Saturday’s rains were unable to quench the collective thirst of craft beer lovers in Sherman Saturday night and the Fourth Annual Craft the Night Away beer festival filled the city’s downtown streets as planned.


Downtown Sherman NOW Executive Director Karen Tooley said this year’s festival featured 85 beers from 30 Texas breweries. Visitors were given ponchos and bounced between booths and businesses where they sampled beers and ciders, listened to live music, browsed art displays and dined.


“Craft beer aficionados are going to come out, rain or shine,” Tooley said. “And we’ve got all kinds of beers. Some have an essence of an interesting fruit or maybe some unusual spice. There are dark beers; there are light beers, sour beers and sweet beers. It runs the gamut.”


Tooley said the festival typically draws several hundred ticket holders to the city’s center, but organizers began keeping tabs on where festival goers were from last year and were surprised to see how many hailed from out of town.


“Last year, 28 percent of those who purchased tickets in advance were from the Metroplex or further away,” Tooley said. “The day of the festival, 33 percent of those who purchased tickets at the door were also from the Metroplex or further away. This festival is bringing people to downtown Sherman who, maybe, haven’t been before.”


Local breweries, Ivanhoe Ale Works and 903 Brewers returned again this year, but were joined for first for the first time by Cellarman’s Pub and Brewery. Owner and brewer Randy Derzapf said festivals like Craft the Night Away allow brewers to reach new customers and show off the uniqueness of their beers.


“We’ve got the Witslayer, which is a Belgian-style wit beer, brewed with sweet orange peel and coriander,”Derzapf said. “And our most popular beer, over the last year, has been our Loco Lima Cerveza, which a beer brewed with Hatch chiles, aged in a mix of tequila and fresh limes.”


Derzapf said the popularity of craft beer in Sherman has risen over the last decade and the demand has allowed local brewers like him to pursue their passion and make a living.


“Over the last ten years or so, it’s just really, really taken off,” Derzapf said. “People are more educated about it and its a good business for us and a lot of other folks.”


While Tooley said she hoped the festival would be successful in driving new traffic and business into Sherman, she also hoped the community would see it as a celebration of the creativity in craft beer.


“Art comes in many forms,” Tooley said. “Some is drinkable.”


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com or on Twitter @DrewSmithHD.