Friday, December 23, 2011

A Year of Beer

Yesterday marked one full year since I signed up for Untappd, a social media site for beer drinkers. Untappd is fun — you can log your beers, where you drink them, earn badges for certain drinking accomplishments, and cross-post it to Facebook and Twitter. (Untappd is not the only such site, and I've been meaning to check out some of the others, but so far, that's the only one I do.) Most people, I presume, just do it on a lark; I also use it to promote this blog.

One of my favorite features is that it ranks your top 6 beers — creating, a I guess, your fantasy mix-and-match six-pack. I thought it would be interesting to examine mine:

Now, this list isn't entirely accurate. There were times when I forgot to or couldn't log my beers. But this is pretty spot-on for me.

Clearly, I'm a believer in "drink local" — all six are from Texas breweries. Now, I'm no beer xenophobe — I love beer from outside Texas, and I specifically make it a point when I'm on vacation to explore beers from wherever I am, especially beers that I can't get back home. But I'll also declare that this is a good time to be drinking craft beer in Texas. My homeboys (and girls) just keep getting better, more interesting, and more adventurous. We may never become an Oregon or California, but there's plenty to brag about here (and Texans are good at that).

Plus, my Texancentric bias is skewed by a superstition I have: When I'm watching sports (which is a lot), I always drink the beer most local to the team for which I'm rooting. And that team is usually some incarnation of the Texas Longhorns. It's also the reason Rahr's Blonde got on there: For the first time, I really started following the Texas Rangers, and thus sought out the Fort Worth-based Rahr, especially as the Rangers drove toward their second World Series. I'm glad I did — I used to not think much of Rahr, considering them fairly mediocre, but in giving them another chance I found that the brewery is much improved. This blonde is good stuff, and Rahr's Texas Red very nearly made my top 6 as well. I'm turning into a soccer fan — perhaps if I start following the English Premiere League, you'll see more English beers sneaking onto the list.

In a way, though, I also think the list is deceptive — or at least, it highlights the difference between the beers we drink most and the beers we truly love. Fireman's Four is a good beer. But is it my favorite beer, because it sits atop that list? Certainly not. There are plenty of beers I love more. But of course, the beers I love most cost a pretty penny, and are likely to be seasonal. For me, Fireman's is — as I assume it is for many people — my go-to beer. In Austin, it's always available, it's affordable (not the same thing as "cheap," but certainly cheaper than super-delicious Belgian beers or crazy Dogfish Head selections), and with our ungodly hot weather, it's usually right for the moment.

And for my favorite venues:

Not much surprise here. I was head-over-heels ecstatic when I learned that Black Star was going to open up walking distance (stumbling distance?) from my house. There's nothing cooler than having a neighborhood bar that you can just walk or bicycle to. Of course, the Pour House is slightly closer, and has a good beer selection, but it's not a brewpub and I think I just like BSC's vibe a little better. (Actually, most of my beer drinking occurs in my house, but unlike some Untappd users, I didn't create a listing for my house as a venue.)

My total stats: 989 beers, including 310 unique beers. Hmm, I think I see where my daughters' college fund has been going.

Actually, I'm pretty proud of that unique number. That means I tried a different beer almost every day! In general, I strive for culinarily adventurousness, and almost never drink the same beer consecutively.

And now I have it on record.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Partial Victory in Jester King Case

Yesterday, U.S. Judge Sam Sparks handed down his ruling in the Jester King et al v. TABC case. Unfortunately, he did not rule in favor of craft brewers on the most important part of the case — the section seeking to allow brewers to better sell their products, giving them rights on par with wineries. However, he at least agreed with Jester King on the First Amendment issues, ending the practice of forcing brewers to inaccurately label their products and freeing them to finally tell consumers where their products may be found.

Pasted below is Jester King's commentary on the decision, followed by comments from Texas state Senator John Carona of Dallas, chairman of the committee that oversees alcohol regulation in the Senate.

To read the full ruling, click here: http://courtweb.pamd.uscourts.gov/courtwebsearch/txwd/08866076.pdf

Full disclosure: I am no longer an objective journalist (okay, I was never really all that objective) looking at this issue from the outside. I got laid off from The Austin Chronicle in August (although I continue to review beer for them on a freelance basis), and on Dec. 1, I began employment as the Communications Director for Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio.
Yesterday afternoon, Judge Sam Sparks of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas issued his final judgment on the case that Jester King Brewery and our two co-plaintiffs, Authentic Beverage Company and Zax Restaurant & Bar, filed against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. With respect to all of the First Amendment challenges to the current state law, he ruled in our favor, declaring the statutes and TABC rules in question unconstitutional and therefore invalid. Congratulations and many thanks to our attorneys, Jim Houchins of Houchins Law and Pete Kennedy of Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody for taking on this case and for all of the hard work that they put in. Thanks also to Pete’s firm for supporting his efforts and to Jim’s associate, Rachel Fisher, for all of her hard work and diligent research.

