Texas Brews News
By: Scooter Hendon | 06/07/2012
New 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 | 05/27/2012
Jester 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 | 05/23/2012
If 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 | 05/17/2012
Karbach 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 | 05/09/2012
Fort 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 | 04/15/2012
Questions 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 | 03/15/2012
Southern 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 | 03/08/2012
By 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 | 03/05/2012
How 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 | 02/26/2012
Brandon 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.