The State of NTX Beer Week 2017

In the past five years, the North Texas beer scene has grown by leaps and bounds. It excites me to see Beer in Big D‘s yearly report, as well as his periodic updates through out the year, on the growth of the (once) little beer scene that could.

North Texas seemed to have started it’s rise at a slow burn and continues that slow burn with consistency and sudden jumps, too. Aside from looking at numbers of opening breweries, I think the biggest thing I’ve seen grow in the past two years alone is the fans. From my own personal friend group to people at events, it’s obvious that we’re past the early adopter phase of craft beer in North Texas and entering the most exciting part, the mid-to-late adopter phase.

This mid-to-late adopter phase of craft beer in North Texas brings the biggest amount of fans, largest amounts of businesses opening and can be considered the biggest boom we will see. I don’t expect this phase to die out anytime soon and for good beer to only continue to grow and settle in as a natural part of life like macro beer did post-World War II.

Not without it’s own unique challenges, we will see more breweries open as well as see some close. We will begin to see the larger differences between mom and pop breweries, breweries with budgets, breweries with real financiers (often with an end goal to focus on the product only enough to make sales), concept breweries, and breweries focusing on singular ideas, be it a particular style or international brewing region.

With the many different buckets a brewery can fall under, we will also see multiple breweries with similar concepts. An current example of this can be found in the Mile High City, Denver, Colorado. A quickly growing beer hub which once featured only one heavy metal-themed brewery and one traditional German-themed brewery in town, (along with the many other “normal” breweries) but now supports multiple breweries with similar concepts, brewed their way. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s a sign of evolving progress.

And we have to continue to progress and evolve if we want to survive. Breweries are only alike in generalizations (they brew beer, or specific beer styles, etc.) but the beer itself is different from brewery to brewery and that’s the part of the journey that beer fans, new and old, are really focusing on.

New, one-off speciality, or rare beer is more exciting to many new fans over what beer they can consume regularly. I might be always buying Real Ale’s Hans Pils for my fridge, but many new fans will find a mainstay and purchase it after they’ve bought up all the new rare/special release beer that has been released that week. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s certainly changing the game for year-round brews and the number of new beers a brewery releases.

With all of these changes coming to the North Texas beer scene, this years NTX Beer Week also brought about a lot of difference which I believe we’ve seen inklings of throughout it’s five years.

In the first couple of years, it seemed the events were primarily standard pint night after standard pint night after standard pint night. The most common comments I heard from many fans was complaining from their significant others of their overflowing cupboards or from spacing issues being able to store the amount of free glasses they received. The events were great, but beer fans have wanted more than a single beer or two with a glass to take home. This year, I feel while pint nights were still the main type of event, the pint nights themselves were better focused on the drinker who already had been around for a little while, offering more variety and extra added excitement beyond showing up to try a beer. This shows that breweries and beer establishments are hearing the fans and catering to them, indicating a beer scene that is beginning to learn it’s crowd.

For NTX Beer Week, you already saw this expanded idea with big events, like Festicle and (my absolute favorite) Brewers Ball; fans look for those rare releases and ability to get down on some delicious food to go with their special release or favorite beers. Beer is fun and people like to have fun with beer and it’s obvious NTX Beer Week organizers are aiming the ship in that direction. This fun is a different sort of fun than perhaps the seemingly uppity events which wine fans tend to enjoy, but we should be fine with that, there is more than one way to have fun with beer!

The big macro brewery conglomerate wants to say that the biggest thing coming against beer is wine and spirits. And perhaps that might be true of them, the giants trying to topple the giants, but when it comes to North Texas’ beer scene, I think we can happily say growth is still in vogue and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

As I enjoy my NTX Beer Week recovery beer this morning, I look ahead to the future of NTX Beer Week and the NTX beer scene with optimism and excitement. We have the opportunity, we have the ability and we can continue to build something great. Let’s support our area beer week, the breweries looking to brew something great and the establishments helping you to get your hands on the best beer out there. No matter whether a brewery has a brick and mortar building here in the area, or they distribute their delicious liquid to us, it wouldn’t be the NTX beer scene without everyone involved.