producing 1,100 barrels of beer in their first year and this year they will throw 4 or 5,000 into the DFW market. Esquivel “All we can do is keep up with can demand.”

After another quick pint and a pic with the groom-to-be, Esquivel was off and we Esquivel Ben Webster and Tony Drewry having a pint of Four Corners craft beer in the brewerywere out front with banjo man, renegade shotgunner and promoter of all things Texas craft beer, Tony Drewry and The North by Northwest Beerliner. We promptly hopped on the bus like kids invited into an ice cream truck. I’ll give you the stats and history of The Beerliner, but first you need to understand the man behind the wheel.

Tony Drewry in front of the North by Northwest BeerlinerTony Drewry
Drewry is the living embodiment of Texas Craft Beer. As the banjo player and vocalist for Shotgun Friday, he brings recognition and good times to every brewery the band plays, he was instrumental in craft beer happenings like; Community Beer Co’s brewing of Texas Pils, Texas Let’s Talk Craft Beer’s Dallas Group and The Texas Tavern League and soon the recently relocated Houston brewery, Brash, will release EZ7 a beer dedicated to Drewry and Shotgun Friday. Each can of EZ7 will have the line “Eventually this can will lead you to a man named ‘Tony’. You will find him on a Friday in Texas.” Stephen Nancarrow, founder of Texas Let’s Talk Craft Beer, said it best, “If not for him [Drewry], Texas craft beer would not be where it is today.”

Now that you’re acquainted with Drewry, let’s learn more about The Beerliner, NxNW and the 1400 miles between Austin and Denver. Davis Tucker, brewer and co-founder of North by Northwest in Austin and the man behind the legalization of brewpubs in texas, found a 1974 Bluebird school bus that had been refitted as a racecar cruise liner. Tucker each year makes a bicycle trip from Austin to Denver in time for The Great American Beer Festival all in the name of prostate cancer awareness. As support, bustronaut, Drewry, trails along with The Beerliner as Tucker stops at breweries along the 1400 mile route that heads north out of Texas, into New Mexico and ends the tiring journey in Denver, Colorado.
North by Northwest BeerlinerBeerliner Stats:
-The bus sports 3 large train horns
-Entertainment abounds with satellite, 3D TV and DVD player
-Top speed of 55 mph
-Cooler holds 4 half barrel kegs (standard size) or 16 sixth barrel kegs (for last year’s trip, Drewry hauled 40 kegs and 80 cases of beer to GABF) Beerliner external tap handles
-4 external taps
-Full kitchen
-2 bunks and 2 long couches
-Rear of bus is one large hydraulic supported ramp
-Drewry said “We’ve documented 50 points on this bus that open a beer.”
Check out The 1400 Mile site to support one of the riding teams or donate to vote whether Drewry shaves or saves his glorious beard.
Community Beer Co pint glass We finished our day of brewery visits with Kevin Carr and Corey Dickenson at Community Beer Company. Carr is the founder of Community, but he keeps humble. As we toured with Dickinson, learned about brewer and microbiologist, Aric Hulsey’s yeast cultivation lab and sampled some great and rare beer, Carr spent his limited free time renovating 2 back rooms of the brewery. Only when we began drinking Glenstemmons, a bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale, and cracked a special firkin of Witbier aged on organic peach, did Carr stop for a moment to relax and chat.
Corey Dickinson tapping a special firkin of WitbierDickinson and Carr let us in on the growth and the near future plans of Community Beer Co. Per Dickinson, “We currently have 10 styles [of beer] on tap in our taproom and rotate unique firkins on Fridays.” That’s up from Community’s original 5 beer line-up when they started with 30 and 60 barrel fermenters and bright tanks. It’s astounding the growth Community has undergone with its addition of three 100 barrel Corey Dickinson Taproom Manager at Community Beer Company talking craft beer with Ben Webster fermenters, a 100 barrel bright tank, large tap room, kegging and bottling lines all since my first visit when I met Hulsey under the brewhouse bolting together pipes and interviewed a suit wearing Carr. With this new larger capacity, Community will add yet another beer to the Fall schedule with their release of an, as yet unnamed, russian imperial stout aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels from Breckenridge and Heaven Hill Distilleries in CO and KY. “Shaping up to be an awesome fall offering” says Dickinson. “Coming into fall we’re planning more barrel-aged and going from bombers to 4 packs.” For the last time of the day, we were terribly saddened and reluctant to be moving on, but our day was done, we had gorged ourselves on so many fantastic local brews and it was time to end the night. We bid farewell to Dickinson and Carr, wished our best to Hulsey and Jamie Fulton, head brewer, and caught Mike Demarco, Sales and Account Services, on his way in and finally started the quick trip back north to Denton.

