Houston Beer Lovers Plan Dallas Extravaganza

The organizers of Dallas' first-ever Beer Week say the city's lack of microbreweries has proven to be a selling point in luring leading craft brewers here for the November event.

"Because there aren't a lot of local breweries here, other breweries stand a chance," Cathy Clark explains. "Breweries are realizing if they come to Texas, they can see growth."

Clark and Jay Rascoe last year staged the first Houston Beer Week in their hometown, and this year decided they were "ready to tackle Dallas." Other beer fans are coordinating similar programs in San Antonio and Austin, making 2011 the first year every major Texas city will observe the Beer Week tradition.

"We're not doing anything original, to be honest," Clark says. "It's a celebration of craft brewing and an excuse to drink beer all day long."

There aren't any rules for Beer Week: The concept calls for a assortment of tastings, beer dinners, lectures and beer demonstrations, but it's up to participating bars, restaurants and retailers to determine their own programming. Clark and Rascoe help recruit big name brewers from across the country and make sure events don't pile up on the same day. They're in town this week networking with potential partners, including beer-centric restaurants Meddlesome Moth -- which last night hosted a dinner with Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman -- and The Common Table.

"The fact these places are doing so well really tells you it's a burgeoning beer market," Rascoe says.

Dallas Beer Week, November 12-18, is scheduled to coincide with Houston Beer Week to allow brewers to hit two different groups of eager drinkers during a single Texas trip.

"We hope to use Houston and Dallas to sweeten the pot," Clark says. "These brewers don't have buckets of money."

At last year's Houston Beer Week, all five beer dinners sold out. Clark and Rascoe hope to replicate their success here.

"We want more craft beer, so we need more craft beer drinkers," Clark says. "I think we'll find there's a lot of closet beer nerds running around."

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