Despite temperatures in the 30s, beer aficionados and first time tasters alike gathered Saturday night for the third annual Craft the Night Away event in downtown Sherman.
Downtown Sherman NOW Executive Director Karen Tooley said while the weather did have some impact on the turnout, she still believed the event was a success.
“If it were good weather, according to the online ticket sales, I would say we would easily exceed last year’s attendance,” Tooley said early Saturday evening. “We had 1,100 last year but I think some people are going to be a little frightened by this cold.”
Volunteer Dean Spader who helped pour for Buffalo Bayou Brewery out of Houston said the chilly weather didn’t bother him because it helped keep the beer cool. Tooley explained the community’s enthusiasm for the event can be seen in the number of volunteers.
“This has brought out 138 local people to volunteer,” Tooley said. “That’s a tremendous outpouring of community spirit. It’s just wonderful. We don’t have anything like this in North Texas. There’s a group here that really knows craft beer. They go far and wide and there is a real interest here.”
Event volunteer Brandon Pierce said Craft the Night Away is important because it provides people an opportunity to try something new.
“Who wants to buy a six pack of beer only to find out you don’t like it?” Pierce asked. “There is a lot of beer drinkers around here. This gives you an opportunity to try something you wouldn’t normally try. I like lighter beers like Dos Equis and Shiner. Later, I am going to try some of the darker ones to see if I can find one I might like.”
This year’s event provided attendees with two different ticket options, a VIP “Meet The Brewers” experience and general admission. During the pre-party, VIP ticket holders were given the opportunity to ask brewers questions and try limited batches that were not available later on. VIP ticket holder Mitchell McCraw said he attended the event to try out the variety of craft beers and support local brewer 903 Brewers.
“This area is growing so fast and it’s so important that we make it happen and support it,” McCraw said. “There are so many cool things happening in town. It’s a really big deal.”
Jeremy Roberts from 903 Brewers said the Craft the Night Away event has been a great way for people to try craft beer for the first time.
“The cool thing about this is not only are we drinking beer in front of the Grayson County Courthouse but it’s getting people to try craft beer,” Roberts said. “The big thing is most people think of beer and they think of Coors and Bud and there’s so much better beer than that. It’s cool to see even in this cold weather that people are out here drinking beer.”
Roberts explained 903 Brewers premiered a new Lemon Shandy beer at the event.
“It’s made with $150 worth of lemons, to give you an idea of how many lemons we put in this beer,” Roberts said. “We actually brewed it for a summer day. We didn’t think the temperatures would be in the high 30s, low 40s. It’s this nice refreshing beer. It’s like the adult version of lemonade.”
Because of the colder weather, 903 Brewers also brought along its Friday Slide beer.
“This is our Sasquatch that we actually brewed for Saint Patrick’s Day,” Roberts said. “It’s got Irish cream and Irish coffee in it. Basically, we brewed this beer to taste like an Irish Car Bomb. It doesn’t have the Jameson or Baileys but it tastes like there is. We brought it out for today.”
Tooley said this year’s event welcomed six new breweries for a total of 29 breweries. Community Beer Company’s Brian Quinlan said the brewery out of Dallas tries to participate in as many beer festivals in Texas as possible.
“We want everybody to taste our beer,” Quinlan said. “The truth of the matter is, it’s just about getting people to taste it. It sells itself. Our brewmaster has been doing this for at least 15 or 20 years. He was trained in Europe.”
Community Beer Company brought three of its beers for people to taste — Mosaic IPA, Oaked Mosaic IPA and Texas Lager.
“We have our Texas Lager, which is an American light lager,” Quinlan said. “It’s just a really nice, easy drinking, crisp lager. Then we have our Mosaic IPA, which is an 8.6 percent IPA, so it’s got a big malt backbone. That balances out a lot of the hop aroma and bitterness. And we have our Oaked Mosaic, which is our same exact Mosaic beer but then we take and load this hop gun up with oak spirals and run the beer through that. It mellows a little of that hop bitterness at the end and still leaves that great profile adds a little vanilla coconut flavor at the end. Then there’s some melon notes in the middle.”
In addition to the tasting, attendees were given the opportunity to enjoy music from Emalea Hudgens, Three River Jazz, Oliver White and Jim Stewart or participate in a cornhole tournament sponsored by Sherman Parks and Recreation. Part of the proceeds from the tournament will go to help build the new Sherman Dog Park.
“It’s growing,” Tooley said of the event. “The artists here are all selling handmade items. It’s a real craft. We are playing off of the word craft with craft beer, the musicians, who are real artists, and artists on the street.”
Tooley said the main difference between this year’s events and those prior to it involve the food trucks and cornhole tournament.
“This is a really important element because when you have alcohol, you really need to have some food,” Tooley said. “We really have some great food trucks.”
Food for the event was provided by several food trucks including — Arete Gourmet Sliders, B&R Burgers, B Dawgz Street Doggz, La Placita Salvadorean Cocina, Lucky 2 BBQ, Mardi Gras’s Cajun Cuisine and The Hot Potato.
Attendee Joey Gunn works for Knight Furniture, who helped sponsor the event. He explained events like these are important to the businesses in downtown.
“That’s one of the big reasons we participate in this,” Gunn said. “It’s bringing people downtown and giving them a good experience, making it inviting. Obviously, I think all the businesses down here benefit from people walking away from downtown having a good experience.”
Roberts said events like Craft the Night Away represent the growth Sherman is experiencing.
“We are glad to see that Sherman is progressing and that more people want to come to our downtown and that businesses are coming down here,” Roberts said. “We’ve got food trucks down here. It’s just cool to see Sherman is growing. We love everything that our city is doing and we’re just proud to be a part of it.”