Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DWI? But he never got off his bar stool!

I can't decide if this guy is really cool or a total dumbass. Maybe he's both. (Photo is copyright Associated Press.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy, busy

Sorry to deprive you of the joy that is me, but work is getting insane right now. Remember, I told you this might happen. I can't even keep up with the beats I get paid for, much less beer blogging. So, except for updates related to the on-site sales bills for microbreweries in the Texas Legislature (see many, many previous posts), I may vanish for a while.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow, and I thought Texas is backward

Buck up, Texans, there are states with worse alcohol laws than yours. I just got this press release from the Brewers Association:

Utah Legalizes Homebrew Beer

Utah one of the last states to change law legalizing homebrewing

Boulder, CO • March 25, 2009 – Yesterday, Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. of Utah signed into law legislation that makes homebrewing beer legal. The "Exemption for Alcoholic Beverage Manufacturing License" was sponsored by Representative Christine A. Johnson and made Utah the 46th state to legalize homebrewing. The US Government made homebrewing legal on a federal level in 1978. Since then all but four states; Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma have made homebrewing legal.

"Home-brewing is a healthy and vibrant hobby in Utah as evidenced by the outpouring of support HB 51 received in the 2009 Legislature," commented Rep. Christine A. Johnson. "Many thanks to the American Homebrewers Association for thorough education, great committee testimony and association members who flooded elected officials with emails of support."

But it's not just homebrewers who are excited about the change. Jennifer Talley, brewmaster for Squatters Pub Brewery/Salt Lake Brewing Co in Salt Lake City, says the relationship between professional and amateur brewers has always been a tight one and legalizing homebrewing will allow this relationship in Utah to evolve and grow.

"Homebrewing is truly an art and most professional brewers I know were once homebrewing in their kitchen. Utah beer enthusiasts will now have the freedom to express their deepest beer desires through perfecting the craft of homebrewing in their own kitchens," says Talley.

The American Homebrewers Association estimates that there are approximately 750,000 homebrewers in the United States, including 7,000 homebrewers residing in Utah. Utah is the only state to have legalized homebrewing in the last ten years.

"With the successful passage of HB 51, Utahns can confidently assemble into homebrew clubs and organize competitions," states the Utah law student Douglas Wawrzynski, who launched this most recent attempt to legalize homebrewing. "Utah homebrewers are finally free to relax, stop worrying, and have a legal homebrew."

"It has been an honor to work with the homebrewers of Utah to help legalize homebrewing in their state," says Gary Glass, Director of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). "I can think of no greater cause for the American Homebrewers Association to take on than ensuring all Americans can legally brew at home."

There is currently an active movement to legalize homebrewing in Alabama, and the AHA has heard from homebrewers in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma who are interested in starting movements in each of those states.


Based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade and education association for American craft brewers and community of beer enthusiasts. Visit the Web site, www.beertown.org, to learn more. The association’s activities include events and publishing: World Beer Cup®; Great American Beer Festivalsm; Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®; National Homebrewers Conference; National Homebrew Competition; SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience; American Craft Beer Week; Zymurgy magazine; The New Brewer magazine; and books on beer and brewing. The Brewers Association has an additional membership division of 17,000+ homebrewers: American Homebrewers Association.

Latest update on on-site sales bills

I just tuned in to the committee hearing for Rep. Lon Burnam's bill to permit on-site sales for breweries in Texas. There isn't much to report. Unlike the hearing for Jessica Farrar's bill, there wasn't much spoken testimony, just Burnam laying out his bill; the only other testimony was written comments from the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, both against the bill.

I understand Farrar's bill better now: It's a compromise that was crafted with the help of BAT, soomething I didn't realize until I read this great article in Texas Watchdog. The basic difference: Farrar's bill would make the take-home beer part of a brewery tour package, whereas Burnam's would allow straight-up sales to the public. Presumably, that gives it a better chance of passing, which Burnam acknowledged, saying that he'd be happy with Farrar's bill as long as something allowing on-site sales gets passed.

But I said better chance, not a good chance. While BAT supports Farrar's bill, WBDT was still against it, and the latter is the more powerful lobbyist. Read that article and you'll get an idea of why it's still likely dead in the water.

I just don't understand WBDT's don't-give-an-inch mentality. When on-site sales for wineries was allowed, there was actually an uptick in sales for wine distributors. Do these guys really believe that I'm going to stop going to my neighborhood store and instead drive 53 miles out to Blanco to get my supply of Fireman's #4?

I have hot friends, too

This is my buddy Karla. She looks good bringing the beer, too. Except that she's in Munich, and that ain't Lone Star in her hand (see photo of the wife in previous post).

