Monday, April 30, 2012

Nice Press for Black Star Co-op

One of the things I like about Black Star Co-op, my neighborhood bar: They pay workers a living wage, instead of forcing them to rely on tips (and, in fact, the co-op doesn't allow tipping at all):

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beer Fests in Waco and Houston Today and Tomorrow

Hmm. "Let's go to Waco!" is not normally something I say, but this looks like a good reason:

(I'm giving Waco a hard time. It's better than its reputation. Personally, I love the Health Camp and stop there every time I pass through.)

And of course, the similarly named (but presumably much bigger) Texas Beer Festival is tomorrow in Houston:

 I worry that the organizers and my Houston readers think I've been giving them the cold shoulder — the truth is, I've just been much too busy in my personal and professional life to think much about it or this blog. Sorry about that. Now that I have a new job working in a downtown office, I Love Beer is getting neglected a bit. It was much easier to post when I was working out of my house.

The TBF sounds like it will be good. I got this press release from them last week:
With just over one week before the second annual Texas Beer Festival, at Discovery Green Park in
Downtown Houston, it is time to unveil the Specialty Beer List, and “State of the Craft” brewer’s panel.
The Great Brewers Specialty Wall is one of the biggest highlights of the Texas Beer Festival. Several months and great lengths have gone into sourcing many of these beers from our favorite Texas and National Craft Beer producers. We’ve collected over 25 beers that are rare, new to market, or custom made that will be featured both at the Specialty Wall and throughout various brewery booths. Ten of these beers are in firkins,
which are traditional vessels that are often manually tapped and frequently used for one-off beers by American craft brewers. Some will be limited to 2 ounces per patron, and may cost an additional beer ticket or two due to their high cost. We’ve also made the entire specialty wall available for the duration of the day this year, making it much more convenient to taste through your favorite rare beers at your leisure. 
The "State of the Craft" Texas Brewing Industry Panel will feature a lively discussion of where the Texas and National brewing industry has come from, where it's going, and what the future holds. Our very own Beer Commander, Jake Lewis, will moderate the discussion beginning at 2:30 pm at the Demo Stage.

This year's panelists are:
- Ronnie Crocker, Author of Houston Beer and the Beer, TX blog
- Chip McElroy, owner of Live Oak Brewery in Austin, Texas
- Scott Metzger, owner of Freetail Brewpub in San Antonio, Texas
- Brock Wagner, owner of Saint Arnold's Brewery in Houston, Texas
- Rassul Zarinfar, owner of Buffalo Bayou Brewing in Houston, Texas

The Texas Beer Fest, a one day beer tasting festival designed to promote the appreciation of craft beer, will take place on Discovery Green™ in Downtown Houston on April 28th, 2012 from 1:00pm to 7:00pm for general entry and 12:00pm to 7:00pm for VIPs. The Texas Beer Fest is the only craft beer festival in Texas featuring tastings of over 23 local, Texas breweries in one location!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vote NXNW for Best Brewpub in America!

Chow, an online foodie magazine, is having a sort of April Madness Contest, if you will, pitting 16 brewpubs from around the Brewnited States in head-to-head matchups until a champion is crowned. And Austin is in the running: North by Northwest, one of my favorite hangouts, successfully advanced in the first round past Minneapolis' Town Hall, and now in the Elite Eight they currently have a solid 58% lead over Taos' Eske's. But they won't keep it unless you vote. Go here to cast your ballot, and perhaps vote for some others if you're familiar with them.

The playoffs have had some shocking upsets in the first round. Eske's made it past Denver's famed Wynkoop, and San Diego's Pizza Port, which I've heard great things about, also narrowly lost.

(Now, I'll be a little bit of a skeptic and question whether this is really a good way to determine best brewpub. It was obviously designed to give geographic representation across the nation, and doesn't acknowledge that there is a huge concentration of great brewpubs in the Pacific Northwest and California. To make an analogy with my favorite sport, track & field, the only reason the long-distance races in the Olympics aren't 100% Kenyan and Ethiopian is that each nation is restricted to three entries each. If Chow really wanted an elite field, about half of these entries would have been from Portland alone. And as one of the commenters on that page noted, where in the heck is northern California's Russian River? That said, I nonetheless love NXNW and think it's deserving of your vote.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Most Interesting Cat in the World

I apologize for posting cute cat photos, but this is sort of relevant to this blog. Thanks to my older daughter for finding it for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Exploding keg kills Redhook Brewery worker |

Oh, no. This is just awful. My heart goes out to Redhook staff and the worker's family.

