Texas Brews News
By: TX Brews | 05/01/2013We mispronounce the name of this stately new brew from the boys in Conroe as well as discuss other old ales (or what we can remember). We also get into an extended discussion on the greatness of Big Texas Beer Fest in Dallas that already happened (oops, we forgot to publish this beforehand).
By: TX Brews | 03/18/2013Divine Reserve 13 hits shelves which means we're hitting the airwaves to talk about St. Arnold's continued diversification, our favorite Belgian quads, how beer is like Pokemon and our favorite #UntrueDR13Facts.
By: Scooter Hendon | 03/08/2013There are several bills currently in the running to modernize beer laws in Texas to ease the ability for craft brewers to sell beer to consumers. However, there is a more nefarious side of beer legislation that is the big news in the last couple of days.
Sometimes the language of a bill can be hard to understand. A state capitol insider who preferred not to be named provided us with a good recap of what State Senator John Carona's Senate bill and State Representative Charlie Geren are proposing. These bills are the opposite direction that our state needs to go in legislation and here is a breakdown of what these two bills would do:
SB 639/HB 1538 have three primary components:
1. Adds severability language to the code which could take self-distribution rights away from small brewers.
• Currently, there exists a potential commerce clause issue with the allowance of self-distribution for the state’s brewers, because it specifically excludes out-of-state brewers. Our bills (specifically SB 516 and 517), corrects this issue. The Wholesale Distributors of Texas opposes fixing the issue by eliminating the discrimination, rather they prefer to leave the discrimination in place and then add language to the code that would take self-distribution away from in-state brewers should a court find that the discrimination was unconstitutional.
2. Mandates Uniform Freight on Board Pricing from the Manufacturer to the Distributor.
• If this bill passed, it would make illegal any kind of price differentials between different markets, including any price differential reflecting actual transportation costs. Note that this bill does not mandate a uniform price for which the beer must be sold from the distributor to the retailer. So it will require a fixed sales price from manufacturer to distributor, but will allow the distributor to set their own price when selling to the retailer.
3. Makes illegal for a Brewer/Manufacturer to receive compensation for a distribution agreement.
• Basically, the law would mandate that distribution rights are worth nothing when signing up with a distributor. The proposed law doesn’t restrict a distributor from selling a brewer’s distribution rights to another distributor, but only from the brewer from receiving any value. This piece of the bill will cripple the craft brew industry. Many breweries have their credit lines maxed out, but there is more demand for their beer for which they can't meet. These breweries commonly sell their distribution rights and use the money as a cash infusion back into their small business, which helps their expansion.
Click the links below to see the bill's sponsors and adamantly inform them via phone, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter that you DO NOT want this legislation and that you support the loosening of restrictions rather than tightening.
Big Beer Drowns Small Competitors
Beer bills get committee hearing; senator urges action in one week
Beer bills get committee hearing; senator urges action in one week
By: Scooter Hendon | 02/20/2013We revisit a Shiner beer for the first time in quite some time. Shiner holds a special place in Texas craft beer so we give them their due as we discuss FM 966 Farmhouse Ale. It's a light, refreshing, drinkable Saison-esque beer that is a good entry-level beer for those who may not be familiar with the style.
By: Scooter Hendon | 02/03/2013After a long layoff, we're back with a Texas New Brewcast about Real Ale's Brewers Cut series. We discuss their Imperial Red and the other beers in the series so far as well as other Texas breweries with limited series and how the influx of out-of-state breweries has possibly inspired Texas breweries to start offering more beers.
By: Scooter Hendon | 12/24/2012Brandon East and Tony Drewry also contributed to this article.
As 2012 comes to a close, we're reflecting on everything new that was released this year. Brewery announcements and launches continue to rise and established breweries continue to step their games up by offering new beers to compete in the ever-growing market. So, this year we decided to expand our “Best Of” list to twelve and spread the love. We hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as us. Cheers to another great year for Texas beer!
Southern Star Pro-Am 2012 Double IPA
The first of Southern Star’s Pro-Am series winners to be canned, this double IPA is everything a double IPA should be: Balanced, aggressively bitter up front but smooth on the finish. Along with Endeavour, this one of the best double IPAs our state has produced. We can’t get enough of this one.
Real Ale Brewers' Cut Beer Series No. 002 Black Quadrupel
The brewers at Real Ale have a lot of recipes running through their brains. They finally decided to share those zany ideas with the public in their Brewer’s Cut series. The first offering (a single-hop pale ale) was delicious, but No. 002 was something else entirely. A rich, complex twist on the Belgian quad, this beer is great for now, or for saving.
Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 1
Saint Arnold has been barrel aging stouts for years now, but the only way you could get some is at a bar on a night where they happen to be serving it. They decided to spread the wealth a bit this year by bottling some of it and distributing it only through on-premise establishments (bars and restaurants). What ensued in many Houston beer spots were long lines and a frenzied Divine Reserve-esque demand. The beer itself is an imperial stout that isn’t too aggressive or thick. The bourbon characteristics were reserved and the result was nothing less than divine.
When Lakewood founder Wim Bens first started publicly sharing his beers, Temptress was his shining star. She’s an imperial sweet stout of which nobody seemed to be able to get enough. Now she’ll be in bottles and her reach will tempt many a drinker across the state with her dark, sweet, feminine wiles.
Revolver Blood and Honey
The buzz around Revolver has been in large part due to the brewing chops of co-founder and brewmaster Grant Wood. With a lengthy stint at Sam Adams, Wood brought his knowledge back to his home state, and so far, his most buzzworthy beer has been Blood and Honey. And we can confirm, it is absolutely worth the buzz. Crisp, semi-sweet with bright orange notes, this is one of the best wheat ales we’ve had. Expect great things from Revolver going forward.
Deep Ellum Wealth & Taste
These guys have been making some great American-style beers (their IPA is one of our state’s best), so it’s funny that a Belgian-style golden strong ale is the best they made this year. It’s their first barrel-aged beer and is brewed with Muscat grape juice and a host of other aromatics. It’s a seasonal release, and we can only hope that next year’s “season” for it is a little longer.
Hops and Grain Alt-eration
In its first year of production, Alt-eration took home gold at the World Beer Cup in the German-style alt category (that’s just a little bit of a big deal). We can confirm, this canned delight is full of delicate nuance and exhibits the classic alt style to a T. Somewhat toasty with a great malty backbone, this is one that Texans can truly hang their hats on and be proud of.
Peticolas Velvet Hammer
Not only is Velvet Hammer getting married Sunday (we appreciate the absurdity), but he’s had a song written and recorded about him and everyone seems to want a piece of him. And it’s understandable, Velvet Hammer is about damn fine as an imperial red gets. Lots of hop flavor is balanced by a somewhat sweet malt backbone and an unmatched smoothness brings it all together. Enjoy with caution or find yourself getting married to a beer. It happens.
Jester King Whiskey Barrel Rodeo
It seems the Jester King guys are making a habit of collaborating with Mikkeller. OK by us. Last year their collaboration Drink’n the Sunbelt made this list, and this year, they came out with three coffee stouts. First, Beer Geek Rodeo, then Weasel Rodeo, and finally, Whiskey Barrel Rodeo, it’s obvious this collaboration is one we can continue to look forward to. Whisky Barrel Rodeo is made with Kopi Luwak (yes, the weasel poop coffee), flaked oats and chipotle peppers. The result is a complex wonderland of stouty goodness.
Ranger Creek Small Batch No. 2
Ranger Creek has also been scratching the itch to make small, limited release beers (a trend we’re totally OK with) and thus far have released four beers in the series. Our favorite is No. 2, a smoked saison. It sounds a little strange, but it really works. It’s smoky without tasting like you licked a barbecue grill and is brewed with malts they smoke themselves (a rarity in Texas). Keep an eye out for future releases in this series, they won’t last long.
Freetail Year of the Bat
We love Freetail, and we make no bones about it, so it makes perfect sense that one of their beers make our list for the second year in a row. Since 2012 was officially the Year of the Bat (true story, just ask the United Nations), Freetail obviously had to jump in to celebrate their winged friends. The beer features oranges, beets and rosewater: Things that wouldn’t be around without the help of bats. The beer is light, drinkable, crisp and subtly complex.
Real Ale Scots Gone Wild
Real Ale’s Mysterum Verum series always gets us excited, and their best of the year is their first sour offering. It’s Real Heavy that’s been aged in oak barrels for six months and the results are stunning. With a balanced sourness that sits alongside the scotch ale base, this one was a real eyebrow-raiser and has us very excited for future sour, barrel-aged offerings from Real Ale.
- Karbach Barrel-Aged Hellfighter
- Cedar Creek Scruffy’s Smoked Alt
- Revolver Bock
- Lakewood Hop Trapp
- Peticolas Wintervention
- Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 12
- Jester King Boxer’s Revenge
- Jester King Le Petit Prince
By: Scooter Hendon | 12/05/2012
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup (or more) diced jalapenos
- 12 ounces of beer (We used brown ale, feel free to experiment.)
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- Cream cheese
- Fruit ams, jellies, preserves
- Jalapeno jelly
By: Brandon East | 09/27/2012Tailgating is a pretty simple concept: Food and drinks with friends outside around the vicinity of a stadium, prior to a sporting event, typically American football. That's really it.
Yes, it can get complicated from here, but it really doesn't have to be. Before we talk beer, let's talk storage and icing down your beer. There is no better cooler than a Yeti—spend the extra coin and get something that will take a beating and will ultimately keep your contents cold for a longer time. That's the entire point right? I've toted my 35-quart Yeti cooler around for four years, from the beaches of Charleston South Carolina to tailgating at The Grove at Ole Miss, all without a single issue.
Depending on certain school and city regulations of your tailgate location, you may need to pour your drink in a cup like a Solo cup (or other plastic receptacle).
In Texas we have six..yes six craft breweries canning their beer: Austin Beerworks (Austin), Hops & Grain (Austin), Karbach (Houston), Real Ale (Blanco outside of Austin), Southern Star (Conroe), and Spoetzl (Shiner). In other words, this football season, there is no excuse for lame can beers at a tailgate. Here's a go-to list of a mix-six pack of canned beers that can be stored, iced down, and disposed of easier than glass bottles.
Shiner Bock Cans
You know it, you've had it, it's a good call. Shiner is a staple here in Texas and distributed throughout the US, so it's very accessible and well known wherever you travel. It's a nice change of pace from the ordinary yellow macro lagers you might be used to pounding in the parking lot.
Austin Beerworks Black Thunder
This schwarzbier from Austin is a favorite transition beer from hot Texas summers to those nice autumn days and evenings that call for something more hearty and roasty that isn't heavy. Black Thunder is a black lager, similar to Rahr Ugly Pug or Shiner Black Lager in that it has that caramel, toasty, chocolate and coffee roastiness with an easy drinking profile that goes well with grilled fajitas, sliders, chicken fingers and brats. We recommend you visit your local Mexican grocery store (meat market with taqueria) and buy pre-seasoned fajita meat and grill up some skirt steak or chicken tacos with sliced avocado and onions. It's a Texan tailgate pairing, tried and true. Smoked brisket or pulled pork would also be great here.
Hops & Grain Pale Dog
You've seen the Shotgun Friday with Scooter and Tony taking down a couple cans of Hops & Grain with ease. You'll be astonished how many of your friends and family actually enjoy bitter and hop-forward beers like IPAs and Pale Ales. Do them a solid and pick up this American classic style that is great for game day, especially with a wide range of fare pairings from jambalaya to carrot cake. For many craft beer geeks, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was their gateway to great craft beer. Let Pale Dog be the craft beer for your next tailgate veteran and beer neophyte. Hops have a short lifespan so when buying, don't be afraid to ask for the freshest IPAs and pale ales available. Unfortunately Pale Dog is only available around Austin.
Real Ale Fireman's #4
Real Ale canned their flagship beer Fireman's #4 in June so we can bring it more places. This easy-drinking blonde ale has quickly become a staple in many fridges around Texas. Next tailgate, put a sixer in your cooler. We think it takes on a bit of a different characteristic when drunk out of a can, so try it this way for a different spin.
Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout
Buried Hatchet is simply a great stout. Celebrate this amazing Conroe brewery and to accompany chilly, tailgating evenings or early mornings and pair it with migas and/or sausage, egg, & cheese breakfast burritos. This hearty stout is most fitting.
Karbach Sympathy for the Lager
Finally, this delicious and refreshing lager from Houston is a must have in the tailgate mix. It drinks well with just about any food and is a great introduction into craft beer to share with anyone.
Sympathy for the Beer-ita: For a quick beer cocktail, think a beer-rita. Prepare this a few hours or the evening before. Cut several limes into wheels to garnish drinks, store in a sealable bag and keep cool. Buy one or several non-reactive 32oz canteen(s) like a BPA-Free plastic Nalgene (find at Academy, Dick's, REI, Gander Mountain, etc). In a glass mixing bowl, juice three oranges about six limes, pour 8 ounces of 100-percent Agave reposado tequila and four ounces of agave nectar. Pour mix into plastic canteen, top well with ice and shake for about 30 seconds to incorporate juice and alcohol. Strain, taste, make adjustments, then multiply recipe if needed. The mix should be a bit citrusy, but not bitter, slightly oaky, quite sweet, and somewhat acidic. This lager is a bit hoppier than most than mexican lagers, so try to counter with more Grand Marnier and agave nectar if need be to amp up sweetness. Set in tailgate cooler near cold Karbach cans. In your drinking cup, pour in a few ounces of margarita mix from Nalgene and finish with Sympathy for the Lager, garnish with a lime wheel. Adding ice is your call. Similar to the Austin Beerworks pairing, these beer cocktails and some tacos could be quite the lethal match for your next tailgate and a few could cups before the game could really make those uncomfortable stadium seats much more bearable.
By: Scooter Hendon | 09/05/2012For Corey Pond of The Common Table, a beer festival was always part of the plan. Founded in mid-2010, the premier Dallas bar/restaurant has been pleasing DFW beer drinkers with weekly events, tastings and one of the best tap selections around for some time. It was only natural that Pond would extend The Common Table’s love into a bigger event with a wider reach.
On the heels of the Big Texas Beer Fest in April that was run by Chad and Nellie Montgomery, Pond finally jumped in to start Saturday's Untapped Festival after seeing BTBF’s successful first run. “BTBF definitely helped get me off the fence. Chad and Nellie have actually been tremendously helpful with Untapped and they were the ones that helped create a market, or at least prove one existed, for things like this. I'm fortunate to know those guys and consider them friends.”
This event looks to be shaping up as another great festival for Texas and will have a phenomenal list of beers for newbies and nerds alike (see below). New Texas brewery Cedar Creek will have three of their beers to try and many breweries (not just the Texas ones) will be bringing some exciting rare brews to the fest.
VIP tickets are $60 and going fast. They include all kinds of goodies, most of important of which is entry to the festival at 11 a.m. that will allow VIPs to sample the rarest beers before the rest of us commoners and see our buddies from Fish Fry Bingo play at noon. But never fear, the commoners can get in at 1 p.m. for a $30 advanced ticket and we’ll all be treated to a solid lineup of music that includes The Antlers, Givers, and Fort Worth band Burning Hotels among others.
Entry will be available the day of the festival but entry will be capped, so it's wise to buy your tickets ahead of time. The fest will be held at Trinity Groves just west of downtown Dallas at 334 Singleton Blvd.
Texas Beers: Easy to Find
Not everyone is a huge nerd. If you’re heading out to Untapped and haven’t tried any of these beers, make sure you get a taste. They’re “must try” beers that are made in Texas and are available with steady regularity so you should be able to find them after the festival without much hunting.
Lakewood Temptress: This imperial sweet stout is best described as an adult milkshake.
Peticolas Golden Opportunity: This refreshing kolsch is perfect for summer.
Real Ale Full Moon Rye: It’s a rye pale ale that’s one of our favorites.
Deep Ellum Rye Pils: Spice from the rye dances perfect with the pilsner qualities.
Rahr Oktoberfest: It’s an imperial Oktoberfest and is great for the fall season.
Texas Beers: New and Rare
Just in case the previous list looks a little too familiar, here are the Texas five that we’re most looking forward to that aren’t nearly as easy to find.
