Holiday Inn brewing up a good event

More than 100 people went to the Holiday Inn Conference Center April 17 to sip some suds, bask in beards and, yes, B.S. a little.

The first Brew-Beard-B.S. received some strong reviews from people attending. The event brought in seven breweries, and showed promise for an event that could grow and evolve in years to come.

Here are some of the things I learned while covering the event:

 The brews were top draw

While the beard competitions and beard showing at Brew-Beard-B.S. was fun — especially for a bearded guy like me — the brews were the biggest draw. The seven breweries that attended poured a steady stream of suds for samples, and there was a steady stream of people eager to taste the beers.

Most in attendance gave the event positive reviews.

“I think stuff like this is exactly what Austin needs,” said Shawn Martin of Austin.

Martin and Catherine Haslag both said they enjoyed the opportunity to try craft beers from about seven breweries, including many flavors not normally available in Austin. Haslag called the event fabulous and said she hopes she has the chance to attend it again.

“I hope it becomes a yearly event,” she said.

 People are eager to talk about beards and beers

To be honest, I didn’t intend to write last Sunday’s short article of the Beard-Brew-B.S. event. I attended with the main goal of getting photos for Austin Living, content for the Herald’s Discover Summer section and this column — and yes, I wanted to try some beers. But people attending were upbeat and eager to chat about beards and brews that the news story essentially wrote itself.

 I suck at judging beers

I participated as a judge for the “Beer Snob” award, a competition of nine different people from beer connoisseurs, casual beer drinkers and even non-beer drinkers to rate seven brews in a blind taste test. I fit in the casual category.

Now those who know me will agree — and probably mock me — when I admit to being an overthinker and a bit indecisive with things like this. I sipped a bit of each beer and started ordering them by rank, then I sipped again and reordered, then I sipped again and reordered … and then the small samples of each beer ran out. So I essentially guessed as I ranked them.

Boulder Brewing’s Shake Chocolate Porter took home the beer snob prize and with that will be served on tap at Torge’s Live at some point.

It was tied for top score on my list; however, I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite.

The beer was the clear standout in that it was the most distinct in the competition — it was the most unique.

But I feel like the same way about most distinct beers — especially the Chocolate Porter and Surly’s Coffee Bender. I can only drink them in small doses. I love drinking a small glass, but I can rarely drink a full beer or two. That’s just me.

It was good, but it would be a bit heavy to sip on a steamy summer day.

I really liked two of the other beers, I didn’t care for two others, and I didn’t have strong opinions on the rest.

But here’s the rub: I never got a list of what the other beers were in the competition, so I’m left wondering about the others.

 I love my beard, but it’s not going to win any awards

I’ve had a beard for more than five years, and I got some good compliments while getting magazine photos.

But I didn’t enter the competition on April 17. Looking at the beards of people like Rob Blahak, who won for best beard, I realize I’m not going to win any beard competition awards.

His beard has been growing since July, but the longest I can go is a month or two. I’ve let my beard grow wooly, but it gets uncomfortable after a certain point.

At the event, I got a sample trim from the Style Lounge, and I really like how they kept it long but gave it some shape. However, I’ll likely trim it pretty short when warm weather arrives for good, which I typically do each year so I can survive jogging outside.

 April isn’t such a bad time for a beard competition

I initially thought April was an odd time for a beard competition.

Many people participate in No Shave November, and I thought sometime in the winter may be better.

However, many of the contestants I spoke with had let their beards grow over the winter. Some don’t shave until summer or late spring, which means the April timing may have been perfect for most of the competitors.

While a date is not yet set, organizer Ben Ankeny, the Holiday Inn’s director of catering, said the event will likely be held again.

 Ideas for future years

The lines around the breweries got a bit tight during the busiest times. It may be good to spread the breweries out a bit next time.

It’d be great to see even more breweries attend in future years, but it seemed a bit hard to keep track if you didn’t go down the row, which wasn’t always possible with the lines.

It’d be great to see a beer passport or something similar next year that lists each brewery, each of their beers and includes space for comments rankings. I liked a lot of the beers I tried … but I don’t really remember a lot about them.

Winners

Beer Snob Award: Boulder Brewing Shake Chocolate Porter

Chosen by the 9 person panel of Eric Ihrke, Jennie Knoebel, Scott Knoebel, Chris Tok, Jason Schoonover, Nick Roth, Evan Tieskotter, Liz Ankeny and Jill Jones

Crowd favorite beard: Rob Blahak

Crowd favorite mustache: Adam Wradislavsky

Crowd favorite brewery: August Schell’s Brewing Company of New Ulm

Estimated Attendance: 130

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