Wild West Brewfest, 5 May 2018 (Katy, TX)

Katy is not the most proposing of Texas destinations and not where you’d expect to find a top class beer festival. The city feels like a collection of malls, housing estates and highways – it lacks the cute ‘old world’ town squares which acts as the focal point of many small Texas towns.

20180505_212356However, there is a reason why the Wild West Brewfest (WWBF) was voted the top beer festival in North America by BeerYeti.com in 2018, its third consecutive year in the top spot. The folks at the Katy Rotary Club, who organise the event, bring the culture into Katy. As well as a fantastic selection of local and international breweries, there were three stages of live music, from rock to country. A mall car park (or should I say car lot) has been transformed into a beer haven.

The set-up of Katy is a tasty-menu-paradise. Beers are served in 2oz pours, enabling avid samples to rack up – an unholy amount of untapped check-ins. The beer swag available is also immense. Brewers may even be indulging in competitive merch hand-outs and we came away with a haul to be proud of. I’ll never need to buy a cozy again, and the proud owner of a Sierra Nevada lip balm. Also many key rings and bottle openers. Bring a large bag!

Even though it’s a massive festival, everybody has time to chat. We loved hanging out in the super cool Buffalo Bayou Hawaii tiki den, taking pictures at the Southern Star cut-out board, and chatting to reps from the breweries from as far away as Alaska, Kentucky, and Los Angeles. With ten taster pours included in the ticket price, and top-up cards just $10, the festival is excellent value for money. All profits go to charity and the small pour set-up meant we were free to experiment with beers we might not buy in other circumstances.

20180505_181726We had great fun discovering relatively new Houston breweries, like Eurika and Back Pew, whose tap rooms we subsequently visited. Major / large out of state breweries, such as Sierra Nevada, Bells, and Boulevard put in an appearance, showing how significant Katy is on the national beer festival circuit.

That said, Texas breweries retained supremacy in numbers, and Katy local No Label took the lead with its own beer and dance tent which is where the party happened with a racous crowd singing and dancing right up to the close of the festival. We had a great time, who doesn’t love rocking out to Journey, performed by local musicians.

While we didn’t opt for the VIP option, the package looked pretty attractive, offering an AC tent, unlimited food and drink, priority entry, and quite possibly the moon on a stick. Definitely one to consider for our return trip next year. Like every Texas beer fest we’ve been to, queuing has not been an issue. The festival is staffed by good natured volunteers of whom there is no shortage. Drinking water in bottles is handed out freely, which is not only necessary in the Texas heat, but helps with the hangover the next day. Keep ambulance visits to a minimum.