Thursday, February 26, 2009

Introducing the Austin Women's Beer League

I'm always pleased any time someone sets out to disprove the notion that beer – especially quality beer – is a "guy thing." I know Karla in particular gets furious anytime someone recommends she drinks fruity or light beers because they're "aimed at women." So on that note, I introduce the Austin Women's Beer League. I believe it's a creation of my buddy Snax, and I can tell you from having downed a few with her (she's a veteran of the No. 3 Bus Pub Crawl) that she's no drinker of wimpy downstream beer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stupid Shit We Do When We're Young

Keg stands.

That first picture is me, circa 1993, when I still had my long hair and Buddy Holly glasses. The other picture is me feeding Shiner Bock to Bret, who still had hair back then.

Oh, and the guy holding my right leg is Mr. Pub Knight himself, and the guy feeding beer to me is Bobnoxious.

UPDATE: Bill dug up this photo of the aftermath. Oh, the shame. (That's me in the boots, with Bret.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beer No Longer Recession-Proof?

Only a week ago, I posted a link to an NPR story saying that despite the recession, beer sales are still going strong.

Not so fast, says Alcohol sales, led by beer, apparently plunged in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Statement From Rep. Lon Burnam

Statement from Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth on why he authored HB 1062:
Texas produces some of the finest beer in the world, and Texas breweries deserve a fair playing field in the commercial market. Six years ago wineries in Texas successfully lobbied state lawmakers to change the law so that they could sell their products to people who visited their wineries. I filed House Bill 1062 to allow breweries to operate under the same rules.

District 90 is fortunate to be the home of the award winning Rahr and Son's Brewery. Not only does this hometown institution produce a high quality brew, it provides employment to many people in my inner-city district.

In addition Rahr Brewery makes "green" business practices a priority. All of their electricity comes from renewable sources and they are making every effort to become carbon neutral.

Many Texans are awakening to the advantages of eating local. Likewise drinking local reduces carbon emissions, provides a higher quality product, and keeps jobs and dollars in the community.

This bill will allow small, family owned businesses like Rahr to compete with the large out-of-state companies that currently dominate the Texas beer market. It's about fairness, and about putting what's best for Texas beer drinkers ahead of what's best for out of state interests.
If you want to support Burnam and HB 1062, here's what you can do.

Facebook Group: Friends of Texas Microbreweries

A Facebook group was started some time time ago named Friends of Texas Microbreweries. (UPDATE: The group has since changed its name to Texas Microbrewery Advocates.) It's not the same group as the lobbying organization that pushed in 2006 for legalization of on-site brewery sales, but it's named after it and "inspired" by it. Now that everyone and their dog is joining Facebook, it's starting to serve as a meeting place for supporters of this year's push to support on-site sales – specifically, House Bill 1062 and Senate Bill 754. Go join up if you haven't already.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Trappist Ale Tasting at Flying Saucer San Antonio

The San Antonio location of the Flying Saucer is having a Trappist ale tasting soon. Damn, this sounds awesome, but I can guarantee you I won't be going, because Trappist ales tend to be a might bit strong and I'd be forced to shell out for a hotel room. But you folks in the S.A. should go enjoy. Press release from the Saucer:
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will present a Trappist Ale Tasting on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at its location 11255 Huebner Road, #212.

The event will be hosted by Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelen, regional sales manager at Manneken-Brussel Imports, Inc. Five Trappist ales will be paired with four selected courses. Featured pairings include Chimay Triple paired with Waterzooi soup; Orval as a stand-alone feature; Chimay Red with a pheasant and poblano quesadilla; Chimay Blue paired with Chimay Blue cupcakes with vanilla ice cream and raspberry drizzle; and Koningshoeven Quadrupel paired with rum balls made with Koningshoeven Quadrupel. An appetizer of venison salami and Chimay cheeses will be available before the tasting begins.

“At The Flying Saucer, we want to be the beer destination for the San Antonio area, and we are thrilled to be able to offer this tasting experience,” said Lucas Mobley, general manager at The Flying Saucer. “Only seven breweries in the world brew authentic Trappist ales, so it’s exciting for customers to have the opportunity to try so many in one sitting. This is something beer enthusiasts will not want to miss.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased at The Flying Saucer and are $35 for U.F.O. Club members and $40 for non-members. Reservations are required as tickets are limited.

Authentic Trappist beer is brewed within a Trappist monastery, under the control and responsibility of the monastic community. Only seven breweries carry the Trappist distinction – Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achel in Belgium and Koningshoeven in The Netherlands.

For more information about the event, please call (210) 696-5080 or visit

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Saint Arnold Austin Scavenger Hunt

My favorite Houston brewery is sponsoring a scavenger hunt/pub crawl contest here in Austin, and wanted me to let you know about it. Grand prize is a kegerator! Details here.

Naishtat Supports On-Site Sales for Breweries

Yesterday I told Texans to contact their state legislators to support HB 1062/SB 754, bills that would allow breweries to sell their products on-site. And right after making that post, I did just that. I got this response from my state rep (pictured at right):
Dear Mr. Nichols:

Thank you for writing to me and sharing your thoughts on House Bill 1062 and Senate Bill 754, which would allow breweries to sell their product on their premises with a permit. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write.