As of result of yesterday’s ruling, beer in Texas may now be labeled as “beer” and ale may now be labeled as “ale”, regardless of alcohol content. Breweries and distributors are also no longer prohibited from independently telling consumers where their products may be purchased, or from communicating truthful and accurate information about their alcohol content. That means Jester King will now be able to add a “Where to Buy” section to our website, as will all other breweries selling beer in Texas.

“In a remarkable (though logically dubious) demonstration of circular reasoning” Judge Sparks writes in his ruling, “TABC attempts to defend the constitutional legitimacy of the Code through an appeal to the statutory authority of the Code itself.” Referring to the required use of the terms “beer”, “ale”, and “malt liquor”, he writes “TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restrictions on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized to prohibit use of the word ‘milk’ by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual ‘Milk Festival’ on the Congress Avenue Bridge.’”

We were disappointed, but not too surprised, that Judge Sparks ruled against our claims that Texas’s disparate treatment of breweries and brewpubs violated the Equal Protection Clause and that its treatment of foreign breweries violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause. The TABC never gave any reason why Texas should be able to prohibit craft brewers from selling beer to customers on-site, while allowing wineries to do so, or why Texas should be able to favor foreign wineries over foreign breweries, and Judge Sparks did not speculate on why that might be. But the legal standards are different and more demanding for challenges brought under the Equal Protection Clause than the First Amendment, and we were unable to persuade Judge Sparks to strike down these discriminatory laws. We were encouraged, however, by Judge Sparks’s observation that “The State of Texas is lucky the burden of proof was on [the Plaintiffs] for many of its claims, or else the Alcoholic Beverage Code might have fared even worse than it has.”

We’re pleased to have helped to bring about at least a few long overdue changes in the antiquated and often inconsistent Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, but small brewers still face many unjust and unnecessary obstacles that need to be removed before we can stand on equal footing with Texas winemakers and brewers in other states. Measurable progress was made with yesterday’s decision, but much more is still needed. We don’t yet know what, if anything, will happen next on the legal front. That’s something that we’ll need to discuss with our attorneys. In the meantime, though, it’s not too early to start thinking about the 2013 legislative session, with the hope that this case will help to bring some momentum for further change. For the first time, Texas consumers finally have a well-organized grassroots organization that’s working to modernize the Beverage Code. We, at Jester King Craft Brewery, will continue to do everything we can to support the efforts of Open the Taps and we encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.
And here is the statement from Sen. Carona:
"A Federal Court has ruled that Texas' laws regarding the advertising and labeling of beer are flawed. In the case of Authentic Beverages Co. vs. TABC, the Judge awarded a summary judgment that certain laws directing the labeling and advertisement of beer are unconstitutional. While the three-tier system of manufacturer, distributor, and retailer has served Texas well since the end of Prohibition, it is an open question how well the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code reflects today's reality of Internet sales and the growth of the craft brewing industry. The Court's ruling suggests this is a topic that may be taken up by the 83rd Legislature."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Were the Top Austin/Texas Beer Moments of 2011?

Hey fellow Texans, I'm putting together one of those year-end list thingies that we journalists just love to do every December. Tell me: What do you think were the top events and happenings of the Texas craft beer scene in 2011, especially in Austin?

I need your responses soon — I have to have this done before I go to bed tonight. Thanks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Black Star Co-op One-Year Anniversary!

There's a couple of big events happening today at my neighborhood brewpub, Black Star Co-op, both worthy of checking out. This afternoon, 1-5pm, is the Eat Drink Local Week Local Brewfest. But even more important is this evening, 6-10pm, the one-year anniversary!

Yes, that crazy idea of operating a cooperatively run, customer-owned brewpub has survived a full year, and from what I can tell, it's been a success. (I was in there Wednesday night and it was packed.)

As I wrote in The Austin Chronicle last year, I had my doubts whether this could work. I'm really happy to have been wrong so far, and I hope I keep being wrong about it for years to come. Congratulations, Black Star!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Market-Based Drinking

An odd little press release from Kung Fu Saloon:
More than 100 beers, fluctuating prices

(Austin, Texas) The owners of Kung Fu Saloon, one of Austin’s most popular bars, are proud to announce the first bar in Austin where prices fluctuate based upon supply and demand.

The commodity for sale: more than 100 different brews.

“The stock market pricing based upon "supply & demand" will be a first in Austin and will bring a new and engaging experience to the customer on West 6th Street,” said Managing Partner, Chris Horne.

The majority of available beers, 72, will be an assortment of rotating draughts from around the world whose prices will constantly be riding the market.

“Selections that are selling will increase in price, and those that aren't will go down. We think this creates a unique social experience that goes beyond just having a drink," Horne said.

The Brew Exchange market will go through volatility seen in the real world. There will be "market crashes" where all of the prices drop to rock bottom and “reverse markets" where there's an inverse relationship between supply & demand.

Customers will be able to watch the “Brew Exchange Market” in real time on a 62 foot long, ‘60s style stock ticker while relaxing in an architecturally unique and stimulating surroundings designed by Jamie Chioco.

Like its sister bar, Kung Fu Saloon, the Brew Exchange will give back generously to the community we too call home. In September Kung Fu Saloon with the help of their customers donated $5,000 to the American Red Cross to help the victims of the Bastrop Complex fires.