Exploding keg kills Redhook Brewery worker |

Ranger Creek 'Farm to Pint' Strawberry Milk Stout (Seasonal)

Hmm, this sounds intriguing. Time for another trip to San Antonio. Press release from Ranger Creek:
Ranger Creek Releases Unique ‘Farm to Pint’ Seasonal Using Poteet Strawberries

SAN ANTONIO, TX, April 23, 2012 – A big part of Ranger Creek’s philosophy of being a craft brewery is using local ingredients to make interesting recipes.  This concept ties modern breweries back to the older pre-Prohibition breweries that had no choice but to use what was easily grown nearby and readily available. 

The use of local ingredients like raw Texas honey in La Bestia Aimable, wildflower Texas honey in Lucky Ol’ Sun, and Texas mesquite wood in Mesquite Smoked Porter have been a good start to fulfilling this vision.  Ranger Creek’s new seasonal, however, brings the concept to life in a way the brewery is really proud of. 

Ranger Creek Strawberry Milk Stout uses 500 pounds of Poteet, Texas strawberries to create a delicious and completely unique beer.  The result is a dark, rich, creamy stout with a slight roastiness and undertones of rich chocolate, complemented by fresh strawberry flavor and aroma.  It is already one of the brewery’s most highly sought after seasonals.  Only one batch of it will be brewed, and it will be available on draft only in San Antonio (Flying Saucer, Luke, Alamo Drafthouse Park North and Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes), Austin (Draughthouse, Billy’s on Burnet), and Houston (to be delivered this week to Flying Saucer, BRC Gastropub, and others).

The beer was the brainchild of head brewer Rob Landerman and his wife Keely, and it brings to life the ‘Farm to Pint’ concept the brewery strives for.  “We work with local farmers quite a bit since we donate thousands of pounds of spent grain to them each month after we’re done brewing,” Landerman explains.  “So we’ve been playing around with ideas since the beginning and finally found the right one.  We’re taking fresh, premium, local stawberries grown nearby and using them to make delicious beer.  It’s the same thing that great local restaurants do, we’re just applying it to beer instead of food” continues Landerman, who is also a Certified Cicerone®.

Assistant brewer Holland Lawrence drove Vandito, the Ranger Creek van, out to Oak Hill Farms in Poteet, Texas to pick up the strawberries.  Lawrence, Landerman, and sales rep Dan Stone then cut all 500 pounds of strawberries by hand for use in the brew. The Poteet strawberries were then added at two separate times during the brewing process to make sure the taste and aroma really came through. The resulting brew highlights the strawberries in a way that the brewery feels the farmers that grew them can be proud of.   Pictures of the entire ‘Farm to Pint’ process are available on the Ranger Creek website.

Ranger Creek is committed to using local ingredients whenever possible.  Some traditional brewing ingredients like hops don’t grow well in the San Antonio heat.  However, they feel that there are plenty of ways to use locally grown products if you are creative, and that’s how the Strawberry Milk Stout was born.  This ‘Farm to Pint’ concept supports Texas agriculture and the craft beer culture in Texas. It’s not always cheap to do it, but Ranger Creek thinks it’s worth it to use fresh, high quality, locally grown ingredients, and they hope that Texas beer drinkers will agree.

