Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A lucky man drank the last brunch at Brew Riot

Image credit: Go Oak Cliff/Dowdy Studios.

At least here in North Texas, there aren't many beer-centric events that can lay claim to having been around since before the current craft beer boom got started. In fact, given that we're talking about anything that debuted prior to say 2011, you don't even need whole handful of fingers to count the few that qualify for such a characterization.

Were we to make a list, we'd find that one of those in question has to do with a bunch of knurds and some kind of feast, while a couple of others are built around the amateur brewer in all of us. Indeed, homebrewing competitions like The Bluebonnet Brew-Off and Brew Riot are among the longest-running industry-related events in our history. But, that sort of makes sense if you think about it, considering that the craft beer movement has its origins in the homebrewing community. If not for homebrewers seeking to make a better brand of beer than what was being offered by the "big three", we probably wouldn't be having this conversation in the first place.

As for Brew Riot, this year marked the eighth annual edition of an event that has called the Bishop Arts District home from the time of its inception in 2009. Since then, many brewers have taken their skills to the next level after having first sampled their beers from behind a booth at this popular beer festival. Four Corners traces its history back to Brew Riot number one, while later years have seen pre-opening samples being poured from the likes of Peticolas, Lakewood and others. In 2015 alone, three alumni made the jump to the professional ranks, with Oak Highlands, Noble Rey and On Rotation opening new breweries last year.

So, who's next? Well, as of now, we know that The Manhattan Project will begin production in October after entering into a joint proprietorship with Bitter Sisters in Addison. We also know that Steam Theory plans to open on Lower Greenville later this year, adding their name to the roster of brewpubs that make their home in the City of Dallas.

Beyond that, though, it's anybody's guess. Maybe it'll be long-time participants like Grotto, Knowles Brothers, Mossberg or Mox Nix. Or perhaps it'll be someone we aren't as familiar with like The Fort or Dirty Job. Then again, it could be a group like Oak Cliff Brewing. They came out of nowhere in early May with sights set on a location, only to be derailed because of something to do with a sewer line.

In any case, it's fun to speculate about who among Brew Riot participants might be the next North Texas brewer, and better yet whether something they served might one day be the next great North Texas beer. And, at least for me, that in a nutshell is what keeps me coming back to Brew Riot year after year.

A few favorites from this year's event:

Knowles Brothers Lucky Skott Drunk on Woodford: Count yourself lucky if you got a taste of this wee heavy aged in whiskey barrels from Woodford Reserve. Sweet, warm, boozy, good.

Manhattan Project Plutonium 239: Named for the primary fissile isotope used to make nuclear weapons, this coconut porter (or was it a stout?) displayed great balance between the sweetness of the toasted coconut and the bitterness of the dark malt-based grain bill.

Mossberg Whiskey Drank: It can't be a bad thing when you keep changing your mind about what beer you think might be the best you've ever had from a particular brewer. This time around it was Whiskey Drank that got my attention from Mossberg, with barrel aging adding a wonderful natural vanilla character to the sour brown base.

The Seventh Tap - The Last Brunch: A big breakfast stout (12% ABV) that led with rich notes of maple syrup, followed by flavors cinnamon, dark chocolate and vanilla.

Also notable: Bleshoux Golden Stout, Dallas Homebrew Collective Pilsner, East Dallas Black Honey Ale, Grotto Experimental IPA, Mox Nix Texas Breakfast Stout, The Seventh Tap Faux, Trunk and Commerce #16 Brett IPA.

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