“We strive to find new and unique ways that we and our customers can help give back to the community that has given us so much,” Horne said.

Opening Bell December 2011. Buy Low, Drink Up.

Brew Exchange is a business venture of five friends who have all called Austin home for decades. They also own and operate Kung Fu Saloon in Austin, Houston and soon their third installation in Dallas.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Saint Arnold Scavenger Hunt

Sorry, I've been neglecting the blog while I was job-hunting (I lost my full-time gig at The Austin Chronicle back in August) and I might neglect it some more while I adjust to my new job (I just got hired by a state Senator to be her communications director), so I just wanted to offer this quick hit: Saint Arnold's Austin Scavenger Hunt wraps up this weekend. Details here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Can Read Norwegian!

Okay, not really, but I'm pretty sure I know how to translate that middle word on this glass my friend Karla brought me from Oslo.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Saint Arnold Winter Seasonal

Whoa! A blend of my two very favorite Saint Arnold beers, Elissa IPA and Christmas Ale? Okay, I'm listening. Press release from Saint Arnold:

New Holiday Seasonal from Saint Arnold Sails into Stores Thursday

HOUSTON, November 16, 2011 – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (www.saintarnold.com), the oldest craft brewery in Texas, today announced another new seasonal release: Saint Arnold Sailing Santa. A blend of Saint Arnold Elissa IPA and Saint Arnold Christmas Ale, Sailing Santa is scheduled to begin appearing in stores throughout Texas and select Louisiana markets on Thursday, November 17th in 22-ounce bombers.

This is the first time Saint Arnold has released Sailing Santa, which was invented by craft beer lovers a few months after the introduction of Elissa IPA in 2004. In the years that followed, the community adopted the name, “Sailing Santa,” for the concoction when ordering draft pints at bars and restaurants.

“Normally we aren't big fans of blending beers, but this one works,” said Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “The hoppiness of Elissa IPA with the big malt and slightly higher alcohol of Christmas Ale makes a nice winter beer.”

Saint Arnold Sailing Santa will be an annual seasonal release that precedes Thanksgiving. It is the second new seasonal from Saint Arnold in just over a month, following the highly regarded release of Saint Arnold Pumpkinator. As was the case with Pumpkinator, supplies will be limited.

Saint Arnold produced a single 240 barrel batch, which translates to approximately 3,600 cases of twelve 22-ounce bombers. Saint Arnold Sailing Santa will not be shipped in kegs, but can be prepared on-site wherever Saint Arnold Elissa IPA and Saint Arnold Christmas Ale are on tap.

Next up from Saint Arnold will be Saint Arnold Winter Stout, which will begin appearing in stores in early December as supplies of Saint Arnold Christmas Ale are depleted.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shiner Picks Up European Awards

Press release from the little town of Shiner, Texas:

SHINER BEERS STAR IN EUROPEAN COMPETITION

Spoetzl Brewery Brings Home Three Medals in

Traditional German-Style Categories

NUREMBERG, GERMANY and SHINER, TEXAS (NOVEMBER 13, 2011) – The Spoetzl Brewery, brewers of the legendary Shiner family of beers, has once again come home a winner from the European Beer Star Awards, one of the world’s most prestigious tasting competitions.

Shiner’s seasonal Oktoberfest won a silver medal in the GermanMärzen-style category. Bronze medals were awarded to Shiner’s Bohemian Black Lager in the Bohemian-style Schwarzbier category and Old Time Alt in the Düsseldorf-style Altbier section.

The judging panel of beer and brewing experts from around the world had a particularly difficult task this year, faced with evaluating more than 1,100 beers in 49 categories. That’s a nearly 20% increase over the number of entrants in 2010.

Typically, European breweries have dominated the categories representing beer styles native to that continent. Still, Shiner beers have been able to hold their own; in addition to this year’s medals, Shiner won gold and silver last year for Oktoberfest and Shiner 101 Czech-style Pilsner.

“It’s very gratifying to see the German and Czech heritage of our brewery, now 103 years old, reflected in these medals”, said Jimmy Mauric, Shiner’s brewmaster. “It fills us all at the brewery and the town with great pride.”

This is the eighth year for the European Beer Star Awards, which 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 103 year-old 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 is still brewed in Shiner.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cover Story in Today's Austin Chronicle!

While I may no longer be in full-time employ with The Austin Chronicle, at least I do still know how to get myself onto their cover. Click here to read the first feature I've done for them in a freelance capacity since the mid-1990s. (If it's not obvious: that link takes you to the intro; from there, you have to click on the links in the blue box to the right of the intro to got to the two parts of the story.)

To see a larger version of the cover, click on the image.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Freetail's La Muerta Coming Tomorrow

Press release from our friends down in San Antone:

FREETAIL BREWING CO. ANNOUNCES ANNUAL RELEASE OF LA MUERTA

Locally owned and operated brewpub prepares for release of its highly anticipated Imperial Stout

(Oct. 17, 2011) San Antonio, TX – Freetail Brewing Co. announces the annual release of its highly-anticipated and sought- after Imperial Stout, La Muerta, with the draft release on Día de los Muertos (Tuesday, November 1) and the bottle release (dubbed Día de La Muerta) on Saturday, November 5.