I plan to support HB 1062 and SB 754. I believe that local breweries are an important part of the business community in Austin. I agree that they should be allowed to sell their products in their breweries, just as wineries are permitted to do so, as long they are located in areas that allow the sale and consumption of alcohol and the brewery has the proper permit.

If you would like to follow the progress of these bills during the session, you may register for the Texas Legislature Online's "My TLO" feature at This feature allows you to track the progress of bills and receive email alerts as the status of a bill changes.

Thank you, again, for your email. Please contact me with any questions, concerns or recommendations you may have on this or any other issue.

Elliott Naishtat
State Representative

Now I'm waiting to hear from my state senator, Kirk Watson. I suspect he'll want to get on board as well, given that he has no less that three microbreweries in his in his district (Live Oak, Independence, and 512).

Austin Featured in NPR Story on Beer

Austin-based National Public Radio reporter John Burnett did a story Tuesday on how, despite the recession, beer sales are still going strong. In it, he featured two of my hometown favorites, the Draught House Pub and (512) Brewing. Listen to it here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Support On-Site Brewery Sales

So yesterday I posted about a bill to allow Texas breweries to sell their product on their premises. Then a reader asked the obvious question: What can Texans do to support this bill? The simplest answer is to contact your state representative and state senator today and tell them you want this passed!

Step 1: Find out who represents you. If you already know, congratulations for being politically aware! If you don't, then look it up here.

Step 2: Send them an e-mail, letter, or phone call telling them: "I strongly support passage of HB 1062/SB
754." That's the main message, but if you feel like you need to elaborate, please courteously tell them your reasons. If you want good talking points, read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial.

Step 3: Tell every beer drinker you know to do the same thing. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and nowhere is that more true than in government. At the moment, your legislators probably aren't even aware of this bill. Heck, they may not even know what a brewpub is. But if they get a flood of letters and phone calls about it, you can be damn sure they'll educate themselves on the subject. Pleasing you is how they keep their jobs.

Video Tour of Souther Star

Don't adjust your volume; the first section of the video is completely silent. Give it a minute. Video by I Love Beer follower bobbrew.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Texas Microbrewers Again Try to Legalize On-Site Sales

A bill has been introduced in the 81st Texas Legislature to allow microbrewers to sell their product on the premises of the brewery. Such sales are currently allowed for winemakers, but not beer producers. A similar bill was filed in the 80th Lege two years ago, but it died in committee.

The language of the bill is below. The bill number is Senate Bill 754 (author: Wendy Davis of Fort Worth), and its twin is House Bill 1062 (author: Lon Burnam, also of Forth Worth). (Hmm … do you think the guys at Rahr & Sons had something to do with this?)

I am a bit concerned that it specifies "ale" and "malt liquor" but not beer. I know that those words have specific (albeit arbitrary and inaccurate) meanings for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. I'll investigate further and give you an update. (SEE END OF THIS POST FOR UPDATE AND EXPLANATION)
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the sale of ale and malt liquor by brewer's permit holders.


SECTION 1. Section 12.01, Alcoholic Beverage Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:
(c) The holder of a brewer's permit whose premises is located in an area where the sale of ale and malt liquor is legal and who produces at least 1,000 barrels of ale or malt liquor a year may sell ale and malt liquor manufactured or bottled on the permitted premises to ultimate consumers:

(1) in unbroken packages for off-premises consumption in an amount that does not exceed 35,000 gallons annually; and

(2) for consumption on the brewery premises if the brewery is located in an area where the sale of ale and malt liquor for on-premises consumption is legal.

SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.

UPDATE: Okay, as promised here's what the "ale" and "malt liquor" language is about. Definitions, according to the TABC and Texas Legal Code:

"Ale" or "malt liquor" means a malt beverage containing more than four percent of alcohol by weight.


"Beer" means a malt beverage containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and not more than four percent of alcohol by weight, and does not include a beverage designated by label or otherwise by a name other than beer.
As I said, the definitions are arbitrary and have nothing to do with proper terminology as used by brewers. Those definitions could cause some problems, though: I just did a quick check of one brewer's website, and noticed that Saint Arnold would be able to sell some of its beers, but not all (their Wheat is 3.9% ABW, and thus fits the definition of "beer" and would be excluded by this bill). If the bill can even get a hearing, the authors may want to include "beer" in the bill as well.

UPDATE 2: On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's J.R. Labbe wrote an editorial favoring this bill, and did a good job previewing the battle that could kill this bill: Although lawmakers love to extol the virtues of small business, they also like the campaign cash that might come from big distributors who prefer to be the only game in town for beer sales.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Me too!

I'm assuming this picture is public domain and okay for me to post. I love it.