On the drive home, we laughed and prattled on about the highlights of the day and what an amazing experience it all was. I realize it’s a bit of a monumental task to visit as many breweries as we did all in one day, but I encourage you to stop by one or two or hop on The Dallas Brew Bus to celebrate any special day. Birthdays, Father’s/Mother’s days, anniversaries or graduations, any of these occasions would be perfect! You, your friends and family will find nothing else is like a brewery tour and the local DFW brewers are more than happy to have you try some of their beers and ask questions about the art they love so dearly.

Well, here’s to our epic day of adventure celebrating our beloved Beer Nerd Beer Reviewing Cicerone, Ben Webster and his next step into marriage.
Ben webster at the Community Beer Co taproom bar


Karbach Rodeo Clown IPA Review

Hello again, fellow beer-radasses! After sampling a smattering of Houston-brewed beers, thanks to a trade with a new buddy down that way, I figured I’d put my palate to the test against one of Karbach Brewings’ year-round offerings. This year I’ve had the privilege of trying almost all of them, thanks to some awesome folks, and I’m happy to report that I’ve loved pretty much everyone. (Weisse Versa is a huge win in my book, so if any of ya’ll are down that way… HINT HINT.) Anyhow, I’ll dispense with the witty banter, sit back down on my ever-expanding-slightly-fat ass, and get this show on the road. (I’m modest, ain’t I?)

Karbach Brewing's Rodeo Clown pic courtesy of

Karbach Brewing’s Rodeo Clown pic courtesy of

Rodeo Clown pours a clear, copper-orange, kicking up a fluffy one-finger head, which lingers around for quite a while. The lacing left behind on the glass as it slowly recedes is fairly thick, and coats the glass heavily on the side if you tilt it, or take a sip. (There might be a formula or use for this as a way to gauge intoxication. Further study is needed, and will be done.) The carbonation is abundant, and serves to hold up the head that remains after a few minutes of sitting untouched.

Loads of dank and citrusy hops leap out of the glass, like a punch thrown by Chuck Norris, and assault your nose. But in a good way. Light hints of bready malt-sweetness help balance out this hop-bomb, and a nip of alcohol and cracker make an appearance as well. The nose on this beer just goes to show the good folks at Karbach know their hops, and aren’t afraid to use them in ridiculous quantities!

On the palate, sweet tropical fruits reign supreme, showing mango, white peach, and plumcot (plum apricot hybrid), all held together by sweet yeast roll bread flavors. The mouthfeel is slick and oily, as Rodeo Clown coats the tongue like cement shoes on a snitche’s feet, and the higher ABV becomes more apparent as it warms. The carbonation is wonderfully light, and only serves to make this monster even easier to drink than it should be, so assuming you don’t have any plans to use your higher brain-functions for the rest of the evening, after two of these, you should be feeling right as rain.

As I previously mentioned, I love me some Karbach beer, and highly recommend you try any and all of it that you come across. This little number is no exception, earning itself a place in my bacon-clogged little heart, as it will yours, if you give it a chance.

Keep your eyes open for my next review, and beer-blogs, as well as some new event reviews from my pal and fellow contributor, Danielle! Also, if you have any questions, beer-drinking, beer-brewing, or anything else beer related, feel free to reach out to me at and I’ll be happy to talk to you. Have a “Hoppy” day Friends!


Check out the new label art for Founders Brewing's Dark Penance IPA

Check out the new label art for Founders Brewing’s Dark Penance IPA

Founders Brewing Co. announced today that it will introduce Dark Penance, an Imperial Black IPA, as a specialty release this October 2014 with availability through the end of the year. Dark Penance will be on draft and in 4 pack bottles.


Dark Penance is the newest addition to the brewery’s lineup of world class IPAs, which includes Centennial IPA, Red’s Rye IPA, Double Trouble, Devil Dancer and All Day IPA, a session IPA.


