Friday, January 20, 2012

Independence's Convict Hill Stout Wins National Award

Congrats to Austin's Independence Brewing. Cut and pasted from their blog:

Independence Brewing Co. wins 2012 Good Food Awards

Independence Brewing Co., the Austin microbrewery, received the 2012 Good Food Award for their Convict Hill Stout in recognition of the handcrafted ale’s exceptional quality, and the brewery’s commitment to sustainability and supporting the Austin community.

The Good Food Awards celebrate outstanding American food producers who push their industries towards craftsmanship and sustainability while enhancing the agricultural landscape and building strong communities.

Independence Brewing Co.’s Convict Hill Stout was selected from over 900 entries to become one of 18 finalists. Amongst such well-respected craft breweries like Alaskan Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Lagunitas, and New Belgium, the lone Texas brewery looked like the “little brewery that could”.

Since opening in 2004, Independence Brewing Co. has grown from a husband-and-wife run microbrewery to a talented crew of 13 with a reputation for brewing some of the best beers in Texas.

“Breweries should be a reflection of their community, and Independence Brewing is a reflection of Austin,” said Independence co-founder Amy Cartwright. “With creative tenacity we strive to responsibly produce the absolute best in our field while working with fellow farmers, business owners and non-profits to build a thriving community.”

Independence Brewing Co. gives back to the community in a unique way. Certified organic local rancher Calvin Jechow owner and operator of Six J Ranch in Thorndale, collects the barley that Independence used to brew and uses it to feed his livestock including, free range chickens, turkeys and goats. The meat is later sold at Austin-area farmers markets which collectively benefit the Sustainable Food Center.

And by supporting benefit dinners at Mansion at Judge’s Hill and Edible Austin’s Farm to Table Dinner, Independence Brewing has been working to further the Sustainable Food Center’s goals of improving access to healthy nutritional foods and strengthening the local food system.

In addition, Independence helps out other Austin non profits including Keep Austin Beautiful, It’s My Park Day, Friends of the Forest, Urban Roots and many animal rescue groups including Austin Pets Alive and Forgotten Friends.

“It was an honor to be on stage with such well-respected craft brewers, and we are feel that the 2012 Good Food Awards brings to light our efforts to be a responsible company that produced one of the best beers in America.”

Austinites can sample the award-winning Convict Hill Stout at two of the original stores to sell Independence beers: the Whole Foods on Lamar on Sunday, January 15 and January 22 from 1-3 pm, and at Wheatsville Co-Op on Saturday, Jan 21, 12-3pm. Independence fans are encouraged to attend a celebration happy hour at the Ginger Man Pub on January 20, 6-8 pm.

About Independence Brewing Co.
Independence Brewing Co. was founded in Austin in 2004 by Amy and Rob Cartwright. Over the years the microbrewery has become a staple in Austin bars, restaurants and grocery stores. Independence has developed a repertoire of favorite craft beers available year-round in bottles, from the easy-drinking Austin Amber to the dark, rich and roasty Convict Hill Stout. The more adventurous fans seek out seasonal draft-only brews like the ESB and the limited Brewluminati series.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saint Arnold Austin Pub Crawl

Cut-and-pasted from their newsletter:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, Saint Arnold Austin Pub Crawl!

Archive HeaderThis will be our Downtown/6th Street Pub Crawl with five stops. We are utilizing our "open house" schedule for the first four stops. This means that we will be punching tickets at all of the stops for three and a half hours so people can split up between the establishments. You will get your ticket at whichever stop you decide to visit first. But, VERY IMPORTANT, we will only be handing out the tickets between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. Thus, you still need to start between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. Then, at 6:00 PM, everybody will gather at one final stop, and that is where we will award the glasses. The prize for making all five stops will be our awesome Saint Arnold Pub Crawl pint glass. We will have a large but limited supply of glasses. And as always, designated drivers are both eligible for the award and encouraged to attend! So here is the layout and our vague directions:

The locations (at which we will be simultaneously between 2:00 and 3:00 PM):
  • Chupacabra on 6th St.
  • Logan's on 6th St.
  • Jackalope on 6th St.
  • Shiner's Saloon (5th St. @ Congress - 2nd floor)
At 6:00 PM, we will end up at The Ginger Man for the pint glass giveaway.

