Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Brewer's bash nothing short of a ball

Image credit: North Texas Beer Week

The 2014 edition of North Texas Beer Week featured many types of events we've come to enjoy in the Metroplex on what is now a regular basis, just multiplied many times over. Over the course of ten days, around 300 total events included various pint nights, rare tappings, beer dinners and even a taproom debut at a recently opened brewery. The culmination, though, had to be Friday night's Brewer's Ball held at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.

Limited to only 500 tickets, Beer Week's marquee event offered attendees the chance to mingle with brewery owners, brewmasters and reps from both local and national craft breweries in a private setting. And while it was indeed a ball in a ballroom, it was billed as black-tie optional. Yes, there were people in tuxedos, suits and cocktail dresses, but there were plenty of others in jeans, shorts, tennis shoes and ball caps. For all the concerns about an assumed dress code, a lighthearted discussion on social media suggested that pants were the only thing unequivocally required.

Food was catered by establishments well-known for their commitment to craft beer like the Meddlesome Moth, LUCK, The Common Table, Goodfriend and Jack Mac's Swill & Grill. The Malai Kitchen, a West Village restaurant that began brewing operations earlier this year, also provided snacks, as did the East Hampton Sandwich Company and Luscher's Post Oak Red Hots. Selections ranged from sandwiches, sliders and sausages, to a variety of finger foods and a fantastic smoked salmon crostini (courtesy of LUCK).

As for the beer, naturally there wasn't a seemingly endless array of choices like you'd find at a larger scale event, but I doubt many would complain if they paid the VIP ticket price to a festival and their tasting card looked something like this (starred items represent surprise brews not on the originally announced list):
  1. Samuel Adams Utopias
  2. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin*
  3. Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad
  4. Boulevard Love Child #4
  5. Deschutes Black Butte XXVI
  6. Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
  7. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
  8. Oskar Blues Chardonnay Barrel Mama's Little Yella Pils
  9. Prairie Artisan Ales Bible Belt
  10. Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Bomb!*
  11. 2012 Real Ale Sisyphus
  12. Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel #5
Or if say a second card looked like this:
  1. Austin Beer Works Soul Glo Barrel Aged Golden Sour
  2. Community Oak Aged Trinity Tripel
  3. Deep Ellum Four Swords
  4. Four Corners/Braindead Scotch Ale*
  5. Franconia Bordeaux Aged Tripel Dunkel*
  6. Lakewood French Quarter Temptress
  7. Lakewood Lion's Share II
  8. Grapevine Wood-Aged Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout
  9. Martin House Porter on Spanish Cedar
  10. Peticolas A Lost Epic
  11. Rahr & Sons Visionary Pumpkin Ale
  12. Revolver Fracker Barrel One
On that point, of particular note was the fact that there was no actual "tasting card." Attendees weren't subjected to the standard festival limit of a dozen pours, and they didn't have to lay down additional funds for a dozen more. This allowed everyone to sample freely without having to succumb to the slash of a sharpie.

Of course, the one subject seemingly on everyone's mind who did not attend was the $125 price tag. I suppose whether it was worth it or not depends on your point of view. Granted, if you add up the typical cost of a VIP festival ticket to money spent on food trucks and additional tasting tickets, you're probably not going to pay over $100 per person. Then again, Brewer's Ball wasn't your average beer festival. It was an exclusive event held in a lavish and comfortable setting, not to mention being an essentially all you can eat and drink affair with rare brews and food from a number of highly regarded restaurants. In my mind, thinking about the experience as a whole, it was well worth the cost for what was arguably one of the most intimate and unique beer-centric events North Texas has ever seen.

More than that, though, Brewer's Ball and North Texas Beer Week in general showed once again how far the local industry has come in a very short time. Three years ago such an event wasn't remotely possible in North Texas. Now, on a given night during Beer Week we have to choose between numerous high profile events, many of which feature industry figures from around the country. Celebrations like this, along with the continued success of local breweries in national competitions, do nothing but raise the profile of our region nationally. So, I ask you then...can we finally say we live in a craft beer town?

1 comment:

  1. You're damn right we live in a craft beer town! Good work everyone - next year will be even better!