Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yummy Christmas Presents

More on the aforementioned Kansas City trip to see the family: We hooked up with our Philadelphia friends the Jarigues (Erin is a friend since childhood of M'Lady), and they presented me with a great treat of six Philly-area beers.

I tried the first before we ever left KC (yeah, I'm the type to shake my present under the tree to try to figure out what it is), and was rewarded for my impatience. Tröegs Brewing's Troegenator Doublebock (or "Dopplebock" for you German purists) is an outstanding rendition of this heavy-as-lead winter seasonal. As their website notes, this style was created by monks who needed nutrition during periods of fasting, and this stuff is like liquid bread. (Not Wonder Bread, either – more like heavy duty wheat with a thick, chewy crust.) It's not for the faint of tastebud, and you better have a deep love of malt. Fortunately, I do. It easily stacks up against my longtime favorite in this style, Spaten Optimator (which, for some reason, I must always pronounce with my best Ahnuld Schwarzenegger accent).

Thanks, guys! It's always awesome to try some beer that I can't get here in Texas, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the sixer. (They also included a Golden Monkey from Victory, which is distributed here, but hey, I'll take it anyway. For the record, I'll gladly accept free Victory beer any time.)

Since Erin is in a family way, it was up to me and Ben to then sample the limited-edition Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad that my mother-in-law gave me. I can't say I was as blown away as some of my KC beer blogger friends – I wasn't quite sure what to make of the cherry flavor, and maybe I just needed a cleaner palate after putting away some Boulevard Nutcracker. I think Ben felt the same way. Nonetheless, I liked it, and continue to applaud Boulevard's adventurousness with the Smokestack Series. The MIL got me two bottles, so maybe my appraisal will come up on the next try. (UPDATE: Yes, I thought this was excellent on the second go-around. I think letting it warm for several minutes is a good tactic with this beer.)

What did rock my world was the Double Wide IPA (another Smokestack) that I accidentally left in the MIL's fridge last winter. A year's worth of aging didn't hurt this beer one bit. Maybe the DWIPA raised my expectation too high for the BBQ (Get it? Bourbon Barrel Quad? Kansas City BBQ? Those guys are clever.) Now, if only Boulevard will put on the market that imperial stout that they tested on me and some other beer bloggers earlier this year. It was great.

Up next: Boulevard's other limited-edition brew, the Brett Saison, which the KC crowd has been raving about and I'm anxious to sample. As far as I know, it's not been for sale in Texas, making my biannual KC trips all the more valuable. Um, well, that and visiting my in-laws. ;-)

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Bobnoxious Xmas Beer Tasting Report, Part 1

As always, I'm not sure what I did with my tasting notes from the 2008 Bobnoxious Christmas Beer Tasting, but I do remember drinking lots of yummy stuff. And, again as always, I'll have to fall back on Bob himself and let you read his tasting notes. And perhaps at some point, there will actually be a Part 2 to this post. I think my notes got buried in my suitcase, which I have yet to unpack.

Until that time, I'll just add one thing to Bob's comments: My favorite beer of the whole shindig was our friend Ed's chocolate raspberry stout (with a nitro pour!). Yes, I even thought it was better than any of the commercial brews we tried, and no, I don't say that out of charity to a friend — it really was that good. It's no wonder he won the "flavored beers" category in this year's Austin Zealots Inquisition contest with it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Great Kansas City Beer Blogger Summit II


Well, I guess if three of us getting together can be called a summit, then so be it. Quality trumped the lack of quantity, however, and we had a great time.

Unfortunately, trying to round up six people at holiday time is like herding cats. Absent: Muddy Mo came up sick today; Bull had family obligations to deal with; I'm still not convinced that Wes actually exists; and, despite my pursuit of a meeting with her for a year and a half now, Beergirl and I are apparently cursed to never have a beer together. She ended up having a funeral to deal with today, and what the hell are you gonna do about that? (Sara, please tell your hubby I am so sorry.) Man, we have rotten luck getting together. Oh well, maybe next summer.

Present: me, Bad Ben, and the newcomer to our group, Oregon Amy. Plus Ben's wife Vickie (sp?) and Amy's husband John, who homebrews. We settled in to a fun evening of talking about beer (natch), brewing (mostly between John and Ben, as I still haven't taking the brewing plunge) and running (Ben, when he's not brewing or drinking, is an ultramarathoner).

Additionally, we were joined by Mags (my designated driver, among other things), the beer-loving Jarigues, and Mags' and Erin's high school friend Wanda.

Our meeting place again was 75th Street Brewery, which I can't recommend highly enough. What a great little place. Located in southern KC, they have tasty food (although I must mock them for their menu item of "Tex-Mex Fondue" — what we Texans would call "queso"), and even tastier beer.

The Christmas ale was nice, albeit not what I expected. I was thinking malty and heavy, but instead got spicy. Their IPA was quite fine — the hops were restrained, just the right balanced note, a refreshing change from how over-the-top some IPAs can be. The stout was a silky-smooth nitro number which the wife particularly approved of. They had something called a "wheat wine," a variation on barleywine, which was a bit sour for my taste, as was their bourbon barrel brown — not bad, but more than I could handle for a whole glass.

