Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back to the Deschutes

Okay, back to the Deschutes beers that were sent to me for a review. I've already reviewed the Mirror Pond Pale Ale and the Cinder Cone Red back in May. Also back in May I tasted the Blacke Butte Porter, but didn't get around to writing up. But here are the notes I took: The immediate impression is a strong dose of chocolate. It settles on the tongue nicely, although the finish is mildly disappointing after the excellence of the Mirror Pond and Cinder Cone. There is a hint of licorice behind the chocolate. I'd give it a B.

A few months later I tried the Obsidian Stout, and this was back up to the standard of the first two brews. Obsidian is a smooth, black volcanic rock, and that describes this magnificent stout perfectly: smooth. As I sipped it I immediately imagined the perfect, glassy surface of a perfect rock of obsidian. I lost my other notes, but the velvety wonderfulness of this stout quite firmly implanted itself in my memory.

Then tonight I sampled the Inversion IPA. It was quite good, although I'm not certain what to say about it. Brews like Dogfish Head 60 Minute and 90 Minute, and double IPAs like Breckenridge 471, have raised the standard for IPAs so high that it takes a lot to impress me. Which is not to say Inversion is bad — it's actually quite good, and if you find it, it's worth your time and money.

And now I'm confused. I could have sworn Deschutes sent me a six-pack, but that's only five beers. Maybe they only sent me five, but more likely is I drank one and forgot to take notes. I have a suspicion that they sent me the Green Lakes Organic Ale and I just don't remember it — make of that what you will.

Overall, I'm mighty glad that Deshutes is shipping to Texas, and the Obsidian, Cinder Cone, and Mirror Pond are near the top of my list of recommended beers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Goodbye Shiner Dunkelweizen, Hello Holiday Cheer

Breaking news from Spoetzl Brewery: Continuing the line-up changes to their seasonal offerings, Shiner Dunkelweizen will be going the way of the dinosaur. Too bad — I'll miss that cool label with the bats emerging from beneath the Ann Richards (formerly Congress Avenue) Bridge.

However, the replacement sounds interesting. From Spoetzl's PR man:
Shiner will be releasing a new winter seasonal in November. It’s a dunkelwizen, but with a twist. They’ve added a hint of peach and pecan flavors. Between the dunkelweizen style and the Texas pecans and peaches (from Stonewall), this beer recognizes both the German heritage and Texas roots of the Spoetzl Brewery. The current version of Shiner Dunkelweizen will not be offered this season.

It’s called Holiday Cheer and will be available November through January. It has an ABV of 5.43% and the IBU = 22.

Beer Fest Coming Up at Flying Saucer

Press release from the Flying Saucer:

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will host its first annual Fall Brew Fest on Saturday, Oct. 4 from noon to 10 p.m. at its location at 815 West 47th St. at the City of Austin’s Triangle Park.

The Flying Saucer’s Fall Brew Fest will feature five beer tents, each with crafted brews chosen by The Flying Saucer’s own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs. Featured beers will include rare special releases and cask-conditioned ales. The event also will feature a Frisbee® Golf tournament and live music.

“We’ve had a great response to these events in other markets and knew Austin would be the perfect place to host our next Fall Brew Fest,” said Shannon Wynne, owner of The Flying Saucer. “Cap’n Keith has chosen some great beers for this year’s event, a few of which aren’t available anywhere else in the Austin area. It’s an event beer lovers won’t want to miss!”

Admission to the event is free, but for $15, event goers will receive a commemorative glass and tasting card that can be redeemed for a sampling of 10 of the 20 featured beers. Brats, kraut and Bavarian pretzels also will be available.

For more information about the Fall Brew Fest, please visit or call (512) 454-8200.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Food Meme

Okay, I'll jump on this food meme that my wife and several of her friends are passing around.

1. How do you like your eggs?
With beer.

2. How do you take your coffee/tea?
In a stout or porter.

3. Favorite breakfast food:

4. Peanut butter:
and beer.

5. What kind of dressing on your salad?

6. Coke or Pepsi?

7. You're feeling lazy. What do you make?

8. You're feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order?
The kind that tastes good with beer. (Meaning, all kinds.)

9. You feel like cooking. What do you make?
Beer bread. Beer-battered onion rings.

10. Do any foods bring back good memories?
The best times of my life involved beer.

11. Do any foods bring back bad memories?
The worst vomits of my life involved beer.

12. Do any foods remind you of someone?
Most of my friends drink beer.

13. Is there a food you refuse to eat?

14. What was your favorite food as a child?

15. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like?
Quality beer.

16. Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate?
Crappy beer.

17. Favorite fruit and vegetable:

18. Favorite junk food:

19. Favorite between meal snack:

20. Do you have any weird food habits?
Drinking beer that is appropriate to the season.

21. You're on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on?

22. You're off your diet. Now what would you like?

23. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai?
Hot enough to balance the cold beer.