“We don’t just add beers to our lineup to have something new on the shelves,” said Dave Engbers, co-founder and vice president of brand and education at Founders Brewing Co. “Our Backstage Series is for experimentation and keeping things fresh, and we still only put those out a few times a year. Dark Penance, on the other hand, went through many recipe iterations before we were willing to put it up there with the other beers that we release again and again, year after year.”

All Day IPA was the last beer added to Founders' regular lineup.

All Day IPA was the last beer added to Founders’ regular lineup.

The recipe for Dark Penance took about a year to develop. That year was mostly spent perfecting the beer’s balance and hop profile. It’s the

first new beer to be added to Founders’ lineup since All Day IPA, which was released in spring 2012 following three years of development.


Dark Penance starts with a heavy malt foundation of Crystal malt for sweetness and just enough Midnight Wheat to push the color to black. The bitterness is huge (100 IBUs huge), but balanced by malt sweetness and alcohol burn. The hop flavors and aromas range from citrus to floral to pine—most everything that hops can be—thanks to a delicious blend of hand-selected Chinook and Centennial hops. The Imperial Black IPA is 8.9% ABV.


“Black IPAs are becoming more common, but Imperial Black IPAs aren’t, and imperializing things is what we do,” said Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “Plus, we thought this beer would fit in well with our specialty lineup alongside Imperial Stout, Curmudgeon Old Ale and Double Trouble.”


Dark Penance will be available as the follow up to Double Trouble in Founders’ specialty calendar, from roughly October to December, dependent on distributor shipments. It will be released in the on draft and in bottles as of October 2014.



About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 30 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information read Ben Esely’s Beer Drinkers Society interview with Dave Engbers and visit
If some of this IPA lingo doesn’t quite make sense, read Matt Householder’s Beer Drinkers Society article on IPA or India Pale Ale.

Popular Local Brew Pub, Uncle Billy’s, Enlists Seasoned Consultants Hans Johnson and Brad Mortensen to Assist with Brewery Expansion

What we can expect to see inside the new Uncle Billy's.

What we can expect to see inside the new Uncle Billy’s.

Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse, a popular local brewpub located in the heart of Austin’s restaurant row on Barton Springs Road, will more than double its current brewing system, effectively tripling its brewing capacity. One of the largest brew pubs in Texas, the expansion will accommodate a new 20 barrel Criveller system, providing an annual capacity of approximately 5,000 barrels of craft beer.

Prospective Mock-up of the finished exterior at Unlce Billy's.

Mock-up of what the finished exterior at Unlce Billy’s will look like.

In addition to the new 20 barrel brewery, expansion plans will include renovations to the restaurant, including a new indoor/outdoor island bar with 360 degree service and expanded seating. Uncle Billy’s is also introducing its new Smokehouse Menu featuring a variety of newly created smoked seafood options, in addition to offering a number of food and beer pairings.

After lobbying to pass a bill allowing brew pubs to distribute their own beers, signed by Texas governor Rick Perry last year, Uncle Billy’s began distributing a selection of their house brewed craft beer, including The Green Room IPA and Humbucker Helles, several months ago with overwhelmingly positive results.  We can’t find these and the other Uncle Billy’s brews in DFW yet, but management says, “come September it will definitely be in the realm of possibilities.” Uncle Billy’s has tapped brewery experts Hans Johnson and Brad Mortensen to lead the expansion project.

Hans Johnson has been brewing/commissioning and consulting with new and existing breweries for over 20 years. He has “brewed on everything from showroom breweries with all the bells and whistles to cobbled together dairy equipment held together with duct tape and desperation.”

Brad Mortensen has been brewing professionally since 1996. He served as brewmaster at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia for over 7 years followed by brewing for the country’s largest brew pub group at Rock Bottom in Nashville, Tennessee. The duo formed Grain to Glass Consulting in 2014 to “help breweries take their businesses to the next level.”

“Hans and I are 2 long-time craft brewer’s who now consult with breweries all over. We’re really excited to be working with Uncle Billy’s in Austin. Rick and Rich from Uncle Billy’s gave us a call to help with their expansion. Soon we’ll be pulling out their existing 10 barrel brewery and putting in a brand new 20 barrel Criveller system with 6 fermentors and 8 serving tanks.” says Mortensen

Johnson and Mortensen with a client, Steve Scoville of Little Harpeth Brewing.