I capped off the evening by distributing bottles of Saint Arnold Christmas Ale and Real Ale Fireman's Four, which I hope my Texas beer-deprived KC friends will enjoy.

Okay guys, I've given up hope that we can actually get all of us together at once, but maybe I can see more than half of you next summer? I'm already planning a trip for mid-June.

In the picture, l-r: John, Oregon Amy, me, Bad Ben, Vickie.

(Okay, I'm ready for some of you guys to come visit me in Austin now!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Things I Learned Today

1. McCoy's, in the Westport district of Kansas City, brews some great beer. Their imperial stout was great.

2. The Foundry, McCoy's adjacent beer bar, has really magnificent beer selection. Delirium Noel on tap!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Video Tour of Austin's Breweries

I haven't had time to look at all of this, but what I've seen so far looks pretty cool. Well done, Chris!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If You're Missing Shiner Dunkelweizen ...

... and you live in Austin, and that new peachy concoction just isn't appealing to you, may I suggest the dunkelweizen at North by Northwest? Really, it's even better than the Shiner product. I went there for lunch this afternoon with the parental units, and filled up my growler with it.

It has this brown-gold muddy look to it, but don't let that put you off if you're more accustomed to filtered beers. The wheat flavor is rich and bold, and just screams Germany to me. It has a strong banana note to it, both on the nose and the tongue. This is one of their better offerings, and that's really saying something for North by Northwest, which is pretty consistently great.

This dunkel has replaced the hefe on their menu, I'm assuming just for the winter, so get it while you can.

Another get-while-you can: Their fabulous holiday barleywine is also on tap, although I can testify it isn't quite as fabulous as the cask-conditioned version I had back in November. Sorry if you missed it. (Don't forget: cask-conditioned night is the last Monday of every month.) Also, their bourbon-barrel aged Blackjack Ale is also now on tap. It's been over a year since I've had that, so I'll have to refresh my memory on it soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Celis Grand Cru sighting

I know some of the old Celis lineup has been reappearing in Austin stores in recent years since it was revived by Michigan Brewing Co., but unless I'm mistaken, Celis Grand Cru hasn't been one of those. But I was in Grape Vine Market yesterday and spotted some on the shelves.

I probably should have grabbed some. I wasn't a fan of Grand Cru back in the day when Celis was an Austin brewery (early 1990s), but that was before I'd learned to drink strong ales. Maybe I'd like it now.

Am I right about this? This is a new development, yes?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poll: What Winter Beer should I get?

Winter blew in last night. Or at least what passes for winter in Texas. Temps almost at freezing, a light dusting of snow and ice. It'll get up to about 50. So later today, I'm heading over to Grape Vine Market or Spec's and looking for something to warm my soul.

Help me decide: What should I get? I've had lots of Shiner Holiday Cheer, and still have a few left in my fridge, so let's leave that out.

Leave your votes in the comments section.

(EDIT: Oops, it occurs to me that I still have plenty of Boulevard Nutcracker out in my fridge also, so suppose I don't really need to go beer-shopping. But on the other hand, I need to deposit a check and my bank is only a few doors down from Grape Vine …)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Xmas Gift Suggestion: "Shine On," the history of Shiner Beer

Coffee table books always make a nice Christmas gift. But maybe this one should be called a beer table book. Or maybe a bar book.

Shine On by Mike Renfro is the officially approved history of Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Texas' legendary Shiner beer, brewed for almost 100 years now in Shiner, Texas (pop. 2,070). I've just cracked open my copy, so you'll have to wait for a full-on review (to be published either here or in The Austin Chronicle — the Chron already had a mini-review back in October), but I'd say go ahead and buy it for the beer-lover in your life — as with many coffee table books, the photos and illustrations alone are worth the price. Just based on the first chapter, it looks like the writing is pretty good, too.

A new record

Not that anyone really cares about this except me and my ego, but October was the busiest month ever for I Love Beer. The blog received 5,022 visits that month (barely topping the 5,012 of January) and 7,279 individual page views, just four more than January.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Peek Inside (512) Brewery

Last month, right before Turkey Day, (512) Brewing gave Austinites something to be thankful for: free samples of their new Pecan Porter, and an open-house look at their South Austin brewery. As near as I could tell, the verdict was unanimous: This is a mighty fine, hearty dark beer to keep you warm during the holidays. As with all (512) beers, it's only available in kegs at the moment, so head down to your finer bars and grab a pint.

I can't say my palate is quite sharp enough to detect the pecan flavor, but that's fine — better to go subtle with flavor than heavy. What I did detect was the bold richness that I seek in a porter. I also tried (512)'s wonderful IPA, and stop the presses: I actually found another wheat beer that I like! (512)'s Wit is modeled after the legendary Celis White (which, frankly I was never nuts about), but uses grapefruit peel instead of orange. Maybe that's the difference, because I enjoyed every drop of it.

Some shots of the event, including the glitterati of the Austin brewing scene who attended (two weeks after the event, I guarantee I'm getting some names wrong here; please send corrections and accept my apologies):

On the left, a really nice guy from the Zealots whose name escapes me (dammit I'm an idiot when it comes to names); on the right, Uncle Billy's Brew and Que brewmaster Brian Peters.

