Friday, June 29, 2007

My 2nd-favorite drinking song

Following up on my post about one of my most beloved Willie Nelson songs, this is my next-favorite drinking song, and it's specifically about beer. It's by one of Willie's great friends and mentors, Bob Wills, and, although Willie performs a fine version himself on the Shotgun Willie album, the classic version is performed by Wills' Texas Playboys with the immortal Tommy Duncan on vocals:

"Bubbles in My Beer"
Tonight in a bar alone I'm sitting
Apart from the laughter and the cheers
While scenes from the past, rise before me
Just watchin' the bubbles in my beer

A vision of someone who loved me
Brings a lone silent tear to my eye
Oh! I know that my life's been a failure
Just watchin' the bubbles in my beer

I'm seeing a road that I've traveled
A road paved with heartaches and tears
And I'm seeing the past, that I've wasted
While watchin' the bubbles in my beer

As I think of the heart that I've broken
And of the golden chances that have passed me by
And the dreams that I made, now are empty
As empty as the bubbles in my beer

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Beer and Barton Springs

That's a hard combination to beat. If only I could take beer into Barton Springs! But this here press release details a good way to help a beer company raise money for the springs (and possibly get your picture on a beer bottle!):

Barton Springs Freestyle Jump Contest
Hosted by Independence Brewing to benefit the Austin Parks Foundation

Austin, Texas (Saturday, July 7th) – Independence Brewing company is showing their appreciation for the years of hiking, mountain bike riding, and swimming that we all enjoy along the Barton Springs Greenbelt and Pool with the 2nd Annual Freestyle for Barton Springs Jump Contest.

Show off your best Freestyle-inspired jump on the famous Barton Springs diving board on Saturday, July 7th. Check in and register near the entrance to Barton Springs Pool from 7:00-8:15 am, and the contest begins at 8:30 am. Registration is $25 and all proceeds go to Austin Parks Foundation. You must be at least 18 years old and able to swim to enter the jump contest. Jumps will be judged on showmanship and freestyle-inspired creativity. There will be an awards party with prize giveaways and BBQ at the brewery from 12 noon to 2pm.

There will be photographers shooting the jumps and the best jump’s photo will be featured on a special, limited edition beer label on Independence’s Freestyle Wheat Beer. The winner not only gets the glory and bragging rights for winning, but will be featured on this special edition label distributed throughout Central Texas. Additionally, the brewery will donate $1.00 from each case of Freestyle Wheat Beer sold through September 15th to the Friends of Barton Springs Pool, a project of the Austin Parks Foundation.

What: Freestyle for Barton Springs Jump Contest
Where: Barton Springs Pool After Party at: 3913 Todd Lane #607, Austin, TX 78744.
When: July 7th registration 7-8:15am Contest Begins at 8:30 Afterparty at 12 Noon
Cost: $25 registration goes to Austin Parks Foundation

About Independence Brewing Company
Independence Brewing Co. is located in southeast Austin at 3913 Todd Lane # 607, Austin, TX 78744. Founded by husband and wife team, Rob and Amy Cartwright, the brewery is a reflection of the creative energy and pioneering spirit that makes Austin (and Texas for that matter) great. We are dedicated to brewing the finest hand-crafted beer in Texas. We use only the purest ingredients to create a truly Austin beer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Big Beers' Are Back!

And heaven help me, because it didn't go so well for me last time.

Dang, I'd love to go again, although I've been spending a bit much lately. Ah hell, I always say that, but then I do it anyway. Maybe Nosregref wants to go this time. And maybe this time I'll stifle my bright idea to continue drinking afterward at the Draught House and won't end up puking. (Again: Ah hell, I always say that, but then I do it anyway.)

In the unlikely event you live in Austin and don't know where Central Market North is, go to their website and register for the "class" here.

Here's the details:

THU. , JULY 5, 6:30 – 9 PM
Greg “The Beer Guy” Willis,
CM Beer Expert
We’ve found the biggest, full-flavored beers of the season and will pair them with bold party fare to shock your palate into submission. Join “the beer guy” for this special malt-and-hops tour de force. $50

Hold me. I'm afraid.

UPDATE: Okay, I'm going, along with Nosregref and Lance. Oh well, so much for the being broke part. Now, about the puking …

Karla, wish you could join us – affairs like this almost always need more estrogen.