24. Can I get you a drink?
Damn, I was wondering when you'd stop asking me these stupid questions.

25. Red or White Wine?
Well dammit, there's another stupid question. Beer!

26. Favorite dessert?

27. The perfect nightcap?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Location for Austin Ginger Man

Scooped by Texas Beer again: Paul is reporting that the Austin Ginger Man has found a new location right around the corner from the current location, which is due to be demolished in about six months.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Great Oktoberfest Beer

Damn, I can tell this is gonna be a good fall. My poker buddies polished off my Saint Arnold Oktoberfest last night, so I just had to swing back over to Grape Vine Market for some more, and look what I found: Boulevard's Bob's '47! As regular readers know, I've been deliriously happy that Kansas City's Boulevard finally started distributing in Austin, but I was worried that they were only going to send their flagship beers (the Pale Ale, Wheat, and Lunar Ale). Nope, they're also sending their seasonals, praise the beer gods. I've raved about Bob's '47 before, and I can't wait to crack one open down here in Austin.

Now, will they send the Smokestack Series to Austin?

Hurricane Ike Hits Texas Breweries

That little storm that blew through Texas last weekend has impacted just about everything in our state, including the beer industry. Texas Beer is reporting that Saint Arnold and Southern Star, both of which are Houston-area brewers, are temporarily offline (in the production sense, not the Internet. Of course, both are without power, so they're probably offline in that way as well). Dammit, and I was just getting into Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest. Best of luck getting back into business, guys — thirsty Texans are counting on you.

UPDATE: I just got this note from Brock Wagner, CEO of Saint Arnold: "We got through pretty well. We were without power until last night but we don't think we lost any beer yet. Haven't finished checking everything. There may be a couple of short-term shortages, but nothing major. Hurricanes are impressive!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yay, Fall Is Here!

Sorry I've been away from the blog almost two weeks. Been busy, and with the election coming up, I'll likely get busier. I just wanted to jump on here for a second and say that a cool front came in, temperatures are in the glorious 70s (we actually slept with the windows open last night and I went for a hard bicycle ride this morning), and it's time to start filling my recycling bin with several of these bottles. Damn I love Saint Arnold. (Photo stolen from another Austin beer blogger that I just discovered, Pivo Nation.)

Shockingly, this is the first time I've tried Saint Arnold's Oktoberfest. I'm not sure why. But thanks to Nosregref for giving me one the other night. I immediately had to run to the store and get more of this malty goodness. Man I love it when the seasons change (and the beer does too).

EDIT: Oh yeah, when I was in Grape Vine Market getting the Saint Arnold, I also noticed this was back in stock as well. And of course, this and this too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Texas Brewing Stats

I asked the Brewers Association (the organization for craft brewers) for some stats on Texas brewers and how they stacked up against the rest of the nation. They were kind enough to send me the May/June issue of The New Brewer, the journal of their organization, and it contained some fascinating numbers from 2007.

• In the South Region (Ala, Ark, Fla, Ga, Ky, La, Ms, NC, Okla, SC, Tenn, and Texas), Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner was by far the leader in sales among craft brewers. Their 380,000 barrels (up 9% from last year) was well ahead of the 74,500 of Abita (New Orleans). Also in the top 10, Saint Arnold (Houston) was 5th with 17,811 bbls, and Real Ale (Blanco) was 8th with 11,511. For comparison, note that Saint Arnold's sales would not make the top 10 in the Pacific Region (California and Hawaii) or the Northeast. Also on the South list was Pete's Brewing, but that's a bit misleading – Pete's is really a California brewer, but they're owned by the Gambrinus company in San Antonio (which also owns Spoetzl).

• Spoetzl was the only Texas company in the national top 50 domestic craft brewing companies, a list that includes regional brewers, contract brewers, and brewpubs, coming in 4th. They were well behind the 1.8 million of leader Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams).

• On the national list of "regional brewing companies" (sales of at least 15,000 bbls) Spoetzl ranked 8th (the "craft brewers" list was more restrictive in its definition, hence the lower ranking on the "regional brewers" list), and Saint Arnold ranked 61st.

• On the national list of "microbrewers" (sales below 15,000 bbls):
11th: Real Ale
79th: Live Oak (Austin) — 4,000 bbls
116th: Healthy Brew (Fort Worth) — 2,500
122nd: Rahr and Sons (Fort Worth) — 2,400
172nd: Independence (Austin) — 1,400

Something called Cerveza Cosaco – Spanish for "Cossack Beer" – was also listed as Texas, but as near as I can tell, it's actually brewed in Mexico and owned by a Colorado company. As for Healthy Brew, I've never heard of them, but Jeffrey had a post about them last year. I can't get their web page,, to load.

(And speaking of Real Ale, their 11,511 bbls is a 106% increase (!) from last year, and that follows increases of 27%, 35%, and 35% in the three previous years. For more on their success, read this great article by the Austin American-Statesman's Patrick Beach.)

• Our brewpub scene has a ways to go on the national list. Tops in Texas was Two Rows Restaurant and Brewery in Dallas — they consistently produce 1,400 bbls a year, putting them at No. 105. Two Rows also has locations in Addison and Houston that produce a little less. After Two Rows was Austin's North by Northwest — 1,250 bbls for No. 132 – and various other Texas brewpubs could be found farther down the list. (The top seller in the nation is Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, Wash., at 5,302 bbls. They must be doing something right up there, because they've almost doubled their sales over the past five years.)