Four different beers, but they only give us three sampler tickets? That's just cruel.

Where the magic happens.

Real Ale brewmaster Tim Schwartz and Black Star Co-op's Snax

Bags of malt and a barley mill, a first step to yummy deliciousness

Live Oak's Chip McElroy and his junior apprentice brewmasters

The line got real long, real quick.

Ed inspects the equipment.

Snax, (512) owner/brewer Kevin Brand, and Ed discuss the art.

I dig the classy logo.

Kevin gives a tutorial on how his brews are produced, while enjoying his Pecan Porter.

Kevin holds court like a proud papa holding his new baby. Well done, Kevin! Damn, I need to get to a bar soon for a second tasting.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Meet Your Local Brewers

Thanks to Texas Beer for tipping me off to this. From Edible Austin's website:

Date: Friday, December 12, 2008 At 03 PM
Duration: 4 Hours
Meet Your Local Brewers Happy Hour @ the Whip In Parlour Cafe & Market. Enjoy the fabulous tastes from our local breweries and meet their makers: Live Oak Brewing Company, (512)Brewing Company, Independence Brewing Co., Uncle Billy's Brew, Real Ale Brewing Company, Saint Arnold Brewing Company and Shiner Beers. Special 10% discount offered on taste selections. Also enjoy the Indian subcontinental offerings from the Whip In menu, featuring Loncito's Ranch grass-fed lamb and local produce for vegetarian and vegan varite. 3–7 pm.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Shiner Holiday Cheer


I was certain I would hate this beer.

I still had some residual annoyance toward Spoetzl Brewing for canceling one of my very favorite summer beers, Shiner Kolsch, when I received word that they were also killing off a winter beer I liked, Shiner Dunkelweizen. Their replacement as their winter seasonal, they announced, would be a new dunkelweizen flavored with peaches and pecans named Holiday Cheer.

Great, I thought, just what the world needs — another crappy fruit beer.

But you know what? I'm man enough to admit when I was wrong. I've tried it. And tried it again. And again. This stuff is great.

At least, that's what I think. You may completely disagree. Thus far, I have yet to find anyone who is apathetic toward this beer. People either react like me with a "wow," or they do like my wife and make a yuck face.

On the one hand, I feel like I should have known I would like this. Peaches are my very favorite fruit, especially Texas Hill Country peaches. (Of course, I love raspberries and blueberries too, but that doesn't mean many a good beer hasn't been ruined by them.) And I love Texas pecans, although the peach flavor here completely overwhelms any taste of the pecan.

On the other hand, I ought to hate this. On those rare occasions that I do like a fruit beer, it's when the flavor is subtle. Holiday Cheer's peach is not restrained — it smacks your tastebuds pretty hard. You won't have to search your palate too hard to find it.

Eh, I'm not going to overthink it. The bottom line is, I find this peachy flavor addictive, and it keeps showing up in my beer fridge. I'm not sure it's a taste that immediately says "Christmas" (or whatever winter holiday you prefer) but it's definitely says Texas, and I'm good with that.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cask-conditioned Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale tonight

Ooh, darn it I'd love to go to this, but I think I've used up my night-out credits for the week. Y'all should go in my stead and tell me how delicious it was. And get yourself a pint glass. Message from Saint Arnold:

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, Zax Pints and Plates, 6pm-A very special tapping of Saint Arnold Cask-Conditioned Christmas Ale! There's a pint glass to be had (while supply lasts), as well as some fine food from Mike and Jeff.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wurstfest Chicken Dance

Following up on my mini-review of this year's Wurstfest, I just had to post this:

No Wurstfest is complete without doing the Chicken Dance. From left, that's Ms. Noxious, my older daughter, Noxious Jr., my younger daughter (partially obscured), Bob Noxious (in beer hat, natch), little girl Nosregref, and M'Lady. Photography by Nosregref.

I'm not in the photo because I was off doing a poorly-timed phone interview for a political show on KOOP radio. (For future reference, if a radio station wants to interview you, I don't recommend doing it in a place where loud polka music is coming from one direction and a very active set of railroad tracks is off the other way.)

Damn, I hate missing the Chicken Dance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Freetail Brewing opening this weekend

The newest addition to the Texas brewing scene debuts this weekend down in San Antonio, Freetail Brewing Co.

I love San Antonio and will definitely get down there to try it at some point. Earlier this year I went to Blue Star Brewing in the King William District and was mighty impressed, but have been too slothful to write it up.

Details from a press release they sent me:

The new brewpub will open the inaugural location on the corner of 1604 and NW Military in the Hill Country Plaza retail development on Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 28-30.

The opening marks a fresh approach to San Antonio's brewpub scene combining artisan pizza, salads and sandwiches with a microbrewery featuring unique selections of craft beer. Opening specials will include happy hour prices throughout the weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

(512) Brewing Open House and Pecan Porter


More info (including their location) is at their website.