ONE MORE EDIT: I feel compelled to say, based on my previous experience: taking mass transit or a cab home from this event is not a bad idea.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beer tasting coming up Thursday

And like so many of the great beer drinking opportunities in this town, it just happens to be on the No. 3 bus route:

Blue Star Cafeteria
4800 Burnet Rd., C-300 (Austin, TX)

Join us for Thirsty Thursday, our first beer tasting, on June 28 from 8 pm to 10 pm. Sample and learn about five different beers such as Independence Bootlegger, Independence Freestyle Wheat, Session Lager Full Sail Sessions Amber, and Unibroue Blanche de Chambly. Enjoy tastings of our Godfather pizza,Coconut-Cornflake Chicken Tenders and Mini Burgers all for $15.00 per person.

Reservations recommended.
Call 454-7827.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Back to the aging thing again

So late last year, I got a yen to try aging some beer and see what it does to the flavor. I wrote here about how I got some St. Bernardus Abt 12, and stashed it in my closet at room temperature, with the notion of opening it up about five years from now. Then I gave up on it, because I really didn't think it would preserve well in the closet, it would just take too long, and I'm really not doing at the proper temperature (50-55 degrees F).

Well, thanks to that little beauty in the picture, I'm going to try it again. That, my friends, is an Emerson 8-bottle Wine Cooler, which will keep my beer (and wine, natch) at a perfect 55 degrees. An early birthday present from M'Lady. I still have that bottle of Abt 12, although it's been in my regular beer fridge for several months in the low 40s. I'm not certain how that will affect the aging. We'll see. I also stuck a bottle of Unibroue Maudite in there – which has only been in my beer fridge for about a week – and M'Lady is about to bring home a previously unchilled bottle of Trois Pistoles which will go straight in there. Sometime about a year from now (maybe a little more – those full-bodied beers will probably taste better in the fall or winter) I'll try them out and report the results.

(Hey, if anyone out there has experience with this: Am I wasting my time putting the Abt 12 in there after it's been kept very cold for so long?)

Addendum: Here is a nice how-to on aging beers, although I'll have no choice but to violate their command that I store the beer upright, since the dimensions of the Emerson don't allow for that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Cruzin Cooler

This is just stupid enough that I almost want one.

Beer snobbery has its limits

The Beer Anti-Snob laments one of his beloved South Austin honky-tonks going upscale. And I have to say, even though I am the Unrepentant Beer Snob, I agree with him. Let's face it, the Little Longhorn will go to hell in a handbasket the day they install a tap of Trois Pistoles. Some places are meant to have smoke hanging in the air and $1 Schlitz. May it always be that way.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Shiner 98 commercial

This video was sent to me by some nice person named "anonymous." I'm sure Shiner won't mind the free advertising. (Clearly, I'm not a very savvy capitalist.) See my previous post if you want to know more about this limited-edition Texas beer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My very favorite drinking buddy

Nine years ago today, I took the very wise action of marrying the beautiful woman you see snuggled up against me here. I didn't know how blissfully happy I could be until I met you, honey. And I don't just say that because I'm pleasantly buzzed on the Koningshoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale that you bought me for Father's Day. Nor because of the really great collection of microbrewery pint glasses you got me. Or because you cleaned me up when I failed to pace myself at the Draught House that night and barfed all over our bedroom while you were eight months pregnant, and you didn't divorce my sorry ass.

I say that because you are my best friend in the whole world, and every day I'm with you is pure joy. I love you, and the beautiful kids we've produced, and all the great times we've had together and will have together. I can't imagine how my life could be any better. Happy anniversary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Great Kansas City Beer Bloggers Summit …

[EDIT: Okay, my curiousity is killing me – why is the Number One driver of hits to my site the picture of the Kansas City skyline to the right? What are all you people looking for? Please let me know in the comments section below.]

… never quite happened. Or at least, it was less than what I hoped for.

Faithful readers will remember that back in April, I stumbled across (via the Internet) a nice young lady in Kansas City who is doing pretty much the same thing I'm doing; she calls herself A Beer Kind of Girl (or just "Beergirl" for short). Beergirl told me to drop her a line if ever I was in her neighborhood – so of course, I did, since M'Lady is from KC and we're there every six months or so like clockwork to visit the family.

