Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wurstfest Chicken Dance

Following up on my mini-review of this year's Wurstfest, I just had to post this:

No Wurstfest is complete without doing the Chicken Dance. From left, that's Ms. Noxious, my older daughter, Noxious Jr., my younger daughter (partially obscured), Bob Noxious (in beer hat, natch), little girl Nosregref, and M'Lady. Photography by Nosregref.

I'm not in the photo because I was off doing a poorly-timed phone interview for a political show on KOOP radio. (For future reference, if a radio station wants to interview you, I don't recommend doing it in a place where loud polka music is coming from one direction and a very active set of railroad tracks is off the other way.)

Damn, I hate missing the Chicken Dance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Freetail Brewing opening this weekend

The newest addition to the Texas brewing scene debuts this weekend down in San Antonio, Freetail Brewing Co.

I love San Antonio and will definitely get down there to try it at some point. Earlier this year I went to Blue Star Brewing in the King William District and was mighty impressed, but have been too slothful to write it up.

Details from a press release they sent me:

The new brewpub will open the inaugural location on the corner of 1604 and NW Military in the Hill Country Plaza retail development on Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 28-30.

The opening marks a fresh approach to San Antonio's brewpub scene combining artisan pizza, salads and sandwiches with a microbrewery featuring unique selections of craft beer. Opening specials will include happy hour prices throughout the weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

(512) Brewing Open House and Pecan Porter

More info (including their location) is at their website.

New weizenbock from Live Oak

Press release from Austin's Live Oak Brewing below. And note at the end: They're working toward eventually getting their product in bottles!
Live Oak Brewing Company, an Austin microbrewery, brewed their one-thousandth batch of beer today. This landmark brew is a batch of their new winter seasonal, Primus Weizenbock. It is a dark, rich German-style Weizen beer (beer made with wheat malt) fermented with a very particular strain of brewers' yeast that gives these beers their unique spicy and fruity character. Primus Weizenbock will extend Live Oak's family of central European-style beers by building on the foundation of their highly acclaimed and best-selling HefeWeizen.

"Our HefeWeizen was voted on the beer aficionado website,, to be one of the top 25 best beers on planet earth. It seemed natural to extend that brand with a Weizenbock this winter", said Chip McElroy, founder of Live Oak Brewing Company. As all of the Live Oak beers, Primus will be available only on draft in Texas bars and restaurants. It is named after the legendary, if unofficial, patron saint of beer brewing, Jan Primus (John the First), Duke of Brabant. It is also customary in Germany to end the name of a Weizenbock beer with the letters "us" thus, Primus (pronounced, "pre' moose").

The unfiltered beer will have the characteristic clove and banana flavors familiar to HefeWeizen drinkers but with a darker and richer roasty malt character that is typical of some German-style Bock beers. Contributing to that malt character is a laborious decoction mash employed at Live Oak. This old school brewing method is still used at some central European breweries and Live Oak but rarely anywhere else. The alcohol strength will be around 8% ABV and it will be available on tap in December.

Live Oak has experienced such growth over the last few years that they had to put on hold plans to get their products into bottles due to lack of space and production capacity in their current east Austin facility. In order to expand their capacity and package in bottles, the brewery has purchased 20 acres of land on the Colorado River north of the airport (ABIA) to build a new facility that will include a bottling line. The property is beautiful with very many Live Oak trees over 30" in diameter and a couple measuring over 45". McElroy warns, "Don't start holding your breath for bottles yet. Keep looking for our beers on tap. It will take us a couple of years to get the new brewery completed."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shiner 100

Paul over at Texas Beer has the scoop on the final installment in Shiner's 100th anniversary beers. Coming in January, it will be called Commemorator, and will be a doppelbock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Nosregref in New Hampshire

Nosregref is currently in New Hampshire on business, and of course, he's sampling the local brews. He sent me the dispatch below. (You gotta love how Bill expresses mild disappointment at having only 45 beers from which to choose.) That's Bill in the picture, in a place that is clearly not Manchester.