(512) Whiskey Barrel-Aged Double Pecan Porter: Despite its plethora of adjectives, this is a beer never to be missed.
Deep Ellum Sorachi Ace/Green Tea IPA: Deep Ellum does IPA right, and we’re sure this will be no exception.
Franconia Sarah’s Dark Side: They only made one batch of this pilsner/dark lager mix; we’re curious about this one.
Jester King Beer Geek Rodeo: This is their second collaboration with Mikkeller and is a coffee stout brewed with chipotle peppers.
Peticolas Vanilla Bean Velvet Hammer: An imperial red ale with vanilla beans added sounds intriguing and delicious.
Out-of-State: Five to Grab Early
Although we talk almost exclusively about Texas beer, we love the non-Texas crafters also and these are five beers that you won’t see very often (if at all) within our state borders. Snag them early.
Victory V Twelve: Victory themselves admits that this Belgian-style quad is a bit of a white whale and this is one of the few times you’ll see this on tap in Texas.
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: Sporadically available and always entertaining, this is one of the biggest IPAs you’ll ever try.
Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Old Chub: Old Chub is one of the best Scotch ales out there, and barrel aging sounds like a recipe for excellence.
Boulevard Rye on Rye: This member of their Smokestack Series is a rye beer aged on rye whiskey casks.
Avery Czar (2010): Czar is an imperial stout and we’re positive a couple of years has done it well.
By: TX Brews | 07/31/2012Scooter and Brandon salute Saint Arnold on the social media marketing coup surrounding the Divine Reserve releases. Also, Brandon eats chocolate in our ears, we talk about how DR releases are more fun than Dark Lord Day and Scooter gripes about the fishy microeconomics of bombers versus six packs.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/29/2012Independence Day is a celebration of all things American. So, before you fall victim to a pandering marketing campaign that simply slaps an American flag on a can and claims to be patriotic (you know who), consider that drinking true American -made, American-owned beer helps celebrate the independent spirit on which this country was founded. Now, before we fire up the Lee Greenwood and BBQ grills, let’s drink some beer.
Saint Arnold Homefront IPA
Few beers can claim to be as genuinely American as Homefront IPA. Proceeds from the beer’s sales go to a local chapter of Operation Homefront. This organization offers support for troops as they transition back into civilian life and Saint Arnold should be commended for becoming involved. Oh, and the beer is solid too. It’s a slightly fruity IPA with some bright citrus notes and some grapefruity, West Coast hops. Refreshing and easy to drink (for an IPA), grab plenty of Homefront and feel good to be an American.
Independence Pale Ale
Independence Brewing’s name is a bit more focused on Texas’ independence than the United States’, but for Independence Day, we’ll pretend it’s generally created in the spirit of general independence (which is really is anyway). This American pale ale is light on hops, but quite flavorful and finishes clean and the cannon on the label might inspire you to blow some things up with fireworks.
The label features a blonde woman riding a bomb adorned with red, white and blue stars and stripes. If that wasn’t enough to sell you on this being quite possibly the perfect July 4th beer, the brew inside matches it perfectly. It’s an American blonde ale (duh) that has a light maltiness, balanced hop presence and unique creamy finish. It’s in a can, which means it can go anywhere. We mean anywhere. Lake, river, swimming pool, park, Home Depot. You name it, you can probably sneak one in.
Karbach Weisse Versa
Many American brewers are forgoing beer style rigidity in favor of making the beers they want to make. To them, it doesn’t matter if it fits in a neat little box; as long as it tastes good and tastes like they intend it to, then who cares? Karbach did just that with this beer. Weisse Versa is a cross between a Belgian wit and a German hefeweizen and has unique characteristics from both. It has the clean, crisp finish of a wit and the clove characteristics of a hefe. The can’s label gleefully states “Both, at the same time” in reference to the style mashup. Sounds good to us.
Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle
Screeeeeeeee!!! Nothing says “AMERICA” (or MERICA) like eagles. The bald eagle is the national bird, and really, if there were such a thing as a fire eagle, it would likely supplant the bald eagle. But there isn’t, and we’re left with this wonderful American IPA. It’s got a bold hop presence, and might we say, it shotguns nicely. Cut loose July 4 and enjoy a few Fire Eagles. For America. For Texas. For eagles.
No Label Don Jalapeno
Sometimes when creating something new, you just have to ask “Why the hell not?” No Label took that innovative American spirit and took their Pale Horse American Pale Ale and spiced things up a bit by adding raw jalapenos into the mash. What they got was a unique brew that isn’t quite as spicy as it might seem. The hops of the base beer help balance some of the potentially overbearing qualities of the jalapenos for a beer that’s uniquely American.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/14/2012Hops & Grain recycles their spent grain into dog biscuits, but we'll leave that to the hounds and take all the Pale Dog for us humans. Special guest Tont Drewry joins us to talk about dog beers, canned beers and drinkin' beers.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/07/2012New Austin brewery Hops & Grain cans their beers, of which we're big fans. Special guest Tony Drewry discusses some of their sustainable practices, award-winning beer and the craze that's sweeping the state (and nation?): Shotgun Friday.
By: TX Brews | 05/27/2012Jester King might be known for big monsters like Black Metal, but they make some fine low-alcohol brews also. Today we discuss Le Petit Prince, one of their newest beers. We also discuss the creepy guy on the label, low-alcohol beers and how that trend is so helpful to beer lovers.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/23/2012If you can think of a brand-new brewery, chances are it’s been started by a passionate homebrewer who decided to turn their hobby into reality and try his or her hand in the beer business.
But this is not the case with all new breweries. In fact, Houston’s new Karbach Brewing is making quite a play so far with a brewmaster with some serious skins on the wall. Eric Warner worked for years at Flying Dog Brewery before deciding to simplify and start over with Karbach. The latest in this vein of new brewery founders is Grant Wood of Revolver Brewing in Granbury.
Having started out in Texas by brewing Pearl and Lone Star, Wood eventually moved up in the brewing world and landed a position as a brewer with Boston Beer Company (better known as Sam Adams). There, Wood helped pioneer some high-profile, high-alcohol brews such as Millennium and Utopias and served as the head brewer for Sam Adams from 2000-2004.
Although he has the reputation for having brewed some of these monster beers, Wood’s focus will be on providing beers that will satisfy Texas palates without whipping them.
“I’ve made some extreme beers, and they’re interesting, they’re just not what I want to focus on right now,” Wood said. “I really want to make beer that people can drink, and drink a couple of pints of without feeling punished for their efforts.”
For now, the “biggest” beer that Revolver plans on introducing is an American stout that clocks in at about 7.5% alcohol. It’s a big, roasty, stout with a smooth finish and a nice amount of coffee-like bitterness.
However, to be perfectly honest, their biggest beer was not the buzz of the recent North Texas Beer Festival (which is only the second time public audiences have been able to try Revolver’s beers). The most talked-about beer was easily their lightest. Blood and Honey is a wheat ale brewed with local honey and orange peel zest that really had the crowd talking. Infinitely quaffable and just enough sweetness and orange peel to make an impact without being overbearing, Blood and Honey is sure to be a beer that Revolver can hang their hat on and feel confidence that Texans will be paying attention to them when they launch in August.
Now that Wood has brought his talents back to Texas, the North Texas brewing scene has much to look forward to. Along with father and son partners Ron and Rhett Keisler, Wood and Revolver Brewing will soon have North Texans (and hopefully the rest of Texas and beyond) full cognizant of Granbury, Texas.
Watch for updates on this exciting new brewery from us in the coming months.
Pictured in the main photo (left to right) are Rhett Keisler, Grant Wood and Ron Keisler.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/17/2012Karbach Brewing has sympathy for other lagers, but we don't. Brandon and Scooter give their take on canned beer, QR codes and new Texas brewers with some serious experience.
By: TX Brews | 05/09/2012Fort Worth resident Tony Drewry is one of Texas’ preeminent beer advocates and one of the busiest people we know. Formerly Rahr & Sons’ all-over-Texas Beer Pedaler, Tony is a master plumber, banjo player/ vocalist for bluegrass/hillbilly/hip-hop/whatever-the-hell-they-want-to-be band Fish Fry Bingo and bicycle advocate. Somehow he fits evangelizing about the joys of Texas craft beer into his busy schedule and this is obviously something we can get behind. This is his account of the weekend of April 27-29.
By Tony Drewry
Texas Craft Beer Festival
On Friday afternoon, I took a short drive down to Waco for the Dancing Bear Pub’s Texas Craft Beer Festival. If you have not been to the Dancing Bear, you are missing out on the best reason to stop in Waco. Paxton Dove and his merry band of beer ninjas are at your service and serving fine beers in the heart of this Southern Baptist stronghold.
The Texas Craft Beer Festival is a celebration of some of the best and often rarest brews you can find in our great state and features hourly tappings, a silent auction for growlers of rare beers, great live music and all the best beer-soaked conversation a Texan could want.
Upon arrival, the beer was already flowing and the crowd was in full force. Deep Ellum Brewing’s Farmhouse Wit had just been tapped and I was promptly served my very first taste of this delicious new seasonal. Also on tap were (512) Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter, Rahr & Sons unfiltered Bucking Bock on cask, Adelbert’s dry-hopped Naked Nun, Independence Lupulust, Jester King Beer Geek Rodeo, Live Oak Schwarzbier gravity keg and Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 10. Dang!
As the night went on, the kegs got lighter and the people got louder and a great time was had by all. Several of us planned on heading to Texas Beer Fest in Houston the next day, so we took off for a night cap at an undisclosed location. Friday’s story doesn’t end there, but that’s where I’m going to end it.
Texas Beer Fest
Early the next morning (very early, I might add), we all awoke and hit the road for Houston. We arrived in Houston on time for setup and pulled up to Discovery Green in downtown. We ran into Texas Beer Fest founder Clif Wigington at the front gate. He was all smiles but expectedly anxious. Clif and his festival partner Jake Lewis are outstanding advocates for craft beer and well respected in the Texas craft beer community for their work with the Texas Beer Fest.
When the festival opened at noon, I ran into Jay and Cathy Rascoe from Houston/Dallas Beer Week, Monsters of Beer, Beer Camp and Live It Big. Jay (also known as @gunsandtacos on Twitter) claimed to have the very first beer poured at the fest that day in his hand: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. Starting the day with a barleywine is a bold choice and Jay is a bold man. Veterans of the Houston and Texas beer scenes, Jay and Cathy know a good thing when they see one and were geared up to try as many of the great beers on hand that they could. Jay and Cathy, just like Clif and Jake, are people with day jobs who take on the massive responsibility of organizing beer festivals because of their belief in craft beer. These folks deserve thanks, so please let them know that you appreciate their work if you ever cross their paths.
As the day went on I ran into several folks I know and kept hearing the same story again and again. This festival was awesome and everybody knew it. The venue was large and well laid out, the lines were not too long, there was plenty of beer and food to be had and there were a great variety of choices including many Texas breweries. I ran into Clif and Jake standing in the same place as before. However, this time they were much more laid back and enjoying the success of all of their hard work. I love it when a plan comes together.
The festival wound down around 5 and people made their way to the exits. When a festival is done right, the end of it makes the success evident as there is a palatable air of positivity. Texas drinkers had learned something, drank great beers and met new friends. Craft beer brings people together and it is obvious when you look at the Texas craft beer community and even the brewers. I left proud to be in attendance at such a well-run, craft beer-centric festival put on by folks who really get it. These two festivals, along with the recent Big Texas Beer Fest in Dallas, show us that Texas is well on its way in the craft beer revolution!
Everyone listening to the right folks during festival descended upon Liberty Station on Washington Avenue for the unofficial after party. Karbach, Deep Ellum, Independence, Rahr & Sons and other Texas breweries were well represented alongside Victory, Stone, Left Hand and others. Giant Jenga, shirt swapping, arm wrestling and more were all part of everything that an after party should be. Again, that’s not where the story ends, but for the sake of all involved, that’s where I’ll end it.
Brunch and Recovery
The next day, I woke up late and decided to hit brunch on my way out to Austin. I stopped at the BRC Gastropub for some of the best grub in town and to see what new beers they had on tap. I sampled two beers two new Houston beers from Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.: the 1836 Copper Ale and the highly interesting Chai Porter.
After brunch, I had no choice but to stop by the Hay Merchant. They are now pouring 70 taps and five full-time cask engines of arguably the most diverse and badass variety of beers in Texas. The featured tapping of the day was a cask-conditioned Jester King Boxer’s Revenge and naturally, I had no choice but to have one. I spent a few minutes with Kevin Floyd, one of the proprietors and another champion of the Houston craft beer community. Texas beers always have a very prominent representation on a wall that is so vast and fine tuned. It almost brought a tear to my eye, but I’m not really the crying type.
Epic Bottle Share
With a full belly, and just enough time in between samples to drive safely, I hit the road again to head to Austin. My plan was to have dinner with friends from Thirsty Planet, Hops & Grain and Independence, then head home on Monday morning. What I ended up attending by pure luck was one of the most incredible bottle swaps I have ever attended.
Brewers, owners and reps from Jester King, Thirsty Planet, Independence, Black Star Co-op and Austin Beerworks came together with owners of drink.well., Barley Swine and others at the Hops & Grain brewery at the end of E 6th with a collection of bottles that are hard to match. I saw something I never even knew existed: a six-liter bottle of Russian River Damnation. There was a bottle of Thomas Hardy Ale from 1987 along with barleywines, oak-aged ales and sours from all corners of the U.S., bottles from breweries I’ve only heard of and a few that I haven’t. If it weren’t for the company of seasoned professionals, things could have gotten out of hand. Crunk, even.
Everything was fine, and then someone brought out the BB gun. Empty Hops & Grain Alteration cans were shot and so were a few asses. And then full cans on the hood of a moving car. And someone (no telling who) might have shotgunned a can pierced by a BB and might have actually swallowed the BB. BB guns aside, it was one more great day enjoying the camaraderie of the growing legions of the Texas craft beer movement. These days are happening a lot more frequently lately.
I called it a somewhat early night and stopped in at the Draught House Pub for a few minutes to check in on brewer Josh Wilson. Draught House has one of the best hop gardens in Texas and recent rains have been very good to them as the vines are full, green and about 15-feet tall. Not bad for Texas, but we’ll see how the inevitable 1,000-degree temperatures this summer affect them.
My last stop before heading home was to see my good friends at Austin Beerworks. Along with Hops & Grain, they are one of my favorite new Texas breweries. Both have won well-respected awards in their first year of brewing as Austin Beerworks won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011 for Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale while Hops & Grain just won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup for what I think is the best Altbier in Texas: Alteration.
I spend a lot of time roaming the state of Texas and attend many beer events, but this weekend was one of the greatest I have ever experienced. Even though I didn’t want it to end, I’m pretty sure that back ache was my liver telling me to take a nap and avoid another beer.
We are experiencing the birth of a movement. We are one of the largest beer markets in the United States and we are Texas, dammit. Don’t tell us what to do! We want craft beer. We want local beer. We want good beer! And we are going to have it. Keep on fighting the good fight and spreading the word about all the good things you try. Word of mouth is one of the most effective tools in this campaign and you make a difference. Revolution, friends!
Follow Tony on Twitter @BeerPedaler
Photo credit: Monica Maddux
By: Scooter Hendon | 04/15/2012Questions abounded this past Saturday as the Big Texas Beer Fest approached. Could DFW support a large beer festival? Would the organizers be able to avoid problems that have plagued some other Texas beer festivals? Could this thing live up to the hype of its iconic name?
Fortunately for beer enthusiasts and beer curious folks, the answer to all these questions was a resounding and uproarious "yes."
Organizing a large event of any kind for the first time is an arduous task. Introduce alcohol service to that organizational quagmire and you have an assignment that few are willing to tackle and even fewer are able to execute successfully. Fortunately, Chad and Nellie Montgomery took their experiences of attending beer festivals through the years to craft an experience that was undoubtedly a victory.
Of course, there were a few issues. Some complained of long lines outside the festival to get in. But from most accounts, that wait was around 30 minutes at most which is actually quite typical for large festivals. Some smaller issues like food availabilty, glass rinsing at each booth and more seating have already been promised as improvements for next year. And it's obvious from knowing the Montgomerys that their level of detail orientation and passion for an improved experience will produce an even better event next year.