Unfortunately, tentative plans to meet up somewhere – hopefully to have her expose me to a great KC beer bar – never materialized. A new job smacked her with a menacing deadline, killing the first few days. Then she got deathly ill. That killed the next few. Now I was faced with a dilemma: On a brief business visit to Austin in May, she raved over how much she loved Shiner Bock, so I decided to take her a gift 12-pack of Texas beers. And I needed to get that beer to her, because I needed the space in my car to take home my usual case of Boulevard (an excellent Kansas City beer not available in Texas; see my many previous posts). So finally, a last-ditch effort — M'Lady and I scheduled a tour of the newly expanded Boulevard Brewery, maybe she could come with us? She would be off work early that day, so it seemed like we might finally get to lift one together … but no. Those meanies at Boulevard said the tour was full and no way would they let one more person in. If their beer weren't so good, I'd hold a grudge. Thus fizzled out a great meeting of the minds and livers.

However, she met M'Lady and I in the Boulevard parking lot right before the tour, hinicetomeetyouhereissomeTexasbeer. I handed over three each of Saint Arnold Pils, Saint Arnold Elissa IPA, Shiner 98, and Shiner Kolsch, which hopefully should whet her appetite for another Austin trip. (Austin is a great place for a vacation, HINT, HINT. With all the Shiner, Saint Arnold, Live Oak, and Real Ale you can drink!)

Beergirl is lucky she gets to take that tour any time she wants – it was awesome. After roaming through the production facility we of course went to the much-anticipated drinking room for about 20 minutes of sampling. I would have been happy enough having my favorite regulars, their Pale Ale and Bully Porter, but they also had their new Lunar Ale, as well as sneak previews of stuff not on the shelves yet.

I was a little disappointed in the Lunar. I expected a bold Belgian flavor; instead, it was a strange mix of styles, sort of like a German dunkleweisen mixed with a Belgian dubbel, that ended up being less than the sum of its parts. Decent enough, but not overly impressive.

Much better were two others: A Belgian saisson farmhouse ale due for release in the fall. Golden in color, with a crisp, flowery taste. I'm looking forward to a full bottle; hopefully the mother-in-law can score one for me. After that, I tried an IPA, and oh it was glorious! The bartender told me it "a slightly different version" of it would eventually become a regular part of their year-round lineup. I can't imagine why they would want to change a thing from what they served me – unless they've figured out a way to make it even better. This makes me look forward to my KC trips even more.

I grabbed some other beers while I was in KC, as well. Beergirl had raved about a Saint Louis brand called Schlafly. I tried their Pale Ale, which was about as mediocre as a pale ale could be – seriously, they should be embarrassed to put this on the same shelves as Boulevard's version. However, I also grabbed a 750ml bottle of their 2006
Imperial Stout, which was marvelous. It was aged in oak barrels, and it was mighty strong, both in ABV and flavor. Well done, and I hope they'll make more this winter for my holiday trip.

I tried another St. Louis brew from a brewery called Lemp, which apparently has a very long history and was recently resurrected. I tried their Jurassic Dark, a "
roasted German Style Wheat Ale" that was quite tasty.

As for watering holes, I never got to actually sample one with Beergirl, but M'Lady and I did follow her advice to try Grinders, a cool downtown food and brew dive/concert venue with tasty wings and an impressive beer selection. It reminded me a lot of The Parlor, a funky punk pizza place here in Austin. Margaret immediately declared it her favorite place in KC and even left me on kid-watching duty one night so she could take her girlfriends there. I started with a Boulevard Pale just out of a sense of duty, but I then moved on to something that was a Unibroue product, but I'm not sure which one. The menu said Maudite, and I was brought a beverage that was beguilingly black and so utterly glorious in taste that I think my head spun around 360 degrees. So I came home and feverishly bought a bottle, and it poured out … a rich brown. And delicious, but not quite as good as what I had at Grinders. I'm pretty sure they actually served me Trois Pistoles, by the same brewery, which I've had before at Gingerman, and which had the same revelatory effect on me. In any case, the lesson here is that you can't go wrong with Unibroue, no matter what you actually get.

Damn that was a long post. And it was a long trip. I hope it was worth it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Do you dream of stacks upon stacks of Fireman's 4?

Of course you do. As I've mentioned before, this wonderful blonde ale from Real Ale, which has been a hit in Austin bars for a while, is now available in bottles, albeit in limited quantity. And I just saw the aforementioned stacks and stacks piled up high at the H-E-B at Hancock Center. We had an office party today, and I supplied the beer. I've had several (along with some Shiner Kolsch, Shiner 98, and some kind of beer-and-bourbon concoction called a "Skip and Go Naked"), and I'm very happy right now.

Hurry down and get them before they run out!

(Those of you who have partied with me before are probably wondering if I skipped and went naked. Thankfully, I managed to keep my clothes on.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Black Star Co-op event Saturday

These are always great. Read about it here. Time permitting, I might go.