Beer and Good Cheer in The Hub City
Some Lubbock locals may have been too tied up with Mother’s Day arrangements to slow down for a quick beer this past weekend. Reasonably, many would not consider the bar environment an appropriate setting to bring mom along. However, being that Lubbock’s 2nd annual Blues and Brews Festival took place on Saturday May 11th a few locals managed to kill two birds with one stone.
For the folks who didn’t attend Saturday, a great example of “craft beer culture”— as event coordinator and creator of the 501st Imperial Stout, Mike Conkling, explained— was unfortunately missed. “This isn’t something that you can just typically find at a beer store…the good people, live music, Star Wars, disk golf, and beer just kinda bringing it all into one.” To better acclimate the cultural atmosphere, a few genuine Imperial Soldiers were among the crowd to go along with Mike’s brand. The 501st Imperial Stout, while extremely bold and enriched in almost 3-times the average alcohol content, was not the only local brew that impressed attendees. A few other local brewers include: Triple J’s, Wicked Beaver— a full-scale operation from Wolfforth—, and Solstice.
Undoubtedly, there was a sense of community among patrons and participants Saturday. Many members of the local homebrew club, the Ale-ian society, were in attendance. Mark Romero— the current club president— allowed me the pleasure of sampling his unique heavy blond ale, which he has been polishing for 2 years. The Ale-ian society has been around Lubbock for close to 15 years, and was proud to be a part of Blue and Brews: “Mike asked us to provide some of the beer, and you know as home brewers we support it.” Like both Mark and Mike, many local brewers have been fine-tuning their craft for years. Matt Holly and Even Eckle, the makers of Solstice, have been brewing since their late college years. Their specialty for the day included an unfiltered agave beer, which was a nice escape from the heat and humidity.
Among local Lubbock brewers were also a few regional beer artisans, such as the Big Texan brewery. Danny Lee, the co-owner of the famous 72oz. steakhouse, was a huge supporter of the homebrew beer industry: “The growth of hand-craft beer is in the double digits, again, and it’s still exploding.” Mr. Lee and his brewmaster Tom Money were extremely skilled in the art of craft brewing. A few of their festival favorites included: Jack Rabbit, a double IPA called Whoop Your Donkey, and the famous Whiskey Barrel Stout.
While craft beer was a dominant factor in the festivities, the blues element topped off the day. The music seen at Blues and Brews blended well with the craft beer culture, and was a great way to enjoy the day. Musicians from Dallas flew in to show support for the local event, such as Michael Prysock— a talented one-man blues band. Another unique musical guest was the Kent Minks band, whose mix between Texas blues and Mexican country complimented the local atmosphere.
The event was, without a doubt, worthwhile. It’s a spectacular way to show support for the community, the people, and also to make new friends by being immersed in a different local culture. Overall, the Blues and Blues Festival is certainly something that everyone in Lubbock should mark on their calendars, and next year, hopefully, the turn out for local brewers and visitors grows.