Manchester takes pride in having the tallest building in the whole state of New Hampshire. It's also the largest city in the state. So, naturally they have a bar, Strange Brew Tavern, with the largest number of taps in the area as well. They advertise 65 beers on tap at, but it was closer to 45 last night during my visit. This isn't nearly the selection you would find in nearby Boston, but when the bar is a three-block walk from your hotel, it's much more convenient.

Walking into the non-descript building just off the main street in Manchester, I wasn't expecting much, but once you enter and see the taps packed in tightly behind the bar, you know this isn't a place to come drink bad beer. Excitedly, I saw they had several selections of Harpoon on tap, which is a beer you can only find up in the New England area as a general rule. I've tried and tried to find it anywhere in Texas, in bottle or tap, and nobody can get it. I've even emailed the brewery directly, and they explained they don't have plans to distribute to Texas at this point in time. I blame the stupid Texas alcohol laws. The brewery is based in Boston, and if you are in the area, I strongly recommend their signature IPA, as well as their Hefeweizen.

To start, the Harpoon Winter Warmer. It's another Christmas style ale style strong on the cinnamon and nutmeg, and I can't get enough of it. It was at this moment of ordering that a grumpy old man next to me complained "It isn't winter yet." I explained that I was from Texas, and if it was 30 degrees outside, then damnit, it's winter. And let me drink my beer.

Next up was the Otter Creek (Vermont) Stovepipe Porter. It had potential, but was served too cold. I tried to let it sit for awhile to bring out the flavor more, but I was thirsty. Overall an average porter.

Old Thumper (Maine) Cask Conditioned came next. It was a traditional pale ale, but with the extra cask goodness. It was a nice and smooth beer, but after the last two beers, I think my taste buds were burned out a little bit. Above average still.

After this I went back to the Harpoon Winter Warmer. Did I explain it was $2 pint night for local beers? That was the best part since all the local beers are not local to me. The locals seem to really like this place on Tuesday nights.

Next up: Milly's Tavern. The only brewpub in Manchester, and I'm sure they have claim to some kind of New Hampshire record as well.

Black Star Co-op beer social Saturday

Message from Black Star Co-op below. I won't be there, unfortunately – way too busy this weekend.
Dear Black Star Co-op Community,

We took a break last month, but the Beer Socials are back! Once again we’ll be co-producing the event with DiverseArts at their venue, Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, at 1106 E 11th St.

Over the past year or so the Beer Socials have become a great party, but this month we want to get back to their original purpose: building support and recruiting new member-owners. As such, this month’s Beer Social will look a lot more like those we had back in the early days of our Co-op. We hope you enjoy the changes.

First, we’ll be simplifying things and focusing on creating an environment, much like our future brewpub, where people can enjoy the company of their fellow co-operators over a quality beer. Unfortunately, that means we’ll forgo live music and the Home Brewer’s Corner this month. We want to thank all the bands that have played at our Beer Socials, and all the home brewers who have shared their creations at past events. In the place of these attractions we’ll feature beer from our friends at the North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery and a slide show with information about the Co-op and pictures from our past.

We are also expanding the membership table into an area we’re calling “Your Future Brewpub.” In addition to becoming a member-owner, this is where you can learn more about the vision of our brewpub, meet the Board of Directors, and talk about the house beer recipes with our future brewer.

As we talk about the vision for our future brewpub, we can't neglect one key thing that sets us apart from other brewpubs - the co-operative values and principles. These values and principles date from the first modern co-operative in 1844, are common to all co-operatives worldwide, and are codified by the International Co-operative Alliance as the Statement on the Co-operative Identity. Not only would we like to build awareness of these values, but we'd like to know what they mean to the community that is Black Star Co-op. At this Beer Social we'll have a "Gallery of Values" where you can become familiar with the co-operative values and write/draw your thoughts on a large page for each one.

As usual we’ll have pint glasses available for $5, t-shirts for $15, and the special “Co-op Cultivator” mugs for each member-owners who refers two new Charter Members.

See you on Saturday!

