Consider for a moment the infamous Trabant. The Trabant is a clunky Cold War relic built by an East German automaker from 1957 and the ensuing decades of political strife. It was poorly constructed, unreliable, terribly unsafe and had an air-cooled, two-stroke engine that spewed thick exhaust.
Imagine if that were the only car we had with North Texas roads full of these vulgar little autos. Oh, you might see a flashy Mercedes or cool BMW occasionally on the streets but you and everyone you know are stuck with Trabants and their headaches, as this was the only auto available. Three million of these sad rattling lemons filled East Germany prior to reunification and a free(er) marketplace.
This is how far North Texas has come with craft beer. No more than a handful of years ago (yes, counted on a single hand) our beer choices were the blah major corporate brands that filled the shelves and maybe a few interesting imports, which were little more than major brands in their own countries. Today, our store shelves, bars and restaurants, package stores and city blocks are filled with a vast and ever-increasing variety of craft beers from around DFW, around Texas, around the nation and around the globe. Our cup, literally, runneth over.
Like any market niche, North Texas Beer Week (formerly Dallas Beer Week but rightfully renamed) is a promotional vehicle for the local and regional craft brewing industry. This year it includes an order of magnitude more events and happenings as retailers are learning the value of its collective marketing and more local craft brewers come online to fuel the efforts. All aspects of the industry are at play, from brewers to retailers to consumers as participation and events spread out from simply specialized consumption and a loyal fan base. This week is a collective pulse, and our local pulse is strong.
Texas Brewvolution, a new local beer festival, inaugurated the week at Dallas' Fair Park and drew in numbers that, although not as impressive as its parent Big Texas Beer Fest, were decent and enthusiastic consumers. People who had never before attended a beer festival showed up for Brewvolution. Novice beer drinkers attended their first beer pairing dinners, and those who had never met a professional brewer had many opportunities as all were out in public all week. Pints were shared, tastings were handed out, logo glasses were taken home. People participated.
Awareness is what North Texas Beer Week has been about and compared to previous years, the consuming public is more aware of craft beer than ever before. Producing, attracting and consuming good beer is only half of our mission -- the other half is bringing this awareness of the wonderful good beer selection to people who are already advertised senseless by a 24/7 media onslaught. In this respect, I would call North Texas Beer Week a hardy and growing success.
No one was passionate about the miserable little Trabant, and its artificial monopoly is ancient history and the model now merely an historic footnote. Hopefully, the day may arrive when our own passions drive the market instead of bland, monotone brewing.