Thursday, March 21, 2013 , Updated 10:00 a.m., March 23, 2013
60 beers at the Spring Craft Beer Festival: Which ones should you sample?
The festival is this Saturday. And it's free.
RICHARDSON Spring is officially here, and with the blue skies and balmy weather come festivals of all varieties. On Saturday, March 23, Sigel's-Richardson invites DFW down for its Spring Craft Beer Festival from 1 to 4 p.m.
Perhaps "festival" is overselling it a bit. Typically, the term denotes live music, local artisans, and at least a bit of locally-produced food and beer. Except for the last-minute addition of four offerings from Garland's Lakewood Brewing Company, the Spring Craft Beer Festival involves none of the above. But, it's a great opportunity to broaden your palate by trying out craft beers from around the world. And, it's free. Free.
Here's how it works: For zero dollars, you receive a "passport" and the opportunity to taste 20 of 60 available international and national brews. When you've gotten your 20 passport stamps, you'll turn in your passport for entry in an "exciting door prize drawing." You will also get a chance to get nerdy with brewery representatives and will receive special sale prices for beers you choose to take home. There are also free hot dogs. Did we mention that?
Choosing 20 of 60 available beers is an overwhelming responsibility, not to be taken lightly. We turned to a couple of Dallas' trusted drinkers — Lakewood Brewing Company owner Wim Bens, Deep Ellum Brewing Company's "Brand Ninja" Tait Lifto, and Franconia Brewing Company brewmaster and owner Dennis Wehrmann — gave them the list of beers, and asked for their recommendations.
A few favorites were Southern Star Bombshell Blonde, No Label El Hefe Weizen, and Victory Prima Pils, so make sure those are in your 20.
If I'm not going to drink Dallas, I'm still going to drink Texas. We're still a small craft beer state, and we've got to stick together. So, in that case, I'm going with anything from Southern Star, Real Ale, or No Label.
Otherwise, the Victory Prima Pils is a great beer; it served in a way as inspiration for the Pils we're working on now. And, you really can't go wrong with anything from Boulevard. I like their Tank 7.
Finally, I'd say the Full Sail Sessions Lager. A lot of people rate session beers lower because they're not double-barrel-aged-oak-etc., but it's hard to make a good, simple beer, and I appreciate what they've done.
What you’ve asked of me is really tough here because a high number of the beers on this list aren’t what truly inspire me, honestly. While I have a lot of respect for the breweries listed, these are mostly the larger scale produced brews for a wide audience and not the brews that get me excited (I guess I’m a geek). Deschutes makes a beer that’s not on this list that inspires me and is in my top 5 of all time, for example.
That said, if I was at a party and these beers are all that are available, I’d grab a Firestone Walker Union Jack, a Boulevard 80 Acre Hoppy, a Real Ale Brewer’s Cut Dry Hopped Porter, or a Victory Prima Pils. The Firestone Walker Union Jack because it’s got a nice piney nose with a smooth semi-sweet malty characteristic and well balanced carbonation. Refreshing summer IPA. The Boulevard 80 Acre Hoppy is a nice wheat beer with lots of great citrus (lemon/orange) aroma – also great as the weather turns to spring. Real Ale Brewer’s Cut Dry Hopped Porter for the evenings when I need something darker but smooth without “too much” alcohol (I think it’s around 6.4% or so). This is a slightly sweeter beer (from the malts) with a slight fruity hop bite and excellent with dinner. Then Victory Prima Pils is just a really solid pilsner with a nice malt/hop balance. It’s extremely sessionable, flavorful, and super clean.
I would probably go with the No Label El Hefe Weizen and the Southern Star Bombshell. Both of them are more like session beers and not "punch in your face" high-alcohol beers. They are easy to drink and good for Texas weather. And with Southern Star, we at least can stay some kind of local. The No Label Hefe has another thing going for it because I'm a hefe-fanatic. I love a good Hefeweizen and that is always my first choice.
Here's the list again. What would you recommend? What are you eager to try?
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