So begins my posts on Houston Beer Week events…
Monsters of Beer, Saturday 11/12:
Last year Monsters of Beer took place at 13 Celsius, and I attended as a volunteer (sweet gig), they featured 10 (Texas) breweries and poured beers for a sold-out crowd of 600 people. This year, the Houston Beer Week organizers are back with another Monsters of Beer. This year it was hosted at Guadalupe Plaza Park near Moontower Inn and the OG Ninfa’s to allow for more space (for more beer, duh!) and featured more breweries and definitely more people! The festival proceeds benefit the charity incubator, Live it Big; last year they raised $5,000 and hopefully they raised plenty more this year. The event featured music by Tony of Fish Fry Bingo and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co, and two other bands. There were decorated kegs in a silent auction as well as some nice verticals of Dark Lord, The Abyss, and Bigfoot Barleywine.
The park was a perfect setting, almost like it was built for beer festivals. There was a stage in the main area, stalls for each of the breweries, and food trucks lined the side street. Even the weather was perfect! The only big disappointment was that Jester King’s beers didn’t make it, apparently there was some miscommunication. The beers at the festival were mostly readily available to our market, which is great to introduce people to new beers; I think people who are seriously into craft beer were a bit underwhelmed by the selection.
The stars of the show were definitely Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel aged Winter Warmer from 2010, Karbach’s Yule Shoot Your Eye Out Winter Ale, and the Houston debut of Hops & Grain, with their Greenhouse Porter and Pale Dog Pale Ale. Ranger Creek was also represented with their Mission Trail Kölsch and their new seasonal, Saison Oscura, a dark saison. Real Ale brought a cask of their ESB, but that’s just not my style of beer. We ate some awesome sweet potato tater tots from Phamily Bites and John had their Spam Musubi that was apparently excellent.
Night After Monsters, Sunday 11/13:
After valeting the car at the Montrose Whole Foods location (it feels so weird to valet at a grocery store) we walked up to a group of excited beer nerds waiting for the blocked off portion of the parking lot to open up. There were growler fills of rare beers, food made with beer, and of course samples of the 30+ awesome beers available. Oh, and Mikkel of Mikkeller was just hanging out chatting with everyone. Truly a unique beer experience. You can check out the full list available here.
My favorite beer of the evening was the Southern Star Crème Brûlée Buried Hatchet. I probably had about 5 samples of that. It’s no Southern Tier Crème Brûlée, but it’s not supposed to be. I first had this beer last year at the first Beaver-Petrol Beer dinner. You really get a nice coffee flavor with a touch of sweetness on top of the fantastic stout that is Buried Hatchet.
The next best beer there was a 2008 keg of Oak Aged Yeti. It was so rich, creamy and smooth. At almost 10% ABV, it wasn’t overly boozy, just chocolate and roasty goodness. I also tried Real Ale’s WT3F?!, the Devil’s Backbone that has Brettanomyces added in; I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t more funky, the Devil’s Backbone base, a Tripel, held up very well against the bacteria. Then there was the Red Wine Barrel Aged Black Hole by Mikkeller. It was SO boozy, I could hardly finish it. I tried the Mikkeller/Three Floyds Collaboration- BooGoop, a barleywine, it was good, but definitely hoppy and boozy, though I expected no less from this collaboration. I tried a few others, like Mikkeller’s It’s Alright!, a Belgian Wild Ale that seemed to have a smoke element in it, along with Brettanomyces.
Unfortunately we had to leave before it was over, but for good reason- The Karbach Beer Dinner a few miles away at Down House in the heights. Overall, this was a really great event, especially for true craft beer aficionados. The beer was top notch, it was casual, there weren’t too many lines, and plenty of beer nerd chatter. I hope events like this will continue to happen in the Houston beer scene and for next year’s Houston Beer Week.