Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oregon's Deschutes now available in Texas

Press release I just received:

[] []

Bend Based Deschutes Brewery Expands Into the Texas Market

(March 24, 2008 – Bend, OR) – Deschutes Brewery has recently announced plans to expand its distribution and sales into Texas, the thirteenth state to offer Deschutes brews. Deschutes Brewery’s flagship beers, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter, will be available on draft at select establishments in Austin beginning Monday, March 24th; beer will be available in the Dallas area as of May 1st.

Black Butte Porter, the number one selling craft porter in the country, was first brewed in 1988 and has become Deschutes Brewery’s flagship label. With the rich and distinctive flavor of chocolate and crystal malts, this porter has developed a loyal and passionate following. Deschutes Brewery’s other flagship beer, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, became a year-round offering in 1996 and uses generous quantities of Cascade hops, offering a lush floral aroma with a balanced malt body.

Look for Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale on tap at select Austin establishments including: Billy's, Trudy's on 30th, Crown and Anchor, Opal Divines on 6th, Little Woodrow's on 6th and Draught Horse. For more information about Deschutes Brewery and their award winning beers, please visit www.deschutesbrewery.com.

About Deschutes Brewery:
Deschutes Brewery was founded in 1988 by Gary Fish as the Deschutes Brewery and Public House. Over the years, Deschutes has maintained its commitment to innovation and exceptional quality with flagship beers such as Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter, as well as new additions like The Abyss and Hop Trip. This year, Deschutes Brewery celebrates their 20th Anniversary, along with the opening of their new Portland Brewery and Public House.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Black Star Co-op Event Tonight

Sadly, I won't be there. Y'all enjoy it for me:

Dear Member-Owners & Friends,
Don't forget that our March Beer Social will take place tomorrow night, Saturday 3/22, from 7-10 PM at Kenny Dorham's Backyard (1106 E 11th St).  The weather should be clear and cool, so bring a chair and enjoy our return to outdoor Beer Socials with live music by The Lennings.

We've received a challenge from a current member-owner for 50 new people to join the Co-op before March 31, and he will generously match each new membership with a $20 donation. With your help we can answer this challenge, and have set a goal of 25 new member-owners (half the challenge!) at just the Beer Social. If you can't make it to the Beer Social, please become a member-owner on our website before the 31st:


What: March Beer Social
Where: Kenny Dorham's Backyard, 1106 E 11th St
When: Saturday, March 22nd, 7-10PM
What to bring: Chairs, Friends, and Thirst
More information: http://www.blackstar.coop/events/march-beer-social
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=9856317414
do512: http://do512.com/event/2008/03/22/black-star-co-op-beer-social-featuring-the-lennings


Black Star Co-op

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My story on the hop shortage

I had a feature story in today's Austin Chronicle on the global hop shortage. I hope you enjoy it. You should also check out Wes Marshall's roundup of Austin brewpubs, also in today's issue.

(Please note: that photograph is copyrighted to
The Austin Chronicle and photographer John Anderson. Please do not use it without obtaining John's permission.)

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Texas Beer Blog

In fact, that is literally what it is called: Texas Beer. It offers up "News about Beers, Brewers and Brewing in the Lone Star State." It's being published by a freelance writer living in Fort Worth. Go check it out.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bourbon Sucks

So last night I planned on hanging out most of the night, if not all, at Bourbon Rocks on Sixth Street for my SXSW evening. But we got over there to hear Lil' Cap'n Travis and went up to what appeared to be a well-stocked bar – just about every hard liquor you could want – but then I was horrified to see their beer selection (and I use the term "selection" lightly). Their entire beer list was: Miller Lite, Bud Light, Miller High Life, or Heineken Light. Oh, excuse me … they also had Coors Light out back.

As soon as LCT was done, I was outta there! Bret accused me of being a whiny little pussy – and he's right, I was. And I don't care, because you know what? During SXSW – and really, just about any night in Austin – there are about five bazillion nightclubs where I can get great music
and great beer, so I why should I settle for only half of the equation? C'mon, Bourbon Rocks – if you're going to run a bar in this town you at least need to throw me a bone with some Shiner Bock, at a minimum.