What: November Beer Social
Where: 1106 E 11th St
When: Saturday, November 15th, 7-10PM
What to bring: ID, Chairs, Friends, and Thirst (and ID!)
More information:
Statement on the Co-operative Identity:


Black Star Co-op
(512) 326-1750

Thursday, November 06, 2008

President Obama — I'll drink to that!

I already have an Obama glass from Flying Saucer, but I may need to add this to my collection:

Buy it here.

Hyde Park Market and Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

I stepped into the new Hyde Park Market at 45th & Duval today, because I'd heard it had about the craziest craft brew selection you could possibly find at a corner store. The stories were true. They're even better than the Bread Basket down the street from my house (which I affectionately call the "Beer Basket," because (A) they have a superb beer selection for a convenience store, and (B) they don't actually sell bread). Seriously, it's unbelievable — you wouldn't think a dinky little corner store could match the likes of Spec's, Grape Vine Market, or Central Market, but they come mighty close. I used to live about two blocks from there. It's probably for the best that I no longer do. (Of course, my kid's Montessori school is nearby, so I'll probably be back plenty.)

I extremely pleased to find a four-pack of Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner, a seasonal beer that I'd forgotten about. And I'm not sure how I could have forgotten — I raved about it last year, and as soon as I saw it on the shelves, wonderful hoppy memories flooded into brain.

I just gave it another taste, and my memories proved accurate. This just might be the best beer I've ever tasted. And I don't say that lightly — I try to avoid hyperbole when doing a printed review that the whole world can see. If you like hops, grab some, and I think you'll agree. (If you don't like hops, then trust me, this is not the beer for you.)

Fat Tire in cans!

I just got this message from Wheatsville Food Co-op:

New! Fat Tire Amber Ale now in CANS!

If you love New Belgium's Fat Tire (who doesn't?) it is time to rejoice! Fat Tire is now available at Wheatsville in cans. The cans, which are 100% recyclable, feature Fat Tire's original watercolor artwork. And for those beer lovers worried about Fat Tire's taste changing in the can, fear not. "We took a unique can-conditioning approach and its flavor was not compromised in any way," says Brian Simpson, spokesperson for New Belgium. "We ran a series of tests using our friends at Oskar Blues' canning line and there was no flavor differential. In New Belgium's native Colorado, can sales have exceeded expectations as locals embrace the ability to take Fat Tire to places where bottles are not an option. Distributing cans also helps lighten New Belgium's carbon footprint by saving fuel during transport by due to lighter weight loads." Fat Tire cans are available only in 12-packs and Wheatsville's got em' for $15.99. Let us know how you like them!
Sound like this craft-brew-in-cans thing is really taking off. Which is awesome. Now I don't have to settle for crap beer when I go tubing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Leads Among Beer Drinkers

Back in August I mentioned the Flying Saucer's gimmick to sell pint glasses, a contest to see whether Obama or McCain glasses would sell better.

The results are in! Sez their PR person:

Barack Obama continues to lead overall with 12,993 votes (56%) to John McCain’s 10,261 (44%). Obama also continues to lead in Austin with 1,160 votes to McCain’s 502. All the up-to-date poll results are available at and clicking on the Presidential Poll icon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wurstfest Was Awesome

Sorry, no time for a lengthy post, but Wurstfest was awesome as always. If you like beer, polka, sausage, kraut, people in funny looking German outfits, potato pancakes with applesauce, and pretty much anything you can imagine dipped in batter and deep-fried, then you need to get to New Braunfels. It continues through Nov. 9.

Best beers down there: Paulaner Oktoberfest and Warsteiner Dunkelweizen. And I highly recommend the deep-fried Oreos, which are both delicious and nauseating at the same time.

Oh yeah, fantastic suggestion from Julie that turned out great: Instead of going there on our usual Saturday, we went down on the first Sunday. All the fun, but about 1/10 of the crowd and no hassles. Waiting in lines was minimal, and often, there were no lines at all. It's awesome to just drive right in to a parking place, and then walk up and get a beer, food, or onto a carnival ride instead of waiting an eternity. If you can get there on a non-Saturday, it's worth it. (Although I hear the second Sunday, the last day of the fest, can be about as bad as a Saturday.)