The annual bottle release of La Muerta has become one of Texas’ premier craft beer events, attracting fans of better beer from across the state to get their hands on the limited 22 oz. bottles.

“We constantly receive questions about La Muerta’s return, and Día de La Muerta has become a much-anticipated celebration,” said Freetail Brewing Co. Founder and CEO Scott Metzger. “In just a few years it has transformed into an event where fans get here hours before we open and hang out on the patio making new friends. It’s a really fun atmosphere that we don’t see much in Texas, but is thankfully becoming more common.”

The November 1 release of La Muerta will be draught only at the brewpub with no growler fills allowed, but the 22 oz. bottles will be available promptly at 11:30 am on the 5th. Bottles will be priced at $11 each with a three bottle per person limit. Freetail will also tap a number of rare beers including 2010 La Muerta and the debut of Pickly RealTail.

“We have increased production each year, yet every year it has sold out faster than ever – both on draft and in bottles,” added Metzger. “This year’s edition is the largest bottling run we’ve ever undertaken, all hand bottled by our brewers who work tirelessly to make these kinds of events possible.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beer and Movies on 'Slackerwood'

Hey gang,
My talented and vivacious beer-loving friend Debbie Cerda from Slackerwood (a site covering the Austin film scene) has an announcement for you, check it out:
It's alive! We are proud and elated to introduce a new monthly feature on Slackerwood called "Film on Tap", a new column about the many ways that beer (and sometimes booze including wine) and cinema intersect in Austin.

Read (and share!) our first installment here:

http://www.slackerwood.com/node/2528

Please feel free to contact me with any updates for your organization, venue or business that you think relevant content -- screenings, movie nights, brewery sponsorships of film-relate events -- or add me to your media list as needed.

Thank you for your continued support of the Austin and Texas film communities, as well as fine craft beer, wine and more!

Friday Austin Beer Week Schedule

2:00 pm
Brewery Tour - Real Ale Brewing
@ Real Ale Brewing Co.

4:00 pm
Lovejoy's Special Selections & Austin-Brewed Happy Hour
@ Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery

4:00 pm
Tapping + Meet the Brewers - Independence 7th Anniversary
@ Opal Divine’s Freehouse

5:00 pm
Tapping & Meet the Brewer - Ranger Creek
@ Draught House Pub & Brewery

5:00 pm
Meet the Brewer + Tapping - Twisted X Siesta Prickly Pear Lager Release Party
@ Fion Wine Pub (Bee Cave)

5:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Independence ESB
@ HomeField Grill

5:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Real Ale Lost Gold IPA
@ Billy’s on Burnet

6:00 pm
Tapping + Meet the Brewer - Live Oak Treehugger
@ Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar)

6:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Jester King Boxer's Revenge Farmhouse Ale
@ Red’s Porch

6:00 pm
Tapping - Circle Nightlight
@ The Ginger Man

7:00 pm
BeerTownAustin and Hops & Grain Buy the Beer, Keep the 'Stache (Glass)
@ Billy’s on Burnet

All Day
Greenling - Local Beer Sale & Delivery
@ Greenling Organic & Local Food Delivery

All Day
Rare Beer On Tap
@ The HighBall

All Day
$3 Austin Beers (12oz)
@ Parkside

3:00 pm
Happy Hour - $1 off All House Beers
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Barton Springs)

3:00 pm
Happy Hour - $1 off All House Beers
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Lake Travis)

7:00 pm
Pint Night - Southern Star Pro Am American Black Lager
@ Draft Pick

Thursday, October 27, 2011

'Chronicle' on Jester King Suit

On Tuesday, I posted about the Jester King/Zax/Authentic Beverages lawsuit against the state of Texas. Today, my former Austin Chronicle news staff colleague Richard Whittaker had his own report. It is, of course, well written. I especially like this analogy from Richard, which perfectly sums up the stupidity of the Texas law requiring that any beer stronger than 4% alcohol be arbitrarily labeled as "ale":
"Unfortunately, that is like saying all large pies are apple – it is simply not true."

Thursday's Austin Beer Week Schedule


3:00 pm
In-Store Tasting - Real Ale Lost Gold IPA, Oktoberfest, Coffee Porter
@ Central Market Westgate

4:00 pm
Thirsty Planet Open House
@ Thirsty Planet Brewing Co.

