By: Daniel Twardowski
All good brewers start out the same: as homebrewers. Not constrained by the pressures of quotas and commercial grain bills, they have a free hand to experiment. There was definitely variety at this year’s Brew Riot; from slickly branded 6-person teams to just a couple of guys with a bucket of ice and two corny kegs, everyone brought their labors of love.
Instead of “tickets” this year, attendees were required to buy a membership to the Texas Homebrew Society in advance. The TABC interpreted certain laws to mean that this semantic difference was necessary. Odd, but that’s Texas for you.
It’s beyond my ability to share every beer that was there, but there were some highlights. The wonderfully punny Le CoBrewsier had a crowd favorite in their F*ck Context honey ginger pale ale. Ole 47’s offerings were eye catching, they certainly deserve some recognition for their branding. Their beers were all very enjoyable and very full bodied, but Fruitcake was probably my favorite as their others tended to be a bit uniformly boozy. That’s not a bad thing, but I prefer some variety. The Manhattan Project took home a good number of awards and were a hit with the crowd. Their Nuclear Winter was a a great stout.
High Five brought out their mumme beer, an old middle ages style of beer made without hops. For most intents and purposes it amounts to a malty brown ale, a lot of fun to try. After sampling as many beers as I could from as many brewers, I settled on giving my people’s choice token to TKO. They brought three beers, all of them interesting, complex, different from each other, and incredibly enjoyable. Their Grasshopper IPA was a great surprise, with a very subtle use of mint and good flavor balance to make one tasty beer. Of all of the breweries, I thought their list was the most well made and creative at the same time.
Creative names were abundant, of course. I might have to give the award on that one to Lapdog’s Butt Scooter. Vendors and breweries/brewpubs from around town brought their wares. There was a cigar roller, live music, and even Kroger joined in the fun by giving out pretzels.
Oh to go on and on. The Star Wars themed brewers with names like “Alderaan Places,” beers like the Jack Ruby Imperial Red Ale, ciders scattered about… Brew Riot is as interesting as all the creative people who contribute. As the market keeps growing and more people try their hand at homebrewing, it’ll only get better as the years go on. Looking forward to 2016.