We moved a block away over to
Orchid (on Seventh between Neches and Trinity) and caught a fantastic unofficial showcase with some awesome bands (Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Hello Stranger, an Oslo band called Big Bang, and a southern rock guy named Leroy Powell; see the poster) and awesome beer (Fireman's Four, Live Oak Big Bark, and Guinness). Except I think we were actually buying our beer from the club next door named Black & Tan. The clubs are all connected; they must either have the same owners or some sort of arrangement, because they appear to all be one place.

I asked Bret about halfway through if he wanted to leave and go catch Geno Delafose – which would have been great – but he imparted some wisdom upon me, borrowed from the poker world: "I'm staying here. I never leave a table when it's hot." He was right. It all kicked ass.

Oh, and as always: God bless the nice folks at Capital Metro for driving my drunk butt home. Them are some good people. Don't drink and drive kids, leave the driving to the sober professionals. If you're partying downtown late at night, the Night Owl routes are the best thing ever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bad Bartender! BAD!

You know, I normally have a policy of not bitching at bartenders. They get too much grief as it is. After all, they have to deal with drunks all day (and night). Who the hell deserves that?

But sometimes bartenders give really crappy service, and they deserve to be called on it.

So this afternoon, I'm enjoying the South by Southwest festivities, and after quite a few beers, I decide I better start pacing myself. So I head into
Opal Divine's and ask for a water. And the bartender says, "Sorry, all we have is bottled water." Fine, I say, let me have it. I hand over $2 and take my bottle. And then I walk into the next room, and RIGHT THERE is an Igloo water cooler FULL OF WATER with several plastic cups sitting right there. So I indignantly went back to the bartender and said, "You have drinking water RIGHT THERE." And her reply was, "Well, yes, but all we have at the bar is bottled water."

So tell me: HOW FUCKING HARD WOULD HAVE IT BEEN FOR YOU TO TELL ME THAT THERE WAS SOME FREE WATER LESS THAN 20 FEET FROM WHERE WE'RE STANDING? You cost me money, and made me do something bad for the environment, to boot.

So, Ms. Bartender, I hope you're proud of that $2 you raked in for your business (which brought you no tip). It cost you the $15 or so (plus tip) that I probably would have spent on dinner and a beer, but I didn't, because I was so torqued off at you that I just stomped out. Good going. You cost your business $13 or so, plus a hell of a lot of customer loyalty from me.

And don't even get me started on the assholes with Central Parking Corporation who ripped me out of $5 because their signs are completely deceptive. Don't park in their lots downtown. The signs that say five bucks will buy you parking until 6am is a LIE. I'm definitely taking the bus tomorrow.

Great Beers in Philly

If you live out near Philadelphia, a friend of mine helps put on the event below as an annual fundraiser for the American Red Cross. Getting tipsy for a good cause is a win-win, so go do it. (If you can't read it, click on the invitation for a larger version.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Fox & Hound Is Gone? Ha-ha!

I have just learned, via Mean Rachel, that the Fox & Hound is now nothing more than a pile of rubble. I consider this a beautiful thing.

I always hated the Fox & Hound. Which might sound like an odd thing to say, given that I never set foot in the place. But there is some history here.

You see, once upon a time, it was completely illegal for breweries to sell their product on the premises. (And for microbreweries, it still is — yet another example of the utter stupidity and lack of sense in Texas' alcohol laws. Especially considering wineries
can sell their product on-site.) But in 1993, it became legal for brewpubs – restaurant that brew their own – to do business in Texas, and the very first one to open after legalization was Waterloo Brewing Company.

Waterloo was, hands down, my favorite bar in town. I liked pretty much everything they did. They had a raspberry beer that was actually quite tasty, despite my reservations about fruit beers. And I loved the O.Henry Porter. (In fact, we regulars liked asking them to mix the former and latter into something we called "Porterberry.") But, in these formative years of my beer snobbery — when America's craft beer movement was just moving into high gear — the biggest revelation to me was the Guytown IPA. I'd never heard of the India pale ale style, but I instantly knew I loved it. To this day, relying solely on memory, I still consider it my favorite beer
ever. And their food was tasty, the pool room upstairs was great, and nothing beat drinking on their rooftop.