As periodic rolling yells erupted from the festival goers throughout the building corridor on multiple occassions, it was obvious that people were having a good time and learning about new beers. From pouring all day at the Southern Star booth, we can say it's definitively obvious that thousands of people have been turned on to well-made, delicious craft beers that they never would have tried if not for the sampling atmosphere of the Big Texas Beer Fest.
The live music provided by Fish Fry Bingo and The O's was fitting and provided an appropriate atmosphere. But what really got the crowd going was the Beard and Mustache Competition organized by Beerds DFW. Some of the biggest, most creative and well-groomed beards we've ever seen were in attendance and provided a rowdy show at the end of the festival.
Some highlights of the Texas breweries in attendance were Jester King's Beer Geek Rodeo, Adelbert's Dubbel, Rahr's Vanilla Ugly Pug firkin, Deep Ellum's dry-hopped cask IPA and No Label's Don Jalapeno. The best part about a successful festival is that next year is sure to see more breweries participating with more rare beers. Once breweries see that a festival is run well and being done for the right reasons, they will be more willing to dedicate special resources to it, and attendees will be thusly rewarded. Short story: get ready for next year, because it's sure to be bigger, Texanier, beerier and more festive. We can't wait.
By: Scooter Hendon | 03/15/2012Southern Star brings a distinctive new idea with canned seasonals. This stroke of genius is kicked off by a rarely brewed style: the French Bière de Garde.
Scooter and Brandon discuss the expense of canning beer, how awesome this beer is with food, and get all ranty about beer snobbery.
By: Scooter Hendon | 03/08/2012By this point, it's fairly obvious that Jester King loves metal. Black metal, thrash metal, whatever metal ... they're rockin' the farmhouse on a regular basis. This is their latest, and it's a doozy. We also have a special guest this week: Ian from Austin metal band Brink of Disaster.
By: Scooter Hendon | 03/05/2012How much would you be willing to do to advocate for something you love?
Would you sacrifice almost every waking moment of your life for the better part of a year with the end result hopefully meaning you break even with your risky monetary investment? The answer for Chad and Nellie Montgomery was an obvious “yes;” and their dedication to craft beer is creating excitement in North Texas.
The Big Texas Beer Fest will come to fruition April 14 and the Montgomerys are looking to make the event a pure celebration of craft beer. For Chad, this passion comes from the desire to provide a grand festival that could eventually provide a local alternative to travelling all the way to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. In fact, after travelling to GABF in 2010, the Montgomerys came to realize that it’s quite costly to travel to the festival along with being a big hassle.
“When I came home (from GABF), I realized that if I wanted to do that again, I had to go spend two grand to go to Denver, book a hotel, book a rental car, book four to eight tickets to GABF sessions, go drink beers at other places around the festival, pay for airfare, and it was going to cost me two grand to go do it. And I was like, ‘We need to bring this here somehow.’ “
Following the GABF model can be quite daunting, and accomplishing the depth of local participation that GABF fosters in the Denver area would be nothing short of epic. Not to sell GABF short, but the events surrounding it are just as much a part of the festival as the actual sessions and to achieve that diverse involvement takes time.
And although the Big Texas Beer Fest won’t necessarily have the city of Dallas running with all beer all the time in early April, they are shooting to make the day of the festival an all-day affair. An after party at Deep Ellum Brewing Company immediately following the festival will be an exclusive portion of the limited number of VIP tickets they’re offering. Early entry to the festival to get a crack at some of the rarer beers being offered will also be included with VIP.
The last big plan for a beer festival in Dallas met an unfortunate demise as the proprietors of the Dallas Beer Festival in November had to cancel the event due to low advanced ticket sales. This is why the Montgomerys highly encourage those looking to attend to to buy tickets in advance. In addition to the entrance being considerably less expensive, it will help ensure that the festival actually happens.
And talking to Chad, just having the festival happen and simply pay for itself is the top priority. You can tell that his true passion of advocating for craft beer is what’s driving his efforts with the festival.
“When I first set out to do this, it wasn’t a mission of ‘let’s go out and make some money from a beer festival. That was probably the last thing on my mind. And I still struggle with that now. The main thing we want to do is break even. If we break even, I’ll be really, really happy.”
To volunteer for the festival and for more information, visit their website at http://www.bigtexasbeerfest.com/
By: TX Brews | 02/26/2012Brandon and Scooter explore Jester King's revamped Farmhouse Black Metal Imperial Stout. We discuss what's really behind the dark figure on the labels and touch on topics like Norwegian Satanists, raw steak and Jester King's other interesting characters on their labels.
By: TX Brews | 12/22/2011
Southern Star Walloon
Southern Star's first seasonal, Walloon, flowed swiftly throughout a handful of Texas taps during the cusp of this past sweltering Summer. Jeff Hamm and Dave Fuerguron crafted this persimmon colored brew with zesty and earthy aromas, fruity flavors and a zesty carbonation that satisfied many. We really wish it was launched in cans but our fingers are crossed for next summer, as this extremely hyper-local Belgian Saison style (Grisette), will most definitely take front and center of our fridge, all season long.
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #11
A bevy of beer nerds and curious alike, flocked stores and restaurants in late March, snagging whatever their limits of this hefty, 9% ABV Double IPA. Once DR11 hit our nose and lips, we wanted more but were left what we initially bought, because by then, even the evening of launch date, it was gone. And this is a damn good DIPA, damn good. The orangey/amber colored beer is fruity (peach, mango, satsuma, grapefruit, and pineapple) with strong piny, floral and very slightly dank nose, packaged with apparent bitterness and wraped around sweet malty flavors of toffee and caramel then finishes again with sweet citrus.
The best news: Divine Reserve #11 is being re-released here soon, relabeled under the "Endeavor" moniker and is sticking around MUCH longer as it will be Saint Arnold Brewing Company's first year-round bomber and the most widely distributed Texan Double IPA.
Rahr La Grange
Saison is a style not often produced in Texas, and Rahr really nailed this one. When it was fresh, some of the spicy characteristics slightly overwhelmed the delicate nuances of the beer. But after about a month or two, it has mellowed into a truly fine example of the Belgian farmhouse style. Saisons pair excellently with food, and La Grange is no different. Of the six new beers Rahr launched this year, this one stands out as the top dog.
Jester King & Mikkeller Collaboration, Drink'in the Sunbelt
Boy, was it a year for Jester King! 2011 was their first full year as a brewery and they made quite the splash, not only around Texas but even inspired a collaboration with Danish brewers at Mikkeller for a hoppy wheat ale, called Drink'in the Sunbelt.
Whether you were drinking a few pints of it on draft at an Alamo Drafthouse or sharing a bottle among friends for a backyard cook-out, Drinkin-the Sunblet was a home run not only for Texas craft beer but for how well it suited our current climate, our thirsts and matched seasonal food, just perfectly. The nicely hopped and slightly more full version of Mikkeller's Drink'in The Sun was light hazy yellow-orange with hoppy aromas of lemon tartlets and orange sugar candy with similar flavors accompanied by a kumquat bitterness brought together with malted barley and wheat. Quite the session beer.
By the way, look to their next collaboration in 2012, Texas Beer Geek Brunch.
Free Tail Ate
Ate is most definitely the sleeper of all the Best of 2011 Texas Brews partly because Freetail can't legally distribute but mainly that this slightly tart Wild Ale from San Antonio was utterly fantastic and killing an entire growler of it was incredibly way too easy. The beer poured a transparent golden hay and lemon flesh color with loose carbonation but when entering the glass released a bouquet of granny smith apples, Bosc pears, some earth with a burst of citrus. The flavors were tart and juicy Meyer lemon, Sweetarts, reduced white wine vinegar, and peach finishing somewhat thin. The real hero here is the superb drinkability. Freetail's multitude of high quality offerings and breadth of styles have spurred many returning customers and created quite the fan base.
Austin Beerworks Peacemaker
Anyone starting a brewery would be lying if they said they didn't want to win a medal at the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Many brewers see many years pass by before achieving that goal, but Austin Beerworks skipped the wait and won a silver medal for Peacemaker in their first year as a brewery. And if you've had Peacemaker, you'll know it's a finely crafted pale ale with a bright hop nose and a crisp finish. It's a deserving award for a great beer and an excellent new brewery that should be quenching our thirst and making us proud for years to come.
Real Ale 15th Anniversary
Fifteen years in business is quite a milestone, and Real Ale celebrated it in style by brewing one of the finer examples of a Russian imperial stout that Texas has ever seen. With a rich complexity of chocolate, espresso, roast grains, and plenty of hops, 15th Anniversary Ale is one to enjoy now, and one to save back and age for future Real Ale anniversaries.
Karbach Hellfighter Imperial Porter
Houston's newest brewery has made much headway in part to their experienced brew crew and mostly due to the incredible surge of new craft beer drinkers and advocates. Hellfighter, an Imperial Porter is a recent drop that was also made available on cask and evokes somewhat striking similarities to Flying Dog Gonzo (wink, wink). Hellfighter is damn roasty, with bitter chocolate, espresso and Heath bar characteristics, a slick mouthfeel and superb drinkability. We're really looking forward to Karbach in 2012 -- we'll have an interview and more reviews of Karbach here soon.
Saint Arnold Pumpkinator
Not technically a new release since it is Divine Reserve #9 redux, but what made this the Best of 2011 is that Pumpkinator was the first bomber release for Saint Arnold. Launching in the Fall was perfect for this pumpkin imperial stout, as it made for many cozy nights, helped cap off dinners, and was a no-brainer for sharing with friends and family around the holidays.
By: TX Brews | 12/20/2011Big news out of the courts today saw a huge victory for Jester King and all the state's breweries and any out-of-state breweries that distribute in Texas. Here's an excerpt from the whole release from Jester King:
Yesterday afternoon, Judge Sam Sparks of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas issued his final judgment on the case that Jester King Brewery and our two co-plaintiffs, Authentic Beverage Company and Zax Restaurant & Bar, filed against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. With respect to all of the First Amendment challenges to the current state law, he ruled in our favor, declaring the statutes and TABC rules in question unconstitutional and therefore invalid.
So, in plain terms, no longer will the arcane laws that stated that "beer" and "ale" held some sort of distinction about alcohol content. This means that breweries can now call what they brew by its true name. Real Ale Oktoberfest that says "Malt Liquor" on the label can now be properly referred to as a lager. And if the Texas Big Beer Brewery ever gets off the ground, they'll be able to legally put their brewery name on their labels.
One of the biggest parts of this will mean that out-of-state breweries that once saw re-labeling just for Texas as a huge pain (and thus preventing some of them from penetrating our borders with distribution) will have less barriers to get into selling in our state now.
This is a big milestone.
By: Brandon East | 11/21/2011Bust out the plaid party pants and don't worry too much about that season-long egg-nog mustache. It's the holiday season! And what better pairing for filling foods and copious amounts of holiday cheer than craft beer? This simple beer guide will help you with this season as a host, guest or just someone who wants to have a good time.
The Holiday Food
Beer goes very well with holiday foods in large part because the carbonation will help cut through some of the heaviness. We recommend these because in most cases, one of these beers will go with just about any food with includes many cheeses.
Rahr & Sons La Grange
$6.99 / 7.25% ABV
You may be able to still find this 22-ounce beer on shelves, but it could yield scarce results. Typically brewed in the late winter to enjoy during Spring and Summer, this light, yet rich, Farmhouse Ale with spices and citrus notes works extremely well before a meal, through appetizers, soups, salads, veggies, sides, and turkey with cranberry. A Saison is one of the all time go-to food-pairing beers and is a classic for food. If you can't find this beer, try the non-Texan Ommegang Hennepin or a Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René. Finally, if you are reading this after Thanksgiving, we highly recommend trying Southern Star's Bière de Garde called Le Mort Vivant which is sort of a mix between a Gueuze and a Saison that shows noticeable tartness and herbal spice and is a perfect match for holiday food - a not miss treat. Bière de Garde is a style new to Texas and style well crafted by only a handful of US breweries. Look for more on Le Mort Vivant here soon.
Saint Arnold Sailing Santa
$5.99 / 6.8% ABV
Also bottled in a 22-oounce bomber, Sailing Santa is a 50/50 blend of Christmas Ale and Elissa IPA and has the components (spicy, flowery hops, heavier malt backbone, bready with a creamy mouthfeel) for a great holiday food beer. It goes particularly well with smoked meats, stuffings, sides and even desserts like carrot cake.
Jester King Commercial Suicide
$6.99 / 3.6% ABV
This 750 ml English Mild from the Austin area has coffee, oak, chocolate caramel, and plum notes with soft hops lifted by a grand carbonation that makes this beer a great way to end a meal on its own. Pair dense desserts like bread pudding or pumpkin pie or complement it with a nice dark cigar (Onyx Reserve Mini-Belicoso comes to mind).
If you were lucky enough to score any Saint Arnold Pumpkinator bottles and are thinking about busting one out during dinner or dessert, just save it for a night cap and share it. I wouldn't recommended drinking a bottle right after a meal as it is quite heavy -- try chocolate covered caramels or a couple chocolate truffles instead of having Pumpkinator with Pumpkin Pie as that pairing is simply way too much of a good thing.
The Holiday Party
If you are hosting a party or the host is okay with you bringing your own beer, I suggest helping offer some variety. At the very least, offer a craft beer that is accessible and available year-round, a beer that is seasonal, and if you feel up for it…bring something nice to the party or holiday dinner.
Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower
$7.99 6pk / 4.90% ABV
If you haven't already, replace all your macro light beer with this no-brainer brew - always fresh and an easy drinker. Also, guests can find it just about anywhere if they like it. It's a Texas staple and here to stay…especially year round in your fridge.
Real Ale Shade Grown Coffee Porter
$10.99 6pk / 5.60% ABV
Katz coffee plays a very shared role in contributing to this full-bodied ale. Along with the coffee notes, are toffee, nuttiness, dark fruits, and a sugary tinge that all round out this brawny ale. What is most attractive about this beer is that it is surprisingly easy to drink, with nice depth of flavors and just a cozy beer for the late fall with lower than expected ABV; a great choice for sharing.
$6.99 each / 11.30% ABV
We respect all Texas beers, there are just some styles that just aren't available from a Texas brewer and one of them, a Quad. The Trappist Rochefort brand has finally arrived back to Texas after several years of absence from the market and their 10, is a lovely beer to share, so buy several. If you haven't yet enjoyed a Rochefort 10, please do so soon, and prepare yourself for a world class beer experience. The nutty, sugary base, with tangled dark fruits linger with great depth, helping to anchor a moment to savor. This style, particularly this beer, is the perfect addition to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, so bring a few bottles around a fireplace after a nice meal, pour in an oversized wine glass and tie one on with some friends.
There is very exciting news that the skillful and reserved monks of Sint-Sixtus are brining their Westlvleteren Twelve (a Quad) to the US market in Spring of 2012 by way of Manneken-Brussel Imports, Inc. of Austin (along with Shelton Brothers) and have just received TTB label approval! Donning a label is new, and I was curious how they were going to put all that info on a single cap (beer nerdy joke.) But, until then, grab every other Trappist brew at your more well stocked stores in Texas. Dessert pairings like Bananas Fosters and pecans, flan, sticky toffee or figgy pudding, and warm gingerbread would all be a nice a call with the Rochefort 10.
Cheers and have a wonderful holiday season! Eat and drink very well (that's what January 1st is for), and have fun with those you love.
By: Scooter Hendon | 11/13/2011Beer chili is great for cooler weather, check out our recipe for beer chili with Texas beer.
By: Scooter Hendon | 11/08/2011If you’ve been watching sports or any other male-demographic-aimed television, you’ve probably seen a few of the “Man Up” commercials for Miller Lite. In short, they seek to make you seem like a wuss if you drink a (light) beer other than Miller Lite. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you already know this to be idiotic hogwash, but just in case you’re feeling all brawny and chest-hairy from drinking Miller Lite, here are a few things you can do that are actually more manly than drinking light beer (or is it Lite beer?).
- Smash a Pine Belt Pale Ale tallboy on your forehead, braincrusher style.
- Open a bottle with your teeth (this suggestion not ADA approved).
