Sixty-five Texas breweries will be pouring their beers for thirsty Austinites at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival on Saturday. That’s almost 10 more breweries than last year’s festival — meaning that, like always, the fest is a solid sample of the state’s current brewery scene.
Tickets to this event, the largest annual gathering of Texas breweries and their beers, has already sold out of VIP tickets, but you can still get general admission tickets for $30. These will get you eight 3 oz. beer samples from breweries including Dallas’ Lakewood Brewing, Round Rock’s Bluebonnet Beer and Houston’s 8th Wonder Brewery, among many more.
Once you secure a ticket, make sure you spend some time studying the tap list so that you don’t miss out on beers you really want to try Saturday. In addition to the list of beers pouring from 2 p.m. to close, the festival has also just released the selection of rotating taps from certain breweries — rare one-offs or seasonal releases that are hard to find regularly. These include Jester King’s Atrial Rubicite, Community’s Public Enemy #1 and Saint Arnold’s 20th Anniversary Ale aged in cognac barrels. The full list, including the times each rotating tap will be released, is on the Texas Craft Brewers Festival website.
New this year is a Whole Foods Market tent that will feature 20-minute Q&As with a handful of brewers, to give audience members an up-close look at what they’re up to and what they’ve got planned.
“We wanted to do something we thought was missing at the event that would enhance it,” Whole Foods’ Rachel Malish said. “The brewers are so busy talking to everyone that it’s hard for bloggers and even just general admission to have a face to face.”
These Q&As, running throughout the afternoon, are intended to mitigate that problem. I’ll be the moderator for the first set of interviews; CultureMap Austin’s Matt McGinnis will take over for the second half. Anyone in the audience can also ask questions of the brewers.
Although there’s no doubt that all the participating breweries have stories to tell, we chose these because they’re in the midst of some exciting transitions or new horizons. The festival, for example, is Austinites’ first taste of Blue Owl Brewing’s beer; Live Oak Brewing is currently hard at work building a new brewery near the Austin airport. And San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing is debuting at the fest finally, just after distributing its beers to Austin for the first time last month.
The Whole Foods tent will be located just to the right of the entrance at Fiesta Gardens.
Moderator: Arianna Auber (Liquid Austin, Bitch Beer)
1 p.m. – Chip McElroy, Live Oak Brewing
1:30 p.m. – Beer and cheese pairing with Dave Ohmer of Whole Foods Market Brewing Co. and Tiffany Cunningham of Whole Foods Market
2 p.m. – Jeff Young & Suzy Shaffer, Blue Owl Brewing
2:30 p.m. – Scott Metzger, Freetail Brewing
Moderator: Matt McGinnis (CultureMap Austin, What Are You Drinking?)
3 p.m. – Beer and cheese pairing with Dave Ohmer of Whole Foods Market Brewing Co. and Tiffany Cunningham of Whole Foods Market
3:30 p.m. – Marco Rodriguez, Zilker Brewing Co.
4 p.m. – Trevor Nearburg, Uncle Billy’s Brewery
4:30 p.m. – Quynh & Dave Rathkamp, Save the World Brewing Co.
Plus, for an early look at the festival, stop by Whole Foods on South Lamar Boulevard this week, where Texas Craft Brewers Festival Week is offering free beer tastings, meet-the-brewer nights and even a beer dinner or two. Perhaps most notable is Friday’s Austin launch of Whole Foods Market Brewing, a Houston-area Whole Foods’ in-house brewery. For more information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
And to purchase tickets to the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, visit www.ticketfly.com.
Texas Craft Brewers Festival, 2 p.m. Saturday. $10-$30. Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia. texascraftbrewersfestival.org.