Johnson and Mortensen working with a client, Steve Scoville of Little Harpeth Brewing.

Johnson and Mortensen’s next task will be to identify a world class, award winning Head Brewer to take over the reins at the expanded Uncle Billy’s brewery. With construction underway thats planned for completion in mid-August and a high demand for Uncle Billy’s craft brewed beers, 2014 is a year of exciting changes for Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse.

About Uncle Billy’s
Opened in 2007, Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse is located in the heart of Austin’s funky restaurant row on Barton Springs Road. Named after William “Uncle Billy” Barton, whose 1830s tract included the renowned Barton Springs, Uncle Billy’s offers the perfect combination of award-winning, hand-crafted beers and delicious, slow-smoked Texas barbeque. Whether you’re catching a game, entertaining clients or kicking back and enjoying a band on the expansive, shaded outdoor patio, your stay at Uncle Billy’s will be as original as Austin itself.

Uncle Billy’s is located at 1530 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704. Telephone 512.476.0100. Website:

Best Little Brewfest in Texas: A Lesson in Growth

BLBFIT CrowdLast year, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the first ever Best Little Brewfest in Texas when it was just big enough for one building in the pit area of Texas Motor Speedway. This year, while much was different, the spirit of the festival remained the same and I think that’s what I love most about it. Brainchild of Kim Cloud and Daynor Stinson, it is the only brewfest that I know of where 100% of the proceeds go to charity. That’s right, 1-0-0%. The whole kit-and-caboodle goes to charities chosen by Cloud 9 to prevent teen suicide and assist with Alzheimer’s care. Amazing, I know. BLBFIT’s sophomore debut was situated more centrally in the metroplex this time around, with the City of Lewisville stepping up to the plate and offering Old Town Lewisville as home field. As if that wasn’t surprising enough in its own right, I ran into two councilmembers who were in attendance of the festival and loving it every bit as much as everyone else was. Kudos TJ Gilmore, Neil Ferguson, and City of Lewisville!

Aside from the location change, growth was evident in every aspect of the festival, with the classic car show being an excellent addition to the already varied offerings of entertainment. That alone brought out enough people to pack the tents as soon as 3PM rolled around, and that was only the VIP pour time. The festival was divided into two beer tents, a wine and spirits area, the stage area, and vendor/food area which sounds massive, but was pretty easy to navigate for those of us who spill if we try to drink and walk. My Hop-Headed Beardo/Sidekick-to-Everything-Beer-Related, Anthony, and I entered the North Tent first and wasted no time in starting to fill our sample cards. With new offerings from established local breweries as well as up-and-comers that brought their best to share, it was hard to pick a favorite. So I won’t. Instead, I’ll give you my top three. Drumroll please..

Shannon BrewingShannon Brewing Chocolate Stout – 4.5/5 This beer, to me, is everything a chocolate stout should be and I cannot be happier that they are opening in my backyard. Toasty and chocolaty with hints of coffee and what seemed like vanilla, it had all the flavor of some of its heavier competitors with a crisper finish which bodes well for the hotter months.

Revolver Brewing Fracker Barrel One – 4.5/5 I hate to say it, but I’m not a huge fan of wine.. or things that taste like wine. So when people started putting beer in wine casks, I wrinkled my nose at the thought. But part of my hobby is being a beer guinea pig so I sucked it up and handed over my sample card, and I’m damn glad I did. The tartness from the wine barrels really gives Mother’s Little Fracker some interesting depth and character, but the wine flavor isn’t overpowering.

Tx Ale ProjectTexas Ale Project The Caucasian – 5/5 I don’t even have words for this. It was like dessert in a glass. A ‘white Russian’ Imperial Stout, it tipped its hat to the Dude and presented itself as an insanely drinkable concoction. While probably not a hit with everyone (Anthony doesn’t like the sweet stuff. His loss, more for me!), I thought it was excellent and made me really anticipate what else Texas Ale Project has up their sleeves. Or lederhosen.