4:00 pm
Lovejoy's Special Selections & Austin-Brewed Happy Hour
@ Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery

5:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Independence ESB
@ Flying Saucer

6:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Real Ale Lost Gold IPA
@ Opal Divine’s Freehouse

6:00 pm
Tapping + Meet the Brewer - Ranger Creek Oaked Bourbon Mesquite Smoked Porter
@ Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar)

6:00 pm
Special Tapping - (512) THREE on the patio!
@ Billy’s on Burnet

6:00 pm
Pairing - Jester King Wild & Farmhouse w. Local, Artisan Cheese, Meat & Bread
@ Draught House Pub & Brewery

6:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Uncle Billy's Hop Back Black IPA (Barton Springs)
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Barton Springs)

6:00 pm
Cask + Mysterium Verum Tapping - Real Ale Aged Sisyphus & WT3F?!
@ Red’s Porch

6:30 pm
(512) Brewer's Dinner, 2011
@ Olivia

6:30 pm
Meet the Brewer + Tasting - (512) Brewing + (512) THREE
@ Billy’s on Burnet

7:00 pm
Meet the Brewers + Tasting - Circle Brewing
@ Trifecta on 3rh

7:00 pm
Anniversary Tasting - (512) Three, Two, One... Plus One
@ The Ginger Man

7:00 pm
Cask Tapping - NXNW Batch 1200 Collaboration Beer
@ North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

7:00 pm
Black Star Co-op Brews & Local Cheeses
@ Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

7:00 pm
Cask Tapping + Meet the Brewer - Live Oak Dry-Hopped Oaktoberfest
@ The Dig Pub

All Day
Greenling - Local Beer Sale & Delivery
@ Greenling Organic & Local Food Delivery

All Day
Rare Beer On Tap
@ The HighBall

All Day
$3 Austin Beers (12oz)
@ Parkside

7:00 pm
Pint Night - Independence Brewluminati
@ Draft Pick

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jester King Sues TABC Over Freedom of Speech

Jester King Brewery has announced a lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on grounds that the state has violated its free speech and equal protection rights. I don't know if it will succeed, but it's certainly justified. The parts I like best:
  • They want to get rid of the stupid requirements that beer under 4% alcohol by volume be labeled as "beer" and over 4% as "ale." This results in the idiotic situation of lagers being labeled as "ale" or "malt liquor." Those are brewing style terminologies, not ABV. I once had a publicity guy give me an embarrassed apology as he handed me a review bottle of a dopplebock that was labeled "ale" because TABC required it. (A bock, of course, is a lager, not an ale.)
  • They want Texas brewers to be able to list ABV on bottles, like out-of-state beers do. I would guess the rationale for banning that info on bottles is that the state doesn't want people seeking out strong beer to get wasted. I would argue that it's necessary to prevent people from getting wasted. If I'm drinking a strong beer, I need to know that. I've accidentally gotten plowed on beers that were stronger than I thought, and it's not fun. I guess I should have thanked TABC in between pukes those nights. I'd even go further than the suit and suggest that brewers and bars be required to list ABV.
  • And most important of all, they want to do away with laws prohibiting production breweries from selling on-premises and brewpubs from selling off-premises. These are unreasonable restraints of commerce. Back in the spring I thoroughly documented failed attempts to legislate such change, so I guess it will have to be done in the courts.
Co-plaintiffs are distributor Authentic Beverage Co. and Austin restaurant Zax. If you want to read the full texts of the suit and TABC's response, go to BeerNews.org.

Thieves Hit Hops & Grain — So They Party

Boy, as if small business owners don't have a hard enough time trying to make their dream a reality: Hops & Grain, one of Austin's newest production breweries, got hit by thieves, who stole a bunch of copper wiring and left them without electricity. Charming. But being good-natured folks, they decided the best revenge would be to throw a party. Click on the flyer for full details, and then get over there on Sunday and help them out. It'll be good for your soul. It's not part of Austin Beer Week, but it would still be a nice way to cap ABW off.

Tuesday's Austin Beer Week Schedule


3:00 pm
In-Store Tasting - Real Ale Oktoberfest & Coffee Porter
@ Whole Foods Market (Gateway)

4:00 pm
Special Tapping - Black Star Epsilon, First of the Infinite Series
@ Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

4:00 pm
Lovejoy's Special Selections & Austin-Brewed Happy Hour
@ Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery

5:00 pm
Pairing - Local Beer & Artisan Cheese
@ Red’s Porch

5:00 pm
Tapping + Meet the Brewer - Rahr & Sons Lã Grange Farmhouse + Imperial Pilsner
@ Draft Pick

5:00 pm
Tapping - Real Ale WT3F?!
@ Haddingtons American Tavern

5:00 pm
Meet the Brewer - (512) Brewing
@ Draught House Pub & Brewery

5:30 pm
Meet the Brewer - Thirsty Planet Pint Night
@ Opal Divine’s Freehouse

6:00 pm
Tapping - Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale & Estate Harvest Ale
@ Black Sheep Lodge

6:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Uncle Billy's Surprise Brew (Lake Travis)
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Lake Travis)

6:00 pm
Tapping - Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
@ Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar)

6:00 pm
Meet the Brewer - Circle Brewing
@ Dog & Duck Pub

6:00 pm
Rare Tapping - Real Ale Mysterium Verum 'Empire'
@ Alamo Drafthouse (Lake Creek)

6:00 pm
Tapping - Real Ale 15th Anniversary Ale
@ The Ginger Man

6:00 pm
Beer & Chocolate - Appreciation of a Perfect Pairing
@ North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

8:00 pm
Movie Night - "Beer Wars" Waged at NXNW
@ North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

All Day
Greenling - Local Beer Sale & Delivery
@ Greenling Organic & Local Food Delivery

All Day
Rare Beer On Tap
@ The HighBall

All Day
$3 Austin Beers (12oz)
@ Parkside

4:00 pm
Pint Night - (512) Brewing
@ Red’s Porch

7:00 pm
Pint Night - Rahr & Sons Peckerwrecker & Oktoberfest
@ Draft Pick

All Day
Texas Tuesday - $2.75 TX Drafts
@ Billy’s on Burnet

Sunday, October 23, 2011

200,000 Visitors!