About Ranger Creek
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling is the only combined brewery/distillery in Texas, proudly located in San Antonio where they handcraft beer and bourbon one batch at a time. They are the only microbrewery in San Antonio, one of a few combined brewery/distilleries in the U.S., and the only combined operation making both beer and bourbon. They focus on interesting recipes and use local ingredients from the state of Texas as much as possible. The company uses much of the same equipment to make both beer and bourbon, which is possible because in order to make bourbon, beer must be made first. They encourage visitors to San Antonio to sign up for one of their regularly scheduled tours and come by for a visit.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Devil's Backbone Goes Year-Round

The most recent edition of the Real Ale newsletter contained this exciting news:
We just packaged the first Devil's Backbone of the year - and this time it won't be the last! We grew tired of figuring out how to stash enough to keep us happy during the long off-season, so our Belgian Tripel is moving into full-time production. To mark the occasion we enlisted local Austin artist Joey Marez to paint his interpretation of our favorite haunted highway for the new packaging.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saint Arnold Participates in 'Hops for Heroes'

Bravo to Saint Arnold for helping out our service members:
Press Release
“Hops for Heroes” participating breweries will be partnered with a baseball ambassador to champion Homefront IPA and increase donations made in support of military families and service members.
Ashland, Virginia, March 30:  Saint Arnold Brewing Company (, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, is among the six craft breweries participating in “Hops for Heroes.” The initiative, which involves brewing and bottling Homefront IPA later this spring, will raise funds for Operation Homefront. A creation of Major League Pitcher Chris Ray and Fremont Brewing Company, Hops for Heroes began last year in Seattle. In 2012, it expands into five new markets, including Texas:
·         St. Arnold, Houston, TX
·         Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA
·         21st Amendment, San Francisco, CA
·         Cigar City, Tampa, FL
·         Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO
Homefront IPA is a collaborative beer developed in 2011 by Fremont Brewing Company and Center of the Universe Brewing Company in order to raise money and awareness for Operation Homefront (, a charity that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.
Aged on oak bats donated from Louisville Slugger, this IPA is more than just flavorful – it improves the lives of our soldiers. All proceeds from the sale of this beer will be donated to Operation Homefront.
The expansion into these breweries and the support from our generous sponsors – Hops Direct, LLC, The County Malt Group, Louisville Slugger, Great Western Malting Co., Brewers Supply Group, and Rahr Malting Group – makes for a promising 2012. Baseball ambassadors and special events will be announced in the upcoming weeks.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Event this weekend at Independence. Sounds worthwhile:

Pints for Pups April 21, 12-3pm @Independence Brewing

Join us from Noon to 3pm for a tasting event at the brewery that will benefit 6 local dog rescues/shelters.  For $10 guests will receive a commemorative pint glass and enjoy some of our finest brews.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Steve Anderson Leaving Live Oak, Moving to Alpine

I have double news about Live Oak Brewing. (Does that make it "imperial" news?)

One: They're having their 15th anniversary party this weekend. More on that at the end of the post.

Two: This is the big one. Brewer Steve Anderson, after 32 years in Austin and about a decade at Live Oak (and almost another before that at the late, lamented Waterloo Brewing), is leaving and moving to Alpine, out in west Texas, to start a new production brewery. (That's Steve in the picture, and yes, I'm sad to say that is the best picture I have of him.)

I wish I could say I'm breaking this news, but Scrumptious Chef beat me to it back in January. But maybe I'm the first to interview him  about it:

"I'm there right now," Anderson said when I caught him on the phone. "I'm opening Big Bend Brewing. I'll have a 30-barrel brewhouse. Our flagship beer will be either a pilsner or helles named Tejas."

Why those styles?

"It's beer for out here," Anderson says. "They're lagers. And it's hot and dry here. We'll also brew a hefeweizen and an IPA. Probably a porter and a bock later, but they may become year-round beers. We'll sell draft here in the region, and maybe in Austin, and we'll can."

But why Alpine?

"I've been wanting to do this for about a dozen years," Anderson says. "We visited out here and fell in love with the area." [An affliction that befalls a lot of Texans who visit the Big Bend region, as I myself can attest. I've had Big Bend Fever since about age 12.]

"We've had a house in Sanderson for about 12 years, and now we have one in Alpine. I didn't say anything about these plans for a long time. It was just a pipe dream, but then this finally panned out. There's no stopping it now."

It panned out because he landed some financial partners who also love the area, including Matt Kruger of Chicago and Connecticut's Clifford Mallory and Konrad Wos.

As for his replacement at Live Oak, owner Chip McElroy says the brewing duties are actually dispersed among three employees, so there's really not a "head brewer." As for losing Anderson: "Oh my gosh," McElroy says. "I hate to see him go, but he really loves west Texas. It's all for the good. I know he'll still be in our lives, though."