New weizenbock from Live Oak

Press release from Austin's Live Oak Brewing below. And note at the end: They're working toward eventually getting their product in bottles!
Live Oak Brewing Company, an Austin microbrewery, brewed their one-thousandth batch of beer today. This landmark brew is a batch of their new winter seasonal, Primus Weizenbock. It is a dark, rich German-style Weizen beer (beer made with wheat malt) fermented with a very particular strain of brewers' yeast that gives these beers their unique spicy and fruity character. Primus Weizenbock will extend Live Oak's family of central European-style beers by building on the foundation of their highly acclaimed and best-selling HefeWeizen.

"Our HefeWeizen was voted on the beer aficionado website, BeerAdvocate.com, to be one of the top 25 best beers on planet earth. It seemed natural to extend that brand with a Weizenbock this winter", said Chip McElroy, founder of Live Oak Brewing Company. As all of the Live Oak beers, Primus will be available only on draft in Texas bars and restaurants. It is named after the legendary, if unofficial, patron saint of beer brewing, Jan Primus (John the First), Duke of Brabant. It is also customary in Germany to end the name of a Weizenbock beer with the letters "us" thus, Primus (pronounced, "pre' moose").

The unfiltered beer will have the characteristic clove and banana flavors familiar to HefeWeizen drinkers but with a darker and richer roasty malt character that is typical of some German-style Bock beers. Contributing to that malt character is a laborious decoction mash employed at Live Oak. This old school brewing method is still used at some central European breweries and Live Oak but rarely anywhere else. The alcohol strength will be around 8% ABV and it will be available on tap in December.

Live Oak has experienced such growth over the last few years that they had to put on hold plans to get their products into bottles due to lack of space and production capacity in their current east Austin facility. In order to expand their capacity and package in bottles, the brewery has purchased 20 acres of land on the Colorado River north of the airport (ABIA) to build a new facility that will include a bottling line. The property is beautiful with very many Live Oak trees over 30" in diameter and a couple measuring over 45". McElroy warns, "Don't start holding your breath for bottles yet. Keep looking for our beers on tap. It will take us a couple of years to get the new brewery completed."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shiner 100


Paul over at Texas Beer has the scoop on the final installment in Shiner's 100th anniversary beers. Coming in January, it will be called Commemorator, and will be a doppelbock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Nosregref in New Hampshire

Nosregref is currently in New Hampshire on business, and of course, he's sampling the local brews. He sent me the dispatch below. (You gotta love how Bill expresses mild disappointment at having only 45 beers from which to choose.) That's Bill in the picture, in a place that is clearly not Manchester.

Manchester takes pride in having the tallest building in the whole state of New Hampshire. It's also the largest city in the state. So, naturally they have a bar, Strange Brew Tavern, with the largest number of taps in the area as well. They advertise 65 beers on tap at www.strangebrewtavern.net, but it was closer to 45 last night during my visit. This isn't nearly the selection you would find in nearby Boston, but when the bar is a three-block walk from your hotel, it's much more convenient.

Walking into the non-descript building just off the main street in Manchester, I wasn't expecting much, but once you enter and see the taps packed in tightly behind the bar, you know this isn't a place to come drink bad beer. Excitedly, I saw they had several selections of Harpoon on tap, which is a beer you can only find up in the New England area as a general rule. I've tried and tried to find it anywhere in Texas, in bottle or tap, and nobody can get it. I've even emailed the brewery directly, and they explained they don't have plans to distribute to Texas at this point in time. I blame the stupid Texas alcohol laws. The brewery is based in Boston, and if you are in the area, I strongly recommend their signature IPA, as well as their Hefeweizen.

To start, the Harpoon Winter Warmer. It's another Christmas style ale style strong on the cinnamon and nutmeg, and I can't get enough of it. It was at this moment of ordering that a grumpy old man next to me complained "It isn't winter yet." I explained that I was from Texas, and if it was 30 degrees outside, then damnit, it's winter. And let me drink my beer.

Next up was the Otter Creek (Vermont) Stovepipe Porter. It had potential, but was served too cold. I tried to let it sit for awhile to bring out the flavor more, but I was thirsty. Overall an average porter.

Old Thumper (Maine) Cask Conditioned came next. It was a traditional pale ale, but with the extra cask goodness. It was a nice and smooth beer, but after the last two beers, I think my taste buds were burned out a little bit. Above average still.

After this I went back to the Harpoon Winter Warmer. Did I explain it was $2 pint night for local beers? That was the best part since all the local beers are not local to me. The locals seem to really like this place on Tuesday nights.

Next up: Milly's Tavern. The only brewpub in Manchester, and I'm sure they have claim to some kind of New Hampshire record as well.

Black Star Co-op beer social Saturday

Message from Black Star Co-op below. I won't be there, unfortunately – way too busy this weekend.
Dear Black Star Co-op Community,

We took a break last month, but the Beer Socials are back! Once again we’ll be co-producing the event with DiverseArts at their venue, Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, at 1106 E 11th St.

Over the past year or so the Beer Socials have become a great party, but this month we want to get back to their original purpose: building support and recruiting new member-owners. As such, this month’s Beer Social will look a lot more like those we had back in the early days of our Co-op. We hope you enjoy the changes.

