According to most beer historians (yes, there is such a job title), our current craze for craft microbrews first started gaining traction in the United States in the 1980s, when beer lovers were searching out an alternative from the mass-produced, watery-tasting offerings of Budweiser and Miller. But the trend really took flight in the last decade. According to Brewers Association, there are now more than 2300 microbreweries in operation nationwide, including such Fort Worth gems as Rahr & Sons (which opened in 2004) and Martin House (which opened last year).
So what’s a beer lover to do in the face of so many hoppy options crowding the supermarket shelves and bar taps these days?
Obviously, drink as much as he or she can.
To that end, mark your calendar for the eighth annual BeerFeast, presented by The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Fort Worth’s longtime go-to spot for brew-lovers. This year, the daylong festival takes place on Oct. 12, from 1 to 7 p.m., in Sundance Square, and it’s set to feature sixty beers from more than forty different breweries. There will also be performances by local bands the Hanna Barbarians, Oh Whitney and Oil Boom.
For newbies and visitors to town, here’s how the outdoor festival works: For $30 admission, you get a souvenir glass, plus a punch card that allows you to sample twelve of the beers on offer. But be careful to pace yourself, since there will be limited edition beers being tapped throughout the day. (Then again, in the unlikely event that you are not passed out cold after sampling twelve beers, you can always buy additional tasting cards for $5.)
Food will be available for purchase, which you’d be wise to take advantage of – BeerFeast is not for either the faint-of-event or the empty-of-stomach. A limited number $65 VIP tickets are also available, which allows you access to the event an hour earlier than everyone else and comes with food vouchers. Designated drivers / teetotalers can also attend, for $15, which provides access to the festival and unlimited soft drinks.
You can purchase tickets here. (If BeerFeast hasn’t already sold out by then, tickets will be sold on the day of the event for $40.)
As for The Flying Saucer, it’s been in downtown Fort Worth since 1995, long before micro-brews became hip, though last year it moved from its longtime space on East Fourth Street to a new location on East Third Street. (There are also more than a dozen Flying Saucer franchises around the country.)
On a recent visit, the Fort Worth spot looked brighter and spiffier than the previous location, though the beer list – with more than 100 offerings on draft, and more than 150 in bottles -- was just as impressive as ever. We knocked back a couple of old favorite appetizers -- the wonderful salty-doughy pretzels with a spicy mustard dipping sauce, and the house-made hummus -- along with a couple of pints of "Blood and Honey," from another new area microbrewery, Revolver, based in Granbury. As with most a lot of familiar places we too often take for granted, we walked out asking ourselves: "Why don't we come here every weekend night?"
So while you're biding your time until BeerFeast in October, pay The Flying Saucer a visit -- and raise a glass to what's emerged as a true Fort Worth institution.