Anderson says he'll be back in town for the 15th Anniversary party. Here's the info on that, shamelessly cut-and-pasted from Beer Snob Sarah, who shamelessly cut-and-pasted it from an e-mail sent out by Live Oak:
Hello Live Oak Fans!

It’s that time of the year again - time for the Live Oak Anniversary Party. This is our 15th anniversary and possibly the last Anniversary party at our old, original address. [Wait, they're moving? Okay, make it triple news. Or is that tripel news?]

As usual we will have live music, sausage wraps by our neighbor Smokey Denmark, hummus treats from Zilks Foods, a bouncy house for the kids and, of course, beer from Live Oak Brewing Co.

The band line up is:
  • The Brown Paperbags
  • Lonesome Dave Fisher
  • Corrine Rose
  • The Lennings
  • Leo Rondeau
  • The Preservation
  • The Superlites
  • Chinaski
So, please come and join us in celebrating the completion of our 15th year of business in Austin, Texas - now the “Live Beer Capital of the World”.

Time: Saturday, April 14th, from Noon to 6 pm.

Place: Live Oak Brewing Co.
3301-B East 5th St.
Austin, TX 78702

Kids are welcome, but please leave your pets at home.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

My Hill Country Brewpubs Tour in Austin Chronicle

My Central Texas readers may have noticed: A whole lot of brewpubs have begun springing up in the Hill Country west of Austin. In today's Austin Chronicle, I explore how good beer is spreading to the most beautiful part of Texas. Please give it a read here.

P.S. I must offer my apologies to the Barber Shop in Dripping Springs. I love that place, and visited there in the course of putting this article together, and yet somehow managed to completely forget to include them when I wrote it. I have no idea how I managed to have such a brainfart. I shall try to make amends to them, either here or in the pages of the Chronicle.

UPDATE: The online version of the article now contains a review of the Barber Shop.

Only a Fool Would Pass Up This Beer

Schlafly was supposed to release this at the first of the month, so I suppose it's too late for me to get some, but damn it sounds good.

Oh well, I guess I just settle for a six-pack of Heisler.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Local Beer Festival Canceled

I just received the following e-mail. It refers to this festival.
I have taken the decision to cancel the festival that was scheduled for April 21st. This decision was prompted by 2 factors:

·         A number of sponsors who had agreed to support the event did not provide funding in time for me to produce what I felt would have been a quality event. I would rather cancel than produce something substandard.
·         The disastrous Austin Beer Festival that was held last Sat at the Travis County Expo Grounds. The complete fiasco – well documented online – has contaminated the market for beer festivals – especially ones run by private  companies.

I want to thank you for your interest in the event and will let you know if I decide to re-schedule.


Steve Farrer

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Metzger Challenges Restaurants to Up Their Beer Game

Okay, I've started to let this blog look like an abandoned amusement park. Time to start posting again.

And a new acquaintance in the beer-loving world will help me out today. As I've mentioned, back in December I started a new job as the communications director for a state senator from San Antonio, which has necessitated getting to know the news media in my neighbor city to the southwest. Among those has been Ryan Loyd of Texas Public Radio, who, as it turns out, was already a fan of I Love Beer, along with his wife Sarah, who is a fellow beer blogger.

Ryan's figured out what I wised up to a few years ago -- if you're a reporter who also happens to love craft beer, then make a beat out of it. Hey, it's a lot more interesting than sitting through a zoning commission meeting.

This morning, via my iPhone, I heard Ryan reporting on that incorrigible troublemaker Scott Metzger, owner of Freetail Brewing, a San Antonio brewpub, again doing something crazy: encouraging his competitors to get more competitive with him. He's challenged local restaurateurs to quit having lame beer selections in places that otherwise serve fine food. Craft beer is at least as interesting as fine wine, and deserves the same attention to selection. (And no, his challenge doesn't directly benefit Metzger, because of Texas' unfair laws banning brewpubs from selling their beer in other bars and restaurants, although Scott is smart enough to know that cultivating the craft beer market in San Antonio generally will eventually lead people to his door.) Good for Scott, and good for Ryan for covering it.

It's a good story. Check it out here.