- Drink barleywine.
- Enjoy a Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout while mowing the lawn. Refreshing!
- Prove that “Triple Hops Brewed” is not a unique selling point by guzzling a double IPA. Still have some Divine Reserve 11 sitting around?
- Go camping in January with one change of clothes and a cooler full of imperial stout and whiskey.
- Skeet shoot Miller Lite cans. The explosions are glorious (and you aren’t wasting anything of quality).
- Recognize that what’s important is what’s in the packaging, not the packaging itself.
- Be adventurous and try new things. Hmm, like maybe a craft beer?
- Drink an entire bottle of Jester King Black Metal by yourself.
- Brew your own beer. In August. In an asphalt parking lot.
- Grow a beard (and grow it as lengthy as genetics allows you).
- Lift a sixtel keg full of Buried Hatchet Stout over your head (it’s heavy, get it?).
- Stop scanning barcodes to get points to redeem for a cheap, crappy, branded beer-can holster. What are you, 12 years old?
- Drink a beer with a flavor other than water and corn.
This is not meant to imply that only men drink craft beer. This has been proven false time and time again.
By: Scooter Hendon | 10/25/2011Halloween may have passed, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy Saint Arnold's first bomber offering: Pumpkinator.
By: Scooter Hendon | 10/25/2011Saint Arnold continues to spin-off their Fancy Lawnmower kolsch-style beer with a new one: Santo. It's close to a German-style schwarzbier but is lighter in body and easy drinking. Check out Scooter and Brandon's take on this new offering in our latest Texas New Brewcast.
Subscribe to our Brewcasts on any other podcast subscription client by using this URL: http://texasbrews.org/site/podcast
Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug
Full Sail Session Black
Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug
Full Sail Session Black
By: Scooter Hendon | 09/29/2011
Lone Star is the National Beer of Texas.
If you listen to advertising slogans, you’d think that “drinking any other beer is treason,” but the real story is quite the opposite. Truth is, Lone Star is still brewed in Texas. However, it isn’t brewed at the famous San Antonio brewery that many remember. In fact, the old brewery hasn’t brewed beer since 1996. Now, Miller Brewing in Fort Worth brews Lone Star under contract of Illinois-based Pabst Brewing Company.
Does that sound very Texan? Unfortunately, it hasn’t been for quite some time. After trading hands with Washington state-owned brewing companies since 1976, it finally landed in the hands of Pabst in 1999. In other words, the money you spend on Lone Star goes to an out-of-state company and the company that brews it is based in South Africa (SABMiller) and may soon be acquired by international brewing behemoth ABInBev. What’s Texan about that?
Also, don’t let billboards and signage fool you, Lone Star is not some kind of Texas-exclusive product. Heck, I had a friend order one in New York City. It’s all over the country. Drink what tastes good and is authentically Texan, not what a false marketing campaign tells you.
Shiner is owned by a foreign and/or non-Texan company.
I’ve heard this one thrown out by some folks before, and the thought that the Spoetzl Brewery is owned by some far-off entity (like Lone Star) is not true. What is true is that it is owned by the Gambrinus Company, which is based in San Antonio. Given, Gambrinus was founded by Carlos Alvarez, a Mexican national, and originally served as an importer/distributor for Grupo Modelo. However, the business that actually owns and runs the operation in Shiner is still in Texas. Gambrinus purchased Spoetzl in 1989 from a group of investors, so Shiner’s independence has been long gone. However, their slogan still holds true that “Every drop of Shiner is brewed in Shiner.”
As a side note, Gambrinus also owns Bridgeport Brewing in Oregon whose beers are also available in Texas.
Zeigenbock is real Texas beer.
This one is laughable, and unfortunately, most people find Zeigenbock and Shiner Bock interchangeable. Understand this: If you’re in any way proud of Texas products and being a Texan, please avoid Zeigenbock. Created by Anheuser-Busch as a “category killer” to directly compete with Shiner Bock, Zeigenbock is about as authentically Texan as John Wayne and the Chilean flag. Don’t let a big beer company come here and try and convince people it’s selling some kind of authentic product to Texans when they’re simply charading a dumbed-down version of Michelob Amber Bock to you. There is a bountiful amount of true Texas choices to land on before choosing this fake-local sham.
You can’t afford to drink Texas craft beer.
I hear this one from a lot of drinkers of Bud Light/Miller Lite/Coors Light, and it’s certainly not true. Nobody is telling you to completely abandon your bulk beer. Just mix in something tasty and Texan every now and again. If you can afford a $10 12-pack of Miller twice a week, you can afford a $7.99 sixer of Firemans #4 now and again. Or Fancy Lawnmower. Or any other host of Texas beers that come in around $8 for a six pack. Saint Arnold, Real Ale, Rahr, Southern Star, Shiner and Independence all sell various six packs for at or below $8 a sixer for their year-round offerings.
Additionally, look for specials; and if you shop at somewhere like Costco or Sam’s Club, keep your eye out. Some now sell six packs (I’ve bought a six of Firemans #4 for just over $6 at a Sam’s recently) and many will sell cases of craft beer. Some Sam’s Clubs in the DFW area even sell the Rahr Pahrty Packs for $24.98. Heck, for barely over a buck a beer, you can’t beat that. And it’s something good. Quit looking for excuses.
Drinking Texas craft beer makes you less of a man.
This might be the dumbest one out of all, yet I hear it from people all the time. It’s a small-minded way of thinking, and largely comes from marketing over the years. “Man up to great taste,” “Man laws,” and “The King of Beers” are just a few slogans over the years that have promoted Bud, Miller and Coors products as masculine (and quite deftly). Not to mention the endless parade of half-naked ladies on promo products and the insinuation that if you drink a certain beer, chicks will dig you, big beer has sold an image.
Craft beer, by contrast, typically doesn’t have these things. Craft brewers tend to be smaller operations with little money to spend on advertising, much less big slogans with large-breasted women. Instead, by focusing on creating a quality product rather than trying to convince you that the beer is good for every reason BUT the actual taste of the beer, craft beers are somehow seen as less manly.
You know as well as anyone that this is dumb and makes no sense. Much less, why would drinking a product of (typically) higher alcohol volume and bolder flavor make you less of a man?
By: TX Brews | 09/28/2011By CLIF WIGINGTON
It was truly a delight to see 18 Texas craft brewers brought together in Austin at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival September 24. The Texas Craft Brewing Guild-sponsored festival had been on "break" for six years, so I knew the organizers had some experience that they would put to good use. Also, with so much excitement and change occurring in the Texas craft-beer community in the the last year, I knew the fest was due for a positive turnout.
I arrived around 1 p.m., with plenty of time to enjoy the early session where VIP ticket holders could chat and sample with many of the brewery representatives and brewers directly. I could tell the brewery folks had already been sampling one another's beers and the spirit of camaraderie and conviviality was already spreading around the festival grounds. It was here at the early gathering that I got my first taste of Rahr's Oktoberfest and Circle's newest beer, Epic Hop Bock. I also reacquainted myself with Austin Beerworks who won a medal for their Peacemaker IPA the weekend after this festival at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. This opportunity to chat with the men and women "in the biz" made the additional cost of the VIP ticket invaluable. It seemed like only a few minutes had passed when I noticed that the stage was setting up and the festival was ready to open for general admission.
Each brewery had its own tent, and at each tent patrons could pay one ticket for a four-ounce pour. I was more interested in sampling than I was boozing, so I went through the festival's program and noted the beers I have difficulty finding in Houston. New Austin brewery Twisted X Brewing and the Draught House Pub stood out immediately. During this period I managed to sample some Ranger Creek, Southern Star Pro-Am, and some Austin Beerworks Battle Axe Imperial Red. I can safely say that the line for sampling the Twisted X was the longest I saw through the day as it was obvious that local drinkers were interested in one of Austin newest brewers.
I was interested to see several distributors and grocery-store coordinators in the crowd which included the wine-and-beer coordinator of Whole Foods' southwest division. The market is so ripe in Texas that many retailers are looking to bring in a stronger craft beer presence and that was an excellent opportunity to meet 18 of them at once.
Just before I left, I was able to have a quick word with Brian Peters, head brewer for Uncle Billy's Brew & Que and the festival's chairman. He said that the Texas Craft Brewers Guild was very happy with how the day was progressing and he was expecting about 3,000 or so attendees. The park area certainly seemed big enough for the crowd and food vendors Uncle Billy's BBQ, Chi'Lantro, and Red Porch were ready for the hungry masses.
As I was being taken to my car by a bike taxi, I had a nice little buzz going and the interest in this organization was an indication of a developing interest to change the prohibitionist laws in Texas. Here was a gathering of the Texas craft brewers that are working hard to make a positive difference and to change the face of beer brewed in our state.
Clif Wigington is the chairman of the Texas Beer Fest, an annual event that started in 2010 in Humble. This year's festival will be held at Discovery Green in Houston. Tickets are set to go on sale in January.
Texas Beer Fest
Texas Beer Fest
By: Scooter Hendon | 09/11/2011It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since the folks over at Real Ale put Texas hill country brewing on the map. Fortunately for all of us, we get to share in their excitement with their 15th Anniversary Ale. It's a big, powerful, hoppy, world-class Russian imperial stout that might be a little hard to find, but is well worth the search. Brandon and Scooter give their take on this new beer.
By: TX Brews | 09/08/2011By Cody Hendon
Beer lovers from all over flocked to Galveston last Labor Day weekend to enjoy the 2nd Annual Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival. Among the many who attended were return enthusiasts from last year’s festival, myself included. Gladly, we can report that there were many improvements made that made this year’s festival much more enjoyable. Last year’s Brew Ha-Ha grand tasting left many things to be desired, but it’s very obvious that they took note of their deficiencies and succeeded in making the festival a much better experience.
To start, the organization of the event was greatly improved. We arrived a little before the 3 p.m. starting time on Saturday and went right in to get our tickets with virtually no wait. Although the line to get into the tasting hall looked just as long as last year, it took about three minutes to get in the door from the time they opened the doors. Anyone who attended last year and failed to get there an hour prior to the doors opening knows that it was at least a 30-to-45 minute wait to get in.
Now that we were in, it was immediately apparent that there was quite a bit more elbow room. The convention hall space was one-third larger than last year. This increase was a big deal for a several reasons. The larger area enabled the organizers to position the booths all around the outside edge with another circle of booths in the middle. This made for a wide-open area on all sides to move around and see all the booths. Last year it was much more crowded and confusing due to setup with booths along the outside edges and diagonal rows in the middle. This organization fix also created room for more breweries to set up which, of course, means more beer to taste in a shorter amount of time. Yea for more beer!
On top of providing more room, the festival included two days of the tasting event instead of just one as they did last year. This is one of the main reasons for the amount of people there on Saturday. As you can imagine, with the amount of attendants split between two days, the lines were not long at all. Last year’s lines seem even more hellish in my mind after the experience this year. The only brewery with a long line was new-to-Texas Clown Shoes Beer from Massachusetts.
This year’s festival featured several new up-and-coming Texas breweries including Karbach Brewing, No Label Brewing, Cornell Brewing, Ranger Creek Brewing and Austin Beerworks. Karbach’s Hopadillo IPA, Cornell’s Maelstrom and No Label’s Black Wit-O were all hits and Texas drinkers can all look forward to seeing these on tap handles and on shelves in the upcoming months. The only Texas breweries that were noticeably absent were (512) Brewing and Jester King.
Schwarzbiers (and schwarzbier-esque brews) seemed to be a recurring theme with the aforementioned Maelstrom and Black Wit-O both exhibiting black-lager characteristics. Austin Beerworks only non-canned offering, Black Thunder, was also available.
We’d be remiss without mentioning that the VIP area was much improved from last year and included some killer beers. Real Ale 15th Anniversary Ale (Russian Imperial Stout) and Jester King Black Metal Imperial Stout repped Texas with gusto, and Deschutes Black Butte XXIII, Brooklyn Black Ops and Left Hand Wake Up Dead were all highlights of the non-Texas offerings. The food was also quite excellent as Rockwell Tavern & Grill featured a jalapeno peach salsa-marinated turkey leg that fell off the bone and exploded with smokey-sweet spiciness. If this is any indication of their regular cuisine, we certainly recommend looking them up next time you’re near Cypress (northwest of Houston).
By: TX Brews | 09/01/2011By Joe Garza
After this summer’s brutal, record-breaking heat wave, there is one word North Texans don't want any part of: Warmer.
But there is one instance in which the word is met with unbridled enthusiasm.
Yep, we're talking Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company.
A huge step in the creation of one of the crown jewels of Rahr’s lineup took place Wednesday morning when the brewery’s Winter Warmer, an English dark ale, was sealed in Jim Beam bourbon barrels to begin the three-month aging process. When it comes out, it will reflect their standard Winter Warmer in many ways but with added notes of vanilla, burnt oak, dark fruit, and of course, bourbon.
“Overall, yeah, it’s our most popular [beer],” said Fritz Rahr, owner of the Fort Worth brewery.
This is the fifth year the brewery has produced the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer, which is the flagship product of Rahr’s limited-release “To Thee” series.
With such a successful product, Rahr’s aim is to change it as little as possible. Other than the unique notes that emerge from the brewing of any seasonal craft beer, the only real difference customers should notice in this year’s version is a colorized label.
The brewery entertained the thought of using barrels from a different bourbon maker for this season’s batch, but will remain with what works for the foreseeable future. “We’ll stick with Jim Beam. They’ve treated us really well,” Fritz said.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer is expected to hit the shelves some time in mid-December or perhaps closer to Christmas, and Fritz said the brewery is making “about 40 percent ... 50 percent more than last year” to satisfy demand. This increase is expected to total about 200 barrels overall which should mean it's quite a bit easier to find this time around.
But the potential treat doesn’t end there for craft-beer aficionados. According to Tony Drewry, Rahr’s Beer Peddler, something special could be in the works.
“We have the ’09 Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer that came out … and we actually got some that kind of soured,” Drewery said. “We tasted it last year … and we’ve actually saved that. So we’ll have like a sour version of the Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer on a very small scale. It will probably be at the brewery only.
“It’s something we didn’t plan on, it just happened. Most people pour out a sour beer, but we’re like, ‘Ha, this’ll be good next year! Save it up.’”
Check out Joe's Ousted Sports Editor blog at oustedse.com.
By: Brandon East | 08/31/2011We could have done an interview with the creators of the Texas’ largest beer fest and simply regurgitate what you'll find on the event site, but we thought that instead we'd point you in the right direction, distill much of the information, and reflect on last year’s event so you can get the most out of the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival (formerly Brewmaster International Beer Festival) this weekend (September 2-5) at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Visit http://www.brewmastersinternationalbeerfestival.com for more vaulable information and to purchase tickets.
What to attend
• Obviously we highly recommend attending the Texas Tasting Tour on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. For $25 you can have a very intimate tasting (limited to only 50 people) and you can get a feel for the current landscape of Texas Beer while chatting with brewers and brewery reps. Boy, has the landscape developed just from last year! While there, head to visit the ever-friendly Rahr folks and congratulate Jason and Tony on their new Wall Street Journal-featured Ugly Pug Black Lager that was marked as America's top schwarzbier. Afterwards, we suggest driving, walking or cabbing to get something to eat. Then come back around 1:30 - 2:00 to get in line to attend the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting and use your 24 tickets to try other things (see suggested tasting list below).
• The main events are the Saturday or Sunday BrewHaHa Grand Tastings (3:00 - 6:30) which are a ton of fun but can get crowded right within 45 minutes to one hour of opening the doors. It is preferable to go to the Saturday tasting. You will most likely find all listed beers available for Sunday, but I wouldn't totally count on it. Remember, distributors and breweries want to get rid of all the beer they bring in, so depending on the demand of each beer, many breweries won't just hold out for Sunday if there are a ton of people asking for the beer. With either day, make a list of what you want to try. We recommend trying many seasonal, pre-release/new brews, or more interesting beers you may not inherently snag at your local store. Try not to taste those beers you see on a regular basis or have tried before. Save your sobriety!
• Last year, Spec’s Liquor hosted a beer-and-cheese pairing. Go to that if there is one, because
1) We didn’t have to burn through a single ticket to attend.