First, we’ll be simplifying things and focusing on creating an environment, much like our future brewpub, where people can enjoy the company of their fellow co-operators over a quality beer. Unfortunately, that means we’ll forgo live music and the Home Brewer’s Corner this month. We want to thank all the bands that have played at our Beer Socials, and all the home brewers who have shared their creations at past events. In the place of these attractions we’ll feature beer from our friends at the North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery and a slide show with information about the Co-op and pictures from our past.

We are also expanding the membership table into an area we’re calling “Your Future Brewpub.” In addition to becoming a member-owner, this is where you can learn more about the vision of our brewpub, meet the Board of Directors, and talk about the house beer recipes with our future brewer.

As we talk about the vision for our future brewpub, we can't neglect one key thing that sets us apart from other brewpubs - the co-operative values and principles. These values and principles date from the first modern co-operative in 1844, are common to all co-operatives worldwide, and are codified by the International Co-operative Alliance as the Statement on the Co-operative Identity. Not only would we like to build awareness of these values, but we'd like to know what they mean to the community that is Black Star Co-op. At this Beer Social we'll have a "Gallery of Values" where you can become familiar with the co-operative values and write/draw your thoughts on a large page for each one.

As usual we’ll have pint glasses available for $5, t-shirts for $15, and the special “Co-op Cultivator” mugs for each member-owners who refers two new Charter Members.

See you on Saturday!

What: November Beer Social
Where: 1106 E 11th St
When: Saturday, November 15th, 7-10PM
What to bring: ID, Chairs, Friends, and Thirst (and ID!)
More information: http://www.blackstar.coop/events/nov-beer-social-2008
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=35383541266
Statement on the Co-operative Identity: http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html

Sincerely,

Black Star Co-op
http://www.blackstar.coop
info@blackstar.coop
(512) 326-1750

Thursday, November 06, 2008

President Obama — I'll drink to that!

I already have an Obama glass from Flying Saucer, but I may need to add this to my collection:


Buy it here.

Hyde Park Market and Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

I stepped into the new Hyde Park Market at 45th & Duval today, because I'd heard it had about the craziest craft brew selection you could possibly find at a corner store. The stories were true. They're even better than the Bread Basket down the street from my house (which I affectionately call the "Beer Basket," because (A) they have a superb beer selection for a convenience store, and (B) they don't actually sell bread). Seriously, it's unbelievable — you wouldn't think a dinky little corner store could match the likes of Spec's, Grape Vine Market, or Central Market, but they come mighty close. I used to live about two blocks from there. It's probably for the best that I no longer do. (Of course, my kid's Montessori school is nearby, so I'll probably be back plenty.)

I extremely pleased to find a four-pack of Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner, a seasonal beer that I'd forgotten about. And I'm not sure how I could have forgotten — I raved about it last year, and as soon as I saw it on the shelves, wonderful hoppy memories flooded into brain.

I just gave it another taste, and my memories proved accurate. This just might be the best beer I've ever tasted. And I don't say that lightly — I try to avoid hyperbole when doing a printed review that the whole world can see. If you like hops, grab some, and I think you'll agree. (If you don't like hops, then trust me, this is not the beer for you.)

Fat Tire in cans!

I just got this message from Wheatsville Food Co-op:

New! Fat Tire Amber Ale now in CANS!

If you love New Belgium's Fat Tire (who doesn't?) it is time to rejoice! Fat Tire is now available at Wheatsville in cans. The cans, which are 100% recyclable, feature Fat Tire's original watercolor artwork. And for those beer lovers worried about Fat Tire's taste changing in the can, fear not. "We took a unique can-conditioning approach and its flavor was not compromised in any way," says Brian Simpson, spokesperson for New Belgium. "We ran a series of tests using our friends at Oskar Blues' canning line and there was no flavor differential. In New Belgium's native Colorado, can sales have exceeded expectations as locals embrace the ability to take Fat Tire to places where bottles are not an option. Distributing cans also helps lighten New Belgium's carbon footprint by saving fuel during transport by due to lighter weight loads." Fat Tire cans are available only in 12-packs and Wheatsville's got em' for $15.99. Let us know how you like them!
Sound like this craft-brew-in-cans thing is really taking off. Which is awesome. Now I don't have to settle for crap beer when I go tubing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Leads Among Beer Drinkers

Back in August I mentioned the Flying Saucer's gimmick to sell pint glasses, a contest to see whether Obama or McCain glasses would sell better.

The results are in! Sez their PR person:

Barack Obama continues to lead overall with 12,993 votes (56%) to John McCain’s 10,261 (44%). Obama also continues to lead in Austin with 1,160 votes to McCain’s 502. All the up-to-date poll results are available at www.beerknurd.com and clicking on the Presidential Poll icon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wurstfest Was Awesome

Sorry, no time for a lengthy post, but Wurstfest was awesome as always. If you like beer, polka, sausage, kraut, people in funny looking German outfits, potato pancakes with applesauce, and pretty much anything you can imagine dipped in batter and deep-fried, then you need to get to New Braunfels. It continues through Nov. 9.

Best beers down there: Paulaner Oktoberfest and Warsteiner Dunkelweizen. And I highly recommend the deep-fried Oreos, which are both delicious and nauseating at the same time.

