Taste It First: Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival
I had an amazing time at the Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival. It was wonderful getting to meet so many local craft beer fans and I hope those of you who attended had as great of a time as I did.
There were reported to be 400+ beers available from the many breweries that participated in the festival. Of the participating breweries, quite a few local breweries participated in an event called Taste It First, which was a collection of brand-new beers to sample that are just hitting the market. I sampled quite a few, but not all, of the Taste It First beers and wanted to let Houston Beer Scene readers know about the latest options hitting our shelves and taps.
It was only appropriate that my favorite Taste It First selection was brewed on Galveston Island. Galveston Island Brewing brought the latest batch of Samson In A Barrel, a tasty creation which features their Imperial Stout aged in a rotating Bourbon barrel. This batch was aged in Woodford Reserve barrels and is a rich, boozy treat. With an ABV of around 12.0%, this surprisingly packs minimum heat and is very smooth. Samson In A Barrel is an excellent brew, but previous batches had very limited distribution – I’d suggest checking with the brewery on availability.
11 Below Brewing’s Crazy Pilz was another stand-out brew. This one maintains a pleasant, crisp Pilsner drinkability, with a decent punch of Mandarina hops. Crazy Pilz shows that great hop flavors can also be found in lagers. This has been announced as a seasonal brew and I can see Crazy Pilz gaining fans quickly. Available in cans, as well as on draft.
In addition to being a solid brew, Back Pew Brewing Company’s Addi’s Faith Kolsch has a charitable aspect. The beer’s name is a reference to Addi’s Faith Foundation, a local non-profit with the goal of ending childhood cancer. Proceeds from sales of this beer will be donated to Addi’s Faith Foundation to continue funding research into curing cancer and providing financial assistance to families who are having difficulties caring for a child with cancer. Look for this one in cans and on-tap in the Houston area soon. This is currently a one-off brew; there are hopes to make an Addi’s Faith release an annual tradition.
IPA fans have a few new brews to check out as well, we’ll start with Definitely A Collaboration, a Platypus Brewing/Copperhead Brewing recipe, that features Azacca, Citra, and Galaxy hops. This one is hazy, but the flavor seems more balanced on the juiciness than some of the more opaque versions within the hazy/New England IPA style range. This is now available on draft at select venues around town.
Fetching Lab Brewing Company also showcased an IPA, Brutal Summer. This one is brewed in the style of a “Brut IPA“, a newer, developing style that has recently been gaining popularity locally. The term “Brut IPA” is a reference to the wine appellation “brut”, which is reserved for the driest of sparkling wines. Brutal Summer is dry and light, making for an easy drinker with a healthy dose of hop flavor. I’m still learning this interesting new take on the IPA, and have only tried a handful of different brews, but can say that I’ve found Fetching Lab’s version one of the more enjoyable ones I’ve sampled. Brutal Summer is currently out on draft.
One more IPA debuted during the festival. Texas Beer Refinery unleashed Andromeda: Unchained, a more traditional style Double IPA clocking in at 8.0% and 75 IBU. It’s nice to see Cranky Britches’ brewmaster Bill Arning bringing his IPA skills to Texas Beer Refinery with this tasty brew. I’m looking forward to many excellent hoppy brews to come. Andromeda: Unchained is currently available at Texas Beer Refinery’s taproom.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s Orange Mocha Frappuccino is a Stout brewed with orange, coffee, chocolate and vanilla making for a solid dessert beer. All flavors are in the mix, but coffee and orange are the most dominant. This is another solid entry into Buffalo Bayou’s diverse portfolio of beers featuring fun ingredients. Be on the lookout for this at the brewery and possibly at select tap accounts.
Brazos Valley Brewing Company debuted what I believe is their first sour ale, Bramble On, a sour Wheat Ale brewed with blackberries and raspberries. There’s plenty of berry flavor and a moderate tartness making this a satisfying, easy drinker at 5.3%. Bramble On is part of their B-Sides and Rarities series, so expect to find it in cans and on-tap for a limited time only.
Have you tried any of these new beers? Do you have any requests for content from Houston Beer Scene? Did you enjoy Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival? Drop us a line on social media to let us know what you think.