While I could go on for days about the beer alone, I can’t neglect the other parts of the festival that made it as awesome as it was. I’m still not a fan of Anthony and Dark Hour Haunted Househaving the entertainment segregated from the rest of the festival, but it didn’t stop Rob Donnelly, Midnight Drive, Driftin Outlaw Band and From Then On from doing what they do best as people came looking for seating after grabbing grub from one of the multiple food vendors, such as; Rudy’s BBQ, Dough Boys Pizza, and YimYam Thai Fusion. There were also plenty of vendors out to peddle their wares to the masses, including Dark Hour Haunted House, Haus of Growlers, Stubby’s Texas Brewing supply, Origami Owl jewelry, and Craft Beer Bitch (Michelle) with her awesome beercan flowers and birdhouses. Special mention to her for the Deep Ellum IPA beercan flower she sent me home with, it’s so pretty!
Craft Beer Bitch
Really I could go on and on about this festival. Aside from the one mishap of not having enough VIP lanyards (sadface), everything went swimmingly…even if it was sometimes an upstream battle in one of the tents that were absolutely packed to capacity. Everyone was friendly, it was organized, there was beer and hometown support, and it was for charity! I can’t wait to see what next year holds once the plaza in Old Town Lewisville is complete. So here’s to Kim and Daynor on another year of a superb festival.

Danielle Goff

Best Little Brew Fest in Texas will combat teen suicide and Alzheimer’s with second year profits

By Ben Esely

Best Little Brew Fest is about to begin its 2014 run this Saturday at 3pm (for VIPs) and 4pm (for General Admission) and I thought it would be good to sit down with Kim and Daynor to talk beer and changing the world with events like Best Little Brew Fest in Texas. Last year Kim Cloud of Cloud 9 Charities and Daynor Stinson formed Best Little Brew Fest, not just for their love of craft beer, but also to bring support and awareness for a couple of causes that are close to their hearts.

BLBFIT’s Tx Motor Speedway location in 2013 (photo by Rasy Ran Photography)

This year’s fest has also moved to the streets of the historic Old Town Lewisville inside two 6,000-square-foot, air conditioned tents. Lewisville’s historic district is more centrally located than last year’s venue and will be able to better accommodate the expected 4,000 thirsty cerevisaphiles. Best Little Brew Fest will also be the first stop for many of the new and upcoming breweries. Plan to meet brewers like Doug Smith (formerly of Fort Collins Brewery) with Audacity Brew House, John Daylett of Frisco City Grainworks, Andrew Smeeton of Four Bullets Brewery, Ben Criksena of Little Elm Brewing Co. and Shannon Carter of Shannon Brewing Co.

Cloud 9 Charities is a 501c3 that holds events to raise money for charities in desperate need of funding. Like other Cloud 9 events, all profits from this fest go to support families and those affected by Alzheimer’s by providing respite care for patients so family members can take care of daily life.
Daynor knows the troubles of being the sole source of care for a family member with Alzheimer’s. “I had gotten my father out of ICU a month or two when, one night, he forgot where a light switch was and fell off a step-down. Luckily it was right outside my room and he only cracked a rib. Eventually he did go to full time nursing assistance.”
Kim’s mother has Alzheimer’s and lives in an amazing place. But she recognizes that many families can’t afford housing like this. “Most days she still knows me. She was only 70 when she was diagnosed and she was sharp. She is now 79. I had an amazing step dad that worked hard and put away for their long-term care. Because of his foresight, she is able to live in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Many afflicted with Alzheimer’s become mean or ornery, but she is full of light. She’s 100% healthy, but this disease is very slowly taking away everything and everyone she knows. My brothers and I are scared to death of Alzheimer’s affecting us. There’s no cure. There’s no prevention yet.”

The profits from this year’s fest will also go to teen suicide prevention that stems from bullying. Kim and Daynor became concerned with the issue of teen suicide after they met the folks behind Rachael’s Challenge during their Bullying Ride. Rachael’s Challenge is named for the first victim of the Columbine tragedy and teaches compassion and kindness to prevent bullying and encourage learning. Profits from the fest will go to Communities in Schools which is a local Denton focused organization that is creating a program to help combat teen suicide through student education and student support very similar to Rachael’s Challenge.

BLBFIT GLASSThis Saturday you can do more than just drinking great craft beer, but also help two very worthy causes. So go purchase your tickets now and have a great time. Check out The Best Little Brew Fest Facebook page for updates and details.

