Craft beer is going to be a huge deal at the State Fair of Texas this year. And I mean that in the most literal sense thanks to a new attraction called Beer Haven.
Consider it the biggest and hoppiest bar at Fair Park Sept. 25 through Oct. 18. Located at the base of the Texas Star Ferris wheel, Beer Haven consists of an outdoor beer garden anchored by several 18-wheeler trucks -- one that's equipped with 60 draft taps, and another with a built-in five-barrel brewing system and canning line.
It's "the world's largest mobile brewery," says Brett Enright, the trucks' owner.
The bar will serve predominantly local craft beer by the pint as well as a few in bottles and cans, but fair patrons won't actually get to see the brewery in action — Enright didn't have time to gain the proper permitting before taking it on the road. He does, however, anticipate having local brewers give mini brewery tours on weekends, pointing out which pieces of equipment on the system do what. And at night?
"We'll have a full sound system and lighting for country western and rock and roll bands," Enright says.
There's one more boozy thing to look forward to: a craft beer festival inside the Cotton Bowl Oct. 17-18, the last weekend of the State Fair.
The bigger, the better
Enright is no stranger to doing things bigger than ever before. As founder and chief executive officer of Juicys Food, he holds two Guinness World Records for most expensive hamburger ever sold ($5,000) and largest hamburger commercially available (777 lbs.). The massive meat patty is cooked at Juicys Outlaw Grill, an 80-foot, $1 million barbecue rig that's come to the State Fair the last couple years.
Enright, who opened his first fair stand at age 14, says he wanted to open a monster beer truck for a while, but it wasn't until the craft uprising he felt inspired to do so.
The idea behind a state fair is "to take folks from our county and showcase their craft, whether that be animals, pumpkins or blueberry pies," Enright says. "The real reason we did this was about that small businessman who just started a brewery ... these stories, these people are what the fair's about."
Plus, he adds, 60 taps of domestic beer would be boring. Beer Haven's plan is to focus on Dallas-Fort Worth's homegrown selection, including recipes from Lakewood Brewing Co., Grapevine Craft Brewery, Rahr and Sons Brewing Co. and others, and shuffle offerings on a weekly basis. He'll also include some novelty flavors, such as Community Beer Co.'s Funnel Cake Ale and Independence Brewing Co.'s Oklahoma Suks. (Enright originally wanted to include cotton candy- and candy apple-flavored beers, but they didn't make it. "Next year," he says.)
The State Fair of Texas will be Beer Haven's fifth stop on its inaugural tour behind the Miami-Dade County Fair, Alameda County Fair, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Washington State Fair. Enright says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"People love the variety," he says.
Austin you're up next: Beer Haven trucks to the Formula 1 races after the State Fair.
Cotton Bowl Craft Beer Festival
The last weekend of the fair, Enright is taking craft beer inside the Cotton Bowl. From noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18, more than 70 Texas breweries will set up camp for the casual sip-and-socialize event.
The best part? Admission doesn't cost anything; all you have to do is walk down to the field. Beers vary in price, but drinkers will have their choice of an 8-ounce or 20-ounce glass, which cost $10 and $20 respectively. Having one of those bad boys means receiving discounts on fills and paying as little as $3 per pour in some cases, Enright says.
Patrons who just want to check out the atmosphere are welcome to skip the special glassware and purchase by the pint too, he adds.