But eventually, Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden. And Waterloo came to an end. In 2001, the bar lost its lease because the property owners said they wanted to replace it with high-rise condos. Which I didn't like, but I was willing to at least excuse a little bit because I do generally support the idea of vertical mixed use development downtown. But then the condos never happened! Suddenly, there was a new bar in Waterloo's place! I felt betrayed. Like some sort of bait and switch had happened. They got rid of the homegrown brewpub and replaced it with a chain.
Grrrr. I vowed to never set foot in the place. I worried that perhaps that was a bit close-minded of me, but Moira Muldoon, who wrote the great "Girl Walks Into a Bar" column for the Statesman, vindicated my stubbornness when she reviewed the Fox and Hound as "awful. Horrible. I'd rather give up this column than be forced to go back there."

I giggled with glee when I read that. But it still didn't ease the pain of losing what may have been my all time favorite bar. It's still gone. All that remains is a website. And memories.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

2nd Annual Great Austin Belgian Beer Festival

And I probably won't be there, because it's the same day as the Texas Relays (track & field is one of my other great passions in life). Theoretically I could make about the last hour, but I'm guessing I won't. Y'all have fun without me. :-(

Press release from Zax Pints and Plates:

The 2nd Annual Great Austin Belgian Beer Festival:

Saturday April 5 Noon-7pm

Zax Pints and Plates 312 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX

Tickets now available: $22adv/$25 at the door (advance tickets available only at Zax)

Entitles you to a tasting glass and your first 6 4 oz. samples of over 30 of the most amazing, remarkable and historical beers in the world. Additional samples will be available for purchase for $3 each.

Food is not included, but our normal menu will be available.

Discount hotel packages available at the Embassy Suites. Just mention the festival or follow this link.

Partial List of Beers (Subject to availability)
Tripel Karmeliet
Duchesse de Bourgogne(Flemish Red Sour)
Urthel Hop It
Urthel Samaranth
Grotten Brown
Grotten Flemish
St. Feuillien Tripel
Dubuisson Scaldis
St. Bernardus Tripel
St. Bernardus Wit
Chimay White
Chimay Blue
D'Achouffe La Chouffe
D'Achouffe Mc Chouffe
LeFebvre Blanche de Bruxelles
Lindeman's Framboise
Westmalle Dubble
Westmalle Triple
Rochefort 8
Rochefort 10

Friday, March 07, 2008

Springtime Beers

Despite the blast of cold last night, spring is more or less here in Texas. Time to transition from those heavy-duty winter warmers to something a little (but not too much) lighter.

My Kansas City mother-in-law is in town, which is wonderful in and of itself, but it's enhanced by the fact that (A) she's here to watch the kids while M'Lady and I enjoy South by Southwest and (B) she always brings me Boulevard beer, which finally started distributing to Texas but we still can't get it here in Austin. (Yo, Boulevard – you really think Dallas is a better craft beer market than Austin? Seriously? Maybe I underestimate my DFW brethren, but I think your hardcore beer drinkers are down here.)

So the MIL (not to be confused with the MILF — that would be my wife) brought me Boulevard's Irish Ale, which I've never had before because I usually visit KC only in summer and winter; Irish Ale is a spring seasonal. This is wonderful stuff. As the name suggests, it's an Irish red, which if drunk at proper temperature has just the right touch of malt, not overpowering like a winter doppelbock, but more balanced. (And the right temperature, by the way, is in the 50s. I love today's weather – I can just leave the beer on my back porch instead of the beer fridge, and it's perfect.)

Speaking of bocks, I'm also leaping for joy because Saint Arnold's Spring Bock has arrived. These guys had me at the label, with those gorgeous Texas bluebonnets on it, but the beer inside is even better. I was talking yesterday with Brock Wagner, the CEO of Saint Arnold, and he said that I only have something like three more weeks of it – that makes me sad. I want them to keep pumping this stuff out at least through the end of April. (Man, the Winter Stout disappeared
way too quick!) Also a nice dose of malt, a little heavier than this Irish Ale, it borders on being a winter beer. I suppose I shouldn't be so sad that I can't get Boulevard in Austin — Saint Arnold (out of Houston) is doing a fine job of filling the "regional brewery" role for Texas that Bully does up in the Midwest.