2) The pairings were actually quite nice, and they paired much better if you correctly remembered which number went with each cheese and each beer.
3) They had the best food there.
I believe this was about an hour or so from the doors being opened, so I would knock out some of your most sought after beers before.
Most Valuable TIPS for BrewHaHa from your friends here at TexasBrews
• Get there early if you care about tasting certain beers outside of the VIP area. Last year my wife and I got there 45 minutes early and there was a 600-plus person wait in front of us that wrapped and weaved throughout the entrance.
• Have a plan of what you want to try and rank those you want to try first. While waiting in line, compare your wants list to the map of breweries. Then, make your attack. Texas beers should be around the front and right perimeter of the building and we would suggest going to the left as many people will naturally go to the right.
• EAT BEFORE! This can't be stressed enough. It isn't just because you want to prepare your stomach for alcohol consumption, but because last year the food was limited to a hotdog cart that also served weak heaps of $5 heat-lamp nachos. Hopefully the choices are better this year, but regardless, it's always important to set a good food base before the beer bonanza. At the very least just make a pretzel necklace and wear it in -- pick up a box of Snyder's Bavarian or Sourdough large pretzels, slide a string through the pretzels and tie around neck. Bingo.
• Just about every pourer is very anal about the one-ounce line, so don't scowl at the meager pour. You'll occasionally find a generous server (and thank them!).
• Don't review a beer off a single one-ounce taste. If you're the reviewing type who takes tasting notes, try and think about this event as something to pique your interests or non-interest of beers you’ve wanted to try.
• Rinse your glass with the provided water before each tasting. Drink the water that you are rinsing, which is also great for hydration. I know we’re only talking a total/max equivalent of only two 12-ounce beers throughout this entire event (unless you go big-time and get another card), but it’s just good sense to keep hydrated for a session and your night and tomorrow will thank you for it..
• Each table will have several beers, and in most cases, each beer will have its own line. So pay attention which line you're in.
• With certain limited beers -- and especially heavily talked-about beers -- be prepared for some enormous lines with an ample wait. Last year I went later in the event to try Mikkeller's Texas Ranger and it was a 10-15 minute wait.
• Last year they had a beer list but not a beer list that separated out all the VIP brews, so every single beer I wanted to taste were in that VIP tent. This was fairly discouraging, but I knew some folks who were able to make some VIP samples happen without the VIP badge. Make friends.
If in VIP Tent, burn through all ... yes ALL your tickets on multiple tastings or larger pours of:
• Boulevard BBQ (Bourbon Barrel Quad)
• Brooklyn Black Ops
• Deschutes Black Butte XIII
• Jester King Black Metal
• New Belgium La Follie
• 2009 Stone RIS
Whoa, that's a lot of stout -- but should be nice for some side-by-side comparisons.
Just realized and calculated that you could buy a full bottle of all above brews (all 750ml or 22oz bottles) for around, if not less than than the cost of a single VIP ticket (limiting you to only four ounces of each). However, some of those might be hard to find, so dive right in if it's new to you.
The suggested 24, one-ounce tasting scenario WITH Texas Beers for the “BrewHaHa with Keg Korner” $35:
• Austin Beer Works Black Thunder*
• Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
• Cornell Brewing Co. Maestrdon (vanilla Milk Stout)*
• Cornell Brewing Co. Smokin Hot Blonde (aged on charred poblano peppers, quite nice!)*
• Clown Shoes Clementine Belgian White IPA**
• Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber**
• Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA**
• Deschutes Black Butte XXIII** (if not available, grab the regular Black Butter Porter)
• Dogfish Head Namaste
• Independence Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout
• Karbach Brewing Co. Weisse Versa Wheat*
• Karbach Hopadillo*
• Live Oak Hefeweizen
• Maui CoCoNut PorTeR
• Monk's Café Flemish Sour
• No Label Black Whit-O*
• Ranger Creek La Bestia Aimable
• Ranger Creek OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale)
• Rahr & Sons Gravel Road German-Style Altbier*
• Rahr & Sons La Grange Farmhouse Ale*
• Real Ale Oktoberfest
• Saint Arnold Divine Reserve # 11
• Ska Modus Hoperandi
• Southern Star 2011 ProAm American Black Ale*
The Suggested 24, one ounce tasting scenario WITHOUT Texas Beers for the “BrewHaHA without Keg Korner” $25:
• Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
• Boulevard Tank 7 Saison
• Brooklyn Local 1
• Clown Shoes Clementine Belgian White IPA**
• Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber**
• Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA**
• Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA*
• Deschutes Black Butte XXIII*** (if not available, grab the regular Black Butter Porter)
• Deschutes Hop in the Dark
• Dogfish Head Namaste
• Great Divide Rumble Oak Aged IPA
• Langunitas Little Sumpin' Wild
• Maui CoCoNut PorTeR**
• Maui Mana Wheat**
• Monk's Café Flemish Sour
• Moylan's Hopsickle Triple IPA
• New Belgium Hoptober
• Ommegang Witte
• Rogue John John Hazelnut
• Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale
• Ska Modus Hoperandi
• Sierra Nevada Southern Harvest Ale
• Squatters Devastator Dopplebock
• Stone Japanese IPA
*New Texas beer
**Newly available in Texas
Be safe, and have a good time.
By: Scooter Hendon | 08/22/2011It's happened to all of us. You sit down at a decent restaurant and ask what beers they have. "Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Budweiser, Dos Equis, Michelob Ultra, Blah Blah Blah..." Then as the waiter starts to wind down, wondering if you'll choose from the umpteen "choices" they just gave, the waiter says that they think they have Sam Adams or Fat Tire ... or something. They'll have to check. As you finally give up and order a Sam Adams (or just give up completely and go straight with a glass of water), you think "Gee, would it really be that hard to offer a few Texas beers? Most places seem to have Shiner Bock down, so for the sake of efficiency, we'll leave it off this list. It's everywhere and is many times the only Texas beer choice available (and don't get me started on the traitorous Ziegenbock).
So, in light of this all-too-common occurrence, we offer a six pack of beers that every Texas restaurant should consider serving. These beers all have two things in common:
1) They're available all over most of the state, so they shouldn't be hard to find from a distributor in your area that carries them.
2) They pair well with many varieties of food.
Firemans #4 is a great everyman beer. If there's one beer every bar should have to throw a bone to craft-beer drinkers as well as to draw in mass-market beer drinkers, it's Firemans. It's crisp, light on the palate and has a very slight fruity quality that helps distinguish it from the bland fare many are used to. It's extremely versatile with food, but will really shine with lighter chicken dishes, burgers and salads. Or just serve it by itself and watch your patrons fall in love.
Availability and alternatives: It's available everywhere and a must-have for tap walls and coolers alike. You could also go with Southern Star Bombshell Blonde as a great alternative.
Luckily, you'll find Fancy Lawnmower all over the place already. It's starting to permeate Texas restaurants and bars even more these days, and this is great news. It's a great alternative to the Bud-Miller-Coors drinkers and pairs with food much better than those popular comfort beers. It's very versatile and will do quite well with shrimp, salmon, bratwurst, grilled chicken and pies for dessert. Along with Firemans #4, your restaurant will be well on its way to being a respected Texas-beer-friendly dining establishment.
Availability and alternatives: Fancy Lawnmower is about as ubiquitous as craft beer made outside of Shiner gets. If you want something different, try Rahr's Blonde. If Lawnmower and Firemans give you too many "light options" you could go with Independence Austin Amber, Saint Arnold Amber Ale or Rahr Texas Red.
Live Oak Hefeweizen
Live Oak Brewing Company
Live Oak's Hefe is a Texas classic and a near-perfect interpretation of the style. Hefeweizens are perfect for pairing with lighter-fare foods like salads, not-too-spicy seafood like broiled shrimp and baked fish, and many lighter desserts. They're also light and refreshing and customers can drink several without getting too weighed down. The banana and clove spiciness make this complex despite its light color.
Availability and alternatives: This one is draft only, so if bottles are your only option, offer Saint Arnold Weedwacker or Shiner Hefeweizen.
Every restaurant needs a hoppy beer. Mexican food, burgers, BBQ and chicken fried steak are just a few great matchups for an IPA or pale ale. There are a lot more hop-craving patrons out there than many restaurant owners realize, and offering them something like an Elissa will allow your patrons to really enjoy that spicy dish to the max.
Availability and alternatives: Elissa is very widely available in bottle and keg, so you shouldn't have any problems finding it. Some other IPAs and pale ales to consider are Real Ale Rio Blanco (lighter on the hops), Real Ale Lost Gold IPA and Rahr Stormcloud.
Darker fare is a must for any restaurant. Steaks, sausages, brisket and many meats ask for something roastier and maltier. The rich flavors and fattiness of many meats bounce perfectly off a black lager or brown ale. Not overpowering, Ugly Pug is lighter on the palate and won't overwhelm diners who might feel like they're eating and drinking a meal if you gave them something heavier.
Availability and alternatives: Rahr is becoming more widely available in the state. This is their flagship beer and is available in bottles and on draft. You also can't go wrong with Real Ale Brewhouse Brown and Shiner Bohemian Black Lager.
And what restaurant would be complete without a world-class stout? This is one big, roasty, chocolately, bold stout. Gamey meats will rock with this beer, but the big way you can distinguish this to patrons is after the meal. It can serve as its own dessert (who needs coffee, anyway?) and pairs excellently with a wide variety of desserts. Heck, you can even make a killer beer float with Buried Hatchet and some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.
Availability and alternatives: Buried Hatchet isn't quite as common among distributors as Bombshell Blonde or Pine Belt, but it still shouldn't be too hard to find. If you can't find it, look for Independence Convict Hill or (if it's in season) Real Ale Coffee Porter or Saint Arnold Winter Stout.
By: Scooter Hendon | 08/08/2011Carlo Galotto stands a few feet away from a lauter tun. Sweating profusely and looking weary from a seemingly endless workday, he asks for a moment to finish his work. The tragedy for Carlo is that the only heat applied to the adjacent copper vessel has come from sunlight through dingy windows. Instead of sparging and transferring wort around, Carlo is dedicated to toiling away to finish painting a wall inside his brewhouse. And then texturing walls. And then installing kitchen equipment. And then ... and then ... and then...
Zio Carlo Magnolia Brew Pub in Fort Worth is the child of Carlo, and he is in his third year of a labor of love that has at several times seemed as if it were cursed. Carlo, an Italian immigrant, came to Fort Worth to work for Lockheed-Martin and eventually realized that brewing was his passion and decided to take his homebrewing to the next level.
Landing on a choice of the old Gunn's Cleaners building on Magnolia, Carlo had grand plans to open a European-style brewpub in a growing neighborhood that is continually supportive of establishments that are authentically local. Instead, what Carlo got was a cavalcade of perils along the way. With the old Gunn's building being a certified historical building, Carlo found that making changes were more difficult. On top of that, the roof and floor had to be replaced and a host of other remodeling issues have arisen along the way as well. That's not even mentioning the troubles he's had with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality. The dirt displaced from the site has been deemed tainted and will cost over $70,000 to be removed properly to proper sites per the TCEQ. On top of all that Carlo has been living with no income for the majority of the three years he's been working to get Zio Carlo in working shape.
Lest this be a thoroughly depressing tale, there is some hope. The place is rounding into some shape and is getting much closer to opening. Carlo estimates it will be another few weeks, but that seems a bit lofty. There is still kitchen equipment to install, plumbing to finish, painting and texturing, exterior walls to button up and a host of other preparations to make before the place is ready for Fort Worth residents to come drink. Never mind the fact that Zio Carlo won't technically be a brew pub as soon as it opens. With Carlo out of pocket, the first concern is to get the place open. Once it's open, Carlo is hoping to generate some cash flow to be able get the brewing equipment up and running.
Thankfully, he's received support from the community by way of local homebrewers who have offered consultation and a willingness to help brew once the equipment is ready. Carlo has also received some encouraging words from the folks at Rahr & Sons Brewery down the road and will likely enlist their counsel again before brewing.
The grand plan is to have a brew pub that serves food (don't call it a restaurant, Carlo is very explicit in that respect). Many of the materials have been reclaimed and the bar is made almost entirely of old wood. The bar itself is a sight to behold, and a beacon of hope amid the construction and mess. Stretching some 30 feet and wrapping around a corner, it is the focal point of the open-plan space and will easily be able to accomodate several groups of people. If the bar gets crowded, this can only be a good problem for Carlo as the bar and the space next to it can accomodate a large amount of people without things getting crammed. As for the food, Carlo is planning on a rotating menu of pizza and pasta that will never quite be the same each day. When it opens, Zio Carlo will feature craft beers from Texas and beyond until Carlo gets his own house beers up and running.
And for Carlo, a casual atmosphere is the only way to go. No high-society digs are expected here. Down-to-earth, local, bike friendly and affordable, Carlo is looking to establish a place for locals to come and feel comfortable. When the weather cools down some, the windows will be open and when street festivals are going on, he plans to sell beer to passers by. And Carlo, an affable, but shy character should make a comforting, humble host to a unique Fort Worth establishment. Now, if he could just get the damn thing open.
By: TX Brews | 08/03/2011By Guest Contributor Will Roby
If you've spent any time "North of Ordinary" you know that Denton, Texas runs on pizza, beer, and eccentricity. My own time spent wandering around Fry Street earned me two tattoos, a mysterious rash, and a strange new hobby. The rash is a story for another day--the hobby, however, is one I've held on to long after I moved away from UNT and into the warm embrace of the coastal plains: namely, Scrabble and Texas beer.
Scrabble, like chess, is a brainy game made more enjoyable by the addition of barley and hops. As a red-blooded Texan (who cries every time he passes by Big Sam, who put away his hatred of Dirk Nowitzki long enough to enjoy the Miami Beatdown, who knows three different ways to sing "The Yellow Rose of Texas") I find that the ultimate Scrabble and beer pairings just happen to come from the Lone Star State.
Here are a few different Scrabble and beer pairings, along with a tasty handheld snack that goes well with each. I say handheld because, let's face it, no one likes to use a fork and handle a rack of tiles at the same time.
Scrabble and Rahr & Sons Gravel Road
This seasonal is a new member of the Rahr lineup, an altbier that is dark, rich, and has a roasty aftertaste that should be familiar to anyone who has gone on a beer expedition through Germany. Rahr's Gravel Road is 7.25% ABV, so it is slightly stronger than your average macro beer.
The slightly higher alcohol content means your Gravel Scrabble session will probably start to get a little out of hand about a half hour in. That's why I pair Gravel Road with a Scrabble game among old friends. The more Gravel Road we drink, the more our Scrabble game becomes about who can spell the filthiest word. And that's how it should be.
I like a big plate of fried chicken to go with my Gravel Scrabble game--just bring plenty of napkins to the table. Otherwise you get greasy tiles.
Scrabble and Saint Arnold Weedwacker
A little citrus, some sweetness, and a not-too-strong wheat flavor makes this a surprisingly refreshing beer for the hot Texas summer. Weedwacker is now part of Saint Arnold's year-round beer lineup, so our Scrabble and Weedwacker sessions can continue long past the blazing Texas summer heat.
At 4.9% ABV, Weedwacker isn't going to drop anyone under the table. Since it was meant to be a summer brew, I bring a tub of Weedwacker outside and play Scrabble under the stars.
Weedwacker is the perfect pizza beer, something on the plain side. A meaty pizza may overpower the flavor nuance here, but who am I kidding, you're gonna slather it with pepperoni, aren't you?
Scrabble and Shiner Bock
What, you thought that Scrabble only paired well with snobby beers? People in Denton love Shiner Bock as much as anywhere else in Texas, and besides, Shiner's trademark beer is a true Texas gem. A little crisp, slightly hoppy, a beautiful caramel color and easy to drink.
The low alcohol in Shiner Bock makes it perfect for a long Scrabble game like a tournament or a game against your smarter cousins. You can put away several Shiners without losing your competitive edge.
Pair Shiner and Scrabble with a cheese plate made of Gouda (smoked or plain), Limburger, and Brick cheese.
Denton, Scrabble, Breweries
I picked up my Scrabble and beer habit trying to cool off during those hot North Texas summers. A beer or two was also a good way to get over the mysterious rash blues--but that's a story for another day. Yeah, my time in Denton was bizarre to say the least. A town full of cowboys and intellectuals, wine snobs and beer guzzlers, Denton was the perfect place for my mutual obsessions with Texas beer and drunk Scrabble to form.