Now, for our annual tips for maximum enjoyment:
  • PRECOATING: Try to eat something before commencing the crawl.
  • PACING: Too many Saint Arnold beers at the first stop is a critical strategic mistake. This is known as "Sprinting Too Early" which is not advisable in this, a distance event. Can have negative repercussions later.
  • MANNERS: Be patient with bar staff. Remember, 300+ or so people will be descending upon a poor crew. They will be working as fast as they can. Also, it is considered very good manners to tip well everywhere you go. This creates good "beerma".
  • CASH: Bring cash! This pleases the bar staff and the people standing behind you. Cash is fast. Credit cards are slow. They cannot run tabs for 300+ people.
  • BUDDY SYSTEM: Make sure that you are always in contact with a couple of people you know. One of you is bound to notice that the pack is starting to move on to the next stop. This prevents the disoriented feeling of looking around an empty bar and realizing that the only three people still in there are guzzling some inferior malted beverage and may be related to the missing link.
  • MAKE NEW FRIENDS: As everyone on this crawl will be intelligent and good looking, this is an excellent place to meet new people. Also, you will note that some people become better looking as the crawl wears on. If this occurs, be sure to consult your Buddy System partner.
  • DESIGNATED DRIVER: Yes, we encourage this strongly. You never know when you might decide to run for president. And even the designated drivers on the crawl qualify for the prize. While pregnant wives are perfect for this role, it is known to be poor judgment for a husband to claim that this is the best part of her being pregnant. See "Mood Swings."
  • ENJOY ST. ARNOLD'S BEERS: It is in poor taste to be seen quaffing anything else. Ever. See "Curse of Saint Arnold."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wow, here's what my waistline doesn't need: A place that specializes in beer and baked goods. Yeesh. Nonetheless, I'm sure you'll see me there.
Easy Tiger!
Much-Anticipated Bake Shop & Beer Garden to Open January 23

AUSTIN – January 13, 2012 – Bread and beer. The simple commonality is yeast, but superior products require tremendous technical expertise—and time. Respect for that concept is really the core of Easy Tiger, a new bake shop and beer garden from ELM Restaurant Group (the folks behind 24 Diner) opening January 23 at 709 E. Sixth Street. Even the name is meant to convey the message of “slow down, stay awhile.”

At the heart of the street-level bake shop is artisan baker David Norman. David’s pedigree includes head-baking positions at Grand Central Bakery (leading artisan bakery in Pacific Northwest), TriBakery (supplying NY greats such as Tribeca Grill and Nobu), Ecce Panis (NY, NJ) and Bouley Bakery (NY). Peek inside the hand-lettered storefront, and you’ll find a Parisian pink counter lined with salvaged bakery pans. Directly behind, steel-lined glass panels afford a view of the open bakery, where you can watch David and his team turning out baguettes, French country levain, rye bread, German pretzels, Danish, turnovers and more all day long. Step in and request a specialty coffee made from Texas Coffee Traders’ locally roasted beans or an organic tea along with a pastry (bonjour, pain au croissant), sandwich (try the ham & whipped butter on baguette) or loaf of your choice, perhaps joined by a selection from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

Lunch, dinner and late-night guests can follow the blinking arrow and hand-lettered subway sign downstairs to the beer garden and patio overlooking Waller Creek. Libations are overseen by CIA graduate and 24 Diner sommelier Billy Caruso, and the menu features cocktails, a carefully edited wine list, unique bombers and 30 craft beers on tap, including locally produced faves Real Ale and Jester King and boutique domestics such as Avery, Lagunitas and Ommegang.