Today I passed 200,000 visitors, according to Sitemeter. Of course, that's not exactly accurate, because I didn't start using Sitemeter until I'd been doing this for about six months. But good enough for me.

Sorry, there are no prizes, just my gratitude for visiting.

I have no way of knowing exactly who Mr. 200K is, but Sitemeter tells me it was someone from Mountain View, California, using a Macintosh, and they landed on a post I made in 2009 titled "My Wife Is Hot." It doesn't showing me what search terms they used to find me, but something tells me they weren't looking for beer. :-)

Sunday's Austin Beer Week Schedule


11:00 am
NXNW Oktoberfest Weekend
@ North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

11:00 am
Hope Farmer's Market 2nd Birthday Party feat. (512)
@ HOPE Farmers Market

1:00 pm
Uncle Billy's Charity Poker Tournament (Lake Travis)
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Lake Travis)

2:00 pm
Lovejoy's Special Selections & Austin-Brewed Happy Hour
@ Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery

3:00 pm
Ultimate Fan Boy Bike Pub Crawl Strikes Back
@ Billy’s on Burnet

3:00 pm
Beer Olympics Hosted by the Draught House
@ Draught House Pub & Brewery

5:00 pm
Taste Off + Pairing - New Belgium vs Real Ale
@ Opal Divine’s Freehouse

5:00 pm
Tapping + Meet the Brewer - Jester King Farmhouse Wytchmaker & Black Metal
@ Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

7:00 pm
Bats & Beers Boat Social w. Independence & FRANK's Pairing
@ Pride & Joy Flagship Party Boat (Capital Cruise)

All Day
Greenling - Local Beer Sale & Delivery
@ Greenling Organic & Local Food Delivery

All Day
Rare Beer On Tap
@ The HighBall

All Day
$3 Austin Beers (12oz)
@ Parkside

All Day
$12 House Pitchers
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Barton Springs)

All Day
$12 House Pitchers
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Lake Travis)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Austin Beer Week Starts Saturday!

You better start planning out your Austin Beer Week activities now. Seriously, this is gonna be like a South by Southwest of beer — too much to do, so you'll have to pick and choose. To get you started, here's the calendar for the first day (Saturday, Oct. 22). To see the full schedule, click on that link to their website. (Confession: I'm probably gonna miss a lot of the first weekend's events, as the Texas Rangers are in the World Series. But I'll drink lots of Texas beer to bring them good Karma.)

11:00 am
Brewery Tour + Tasting - (512) Brewing Co.
@ (512) Brewing Co.

11:00 am
NXNW Oktoberfest Weekend
@ North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

12:00 pm
Brewing Tour & Tasting - Live Oak Brewing
@ Live Oak Brewing Co.

1:00 pm
Draught House 43rd Anniversary Party
@ Draught House Pub & Brewery

1:00 pm
The Dig Pub 4th Anniversary Party & Oktoberfest Celebration
@ The Dig Pub

4:00 pm
Independence Brewing 7th Anniversary Party
@ Independence Brewing Co.

4:00 pm
Lovejoy's Special Selections & Austin-Brewed Happy Hour
@ Lovejoy’s Tap Room & Brewery

4:00 pm
Brewery Tour + Tasting - Uncle Billy's Lake Travis
@ Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que (Lake Travis)

4:00 pm
Special Tapping - 2010 (512) BRUIN + Special Irrational Menu Items
@ Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery

5:00 pm
Pairing - Local Beer & Local Artisan Sausage
@ Red’s Porch

5:30 pm
Cask Tapping - Jester King Black Metal with Whiskey-Soaked Chip Addition
@ Alamo Drafthouse (Lake Creek)

6:30 pm
Cask Tapping - Ranger Creek La Bestia Aimable feat. Bourbon-Soaked Oak
@ Billy’s on Burnet

7:00 pm
Cask Tapping - Live Oak Dry Hopped Oaktoberfest
@ Draft Pick

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saint Arnold Santo In Stores Today

Saint Arnold's new "black Kölsch," Santo, hits stores today. I got a review six-pack yesterday. Not sure I taste the Kölsch aspect of it, but it is definitely lighter than your typical dark beer, with a faint touch of roastiness. Saint Arnold's brewers are no doubt happy to finally get this out to the public after a false start back in September, as they relate in press release below.

Saint Arnold Brewing Slates Santo for October 20th Release

HOUSTON, October 18, 2011 – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (www.saintarnold.com), the oldest craft brewery in Texas, today announced its newest year-round beer, Santo, will be released on October 20, 2011. Originally planned for September, the release of Santo was delayed after the initial batch was tasted and the brewers felt there was something missing. After modifying the mash temperature and replacing the wheat malt with Munich malt, the brewers believe they have created the light, refreshing yet dark and flavorful beer they were after.