While we're on the subject of Denton, let's take a moment to appreciate the planned opening of two new Texas breweries in everyone's favorite music capital: Denton County Brewing Company and Armadillo Ale Works are both planning to open by the summer of 2012. Armadillo Ale Works ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and raised well over the $30,000 needed to get their operation out of mom and dad's backyard and into a proper brewery. Denton County Brewing Company is making waves thanks to the rumor that they plan on canning their beers. Not nearly enough canned indie beers in Texas if you ask this Texan.
Will Roby is a Texas beer enthusiast and the head content writer at Scrabble Pages. Check out his post on Toys R Us coupons for ideas on how to buy your next Scrabble board on the cheap.
By: Scooter Hendon | 08/02/2011Rahr's new seasonal Gravel Road is a German-style Altbier that packs a punch! Check out Scooter as he's joined by special guests Ryan and Kyle from "You Can't Brew That On Television" as they discuss the finer points of this new beer.
By: Brandon East | 07/22/2011When hearing of No Label almost a year ago, all I had to go off of was the name, so I prematurely thought that somehow a U.S. brewery had figured a way to include all TABC required information just on a cap; Westvleteren immediately came to mind. Then I began to think that maybe 'No Label' means their styles of beer will have no real definition with a heavy experimental portfolio: White Double IPAs with wormwood, Tequila Barrel Aged Imperial Pilsner, stuff not acknowledged by the BJCP. Baffled, I was extremely excited when visiting one of their first public tastings of their new brew: Pale Horse at Monsters of Beer in Houston this past October. "Maybe this will be an American Pale Ale, inoculated with Brettanomycees," I thought - with the horse referencing the horse blanket, barnyard funkiness.
My obscure, pre-market buzzed interest, had been pretty well piqued by this point. Visiting their booth, they popped a swing top bottle, with a pale horse label -- I couldn't more surprised to find a Texas craft brewing launching with swingtops! I was hoping to catch one of the Royo's for a quick interview, but I was not in luck. I smelled and sipped the orange pale ale and it was just fantastically delicious -- no brett, no other experimental element, just a great American Pale Ale with this soft tropical fruitiness, juicy hops, and touch of caramel was just perfect the rather warm Fall day.
Obviously, I read vastly way too much into the whole 'No Label' thing.
So in March, I took a quick jaunt from Beaumont to Katy and visited with Jennifer and Brian Royo, the husband and wife duo behind No Label Brewing Co. Crossing the railroad tracks entering the premises where brewery is nestled -- embedded if you will -- and resting smack dab into this rice drying mill -- stunningly interesting. I am greeted with smiles at 10 a.m. from Jennifer and Brian who show me around, I automatically notice the shiny new stainless steel fermentation tanks and sacks of grain. However, it doesn't smell anything like beer in the brewing space, not even an inkling. They weren't in production yet, but Brian pointed out that the beer I had back in October was brewed in a relatively small 15-gallon pot. So there wasn't a ton of action. The beer isn't being bottled in swingtops as their brews are releasing in draft only at the moment.
They brought me around the dark and damp, nooks, crannies and tunnels of the drying mill, some of which conjured eerie, rural murder mystery images synonymous with numerous television crime dramas. Just outside of the tunnel walls lied several freshly tilled rows of dirt and manure that are budding spots for hop vines, which can be a canopy for future picnics at the brewery.
No beer was offered that morning but I was able to try their other two beers, El Hefe and Ridgeback Amber at the Houston Beer Fest, which I thought were both stylistically on point, and quite delicious. Good things are happening in the world of Texas craft beer and especially with No Label furthering the charge for better pints here in the Lone Star State, and we are so thankful. We're really looking forward to their Panamanian Coffee Milk Stout.
No Label brews are now available at various establishments around the greater Houston area. Beer reviews coming soon.
Tastings are held 1pm-3pm at our brewery every Saturday but the first Saturday of the month.
By: Scooter Hendon | 07/10/2011Wheat, rye, oats, corn rice: They're all adjuncts, and they all do different things to beer that are quite interesting. Check out our latest episode of Texas Brew School to learn more!
Texas Brew School Episodes
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
Beer Ingredients: Hops
Pack of Suitcase Full of Beer Adjuncts
By: Scooter Hendon | 07/07/2011Due to diminishing sales and popularity, Saint Arnold gave Texas Wheat the ol' heave-ho. In its place is the most popular beer from their Moveable Yeast Series, Weedwacker. Check out Scooter and Brandon's take on the Houston brewery's newest addition.
By: Scooter Hendon | 07/01/2011If you listen to wannabe snobs and hoity-toity types, the only adult beverage that makes sense to pair in a cheese tasting is wine. Those of us who love beer can tell you this is not so. Beer is as good, if not better to pair with cheese. Aside from the wealth of different flavor combinations that beer provides, the simple existence of carbonation in beer can provide a palate-cleansing quality while still complimenting and accentuating flavors.
Hubbell & Hudson, a high-end grocery market and bistro in The Woodlands is holding its 2nd Annual Beer & Cheese Festival Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Along with the beer and cheese experts on hand, there will be representatives of a local homebrew club as well as live music and a cooking school on mozzarella making.
Saint Arnold, Real Ale, Southern Star and Independence round out the Texas breweries that will be in attendance as well as many other national and international breweries being represented as well. There will also be several artisan cheese makers on hand.
Some announced pairings with Texas beers will be Saint Arnold Amber paired with Port Salut, gouda, pecorino, and parmigiano-reggiano as well as Independence Stash IPA paired with parmigiano-reggiano, sharp cheddar, chevre, and swiss.
The event is free to the public. Hubbell & Hudson is located at 24 Waterway Avenue in The Woodlands.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/30/2011It seems most styles of beer are inspired by Europeans. Just like the founders of our country, we owe much to our European forebearers. But come on, we can't stick to Euro tradition forever. This is America, dammit! So, on this glorious July Fourth weekend, let us celebrate our nation's independence by enjoying some Texas beers that could only come from a nation as free and strange as ours.
The American pale ale is a style that is often created and rarely mastered. Coming in a big 16-ounce, braincrusher-sized America receptacle, Pine Belt delivers robust, piney hops and a malt backbone to support it. American pale ales differ greatly from their original English counterparts as the American version of a pale is considerably more hopped and less bready. But that's just how we like it, aggressive (OK, that came out a little strange).
Real Ale Sysiphus Barleywine
Barleywines have historically been big beers. Heck, they have "wine" in their name. But just like everything else, Americans have to ratchet things up a bit. Thus, the American barleywine was born. More hops, more booze, more malt ... hell, more everything than their English forefathers, American barleywine is a style to put hair on your chest. Luckily, Real Ale's contributions is no less chest hairy. With big citrus hops and some boozy earthiness in the aroma, you know you're getting into a big one. The flavor delivers more of the same and will grow more complex as it ages. Typically a winter beer, you still shouldn't have a problem finding the single Sysiphus bottles sitting in some stores. Just be careful, the high alcohol content could have your friends videoing you singing "Yankee Doodle Dandee" in your American-flag underwear (not that we know anything about that).
(512) Black IPA
One of (512)'s newest beers just happens to be one of the newest styles to emerge in the U.S. In fact, "black IPA" has become so popular and prevalent that it was added as a judging category for this year's Great American Beer Festival. Originating in the Pacific northwest, this style has sometimes been called "Cascadian dark ale." Regardless of how you want to categorize it, you'll find that this beer is a bit of the best of both worlds. With the big citrusy hops, you get that sweetness and bitterness to love in beer. But then you also have many dark-beer characteristics like a chocolatety, malty body and thicker mouthfeel. It can be strange and jarring at first, but amazingly, it works. You'll have to make your way into a bar as this one is draft only.
Is it a kolsch, a witbier, a hefeweizen, or something else entirely? One thing we know for sure is that it's refreshing and tasty. Once part of Saint Arnold's "Moveable Yeast Series," owner Brock Wagner freely admits that this beer was a bit of a fortunate accident. Having some leftover Fancy Lawnmower wort, Wagner and crew decided to pitch it with Bavarian hefeweizen yeast just to see what would happen. The result was a crisper version of a hefeweizen with a cleaner flavor and some truly pleasing aromatics. The spirit of "try it and see what happens" has been a staple of the American psyche since we landed here and has been practiced and embodied by craft brewers and home brewers for decades.
Jester King Wytchmaker Rye IPA
The rye IPA seems to be more ubiquitous in the Midwest than the southwest, but Jester King decided to bring the style to Texas, and boy are we glad they did. Rye tends to impart a nice spiciness that can accentuate hops and give the beer a little extra kick. At its base, Wytchmaker is a big, grapefruity hop devil that catches you by surprise. The rye comes in on the finish and gives a nice extra push that helps give the beer a little more needed complexity. The result is an American style that puts yet another twist on the IPA. You'll notice this is the third pale ale/IPA on the list. Make no mistake, we Americans are not modest with the hops.
Shiner Light Blonde
So, you think this beer is the odd man out on this list? Get over it, nerd. The truth is, light beer is as ingrained in American culture as fast food, trash TV and Hollywood comedies featuring talking animals. In other words, no matter how mad the geek community gets mad at it, it ain't going away. So instead of fighting that, Shiner decided to run with it. Having brewed Shiner Light for awhile, they decided to expand further into the light world with Light Blonde. The result is a very highly drinkable beer that won't challenge you, but also won't weigh you down. Enjoy a few and don't feel as guilty about eating 50 hot dogs.
So, this July Fourth, tip back some of these American classics and enjoy the fireworks show. Just try not to burn anything down; chances are your county has a burn ban in effect.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/27/2011We're back to talking about beer ingredients in another installment of Texas Brew School. Yeast helps produce alcohol and carbonation but also imparts flavor. Check out Scooter and Stubby's take on the subject.
Texas Brew School Episodes
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
Beer Ingredients: Hops
Pack of Suitcase Full of Beer
By: TX Brews | 06/23/2011Normally our Texas New Brewcasts are about a new beer (imagine that!). But today, Scooter and Brandon discuss Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve 10 and what 9 months of age has done to it.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/20/2011Malty, hoppy, piney, biscuity, citrusy, caramely, grainy. Where’s the love for the yeast? Malt and hops seem to get all the credit for beer’s flavor while yeast usually only gets credit for making beer fun (a.k.a., they turn sugar into alcohol). Brock Wagner, owner and proprietor of Saint Arnold Brewing Company thinks that needs to change. So, him and his crack brewing team came up with a crafty idea: Take a normal Saint Arnold beer and pitch with a different yeast. The results have been enlightening, to say the least. Weedwacker, the first one in the series is now out as a year-round beer and is now available. One more beer is supposed to come out in the series: a twist on Elissa IPA.
Tell us a little about your inspiration for the Movable Yeast series.
Everyone talks about malt and hops so much with the flavor of beer; and even homebrewers when they're talking about recipes will spend a lot more time talking about malt and hops. Yeast in your average beer doesn't get really discussed very much. Even in a lot of recipes they'll put a little bit of thought into the yeast, but that's as far as it goes. To me, yeast is such a critical item that I think one of the things that really makes Saint Arnold beers special are the yeasts that we use in each of our beers, and especially our house yeast that we've put a lot of effort into finding when I was opening the brewery. Because it gives our beers a distinctive flavor that people don't really understand is coming from the yeast. They think that they like the beer but they don't always understand where all those flavors are coming from. I wanted to show people how big of an effect yeast can have on beer. I kind of cherry-picked some of the most flavorful yeasts to get some of the crazier flavors that yeast can make to really illustrate that.
So, the first one was Weedwacker, how did that come about?
The first one we did, was of course, Fancy Lawnmower, which we pitched with Bavarian hefeweizen yeast and it was called “Weedwacker.” Part of the genesis of the whole project was several years ago we had made a batch where the brew kettle was completely full, we couldn't fit any more wort in. We had one of our yeast propogation tanks that was empty. So we put the extra wort in there and just for shits and giggles put some hefeweizen yeast into it to see what would happen. And we really liked the results. “That beer is pretty damn tasty.” We tried to revisit it and turn it into a whole series. The reaction to Weedwacker was really positive. One of the interesting aspects was that you expect it to taste pretty much like a hefeweizen. Sure, it has more malted barley than a typical hefeweizen does. But, it being Lawnmower, it actually has five percent wheat in it anyway. The result was actually more of a beer tasting like a wit; (even though ) we didn't use wit yeast and didn't add any clove or orange peel or anything crazy like that in it. But it was definitely a very refreshing, pleasant, immensely quaffable beer for summer or for year round in Texas. That was the first one and we got really positive reaction from that.
What were your second and third ones on the run? And there’s one more to come, right?
The second one was also a beer that we had done on a very small scale a few years ago which is where we took Amber Ale and pitched that with a Belgian Abbey yeast and we called that one Altared Amber. Again, it was very tasty and showed just how much of a difference the yeast makes. The third one was actually supposed to be Elissa with an Abbey yeast but in the meantime we had also tested with a small amount of each one to make sure we're not making some abomination that we wouldn't be proud of. So we did a test batch of the Brown Ale because we were trying to figure out what to do with the Brown Ale and we were thinking about pitching it with Chico yeast 1056 which would be a much more subtle difference. It would really show the difference that our yeast adds to the flavor to the beer because Chico yeast is so neutral. You'd be able to taste what our yeast does. But we felt like the difference isn't big enough and I don't know how much excitement that would generate. So we were tossing around ideas and came up with “what if we pitched it with saison yeast.” Certainly it's nothing like a saison with the brown ale wort. But we did it, and honestly, it's my favorite of all the ones we've done. I just think it's an unbelievably good beer that I could drink a lot of. So we moved that one up in the order. We were trying to come up with a name for it and we couldn't come up with a good one and I came home and was talking about it and my 13-year-old son was the one who had me describing it “it's kind of a farmhouse style.” “Well, just call it Farmer Brown's then.” “Oh, OK, that makes sense. Why didn't I think of that?”
Do you find that people are surprised by how much flavor the yeast imparts?
We really do. Homebrewers are already aware of this. But that's not a very large percentage of the population. The general public they really do not fully understand the yeast effect. I think it's succeeded in being educational. My great dream of people trying them side by side has had a few places really encourage people to do that. But for the most part, it ends up people just put it on and say “taste this beer.” If people have had the other version of it, they still have an idea of how big the difference is. You really see people have the light bulb go off when you taste them side by side. It's kind of a nice educational tool and the most applicable to the non-beer nerd world. As with any beer that we put out, I want it to be a really tasty beer. I really like what came out for the Brown. It dried out nicely, although the yeast crapped out on us, so we had to force some Chico yeast that we had to pump over in a fairly large amount to get into the tank to get the stuck fermentation to finish. Saison yeast is notable for crapping out like that. A lot of the time people will pitch blended yeast when they are doing a saison for that very reason. Since it was a single, one-off batch, I wasn't worried about consistency. As long as it tasted good at the end, I was happy.
Do you have any ideas for future experiments for different hop styles or anything like that in any of your beers?
No, not at the moment. We are playing around with a lot of recipe development, which is something we haven't been able to do through the years. We were at capacity for so many years and struggling to keep up with when we came up with something new. It just would have ended up cutting into our existing production and existing beers. So that didn't really make a whole lot of sense. In fact when we did the Divine Reserve releases, it was having a negative impact on our ability to make our other beers. For the first time in...I couldn't even tell you how many years, we actually have excess capacity now. Plus, we were running 24 hours a day, and when guys are pulling 12-hour shifts you don't really have time or the inclination to spend a lot of time doing test brews. So now that we're in a bigger brewhouse it's freed up a lot of time so our brewers have the time to play around with different beers. So we have a whole bunch in the works.
How much more of a pain is it to bottle a one-off beer than just to put it in kegs and just send it out that way?