Beer garden provisions are dominated by another product that requires culinary skill and time: house-cured meats. This is the domain of 24 Diner’s executive chef, Andrew Curren, a CIA valedictorian who worked for top New York restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Jonathan Waxman before returning to his home state. Drew’s devotion to the farm-to-table movement and meticulous preparation of chef-inspired comfort food at 24 helped earn him a nomination for People’s Best New Chef from Food & Wine magazine/CNN’s Eatocracy and a run on Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas last fall. Drew’s menu features housemade sausages, jerky, corned beef and pastrami, as well as homemade krauts, relishes and peperonata—which you can accompany with bread made in the bakery just upstairs.

24 Diner designer Veronica Koltuniak of VeroKolt (clients include Madonna, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Lopez) looked across the ages as she transformed the two-story 1890s space, calling the resultant mix “turn-of-the-century building meets end-of-the-century kitsch.” Cool details abound in the bakery and downstairs tavern, from pink-and-black cameo wallpaper and vintage brass accents to hand-painted wooden tables and a carefully curated selection of books, games and art. Long custom communal tables line the massive outdoor patio while three ping-pong tables roost on the banks of Waller Creek. Need a visual? Roni cites The Royal Tenenbaums as inspiration.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I can tell you from personal experience that there are few things that offer more potential for fun that responding to an overbearing cease-and-desist letter. Check out this response by Freetail Brewing's Scott Metzger to one such letter.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Draft Mag's 100 Best Beer Bars

Draft Mag has printed its 2012 list of the 100 Best Beer Bars in America. Congrats to the Texas entries on the list: Draught House, Flying Saucer, Ginger Man, and Little Woodrow's.

But I'd love to whip up some controversy: Are there any deserving Texas establishments that they missed?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Saint Arnold Gives Houston Texans Some Incentive

Thanks to the Shirl for sending me this story.

The Houston Texans, for the first time in franchise history, will contest a playoff game, beginning about five minutes from now. According the Houston Business Journal, Brock Wagner, owner of Houston's Saint Arnold Brewing, has said he'll give them a beery treat if they take down the Bengals today. Sounds like good motivation to me.

Friday, January 06, 2012

TABC Issues Interim Guidelines After Jester King Verdict

As most craft beer lovers in Texas know, Austin's Jester King Brewing, Zax (a bar/restaurant), and Authentic Beverages (a distributor) recently won a partial victory in a lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, in which a judge overturned laws that required brews to be arbitrarily labeled "beer" or "ale" according to alcohol content rather than brewing method and which banned brewers from informing consumers where their products could be purchased.

In light of that ruling, the TABC has issued a bulletin handing down interim guidelines on how brewers should label their products going forward, to be replaced by more permanent rules following a meeting on January 27.

The highlights: Brewers may either continue following the old labeling rules, or they may put the alcohol by volume on the label and "designate the product by the appropriate class or style that is recognized in the brewing industry." Also, 5.1% ABV will be the new dividing line for defining what "will be considered beer in Texas for regulatory purposes."

Also, brewers may now list ABV in advertising, and where their beer can be bought, as long as they don't receive money from the retail outlets listed in such ads.

The full bulletin may be downloaded at

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Top 10 Austin/Texas Beer Happenings of 2011

The Austin Chronicle's annual Top 10s issue came out this morning, and I was happy to contribute my top 10 Austin/Texas beer happenings of 2011. Read it, let me know what you think, tell me if you disagree with any of my picks.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Houston Beer Scene Taking Flight

Some happy New Year's morning reading for you Texas craft beer fans as you shake off your hangover: Houston Chronicle business reporter and beer blogger Ronnie Crocker says Houston-area breweries, ranging from the established Saint Arnold to newbies like No Label, really did well over the past year.

The killer quote, from Saint Arnold's Brock Wagner: "If you'd told me we'd be at 40,000 [barrels per year] in five years, I'd have told you you were smoking dope."