Oh yeah, fantastic suggestion from Julie that turned out great: Instead of going there on our usual Saturday, we went down on the first Sunday. All the fun, but about 1/10 of the crowd and no hassles. Waiting in lines was minimal, and often, there were no lines at all. It's awesome to just drive right in to a parking place, and then walk up and get a beer, food, or onto a carnival ride instead of waiting an eternity. If you can get there on a non-Saturday, it's worth it. (Although I hear the second Sunday, the last day of the fest, can be about as bad as a Saturday.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Greatest Invention Ever?

Thanks to Don for alerting me to this:

video

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If I stole this truck …


… do you think there is any jury in Travis County that would convict me?

(I spotted this just down Airport Boulevard from my house. Man, it was tempting. Breckenridge 471 IPA is an awesome beer.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Through Nov. 4, it's only going to get worse. As I've mentioned before, in real life I'm a political reporter, and this election season is wearing my butt out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What a Bastard

I got a bunch of great pictures from my trip to El Paso last month — wherein we celebrated Bret's birthday at the UT vs. UTEP football game — and I really need to post them all to Flickr. Until I find time for that, entertain yourself with this great pic of Bobnoxious and his burnt orange sombrero that he bought in Juarez. Picture taken in Hemingway's, the best beer bar in El Paso, near the UTEP campus. (Click on pic for a closer view.)

Chris From Seattle Drinks His Way Through Austin

Chris from Seattle is currently drinking his way through Austin. Unfortunately, we couldn't get together because I had a million things going on this weekend, but you can follow his adventures on his blog.

Your Holy Thought for Sunday Morning

"One purpose of religion is the formation of communities, and our brewery kind of has that effect, of bringing people together. Some of our regulars say going on our brewery tour is going to church." —Brock Wagner, CEO of Saint Arnold Brewing, quoted in the Austin American-Statesman


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Celis Interview in Today's 'Statesman'

The Austin American-Statesman had a wonderful interview in today's edition with world-famous former Austin brewer Pierre Celis. The 83-year-old is now retired and living back in his native Belgium, but Statesman writer Brad Buchholz (and not, oddly enough, regular beer columnist Patrick Beach) caught up with him on one of his frequent return visits. Just in case you're not clear on why he's world-famous: He's the guy who revived the Hoegaarden's wit-style (white wheat) beer back in the Sixties. He then came to America and made a big mark in the Nineties on the Austin and American brew scenes with his own Celis label before financial realities forced him to sell out to Miller.

The article also gives a nice nod to Kevin Brand's new (512) Brewing, which models its Wit on Celis' version. It's worth your time to read it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Draught House Is Turning 40!

Wow, who knew the Draught House is almost 40 years old? Certainly not me — I always assumed it was relatively new. But darn it, I probably won't be able to go to their party (see flyer below) because I'll be a single parent that weekend. That makes me sad. (Because, you know, I haven't been to very many beer festivals lately.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Big Festival Weekend


No, not ACL Fest, that's already gone by. Now it's time for the fall beer festivals, what with Oktoberfest time upon us.

North by Northwest's Oktoberfest has always been a favorite of mine, because, much like a scaled-down version of Wurstfest in New Braunfels, it has beer, sausages, and oompah music for me (not to mention cute waitresses in dirndls – that's them in the picture, plus "Pinty the Bear") and activities for my kids
(bouncy houses, face painting, etc.). Anything that allows me to drink beer and not have to hire a babysitter is a good thing. That will be Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 4-5).

I'll have to go on Sunday, because Saturday I'll be at the new kid on the block, the Flying Saucer Fall Beer Festival. I don't see anything on their site about kid-friendly stuff, but it will be outside, so I assume the kiddos will have room to run around. (If not, then the Flying Saucer better do some tinkering before next year.)

[UPDATE: Oh, forgot: Today is also the 4th Anniversary Party of Independence Brewing! Happy Fourth, guys!]

Damn, this is really going to get me fired up for Wurstfest. And you know, sooner or later I'm going to have to check out Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, but unfortunately, it's this weekend and I've already made my plans to be here in town. Maybe next year. Those Hill Country towns know how to do their German up right.

(Oh, and speaking of cute women in dirndls, I would be remiss if I did remind you to check out the best blog ever, Oktoberfest Girls, which has been having near-daily updates this month.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back to the Deschutes

Okay, back to the Deschutes beers that were sent to me for a review. I've already reviewed the Mirror Pond Pale Ale and the Cinder Cone Red back in May. Also back in May I tasted the Blacke Butte Porter, but didn't get around to writing up. But here are the notes I took: The immediate impression is a strong dose of chocolate. It settles on the tongue nicely, although the finish is mildly disappointing after the excellence of the Mirror Pond and Cinder Cone. There is a hint of licorice behind the chocolate. I'd give it a B.

A few months later I tried the Obsidian Stout, and this was back up to the standard of the first two brews. Obsidian is a smooth, black volcanic rock, and that describes this magnificent stout perfectly: smooth. As I sipped it I immediately imagined the perfect, glassy surface of a perfect rock of obsidian. I lost my other notes, but the velvety wonderfulness of this stout quite firmly implanted itself in my memory.

