Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oak, smoke, Steam and sours: A 2015 Brew Riot rundown

Image credit: Texas Homebrew Society, Dowdy Studios.

After attending Brew Riot for a number of years now, I've come to the conclusion that each year's trip to the annual homebrew competition in Bishop Arts involves three primary objectives:

1) Secure a parking spot.
2) Size up the soon-to-be professionals.
3) Sample a bevy of homebrews.

Then again, this year I strongly considered adding a fourth objective, that being to burn down the sinus assaulting cigar tent. However, beyond the likelihood of my being arrested, I decided the end probably wouldn't justify the means. Think about're not exactly going to rid the atmosphere of cigar smoke by setting fire to stacks of stogies.

In any case, palate numbing issues aside, the 2015 edition of Brew Riot featured the standard array of professional and amateur brewers sharing their wares. Among those hoping to open in the near future, Oak Highlands Brewery was on hand with some familiar favorites (Freaky Deaky, DfDub) as they prepare to make the jump to a full-time operation in the next few weeks. With TABC license in hand, as of yesterday no less, they are working on finishing up their space in North Dallas while also interviewing potential brewers.

Another of those in development, Steam Theory Brewing Company was also a Brew Riot returnee. This brewpub-to-be has a chef (locally-known Michael Weinstein), a brewer (Kirk Roberts, most recently of the now defunct Stumbling Steer in Albuquerque), and a yet-to-be-revealed location in Dallas. It seems they just need a bit more capital, as a sign suggested in saying "Investment Opportunities Available."

On to the beer, perhaps the most important of the primary objectives, I don't know that I noticed any dominant trends this time around. Wild and funky beers, if anything, were more in abundance led by stalwart sour producers Grotto and Mossberg Brewing. I've mentioned both in articles on this site before, and both were out again pouring well-deserved award-winning brews. Grotto served a beer named Frank, while Mossberg poured Purple Drank, and true to form each took top honors in their competition categories. Not only that, Mossberg team member Erin Brewer made her name proud, literally, by being named Best Female Brewer for a smoked wheat and juniper berry farmhouse ale called Fall Saison.

As for personal favorites, beyond loitering perhaps far too long at Oak Highlands and the two booths I just mentioned, what follows are a few beers I particularly enjoyed.

Steam Theory Brown IPA: A tasty brown ale base enhanced with the flavor and aroma of tropical fruit and a veritable pile of pine needles.

Fountain Head Keine Eier: Assuming I got the name right, I'm not sure why this Bavarian-style wheat beer has "no balls" (which is what a certain German brewer tells me "keine eier" means), but I'll always have a soft spot for a well-executed version of the style that got me into craft beer.

Preston Fuller Count Drunkula: Billed as a vanilla bourbon milk stout, this was probably my favorite beer of the day. For lack of a better description, it gave the impression of bourbon-soaked graham crackers dipped in chocolate.

Other notables: River Crew Ricochet EyePA (3rd Place, IPAs), and Dallas Homebrew Collective Blitzkrieg Bock (3rd Place, Lagers).

For a list of category winners, see the post on Brew Riot's Facebook page.

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