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Beers to watch: Spring 2014 edition

Lakewood Brewing at Big Texas Beer Fest, April 2014
Lakewood Brewing at Big Texas Beer Fest, April 2014

Another year has passed and brought about the annual Big Texas Beer Fest last week in Dallas' Fair Park Automobile Building. In its third year, this beer festival continues to grow and prove itself as one of the best (if not the best) craft beer events in the State of Texas.

Beer fests are unique beasts in the craft beer world, an untamed crossover between the hard-core geeks and casual drinking public. This labor of love hosted each year by locals Chad and Nellie Montgomery brought in another sellout crowd with 5000 guests and more than 400 beers tapped from around the world and the U.S. with a heavy focus on Texas breweries.

Critically evaluating craft beers at a festival is rather pointless as the sheer volume saturates and fatigues the palate after as little as half an hour. These are more social events than tasting forum, and the best one can do is keep brief notes of what stands out against the sea of more mundane imbibing.

Below is a list of just a few standout beers for me, some of which may yet be reviewed here in the future. I'm sure many more were missed (Lakewood and Jester King booths attracted the largest crowds) but this is my personal selection of a few interesting beers.

  • Peticolas Black Curtains - This near-perfect 11% ABV Russian imperial stout is currently a brewery-only release.
  • Community Minivan - Their 10.8% ABV wheat wine, this rarely brewed strong style is made with a heavy wheat component.
  • Karbach Bourbon Barrel-Aged Hellfighter - Relatively new to the DFW market, Karbach's Hellfighter is their aggressive Russian imperial stout made even more so by aging with strong bourbon flavors.
  • Saint Arnold Boiler Room - Soon to be publicly released, this light berliner weisse will introduce consumers to this great, slightly sour classic 3.5% ABV German style.
  • Gordon Biersch Scotch Ale - Making their first festival appearance, this national chain is giving their Park Lane (Dallas) location some flexibility with their traditional German-style brewing,
  • Brooklyn Hammarby Syndrome - Part of their special Brewmaster's Reserve series, this unique beer is brewed as a Sweden-inspired ale with spelt and spruce tips.
  • Armadillo Brunch Money - Intended as a "imperial golden stout," this strong blonde ale is a tasty blend of coffee, oats, lactic sugar, maple syrup and 10% ABV.

And in late news, let us not ignore our local award-winners at this week's 2014 World Beer Cup sponsored by the Brewers Association:

  • Community Witbier - Gold medal for Belgian-style witbier
  • Deep Ellum Four Swords - Bronze medal for Belgian-style strong dark ale
  • Rahr & Sons Stormcloud - Bronze medal for English-style IPA


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