But hey, I'm greedy — I want it

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Beer Candidate Loses

I'm a little sad tonight. Only a little.

You see, I cover politics for
The Austin Chronicle, and one of the races I've been covering is Texas' 10th Congressional District. Which I also happen to be a resident of. We've been represented by a Republican since 2004, after Tom DeLay's famous re-redistricting. But this year, on the Democratic side, we were really lucky – we had two really great candidates. Our choice was between great or greater.

But I really took a liking to one of the candidates, Dan Grant (that's him in the picture). Why? Because after we finished my interview of him, he confessed that he had also done some research on
me, had found my blog, and professed his love for craft beers. Let me tell you, when I walked into the voting booth, I still hadn't made up my mind, but knowing that I might have a Congressman who could appreciate a Belgian trippel or the latest seasonal from Saint Arnold was pulling on me. Hey, people have cast votes based on stupider logic than that.

So I finally had to make my decision. I went into the polls, looked at that voting machine, and cast my vote for … well, my vote is secret and I'll leave it at that. But Grant lost. Now I don't know how the winner, Larry Joe Doherty, stands on craft beer, but he's a bit of a good old boy and strikes me as more of a Lone Star man. What I
do know is that he'll be a much better Congressman that what I currently have.

But I also know that craft beer lovers may have missed a chance to have influence in the halls of power. Sorry, Dan. I know you would have made a great congressman. Let's hoist a beer together sometime soon.

Karla is in Germany

Yes, she is drinking beer there.

Changes at Live Oak Brewing

I just got off the phone with Chip at Live Oak Brewing, and I asked him about the impact that the current worldwide hop shortage is having on his company. He says they have enough hops to last through the year and into 2009, but the inability to get sufficient Cascade hops is causing them to downgrade their Liberation IPA from a regular brew to a seasonal, which ought to have Austin hop fans … um, crying in their beer.

And there's more bad news: their
Pale Ale (which I tried for only the first time last night on my first-ever visit to Bull McCabe's after the They Might Be Giants show at Stubb's) is going away altogether.

But all is not lost: Live Oak will still make an IPA, they're just not going to call it Liberation because they can't duplicate its distinct Cascade dry-hopped taste signature. The new one will simply be called
Live Oak IPA, and Chip says it tastes "fantastic."

Okay, the brewer himself isn't exactly an unbiased source, but given that I've never put a Live Oak product to my lips that I didn't love, I'm going to believe him and look forward to trying it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Prayer for Beer

Po – a twisted, tortured soul who should be approached with caution – read an e-mail where I lamented that tonight (Election Day) I'll be way too busy to drink because I'm a political reporter, and I asked for people to pray for me as I struggled through an entire Monday-to-Wednesday period without beer. He was happy to oblige:

Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth and all that is in it,
including hops and yeast and grain,
architect of the joys and mysteries of fermentation,
look upon this thy servant Lee
who shall for the sake of those he loves
leave off from his enjoyment of the liquid bounties of creation
for eight and forty hours.
Help him to recall with delight this evening's blessing of
Pyramid Snowcap Ale.
Help him to cross through the great parching wilderness of the next
48 hours, bearing always in mind the greater joys to come.
And, while You are at it, help Obama win tomorrow so we can start to take
our sheenin' country back.
And, if Hillary should prevail in this contest, may you find it in your
goodness to help her persevere through the barbs and darts of Elephantine scorn
and derision, through to final victory in the greater contest to come.
And, dear God, should both of these thy champions fail to unseat the
Princes of the Powers of this World,
help us all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Beer-related pictures

Here's some old pictures from 2005, before I started doing the blog. I just stumbled across them.

Here's me in Boston, at the grave of Samuel Adams. I can't believe the gravestone mentions all that stuff about "Declaration of Independence" and "ardent patriot" but says nothing about him being a brewer. (Click on the pic if you want to actually be able to read the gravestone.)

And here's me in Healdsburg, Calif., at the Bear Republic brewpub, a day before the wedding of our friends Erin and Ben. I have no idea what I'm doing with my hand. It looks like I'm doing the "Hang Loose" sign, but I can't imagine that, because I'm certain I've never flashed that sign in my entire life, and I hope somebody would slap me if I did. Maybe I'm picking my nose.