To bottle it you have to get the label approval, which you have to do with the kegs also but then you have to design the labels, get the printing plates done, print out the labels. And because it's a one-off, whatever labels you don't use are trash, so you have added cost there. It's a little bit of a cost factor, inventory issue and planning ahead. There's a long lead time on it, whereas with kegs it's pretty easy to just whip one and it's almost just spur of the moment. With Divine Reserve, we get a bunch of neck labels printed, and neck labels aren't too expensive. And since there isn't a lot of design cost since all we're doing is we call the label company and say “hey, you've got the font, change the number.”
Would you say you're an ambassador for craft beer in general? Would you say that you help some of us, you help all of us?
I feel strongly that it is a rising tide for us. Texas is still way behind the rest of the country when you look at the market share of craft beer. So that is exciting to see all these breweries opening up. As we continue to focus on local, and focus on flavor, it's going to drive more and more people to try these beers that Texas craft breweries are brewing, they're going to discover that they're delicious. One thing happens, is there's no going back.
Portions of this interview appeared in 360 West Magazine.
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/16/2011With people doing a lot of travelling during the summer, we've decided to take a break from talking about beer ingredients to help you through packing a suitcase full of beer. It's an easy, cheap way of bringing some of our delicious Texas beer to your out-of-state friends or bring some back from their hometown.
Step 1: Select your suitcase.
Step 2: Pad your suitcase.
Step 3: Wrap your bottles.
Step 4: Double wrap important bottles.
Step 5: (optional) Make a note to TSA employees.
Step 6: Weigh your bag.
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
Beer Ingredients: Hops
Step 2: Pad your suitcase.
Step 3: Wrap your bottles.
Step 4: Double wrap important bottles.
Step 5: (optional) Make a note to TSA employees.
Step 6: Weigh your bag.
Other Episodes of Texas Brew School
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
Beer Ingredients: Hops
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/13/2011If you've been following the brewery scene in our state, you might have noticed there are a lot of new breweries popping up. It seems like every week there's a new one.
These new brewing ventures can be divided into different categories. Some have a thorougholy thought-out concept and business plan with capital investors lined up. But for many start-up breweries, this is not the case. Especially with so many new brewing operations on the horizon, it can be difficult to find someone willing to dump a load of money into an unproven venture.
So, like any good American entrepreneur, these brewers seek to start from the grassroots. Armadillo Ale Works of Denton is following this grassroots model through asking for small donations with the help of Kickstarter, a Web site that helps administer donations from anyone and everyone who is willing to buy into helping a start-up company get going. So far, they've raised over $11,000 but still need over $18,000 by the end of June to meet their goal.
Armadillo Ale Works is headed up by University of North Texas grads Yiannis Arestis and Bobby Mullins. Their partnership is one that plans to utilize the strengths of each of them. Arestis is handling the business side of the operation while Mullins is the brain behind the brewing. Together, they believe their combined know-how can get their fledgling operation off the ground.
"I'm helping as (Bobby's) brewing assistant and learning as much as I can," Arestis said. "And I'm trying to teach him as much about business as I can. So we're just trying to help each other out."
Their plan for their eventual launch is to reach out to both the newbie market and to the already-seasoned craft beer drinker.
"We want to have two really accessible beers. That will be our blonde and our hefe. Both of those are going to be the beers that are trying to get people into craft beer... people that might be into beer, but not craft beer. Then the other two that we'll launch are our imperial stout and out imperial India pale ale," Arestis said. "Those will be palatable and flavorful so that they'll be accessible to craft beer drinkers, beer nerds."
Another intersting caveat to deciding on whether to open a production brewery or a brewpub can depend on local laws. For instance, in Denton, law states that a brewpub must have more than half of its revenue come from food. Arestis found in his research that many brewpub owners were finding their sales split went higher toward alcohol than food. "It might work, but we might run into a problem the city will try to shut us down because we aren't following that particular city ordinance," Arestis said. "Also what went into it was we thought 'Do we want to manage a restaurant? Or do we want to brew beer and sell it and distribute it?' The majority of our time we want to spend brewing and bottling beer, so that's what both of us would prefer to do.
Armadillo Ale Works will have their beers available for tasting for the first time this Saturday, June 18th at Simone Lounge in Denton.
By: TX Brews | 06/09/2011As many of you are aware, May 26th, 2011, Texas' craft brewers suffered a major setback when the Texas State Senate buried House Bill 602. While this bill unanimously passed through the House of Representatives, the state Senate chose to not consider the bill and this decision means that another iteration of the bill cannot come up for vote until 2013. HB602 would have allowed Texas brewers who conduct brewery tours to sell their beer directly to the visiting public, a practice that is commonplace in many other states. Although the sales garnered from such a privilege seem small, HB602 would have allowed tourists to bring Texas beer back to their home states, where it might not be available, and it would have offered another avenue of exposure for small brewers trying to share their product with the craft beer community.
Many sources, including the Houston Chronicle's Ronnie Crocker, have speculated as to AB-InBev's, (the world's largest beer conglomerate), role in lobbying for the failure of HB602. In other states, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, similar initiatives to support craft brewers have also been squashed and rumors pinpoint AB-InBev's as integral to those failures. These are the harsh and brutal facts of what happened to HB602, but the question that seems to be on the minds of most proactive Texans is simple: How do we fight this outside megapower from controlling the local businesses in our state?
Below, I submit to you my "Call to Ales", which, after careful consideration, offers my opinion on a plan of action for frustrated Texans who want to work for a positive change in their state:
Friends, Texans, craft beer lovers: Indulge me for a moment. While the anger and frustration we all feel at the loss of HB602 is more than justified, we need to organize our ire and direct our energies towards the positive. Reacting against state Senators is certainly a tempting option, but I believe working toward educating politicians and Texas beer drinkers to appreciate the local craft beer available in our state and the economic benefits gained in supporting Texas based industry will do far more for our cause.
Yes, on Thursday, May 26th, I did make a few angry phone calls myself, but in hindsight, I realize a better plan of action would be to sit down with my state Senator, buy him or her a Texas brewed craft beer and explain my position.
We have two years of time before the Texas Legislature returns to session, and I propose rather than martyr ourselves and further isolate ourselves from other beer drinkers, we should make use of this time by sharing a beer with someone who might dismiss us as "beer snobs".
I urge you to not see the end of HB602 as a resounding defeat, but instead accept the challenge of thinking local and encouraging others, even non-beer drinkers, to see how supporting the craft beer industry is a way to promote the great state of Texas.
Ultimately, this fight goes beyond a good pint and encourages us to buy local to boost our own economy. Along with shopping local and eating local, persuade others to drink local and we can start making the change that will force legislators to see how our Texas industries can do more for our state than outside, foreign corporations with deep pockets and ulterior motives.
Buying Texas-born and Texas-brewed beer keeps our money in our economy.
Manager General, Texas Beer Fest
Craft Beer Advocate
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/06/2011Up until now, if you were looking for Real Ale's Lost Gold IPA, you'd have to wait for select bars and beer festivals to serve it. But thankfully, Real Ale decided to add it to their year-round group of bottled beers, and we here at Texas Brews are quite thankful. Check out Scooter and Ryan as they talk about it and some of the other interesting things Real Ale is doing.
Brewcast Discussion Links
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/02/2011Check out our third installment of Texas Brew School as Scooter and Stubby talk about that mysterious bud known as hops.
Saint Arnold Elissa IPA
Real Ale Rio Blanco Pale Ale
Wicked Beaver brewing "Dam Good Beer"
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
Real Ale Rio Blanco Pale Ale
Wicked Beaver brewing "Dam Good Beer"
Other Episodes of Texas Brew School
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
Beer Ingredients: Specialty Malts
By: Brandon East | 05/30/2011We took a little time back in late February to chat with Michael Adams, brewer and owner of Wicked Beaver Brewing Company of West Texas. He, along with partner Che Shadle are not only bringing great craft beers to the Texas Panhandle but 'dam good' CANNED craft beer for ultimate portability. They are now in full production and have their flagships Wicked Beaver Black Ale (Cascadian Dark Ale), Amber Ale, and they have just finished a Cream Ale to soon bring to production.
TB: Tell me about how the landscape of beer and its transition ever since Lubbock has become a wet county.
WB: Actually, the transition has been very smooth. You know, Wolfforth did it first and we live here [in Wolfforth]. My real job is a Civil Engineer and I'm the Engineer for the City of Wolfforth along with some other cities and I work for a private firm. That was about 3 years ago that Wolfforth went through the process and turned "wet" which helped boost them quite a bit. It also kind of forced, kinda pushed Lubbock, to actually go through their process. It was really odd; I moved out here in '05, I grew up in Clarendon and was working in Amarillo for an Engineering firm and they wanted to open an office down here, but I had forgotten about The Strip and my partner, who went to Tech, and we'd go out to the strip and I'd tell him 'this is the weirdest thing I'd ever seen'
TB: Yeah, you would come upon it like The Strip out of Vegas; you've got all the bright lights with Doc's Liquor Store, The Key, and all those stores just lined up right up next to each other.
TB: Tell us about the Black Ale.
WB: The black ale is much hopper than your traditional black ale. I kind of stumbled upon it accidentally. I had some left over grains from when I made a stout, some black and chocolate malts and others. I was just wanting a dark ale, but when I dropped those grains in there it turned everything completely black. And I was like, that's not what I wanted. It was going to be a pretty hoppy beer so I just wanted to darken it a little, but I went ahead and finished it out…and it turned out really good. So I've pretty much used that same recipe from that day; from just throwing some left over grains into the pot. It has more of a coffee flavor. It drinks real smooth and is a very drinkable beer; it's not like drinking a stout or a porter, where you drink one and you're done. It doesn't weigh on you. It's good for a hot day, almost like an IPA in that it doesn't weigh on you. If you didn't pour it into a container you would guess it'd be that dark.
TB: Does it run in the same vein of the Northwestern styles, Cascadian Dark Ales and Black IPAs? Does it have those type of characteristics?
MB: You know, after I think about it, you're right, I've found a way to describe it, and after reading about those Cascadian Darks, yeah it is more along those lines. It's a hoppy dark, dark beer.
TB: What else do you have in the works? Is that going to be your flagship?
MB: We're going to launch with two, the Black is our flagship and then we have an Amber. All our beers are pretty hoppy, and our Amber, if I could compare it to anything would be New Belgium's Two Below, you know, it's like a hoppier Fat Tire. It's a hoppy Amber, and a middle of the road beer. You may have more drinkers drinking that [Amber] than the Black because of its color.
TB: So are you going to be launching in six packs, draft, bombers, -- what's y'alls plan?
WB: We're going all cans. We'll lunch w/ cans and we'll probably do some single bottle stuff with the a variation on the Black Ale. I have a recipe that is a lot stronger version, with a limited release in single bottles, maybe 750s or something like that.
TB: What's your brewing capacity?
WB: We're operating on our pilot system right now, which is just a barrel and a half. But our full system which we'll have very soon is a fifteen barrel system. Our projections for the first year is about 500 barrels and by year five to be at about 10,000 barrels. The trend is to double in capacity every year.
TB: It seems that the Wicked Beaver name has some legs to it, where'd you come up with that?
WB: Ha, well, so it's not anything cool nor does it have a dirty story behind it. I really just wanted a name that would get peoples attention and that I could market.
TB: Yeah sort of like Flying Dog.
WB: Yeah, when I go to the store there is an array of beers to choose from and I'm always the guy that is buying Flying Dog or Dogfish and something that is off the wall and it gets me to try it. And the key is if you can back it up with really good beer.
TB: Wow, yeah getting the conversation and buzz started early is huge. And it's a lot easier now, I see you guys are on Facebook and Twitter quite a bit but I saw your website already has won a couple Addy awards.
WB: Our marketing guy is now going to be part of the brewery, I went to him -- he did the marketing for our engineering firm and one day I went to him and told him my crazy idea of starting a brewery and I'd like his help on maybe creating a label, a brand and a website. So he came back and said, 'Man I don't' want to charge you for this, I think this will be just fun!' So everything we've had to do until now for marketing we hadn't had to pay a dime for and it's going to be good for all of us.
TB: I've seen new design packing recently, again you mentioned New Belgium, and they come to mind along with Lefthand. So, I've seen design taken more seriously. It's neat to see the development of beer packaging and on how the beer shelving landscape is changing.
So you guys are just finishing up labeling and should be out this spring.
MB: Yeah' that's what I'm hoping. We have almost all our funding in place to get going, get all our canning machines and the remaining funding to get our brewhouse. And we'll have to operate on a smaller scale once we get that final push. It's when we have to spend $150,000 on equipment is when it starts to get serious.
TB: Dave and the guys at Southern Star are great contacts to have as they are canning all their beers and are doing kegs as well. But it's great taking a tour over at their brewery, and seeing them can two at a time then seeing a mounting of cans stacked to the ceiling -- that is very impressive. I think that's what is going to be nice for people to take a tour at Wicked Beaver, is for people to see what can be done on such a small, artisan scale.
WB: One reason we decided to go to cans, is that there is a large market of people in this area who want to go fishing, hiking, or golf and take a really good six pack of beer rather than Coors Light or something like that. You gotta have cans you can't have bottles on golf course, and Heineken is about as good as you're gonna do. So I think there is a whole group of people that you can hit to have it in a can.
TB: Well, Michael thanks a ton for your time and if you ever need any help with that beer festival don't hesitate to get back in touch
Photography by Kevin Leas. Wicked Beaver Marketing by Stallings Design.
By: TX Brews | 05/26/2011By Brian Brown
Special to Texas Brews
There is a certain level of art in virtually every craft beer we drink. It might take the form of an infusion of exotic ingredients, a carefully selected blend of unique hop varieties, or the seemingly simple task of pulling off a classic style. However, it is the latter that might require the most craftsmanship of all.
Executed well, these brews borne from modest beginnings are full-flavored, yet absent of flaws easily hidden beneath the intense flavors of today's extreme beers. You might say then that the classic style is the truest reflection of the brewer's art. Fortunately for those in North Texas, such brews are the signature of Franconia Brewing Company in McKinney.
Brewmaster Dennis Wehrmann, a native of Germany, opened Franconia back in February of 2008 after a stint as head brewer at the company behind the Two Rows restaurant chain. His family has been brewing beer in his home country since the early 1800s, while Wehrmann himself began working in a local brewery at the age of 12. His wealth of experience, attention to detail, and adherence to old world standards are hallmarks of his approach to delivering authentic German brews to the North Texas craft beer community.
As you might expect given Wehrmann's German ancestry, every Franconia beer is brewed in the spirit of the Reinheitsgebot. Otherwise known as the German Beer Purity Law, the original text declared that the ingredients to be used in the production of beer were limited to barley, water, and hops. Of course, this law was penned well before the realization of yeast's role in the fermentation of beer, but beyond its inclusion among a basic set of ingredients you'll find no other additives in any of Franconia's brews. That means no adjuncts, no stabilizers, and no preservatives.
For further insight into the brewing philosophy behind Franconia's beers, spend a few minutes talking with Wehrmann about the focus on hop intensity and the palate-altering bitterness prevalent in today's brews, and you'll understand the approach taken here. Each Franconia brew is designed to be an ensemble of flavors celebrating the contribution of each of the four fundamental ingredients. Balance and complexity rule, so when deciding between sub-styles that allow for different interpretations based on the intensity of the hops, the choice always favors moderation.
Once a recipe is crafted, staying true to the brewer’s original vision is of the utmost importance, so rather than risk undue flavor alteration, it's not surprising that Franconia chooses not to pasteurize their brews. This inevitably brings up the question of freshness, a point Wehrmann counters with tightly controlled distribution. Instead of allowing vendors to maintain idle back stock, Franconia hand-delivers kegs on demand. While this essentially means that Wehrmann and crew are virtually on-call at all times, he feels this is a necessary element to his business model such that the beer arriving at your table does so at the peak of freshness.
Clearly, though, once a keg is delivered, further handling is left to the vendor. Here is where Wehrmann and company depend on a little help from their friends. Should you happen to sample a Franconia brew you feel is substandard, Wehrmann strongly encourages customers to call or email him directly with the location in question so that a member of the team can go out and look into the problem. Once resolved, he follows up with not only the vendor, but the customer as well, to ensure that the issue has been adequately addressed.