Then tonight I sampled the Inversion IPA. It was quite good, although I'm not certain what to say about it. Brews like Dogfish Head 60 Minute and 90 Minute, and double IPAs like Breckenridge 471, have raised the standard for IPAs so high that it takes a lot to impress me. Which is not to say Inversion is bad — it's actually quite good, and if you find it, it's worth your time and money.

And now I'm confused. I could have sworn Deschutes sent me a six-pack, but that's only five beers. Maybe they only sent me five, but more likely is I drank one and forgot to take notes. I have a suspicion that they sent me the Green Lakes Organic Ale and I just don't remember it — make of that what you will.

Overall, I'm mighty glad that Deshutes is shipping to Texas, and the Obsidian, Cinder Cone, and Mirror Pond are near the top of my list of recommended beers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Goodbye Shiner Dunkelweizen, Hello Holiday Cheer

Breaking news from Spoetzl Brewery: Continuing the line-up changes to their seasonal offerings, Shiner Dunkelweizen will be going the way of the dinosaur. Too bad — I'll miss that cool label with the bats emerging from beneath the Ann Richards (formerly Congress Avenue) Bridge.

However, the replacement sounds interesting. From Spoetzl's PR man:
Shiner will be releasing a new winter seasonal in November. It’s a dunkelwizen, but with a twist. They’ve added a hint of peach and pecan flavors. Between the dunkelweizen style and the Texas pecans and peaches (from Stonewall), this beer recognizes both the German heritage and Texas roots of the Spoetzl Brewery. The current version of Shiner Dunkelweizen will not be offered this season.

It’s called Holiday Cheer and will be available November through January. It has an ABV of 5.43% and the IBU = 22.

Beer Fest Coming Up at Flying Saucer

Press release from the Flying Saucer:

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will host its first annual Fall Brew Fest on Saturday, Oct. 4 from noon to 10 p.m. at its location at 815 West 47th St. at the City of Austin’s Triangle Park.

The Flying Saucer’s Fall Brew Fest will feature five beer tents, each with crafted brews chosen by The Flying Saucer’s own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs. Featured beers will include rare special releases and cask-conditioned ales. The event also will feature a Frisbee® Golf tournament and live music.

“We’ve had a great response to these events in other markets and knew Austin would be the perfect place to host our next Fall Brew Fest,” said Shannon Wynne, owner of The Flying Saucer. “Cap’n Keith has chosen some great beers for this year’s event, a few of which aren’t available anywhere else in the Austin area. It’s an event beer lovers won’t want to miss!”

Admission to the event is free, but for $15, event goers will receive a commemorative glass and tasting card that can be redeemed for a sampling of 10 of the 20 featured beers. Brats, kraut and Bavarian pretzels also will be available.

For more information about the Fall Brew Fest, please visit www.beerknurd.com or call (512) 454-8200.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Food Meme

Okay, I'll jump on this food meme that my wife and several of her friends are passing around.

1. How do you like your eggs?
With beer.

2. How do you take your coffee/tea?
In a stout or porter.

3. Favorite breakfast food:
Beer.

4. Peanut butter:
and beer.

5. What kind of dressing on your salad?
Beer.

6. Coke or Pepsi?
Beer.

7. You're feeling lazy. What do you make?
Beer.

8. You're feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order?
The kind that tastes good with beer. (Meaning, all kinds.)

9. You feel like cooking. What do you make?
Beer bread. Beer-battered onion rings.

10. Do any foods bring back good memories?
The best times of my life involved beer.

11. Do any foods bring back bad memories?
The worst vomits of my life involved beer.

12. Do any foods remind you of someone?
Most of my friends drink beer.

13. Is there a food you refuse to eat?
Coors.

14. What was your favorite food as a child?
Beer.

15. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like?
Quality beer.

16. Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate?
Crappy beer.

17. Favorite fruit and vegetable:
Beer.

18. Favorite junk food:
Beer.

19. Favorite between meal snack:
Beer.

20. Do you have any weird food habits?
Drinking beer that is appropriate to the season.

21. You're on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on?
Beer.

22. You're off your diet. Now what would you like?
Beer.

23. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai?
Hot enough to balance the cold beer.

24. Can I get you a drink?
Damn, I was wondering when you'd stop asking me these stupid questions.

25. Red or White Wine?
Well dammit, there's another stupid question. Beer!

26. Favorite dessert?
Beer.

27. The perfect nightcap?
Beer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Location for Austin Ginger Man

Scooped by Texas Beer again: Paul is reporting that the Austin Ginger Man has found a new location right around the corner from the current location, which is due to be demolished in about six months.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Great Oktoberfest Beer

Damn, I can tell this is gonna be a good fall. My poker buddies polished off my Saint Arnold Oktoberfest last night, so I just had to swing back over to Grape Vine Market for some more, and look what I found: Boulevard's Bob's '47! As regular readers know, I've been deliriously happy that Kansas City's Boulevard finally started distributing in Austin, but I was worried that they were only going to send their flagship beers (the Pale Ale, Wheat, and Lunar Ale). Nope, they're also sending their seasonals, praise the beer gods. I've raved about Bob's '47 before, and I can't wait to crack one open down here in Austin.

Now, will they send the Smokestack Series to Austin?