It is the second major new brew to be introduced by Saint Arnold in October, following closely on the heels of Saint Arnold Pumpkinator, which will be released on October 13th.

“When we set out to create Santo, the idea was to create the beer we always wished we would get when we ordered a dark Mexican lager to go with our enchiladas,” said Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “While we were a little embarrassed about announcing that we decided to dump our first batch, we are happy with the decision, especially given the beer that we are ready to release now. Our brewing team has been thoroughly enjoying this new version. We haven’t waited for the release date to tap some for ourselves.”

Santo is a black Kölsch. It is light in body and dark in color. Despite Santo’s dark appearance, the beer maintains other characteristics of a true Kölsch. Saint Arnold uses the same special Kölsch yeast – an ale yeast that ferments at almost lager temperatures – that is used in Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer. This contributes to Santo being light bodied and floral even though it has a distinctive dark malt flavor.

Santo is brewed using pale two-row and pils malted barley, a dash of Munich malt and an addition of black malt. Saint Arnold uses Hallertau Hersbrucker hops, added to the brew kettle in four separate cycles to create a delicate flavor and aroma. It has an original gravity of 1.045 (11.4° Plato), bitterness of 17 IBU and alcohol content (by volume) of 4.6 percent.

Santo will be available on tap and in 12-ounce bottles sold in six-packs and cases throughout Texas starting on October 20, 2011.

Santo is the sixth year-round beer from Saint Arnold. It joins Saint Arnold Amber Ale, Saint Arnold Brown Ale, Saint Arnold Elissa IPA, Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer and Saint Arnold Weedwacker in the regular lineup.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hops & Grains Debuts, Austin Beer Guide Returns

Press release from Austin Beer Guide:

Austin Beer Guide 
to Release Fall Issue
and Throw Issue Release Party (Again)

AUSTIN – They (BeerTownAustin and Craft Austin) used to have their own, separate blogs, but they’ve pretty much trashed those to focus on one magazine and one website — Austin Beer Guide. The fall issue of Austin Beer Guide is printing now and poised to make a medium to huge splash on the Austin (beer) scene. They hope you like the new guide, as it nearly gave the publisher a nervous breakdown. What is in the issue? Good question: The usual stuff (maps, brewery and brew pub write ups, etc.). This is the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) issue. They were given press credentials, therefore obligated to write about it. It is still an Austin-centric issue though, with GABF coverage given a Texan angle (mostly). Did you love the word search last issue? Well it’s back, along with a crossword puzzle! And much (should be read MUCH) more.

Distribution of the fall guide will start during Austin Beer Week — http://austinbeerweek.com. Drop locations include area breweries, brew pubs, bars, shops and restaurants. Follow ABG twitter feed for distribution as it happens.

ALSO, to celebrate the new issue, there will be an issue release party on October 26th. The party will start around 5pm at the Draught House (4112 Medical Pkwy). ABG will play second fiddle to Hops & Grain, for whom the party is really being thrown. The party will be the first time their beers will be served anywhere on Earth. BeerTown Austin Tom Selleck-esque Mustache pint glasses will be given out for free with the purchase of any Hops & Grain beer. There will also be a grab bag full of junk (amazing swag) from GABF and local brewers.

For more info please visit: www.austinbeerguide.com and www.twitter.com/austinbeerguide

Release party URL: http://austinbeerweek.com/event.php?id=01022

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Beer Kiss

Interesting photography from my wife:


I might have to turn that into my new logo or something. (So, just to plant my flag: photo copyright Lee Nichols and Margaret Bridgeman)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Need Your Advice on Beer Magazines

I'm thinking of pitching an article to one of the national beer magazines, so tell me: Which one(s) do you read/subscribe to?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

'Austin Chronicle' Best of Austin Awards

The 2011 edition of The Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin Awards is on newsstands today (and online, of course). Here are the awards that are specifically beer-related:

Readers Picks
Best Beer/Wine Prices: Spec's
Best Local Beer: Live Oak Brewing

Critics Picks
Best New Brewery: Jester King Brewery

Click to the issue, or pick up a paper copy, to read the write-ups of those and other winners. Congratulations, winners!

Austin Beer Week Is Coming

Austin Beer Week is returning Oct. 22. Last year's event were great. Damn this is a good time to be drinking beer in Austin. Check out the website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Austin Craft Beer Fest

Just got this press release, hot on the heels of last month's Texas Craft Brewers Festival:

Central Texas Beer Festival to Showcase Texas Independent Breweries on April 21st 2012 at the Austin Music Hall

Festival to feature local food vendors and live music

Austin, TX Oct 12th 2011 – Game Path today announced the first annual Central Texas Beer Festival to take place on April 21st 2012 at the Austin Music Hall. The Festival will be the ideal location for beer aficionados to connect with 20+ independent breweries from Texas and beyond.