This commitment to quality is just one of the reasons Franconia has grown over 50% in the last year. That, and the fact that Franconia's line of authentic German styles are among some of the best you'll find. Currently draught only, year-round brews include their Vienna Lager, Bavarian-style Wheat, and Munich-style Dunkel. These products and a number of seasonal offerings can be found at a variety of pubs, restaurants and better beer retailers around the DFW Metroplex, as well as at select locations in Austin, Houston, and Corpus Christi.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/23/2011Malted barley is such a diverse subject that we devoted two episodes to it! In our first episode, we talked about base malts, which make up the majority of a grain bill for a beer. Today, we talk about specialty malts as they impart many unique flavors and really spice things up more.
Other Episodes of Texas Brew School
Beer Ingredients: Base Malts
By: Ryan Granzow | 05/19/2011We’ve heard a lot about beer brewed off the beaten path. In Central Texas, everywhere we turn, we see a unique blend or style. Even within that ubiquity, the brewers at Real Ale have been setting aside small partial batches of seasonal brews that stand alone in quality and excitement. Lost Gold IPA, Devil’s Backbone, Real Heavy, Sisyphus, and Coffee Porter (without the coffee) make up the base for the exciting barrel-aged libations you can (or can’t) find around the state. I had a chance recently to meet with head brewer, Erik Ogershok, to discuss Real Ale’s Mysterium Verum barrel-aged releases of their already outstanding seasonal brews. You know what I learned? They aren’t only for the Austin market. DFW and Houston also are on the Mysterium Verum list (surprise for a die hard Austinite!).
Barrel-aging produces unique and complex beer. The process, though, requires a lot of patience. After brewing, the oak barrels are filled with unfermented beer. White wine, red wine, and charred oak barrels previously used for bourbon are utilized, each sharing flavors of previous contents and the wood out of which it’s made. In some cases, a choice of French or American oak are combined, providing additional flexibility. After the initial fill, several months will pass before the brew team decides to pull and carbonate samples.
When the beer gods grant success, Real Ale releases a few kegs to their largest markets. Servings are most likely in half pints and available only at the luckiest pubs or bars. They won’t be cheap, but they are worth every cent.
Mysterum Verum Brews
The Highlander (Real Heavy)
The Devil’s Share (Devil’s Backbone)
The Kraken (Sisyphus)
Empire (Lost Gold IPA)
Vol XIII (13th Anniversary Ale)
Vol. XIV (14th Anniversary Ale)
Bourbon barrel-aged Coffee Porter (sans coffee)
During the visit, three special releases of The Highlander were available. The first was this year’s standard Highlander. With wonderfully complex dry red wine, fig, and caramel flavors, you would never know this is an experimental ale brimming with alcohol. Second, a barrel inoculated with both a bacteria strain of brettanomyces (brett) and a wild yeast strain native to Central Texas adds the wonderful tartness of fresh raspberries. Sometimes highly unpredictable, this strain of wild yeast and brett are notably well balanced. Last in line, a second strain of brett and wild yeast overwhelm your senses with tartness and flavors of high citric acid. Sour beer is growing in popularity, and this variant is definitely not shy. While it may be too much for some, it quenched my growing addiction for seriously tart beer.
As demand for Real Ale’s barrel-aged variations grows, locating the right barrels is increasingly difficult. The good news is they are committed to expanding production and into retail-friendly bottles at some point in the future. Keep an eye out for bars and pubs in major Texas cities that may receive kegs at various points in the year.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/17/2011For more than seven months, the fourth largest city in the United States has been without a brewpub. No more.
San Antonio-based Freetail Brewing Co. CEO and founder Scott Metzger announced via Twitter and his blog that Freetail would be adding a second location. Originally dubbed "Project Gemini," there were hints that it would be announced that the north-San Antonio brewpub would add a location in Houston. Some fans even went as far as creating a blog and Twitter account to try and motivate Freetail's decision to include Houston.
Although the exact location has yet to be disclosed, the press release for the announcement states it will be in "20,000 square feet in a historic building in downtown Houston."
And the new location will not simply be an open room with a patio, but will include a far more extensive plan:
The new location, described as a “flagship” design, spans three floors and includes a company store for customers to buy packaged product, growlers and merchandise in addition to ample restaurant and bar space. Unlike Freetail’s original location, which is primarily one big room with a patio overlooking the Texas hill country, Freetail Houston will feature traditional restaurant seating, private dining space, and a “game room” with pool tables, shuffleboard, darts and numerous televisions.
Expected opening will be some time in Spring 2012 and Metzger is finishing up securing financing for the estimated $4.2 million project.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/16/2011Maybe you’re new to the world of Texas craft beer. Perhaps you’re looking for something that’s easy drinking that will deliver good flavor without blowing your mind or making you think. Or, better yet, maybe you have some friends who normally partake of Bud/Miller/Coors products but seem interested about the world of craft beer (and specifically Texas craft beer) and you’d like to get them transitioned into your world of real-beer flavor enjoyment. Regardless of which of these you may fall into, this list is for you.
These six beers all carry some similar characteristics. They’re very drinkable (not too challenging or heavy), you can find them almost anywhere that carries a reasonable assortment of beers, they’re available year round, and they’re versatile. Summertime, spring, BBQs, fishing at the lake, whatever. These brews will answer the call. After all, beer is supposed to be fun. So go have one yourself or share this info with a friend. Chances are they’ll have some decent beer next time you come over.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/12/2011Stubby and Scooter. It may sound like an awesome sitcom, but really, it's our first episode of Texas Brew School! In this episode we talk about malted barley, which is one of the four main ingredients in beer. This episode is specifically about base malts, which are the basis of grains used in pretty much every beer. Stay tuned, our next episode will be about specialty malts, which can impart a lot more interesting things to beer.
Texas Brewing Inc on Facebook
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/09/2011It seems there are more and more beer festivals popping up in Texas this year, and not to be outdone, North Texas is representing that trend as well.
The inaugural North Texas Beer Festival held in Plano will be running a variety of events this weekend in an attempt to help celebrate, promote and educate about craft beer.
As a somewhat distinctive feature of this festival, education will be key. Organizer Darrell Faircloth stresses that there will be plenty of great beer for everyone to try, but there will also be a wealth of knowledge available through breakout sessions, food pairings and speakers that attendees will be getting more than just a new experience with beer. The aim is for them to leave with a little bit background on why they enjoy what they enjoy.
"What adds a uniqueness to what we're doing is that our primary focus is education; and that's why we have the keynote speakers. That's why we're doing the Culinary Corner. That's why we're focusing so much on the homebrewing aspect of it," Faircloth said. "We're just trying to raise awareness. Texans drink a lot of beer, but they've been kind of slow on the uptake on the craft beers, and that's changing rapidly."
There will be discussion panels and speakers on the hour every hour from 2 to 10 p.m. with Texas brewers Fritz Rahr from Rahr & Sons, Chip McElroy from Live Oak and Dennis Wehrmann of Franconia.
Wehrmann in particular will be discussing traditional brewing methods and Faircloth is confident the North Texas-based brewmaster will deliver some enlightening and interesting things in his breakout session.
"Dennis is going to be talking about the history of beer and particularly German brewing traditions. He's a fourth-generation trained Bavarian brewmaster so he knows what he's talking about," Faircloth said.
There will be a discussion panel at 5 p.m. that will be moderated bh TexasBrews.org and will feature Dennis Wehrmann of Franconia Brewing, Wim Bens of Lakewood Brewing, Brian Brown of the Plano Examiner and Brian Rudolph of the Holy Grail Pub. Also look for Paul Leone and John Pinkerton of BeerAmerica.tv who will be shooting some beer reviews and chatting with brewers at the show.
The events will kick off Friday night with a V.I.P. "Brews Cruise" on Lake Lewisville that you can attend if you buy into the "VIP exBeerience" package ($119) that gets you a spot on the catamaran Friday as well as entrance to the festival on Saturday. Entrance to the festival only is $40. If you buy online before the festival, tickets are $30. There are also $20 "designated driver" tickets available for that include everything but beer. Tickets can be purchased at NorthTexasBeerFestival.Com
There will also be a charity golf tournament on Sunday (assuming you aren't too hung over to hit a driver) that will be held at Top Golf in Allen from 2 to 6 p.m. Cost for the golf tournament is $95 per player.
By: Scooter Hendon | 05/05/2011Shiner tends to come out with new seasonals every year, and this summer is no exception. Ruby Redbird is brewed with ruby-red grapefruits and ginger and is a refreshing summer beer.
Check out our inaugural Texas New Brewcast!
Brewcast Discussion Links
By: Scooter Hendon | 04/26/2011Right now, you may be asking yourself do we really need another beer website? Is TexasBrews.org going offer something different? Wait … Texas makes good beer? Is this guy going to stop asking rhetorical questions and get on with it? The answer is a big, fat Texas YES.
The concept for this site was created out of our love for two things: Texas and Beer. A life-long Texan, I know first-hand the pride we have in our state. We kick ass at a lot of things. Food, industry, arts, commerce, natural resources. You name it, we're good at it. But over time, I started to realize that by and large, that while we're proud of many things, not one of those things is beer. Sure, there are fiercely devoted fans of Texas brewing, but even though Texans rank second for most beer-drinkingest state in the country (Texans consume more beer per capita than Ireland or Germany), our most popular beer is Bud Light. The other nine in the top ten are also Bud, Miller or Coors products with nary a Texas-owned company producing a top 10 beer in the state. Frankly, this info chaps my ass.
Why, I asked, would so many people toss back foreign-owned products that taste like fizzy piss when there is so much great beer brewed right in our own backyards? As I contemplated, I figured out there were 4 reasons why. Time, price, comfort, and lack of information.
Texas, as compared to the rest of the country is rather late the craft beer movement. Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner has been producing quality beer for more than a century now, but are the only ones from the olden days to survive. Saint Arnold came around in 1994 when the movement was starting to bloom and Real Ale followed shortly thereafter. I won't make this a full-on history lesson, but many other smaller breweries haven't survived the journey and it's going to take more time to build us up to being a craft-brewing state. Will we ever be Oregon, California or Colorado? Probably not. But more time should see our breweries develop and diversify.
This is a main sticking point for a lot of people. When one beer costs $5.49 per six pack and a six pack of something else is $7.99, you're going to pick the one that's $5.49 if you don't know any different. It's simple personal economics. For some, craft beer is an occasional luxury, for others it's a way of life (and for some it's not even on the radar). As this site will hopefully illustrate, craft beer (and specifically Texas craft beer) is an affordable luxury that can help your taste buds and your state.
Chances are, you have a friend who drinks beer that identifies themselves as a "Bud man", or a "Coors Light man". Comfort is a powerful thing and drives an endless number of purchases and decisions we make on a daily basis. To enjoy new things, many times we must exit that comfort bubble and try new things. Might they be a little pricier? Yes. Might they taste different and deliver a new experience? Yes. But, through becoming more well informed, both of those transitions will be a little easier. Which brings me to…
This is where we come in. Our site will seek to inform you about every possible thing we can pack into this site about Texas that is beer related. Want to know what beer goes great with the brisket you just smoked? Want to know what beers go great with a hot summer day? Want to know the latest news from your favorite Texas brewery? Rest assured that this site is all about answering questions and informing the public about Texas craft beer.
If you've gotten this far, you likely care some about craft beer or are getting really damn interested. Just know that this site will not be only for newbies. There will be many interviews, opinion features, trends stories and news to provide something for the already-seasoned beer geek. As the site progresses, we have some lofty goals to provide more than just info about beer such as holding and promoting events about Texas beer, advocating for state law changes, info about homebrewing and branching out into other areas we haven't even thought of yet. We're also not done building the core of the site. There are plenty more breweries and beers for us to profile and write about, and we'll be adding new ones all the time. So, stick with us, we'll be growing and the site will be a living document that is constantly changing, just like the Texas beer scene.
By: Scooter Hendon | 04/26/2011As our state starts to flourish with breweries and a growing interest in craft beer, it takes the efforts of motivated individuals to share that knowledge and craft beer experience with the well-versed and uninitiated alike. Enter Clif Wigington, founder and Manager General of The Texas Beer Fest.
Wigington’s goal in starting a festival in Texas, and more specifically the Houston area, has been on making people aware of the great beer we have in our state.
“I wanted to find a way to really support the Texas brewers. We’ve got great breweries here in Texas, and to me, it’s funny that a lot of people don’t even know about them. Here we are having Texas breweries winning awards like at (Great American Beer Festival) and still most of the population of Houston has no clue that we’ve got a great brewing community. So my thought was, why don’t we get together a festival that incorporates as many craft breweries as we can in Texas and really support the local, but also celebrate the national?”
And currently, the Texas Beer Fest has done just that. Incorporating 20 Texas breweries, some of which aren’t even commercially producing beer yet, the festival looks to be a premiere event for exposing people to Texas brewing. With established breweries like Saint Arnold and Real Ale, newbies will have a chance to try some things they may not have before, but the focus will be to shed some light on the upstart guys as well. With Kreuz Creek, New Republic and No Label scheduled to be there, even those beer-savvy attendees will have a chance to meet some exciting new faces and potentially try beers that have previously been mostly unavailable or impossible to even access before. Or, they might be able to simply shake the hand of a Texas entrepreneur who is looking to get going.
“We’ve got pretty much ever Texas craft brewer we can and basically we’re telling them “Listen, we just want you there,” Wigington said. “We’ve even got some breweries who don’t have a license to sell their product, but we want them there so that when people come up and see them they can speak to them. They may not be able to try their beer yet, but they’ll get to know ‘Hey, when these guys can start selling, this is who I want to support.”
Lest you think these guys are just looking to capitalize on the craft beer boon, you can rest assured that they’re in it for the cause.
“We’ve gotten with these guys and said ‘Listen, we just want to support you, we don’t want you to donate product, we want to buy product from you and we want everybody that we know to know about y'all,” Wigington said.
The idea is to make this a multi-year thing and make it into an annual event that grows to become the premiere event for craft beer in the state of Texas. They’re starting out simple and not getting ahead of themselves, but are certainly keeping their eyes on how they can expand the festival in coming years to incorporate more food-related and other ancillary events to go along with the festival.
“We have a lot of big grocery chains and a lot of big company sponsors that are really watching us and they want to make sure this Texas Beer fest is exactly what we say it is as it’s a promotion of Texas industry. This is not a ‘let’s all get together and do some keg stands, let’s all get together and get drunk.’ Because this is the first year there are a lot of people watching and will see that after the first year. Then everyone says that this is exactly what we intended it to be as a positive, very friendly, very safe environment, then we’ll have bigger sponsors next year.”
In addition to supporting Texas industry, 25 percent of the net proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Houston Food Bank. “We are going to get some money back from the festival, why not give back to the same community that we’re being a part of? We want to be able to support local industries, but also support those people that are having trouble getting food.”
And ultimately, there’s an ends to this all this effort. With Texas being comparatively so far behind many other states, we aren’t seen as a beer destination point. Ask anyone around the country who’s really into beer and chances are they’ll tell you their ideal beercation would be to Colorado, California, Oregon or many other areas that are associated with great beer. As Texas catches up, the goal of the Texas Beer Fest will be to make us more synonymous with great beer states.
“If we can create a great festival that gives a fun, friendly environment and we can also do it to where it’s easy to get into from across the states, we can really start changing the beer culture in Texas and create a destination for people to come to,” Wigington said. “I dislike the idea of someone from, say, Washington D.C., comes into Houston and he goes to the local bar and see the same beers as he does in Washington, or New York or anywhere else. Whereas if he had a friend take him to a bar that had all the Texas beers, he’d be like ‘Wow, I can’t get this in Washington D.C., this is something I want to return to. This is something I want to tell my friends about and Texas can become a destination for beer advocates in general.’ ”
The inaugural event takes place May 7 at the Humble Convention Center Arena from 1-10 p.m. with related beer dinners happening from May 2 through May 12. Tickets for the festival are $34 in advance and $40 at the door and includes 12 coupons that can be used for 2-ounce beer pours or food. Leave the young-uns at home, the event is 21-and-up.
Special Texas beers available at the Texas Beer Fest
- (512) Casabel Cream Stout (Firkin)
- Independence Brewluminati
- No Label Panamanian Coffee Milk Stout
- Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer
- Real Ale Lost Gold IPA (Cask)
- Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 11
- Thirsty Planet Double Buckethead IPA