Following the third annual Houston Beer Festival that was held in June of this year I thought it would be interesting to take some time to sit down with Timothy Hudson, head organizer of both the HBF and the Houston Wine Festival, to get to know a little more about him and his experiences with, and vision for, Houston Beer Fest. We met at Petrol Station, one of Houston's great tap houses, where I attempted to counter the evening humidity with a Victory Summer Love as I took notes.
There are of course a large number of Houston residents (myself included) who may not be native to the city but grow to love the diversity and energy that is here, and the kindness of the people. Hailing from the windy city of Chicago, Timothy came with his family to Houston in 1988 and attended Hastings High School. Afterward, following a short time with the US Navy he later graduated from college and held a position with one of Houston's premier employers as a college recruiting manager – a role which he described as a good corporate opportunity but one which wasn't fulfilling his desire to build something having a larger vision.
Part of that larger vision included finding a way to "put Houston on the map," to attract tourists to this great city, and let others who haven't yet visited “know Houston existed." With these goals in mind he began to plan the Houston Wine Festival which, after leaving his corporate job, started to take shape as he became familiar with the distributor relationships noted on the labels of wine bottles. Then, after organizing a highly successful Wine Festival in 2010, he saw an opportunity to do something equally great for Houston's up-and-coming beer scene. What he encountered, however, was a considerably higher level of enthusiasm for beer that at first took him off guard.
As many Houstonians know, much has been written about the first annual Houston Beer Festival held in 2011. Timothy was genuinely distraught as he recalled details of the first year's HBF event, declaring “it was a good hard-core ass whooping.” Now into it's third year, attendance has reached 18,000 and is progressing toward that grander vision of Houston being home to one of the largest festivals of its kind.
With the format of these events, Timothy is hoping to differentiate by featuring a mix of music alongside games and a wide range of beer selections, from the major brands to the smaller brewers that are too often out of reach for many of those in attendance. While there are those who would prefer to see more of an emphasis placed on craft beer, Timothy expressed that he hopes these events provide an opportunity for an increasing number of people to gain exposure to great craft breweries. Further, it should be noted that proceeds of these events support the HWF Young Leader Scholarship fund so the efforts of those in attendance go to serve another great cause in addition to raising craft beer awareness.
Looking forward, Timothy explained that for 2014 the aim is for the Houston Beer Festival to take place over two days, allowing locals and visitors from out of town the chance to experience more of the ever-growing selection of breweries represented. And building further on what he has learned not only in organizing these events but also about the craft beer community, Timothy is also working on coordinating what will be the Southern Craft Beer Conference that will be held during 2014 in New Orleans.
All in all, things are continuing to take shape to bring the city of Houston and craft beer further into the national spotlight... Cheers to you, Timothy.