I also assume it's from that idiotic time known as Prohibition — a bit of stupidity that's been on my mind a lot the past couple of days as Michael Phelps keeps getting beaten up over his pot "scandal." When are we going to quit legislating morality, and when are we going to stop having a double standard for alcohol and other recreational drugs?

Warsteiner Dunkel: Not that impressed

I'm blogging live from the Flying Saucer! Today's fire sale is Warsteiner Dunkel for $2.75/pint. Unfortunately, I'm only mildly impressed with it. I suppose in a universe that made sense, I'd rave over how this product of Germany is the real deal and blissfully good, but to tell you the truth, it isn't nearly in the class of the Texas-made dark weizens that I praised in a recent post.

I'm not sure what the problem is – I just realized I've had it before and really liked it, specifically at last year's Wurstfest. It just doesn't have that banana-ish taste that I was expecting after falling in love with North by Northwest's Dunkel. The glass I'm having right now just starts off like a plain dark, not unlike Shiner Bock. It is redeemed, however, with a touch of honey on the finish that I enjoy.

Perhaps the taste was enhanced last November by how much fun I was having down in New Braunfels. I'm puzzled.

[UPDATE: Okay, one of the posts in the comments section has helped clarify some of my confusion. This dunkel doesn't taste like a dunkelweizen because, well, it isn't one. They're two different styles. My beer education continues.]

Okay, I'm actually supposed to be working right now, so I'd better put down the blog and get back to reading this report on the Texas Legislature I brought with me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Drink Up: Your Planet Is Counting On You

Anything that is good for the planet and gets you drunk is a gift from God. Associated Press writer Marc Lallanilla offers up this list of 10 great organic beers, via the Forecast Earth website.

For the comments section: Have any of you tried any of these beers? How were they?

I've had some Wolaver's, but not the wit. I think it was the pale ale, and I remember it being pretty good. And I've actually drank at Hopworks in Portland as part of Bill's bicycling brewpub tour, and remember it was great, although I don't remember which beers I had. Stone Mill is available here in Austin, and I think I may have had it once, although I can't say it made an impression on me. Mothership Wit, also widely available, is probably one I should try, but I've noted many times here than wheat beers only occasionally agree with me.

UPDATE: Turns out Lanilla is, like me, a University of Texas alum. He e-mailed me to say:

I thought I would mention that I am not a writer for Associated Press, but a freelance writer for LifeWire, a division of The New York Times Company. A minor point, but you know how things go viral on the Internet.

And tell everyone in Austin I said hello -- I lived there during and after my UT college days, from 1979 to 1987.

Thanks again -- and Hook 'em, Horns!

Southern Star Brewing Contest

Big news from our friends out in the East Texas pines:
Attention all home brewers!

Southern Star Brewing is having a best of show competition (without the actual show). The winning recipe will be brewed here with the winner and be released as our fall seasonal. The beer will also be entered into the 2009 GABF Pro-Am competition.

As always, there are a few rules:

* Great American Beer Festival rules dictate that to be eligible for the Pro-Am, the home brewer MUST be an American Home Brewer Association member. Fortunately, Saint Arnold Brewing Company is hosting an AHA rally on 2/15/09, so if you are not a member, you can easily become one at this fun filled event. Check out further details at:

* Entries Must be greater than 5% ABV. Our license does not allow us to make weak beer.

* Entries must be ready to drink within 2 months after brewing. If you brew a giant, it must mellow fast.

* Entries must be "All Grain" batches.

* Entry must be able to be replicated on our system (i.e. no decoction or weird ingredient prep). We are capable of step infusion. Single step infusion preferred.

* Entries cannot be from blended batches. See above rule.

* There is no entry fee. Enter as many beers as you want. Style is open. Judges are invited to enter.

* You must submit at least 6 bottles of each entry along with the recipe(we will keep the recipe private unless you state otherwise).

* Entry deadline is MAY 2ND

Entries will be judged on a 2 round basis that may extend to three rounds by Houston area Homebrew illuminati (or as many of them as we can round up/convince to do this).Keep in mind our existing beer styles, as we are looking to diversify.

Good luck and we look forward to drinking … err, judging your entries!

The next piece of News is that Southern Star Brewing will be celebrating its FIRST Anniversary on March 27th (a Friday) at 6pm at the brewery. We plan on having a band play and of course the tasting bar will be open. Though we won't be serving any food, but the admission is FREE and no reservations are required!

Keep an eye on the website for any updates including the name of the band and such.

We hope to see you there!


Finally, we have a piece of distribution news. Seems that we are pretty popular outside of Texas as we are distributing Pine Belt Pale to Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois(Chicago area),North Carolina, and soon to be South Carolina.

Don't worry Texans, we haven't forgotten about you – we are working hard to try and get our beer to as many places around the state as possible. Wish we could tell everybody where they can buy it, but again legally we can't tell you.

Oh, and remember the tours start up again this Saturday (February 7th-Saturday) at 1pm and will occur every Saturday at 1pm for the winter and spring months.

We hope to see you there!


-SSB Webmaster

Southern Star Brewing Company
1207 N. FM 3083 E.
Conroe, Texas 77303