BIG Texas Beer Fest: Because Size DOES Matter

A Beer Event Adventure by Danielle Goff

Big Texas Beer Fest CrowdIt should come as no surprise tthat we Texans like to do things BIG – big trucks, big hats, big buildings, and the like. This frame of mind is spreading like a wildfire into the Dallas craft beer scene (and you will hear no complaints from me) already aware of this, I thought I had some idea of what to expect from my first experience with the Big Texas Beer Fest. While I am relatively new to the craft beer scene compared to a lot of the veterans in the area, I like to think I have a good idea of what’s going on in and around the metroplex. Boy, am I ashamed to have missed BTBF last year! It was hosted inside the Automotive Building at Fair Park and I can honestly say that, despite the gigantic crowd, I never felt like I might be crushed to death by a stampede of beer drinkers when a special tapping was announced. It’s times like these you learn to appreciate the small things.

Odell Taps at BTBF Photo by Brian Martin

Odell Taps at BTBF
Photo by Brian Martin

At last count, there were approximately 417 unique offerings from at least 106 different breweries (up from 350 beers from 90 breweries in 2013). If I wanted to try all of these and still remain conscious, I would have to clone myself about 20 times (I did the math).. and don’t think I didn’t consider it. Since that was, unfortunately, not a possibility, I decided to get to the venue early and stand in the VIP line like a good beer nerd and wait for my friend. The line organization was one of my few complaints (aside from WHY IS THE FEST ONLY 5 HOURS LONG?! ) because the people running the lines outside randomly decided to open three other lines for VIP entrance. So people who arrived later, after us early birds in the first line, were getting to the front of the new lines and therefore gaining access before people who had been waiting for at least an hour. (I swear that made sense in my head.) Anyhow, the line processed pretty quickly thanks, partly, to the volunteers who went out to hand over the swag bags to the people who were in line rather than waiting for them to get through the door. The swag bags had handy-dandy guides inside with a brewery/beer list and map. With this map, my friend and I were able to map out our plan of attack while we waited. Once inside, we headed straight to the merch tables because, inevitably, they always sell out of my size shirt if I wait. Purchase made, we finally made our way once more into the breach.

VIP Line Outside BTBF Photo by Brian Martin

VIP Line Outside BTBF
Photo by Brian Martin

It goes without saying that variety is the spice of life, especially for beer nerds like me who really enjoy the ‘weird’ brews. I’m not just talking sours – I’m talking adjuncts that make the beer sound more like potpourri than beer. So there should be no measure of shock when I say the stand out offerings for me at the festival were things like Elevation’s Señorita Horchata Imperial Porter, No Label’s Don Jalapeño Ale, Texian’s Charlie Foxtrot (with the tasty addition of a raspberry concoction at their suggestion), Armadillo Ale’s Brunch Money, and the much sought-after Founders KBS (which really isn’t all THAT weird, but still mighty delicious).

Beer aside, what I heard of the entertainment from Grand Ramble, The Beef, and Bravo Max was on point. Chad had this to say “We choose music that goes with drinking beer. And that music usually includes banjos, acoustic guitars and rowdy singers.” Despite how fantastic the bands sounded, the music was “out of sight, out of mind” for a lot of people because the stage was completely separate from the beer booths. Food and entertainment were in an outside courtyard. The courtyard was nice when you wanted a breath of fresh air and some elbow room to shovel food from the food trucks into your face, but otherwise the separation seemed to keep a lot of people from enjoying the bands. I finally decided that beer ice cream, while delicious (thanks LUCK), was not sustenance enough to continue drinking the way I was and got myself some sliders from Easy Slider. Good job, me! They were delicious and just what I needed to soak up the suds so I could continue with my second tasting card.
Food Trucks at Big Texas Beer Fest

The Chad and Nellie behind Big Texas Beer Fest Photo by Rasy Ran Photography

The Chad and Nellie behind Big Texas Beer Fest
Photo by Rasy Ran Photography

Chad and Nellie have created something wonderful in this festival and I can only see it getting bigger and better with each year as they work through the few kinks I saw this year. If, for some reason, you have been living in a cave (like I was before) and have not been out to experience this festival for yourself, start planning now to attend next year. You will not regret it.

See you at the taps!