Hurricane Ike Hits Texas Breweries

That little storm that blew through Texas last weekend has impacted just about everything in our state, including the beer industry. Texas Beer is reporting that Saint Arnold and Southern Star, both of which are Houston-area brewers, are temporarily offline (in the production sense, not the Internet. Of course, both are without power, so they're probably offline in that way as well). Dammit, and I was just getting into Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest. Best of luck getting back into business, guys — thirsty Texans are counting on you.

UPDATE: I just got this note from Brock Wagner, CEO of Saint Arnold: "We got through pretty well. We were without power until last night but we don't think we lost any beer yet. Haven't finished checking everything. There may be a couple of short-term shortages, but nothing major. Hurricanes are impressive!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yay, Fall Is Here!

Sorry I've been away from the blog almost two weeks. Been busy, and with the election coming up, I'll likely get busier. I just wanted to jump on here for a second and say that a cool front came in, temperatures are in the glorious 70s (we actually slept with the windows open last night and I went for a hard bicycle ride this morning), and it's time to start filling my recycling bin with several of these bottles. Damn I love Saint Arnold. (Photo stolen from another Austin beer blogger that I just discovered, Pivo Nation.)

Shockingly, this is the first time I've tried Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest. I'm not sure why. But thanks to Nosregref for giving me one the other night. I immediately had to run to the store and get more of this malty goodness. Man I love it when the seasons change (and the beer does too).

EDIT: Oh yeah, when I was in Grape Vine Market getting the Saint Arnold, I also noticed this was back in stock as well. And of course, this and this too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Texas Brewing Stats

I asked the Brewers Association (the organization for craft brewers) for some stats on Texas brewers and how they stacked up against the rest of the nation. They were kind enough to send me the May/June issue of The New Brewer, the journal of their organization, and it contained some fascinating numbers from 2007.

• In the South Region (Ala, Ark, Fla, Ga, Ky, La, Ms, NC, Okla, SC, Tenn, and Texas), Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner was by far the leader in sales among craft brewers. Their 380,000 barrels (up 9% from last year) was well ahead of the 74,500 of Abita (New Orleans). Also in the top 10, Saint Arnold (Houston) was 5th with 17,811 bbls, and Real Ale (Blanco) was 8th with 11,511. For comparison, note that Saint Arnold's sales would not make the top 10 in the Pacific Region (California and Hawaii) or the Northeast. Also on the South list was Pete's Brewing, but that's a bit misleading – Pete's is really a California brewer, but they're owned by the Gambrinus company in San Antonio (which also owns Spoetzl).

• Spoetzl was the only Texas company in the national top 50 domestic craft brewing companies, a list that includes regional brewers, contract brewers, and brewpubs, coming in 4th. They were well behind the 1.8 million of leader Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams).


• On the national list of "regional brewing companies" (sales of at least 15,000 bbls) Spoetzl ranked 8th (the "craft brewers" list was more restrictive in its definition, hence the lower ranking on the "regional brewers" list), and Saint Arnold ranked 61st.

• On the national list of "microbrewers" (sales below 15,000 bbls):
11th: Real Ale
79th: Live Oak (Austin) — 4,000 bbls
116th: Healthy Brew (Fort Worth) — 2,500
122nd: Rahr and Sons (Fort Worth) — 2,400
172nd: Independence (Austin) — 1,400

Something called Cerveza Cosaco – Spanish for "Cossack Beer" – was also listed as Texas, but as near as I can tell, it's actually brewed in Mexico and owned by a Colorado company. As for Healthy Brew, I've never heard of them, but Jeffrey had a post about them last year. I can't get their web page, www.healthybrew.com, to load.

(And speaking of Real Ale, their 11,511 bbls is a 106% increase (!) from last year, and that follows increases of 27%, 35%, and 35% in the three previous years. For more on their success, read this great article by the Austin American-Statesman's Patrick Beach.)

• Our brewpub scene has a ways to go on the national list. Tops in Texas was Two Rows Restaurant and Brewery in Dallas — they consistently produce 1,400 bbls a year, putting them at No. 105. Two Rows also has locations in Addison and Houston that produce a little less. After Two Rows was Austin's North by Northwest — 1,250 bbls for No. 132 – and various other Texas brewpubs could be found farther down the list. (The top seller in the nation is Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, Wash., at 5,302 bbls. They must be doing something right up there, because they've almost doubled their sales over the past five years.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Current Addiction

So my wife got on this kick for British-style cream ales a while back, so I grabbed a four-pack of Wexford's Irish Cream Ale (yes, I know British and Irish aren't the same thing, please don't letter-bomb me), and we've both gotten to love it. It's in the tall-boy cans with the nitrogen widget in it, and that nitro makes for some serious creamy goodness. It just glides down the throat, pleasing my tastebuds mightily along the way. Drinking a nitro pour, with its smoother mouthfeel that carbonated beers, always brings back good memories of my lone trip to London which I desperately want to repeat. (2012 Olympics or bust!)

I first heard of this fine brew from Beergirl (recognize that picture, Sara?) and I really owe her big thanks for it.

If you dig Boddington's, shell out the extra two bucks for this instead. Your return on investment will be huge.