In addition, the Festival will include local Austin vendors offering a wide variety of food – some specifically to be enjoyed with different beers. The growing number of brew pubs will also be represented. The event will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank ( www.austinfoodbank.org ) by collecting food and cash donations,

To ensure a fun, friendly atmosphere, the Festival will limit the number of tickets available to attendees. Tickets will be $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

“We want to celebrate the success and growth of independent brewers in Texas and the Festival will feature only independent brews,” said Steve Farrer, Festival Executive Director, “we have listened to some of the concerns raised by the brewers and think we have the right formula for a successful Festival.”

The Austin Music Hall is a premier special event and concert facility. The Festival stage will feature live music throughout the event.

The Festival will run from noon to 8PM and admittance will be strictly 21 and up only.

A limited number of exhibit and sponsorships are available. More information from Steve Farrer – contact details below.

The Central Texas Beer Festival is produced by Game Path LLC.

Steve Farrer

Executive Director

512 415 8300

steve@gamepathevents.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Real Ale Dinner at Flying Saucer

If you're looking at this on some kind of a reader that doesn't show images, you'll need to actually go to the blog post to see this:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pedernales Brewing Company Needs Head Brewer

I spotted this on the Facebook page of Pedernales Brewing Company. I think their contact number is LEE HEREFORD, 830/669-2917
We are looking for a head brewer. Dr. Paul is dealing with some health issues and cannot be physically on-site for the next few months. We are looking for an individual that has at least five years experience working in a production brewery; not a Brewpub; familiar with bottling and kegging equipment; and willing to be mentored by Dr. Paul. Competitive salary and an opportunity to earn an equity stake in the company. If you know anyone that fits our needs, and wouldn't mind living in beautiful Fredericksburg, TX, please put them in touch with us. And please add Dr. Paul to your prayer list. Cheers!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Saint Arnold Austin News & Events

From their newsletter:
OCTOBER 10, Saint Arnold Oktoberfest Pint Night-Ginger Man, 6pm
It's time for some fine Saint Arnold Oktoberfest, but then it always is!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, PUMPKINATOR!
You knew it as Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #9-it is making a comeback as a seasonal, and will be available in very limited amounts in 22oz bottles and draft!

OCTOBER 15, UT-v-OSU Tailgates
Root for Horns with Bevo's Benchwarmers (lot in front of Bullock Museum) and UT Tailgaters, 18th @ San Jacinto-both will have some cold Saint Arnold and great grub! ( 4 hrs before game time, which is TBA)

OCTOBER 16, Chefs Under Fire-Finals, 6pm
AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center.
Three deserving chefs will compete for the Chefs Under Fire Champion title to be awarded by Celebrity Chef Judge Chefs David Bull, Tyson Cole, & Kent Rathbun
http://www.chefsunderfire.com/tickets/

OCTOBER 19, Saint Arnold Oktoberfest Pint Night, Zax, 6pm
One of Austin's best beer-centric restaurants celebrates Oktoberfest, so stop in for some tasty Saint Arnold!
http://zaxaustin.com/

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, SANTO is released!!!
A new tasty beer by Saint Arnold is described as a black Kölsch will start showing up at your favorite beer stores!

OCTOBER 24, Homesick Texan Booksigning, Book People, 7pm
Our friend Lisa Fain, transplanted Texan in NYC, whose blog, Homesick Texan, has evolved into a cookbook and she will be signing them and drinking cold Saint Arnold all the while!
http://www.bookpeople.com/event/lisa-fain-homesick-texan-cookbook

OCTOBER 29 UT-v-Kansas, and that means it's tailgate time again!
Bevo's Benchwarmers (lot in front of Bullock Museum) and UT Tailgaters, 18th @ San Jacinto-Hook 'em Horns! ( 4 hrs before game time, which is TBA)

OCTOBER 30, Austin Beer Week
Cask-Conditioned Saint Arnold Pumpkinator, Ginger Man, 6pm. A rare treat for sure to close out Austin Beer Week!!

Coming Soon: Christmas Ale; Sailing Santa; Austin Pub Crawl

Friday, October 07, 2011

Shiner Promoting Texas Musicians

Press release from Shiner:

Who will be the next Shiner Rising Star?


Music and beer make a natural pair. In support of Texas' independent music and independent taste, Shiner began the annual Shiner Rising Star competition. This year, hundreds of bands from across Texas applied for the opportunity to produce music and be seen with Shiner Records. Twenty-four bands were accepted into the competition, and only four will compete against each other during the final round.

On October 20th, the four final artists will meet at Love and War in Texas, in Plano, and battle to be the next Shiner Rising Star. The final deserving artist will be awarded:

· An opportunity to work with a nationally known, critically acclaimed record producer

· New equipment, courtesy of Kona Guitars & GP Percussion

· National exposure in Alternate Route Americana Music Magazine

· And most importantly, a record deal with Shiner Records!

For the first time, the 2011 Shiner Rising Star competition is being simulcast online at KHYI.com (via RogueTV.net). Tune in on Thursday, October 20th at 8PM to see the final round.

The Shiner Rising Star competition provides all of the competing artists the chance to be seen by different audiences in new and different venues, helping the bands get their foot-in-the-door with venue and bar owners. In addition, the bands get to hear opinions and feedback from judges in the acting, music, and business industries. Stay tuned to find out who the 2011 Shiner Rising Star will be!