Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Celis and Shiner: A Look Back at Texas Craft Brewing

I just stumbled across this article in Texas Monthly's online archives. I'm sure it was interesting reading in 1996, when it was originally printed; 14 years later, it's even more interesting. The thrust of the article — written by Patrick Earvolino, who also used to do a lot of writing for us at The Austin Chronicle — was whether it's a good thing for small breweries to get bought out by big companies, with the focus on Spoetzl (Shiner) and Celis.

Of course, we can read the article today with hindsight — Spoetzl got saved from near-certain death by Gambrinus, while Miller's buyout of Celis turned out exactly the opposite, with the bigger brewer driving Celis into near-extinction.

One thing that's really interesting about it — reading the names of beers I'd long forgotten. Anyone remember
Shiner Honey Wheat or Pecan Street Brewing?

Give it a read. (You have to register to read the full article, but it's free.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday edition of "Beer Flights"

The newest edition of my Austin Chronicle beer news column, "Beer Flights," is in today's edition. This one looks at holiday seasonals from local and Texas breweries. Please give it a read.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shiner Wins Euro Beer Awards

Another press release, this time from Spoetzl:

Small-town Texas Craft Brewer Takes on the Best of the World

NUREMBERG, GERMANY (November 11, 2010) – The Spoetzl Brewery, brewers of the legendary Shiner family of beers, is celebrating its 101 years of excellence in brewing with gold and silver medals awarded today at the prestigious European Beer Star Awards in Nuremberg.

Shiner’s seasonal Oktoberfest won a gold medal in the German Märzen-style category and Shiner 101 Czech-style Pilsner was awarded silver. These categories are typically dominated by German and Czech breweries. For example, in the Bohemian-style Pilsner category, Czech breweries won the gold and bronze medals.

This year more than 950 beers from 33 countries vied for awards in 44 different categories. Judging is held at Doemens Brewing Academy by a panel of 88 beer and brewery experts from around the world.

German and Czech immigrants founded the Central Texas town of Shiner in the late 1800s. It’s not uncommon to hear those languages still spoken there. And the Spoetzl Brewery gets its name from longtime brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl – born, raised and trained as a brewmaster in Bavaria. So it’s no surprise that the Spoetzl Brewery can turn out fine, handcrafted beers that are loved in America but can stand up to competition from these Old World, classic styles.

“Our small town of Shiner, Texas is big tonight in the world of beer,” said Jimmy Mauric, Shiner’s brewmaster. “Winning the gold medal for Shiner Oktoberfest and the silver for Shiner Czech Pilsner – two traditional styles of Germany and the Czech Republic would make Shiner’s founding fathers immensely proud.”

The European Beer Star Competition is organized by the Association of Private Breweries in Germany, the Association of Private Breweries in Bavaria and the Association of Small and Independent Breweries in Europe. It is considered one of the world’s foremost beer competitions.

Founded in Shiner, Texas (population 2,070), the Spoetzl Brewery is one of America’s oldest independent breweries. While Spoetzl has grown to be the country’s fourth largest craft brewery, every drop of Shiner’s award-winning beer is still handcrafted and bottled by only 66 employees, very near the spot where it all started in 1909.

Fancy Brew From Jester King Out Soon

[Update: In the original version of this post, the headline stated that this is Jester King's first commercial release. Turns out I'm about two weeks behind. JK's Jeffrey Stuffings tells me: "We've had Wytchmaker Rye IPA and Commercial Suicide Dark Mild (not the whiskey barrel aged version) out around town and in a few places in DFW and Houston for about two weeks. At the moment, we're at Draught House, Whip-In, Black Star Co-op and Uncle Billy's."]

Press release from Jester King:

Austin, Texas – Jester King Craft Brewery is set to release a whiskey barrel aged version of Commercial Suicide Oaked Dark Mild. We filled three George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey barrels with Commercial Suicide and let it age. The beer is now ready for release, and we hope to have it in bars beginning this weekend and going into next week.

The base beer, Commercial Suicide, is a blend of 70% dark mild and 30% dark mild aged in medium toast, Kentucky oak barrels (new barrels, not whiskey). At 3.3% ABV, we set out to pack as much flavor as possible into a true session ale. The malted barley and hops in the beer are all English. Here are the ingredients and specs on the base beer:

OG: 1.041
FG: 1.016
IBU: 18
ABV: ~3.3%
SRM: 18
Malts: Crisp Maris Otter, Crisp Brown, Simpsons Caramalt, Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal, Crisp Pale Chocolate
Hops: East Kent Golding
Yeast: English Dry Ale

We have ten kegs and two firkins of Whiskey Barrel Commercial Suicide set for release.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

New 'Beer Flights'

The new Austin Chronicle is out, and has another edition of my local beer news column, "Beer Flights." Click the link to check it out.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Yeah, Really!

From "Overheard in the Newsroom":

Copy editor, while reading the police blotter: “If you’re going to steal beer, why would you steal Natural Light?”

South Austin Brewing Event

Yet another of those new Austin brewers, South Austin Brewing, has an event coming up:
Sunday, 7 to 9:30 PM
November 7
Premiere of South Austin Brewing Live Music Series

Preview the brewery’s facilities, enjoy live music, and drink FREE Texas craft beers!

We won’t be brewing yet, but there will be kegs of FREE local beer.
Music is $10. All cover charge goes to the musicians, Americana recording artists AMANDA SHIRES & ROD PICOTT

Bring your valid ID - 21 & older only.