Hey, maybe I should start a series of hot-chicks-with-beer photos? Nah, I guess that's what Oktoberfest Girls is for.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Wife Is Hot

And not just because she was bringing me free beer.

(Photo by Cristen, at SXSW)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Committee Hearing on HB 2094

House Bill 2094, Rep. Jessica Farrar's bill that would allow Texas microbrewers to sell their product on the premises of their breweries, received a hearing today before the Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures. I'll have a fuller report on The Austin Chronicle's news blog after I get some calls returned, but here is the short-and-sweet version:

Nearly all of Texas' microbrewery owners showed up and testified in favor of the bill, as did at least one distributor, but predictably, Mike McKinney of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas spoke out against it, and made the really curious argument that killing this bill would actually be good for microbrewers, and that WBDT was just looking out for the brewers' best interests. No, didn't make much sense to me, either. The bill ultimately was left pending in the committee. (If you're unfamiliar with Lege processes, that means no action was taken; hopefully, it will be brought up for a vote at a later meeting.)

If you have Real Player, you can view archived video the committee meeting here.
(You can download a free version of Real Player at www.real.com.) The portion of the meeting that pertains to HB 2094 begins exactly at the 54-minute mark.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Texas Beer and Chocolate Tasting During SXSW Interactive

It's recommended that you RSVP to this so they'll know how much chocolate to get:

Texas Beer and Chocolate Tasting during SXSWi

Sunday, March 15, 2009
5:00pm - 6:30pm
The Ginger Man
304 W. 4th Street
Austin, TX


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Interview With "Shine On" Author

Tomorrow's edition of The Austin Chronicle will have my edited interview with Mike Renfro, the author of Shine On: 100 Years of Shiner Beer, as well as my tasting review of Shiner Commemorator, Spoetzl Brewery's 100th anniversary beer. But if you just can't stand to wait that long, the online version is already available.

This 1,300-word version is about one-third of the entire interview. Next week, I'll post the uncut version here on I Love Beer.

(UPDATE: Good news; I got my editors to replace the short version online with the long version. So if you have ADD, pick up a copy of the paper; if you're really interested in Spoetzl, go for the online version. I think the longer version is better; it was a really interesting conversation, and cutting it down to fit into the paper was painful. The goodness for teh intertubes.)

Another On-Site Sales Bill

Another bill to allow on-site sales for brewers was filed in the Texas Legislature back on Feb. 4, but slipped under my radar until just now. And it's coming up in committee next week, before the SB 754/HB 1062 that I've discussed and promoted previously.

This one is House Bill 2094 by Houston Rep. Jessica Farrar (pictured), the sponsor of the unsuccessful on-site sales bill last session.

I haven't had a chance to talk with Farrar about this bill yet (I discovered it only about 20 minutes ago), but it seems much more limited than Lon Burnam's 1062. If I'm reading it right, it would only affect microbrewers (it only applies to those whose production does not exceed 250,000 barrels a year, whereas 1062 has no upper limit and applies to those that produce at a minimum of 1,000 barrels annually), and its sales limits are much stricter (Burnam's bill caps on-site sales at 35,000 gallons, while Farrar's puts the limit at 5,000). [CORRECTION: Whoops, I totally misread Farrar's bill — it limits sales to 5,000 barrels, not gallons, which means it actually allows much more than Burnam's: 155,000 gallons.]

Frankly, it seems like Burnam's is the better bill, so I'm wondering if she had some political reasons for such a radically different bill. I'd also love to know with whom she consulted (I'd assume Saint Arnold, her collaborator from last time, but again, I haven't talked with anyone about it yet).

Both bills have been referred to the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee; Farrar's will be heard by the committee on Wednesday, March 18. The hearing will begin at 8am in Room E2.016 of the Capitol
, but there are nine bills listed before it, so it likely won't come up until later in the morning. The Burnam bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Not certain yet, but it's possible the meeting will be webcast live here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pairing Good Food and Good Beer

Matching good food with your drink isn't just a wine thing. I would actually argue that, due to the greater diversity of beer, it's actually easier to pair it up with what's on your plate. This Dallas Morning News article makes the same point. (Photo is copyright Dallas Morning News. And it's making me hungry.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Kosmos Reserve ...

... is, I'm sad to report, nothing special. It's not bad, it just doesn't quite live up to the name, which makes it sound as if it's the good stuff that you only break out on special occasions. According to the bottle, it's an "aromatic dry hopped lager specially brewed to celebrate the man who started it all" – that being Kosmos Spoetzl, who actually didn't quite start it all, but he was the brewmaster (and eventually owner) from 1914 to 1950, taking the reins five years after the Shiner Brewing Association was formed. (Read Mike Renfro's wonderful Shine On for a history of Spoetzl Brewery.)

The taste is a little like the "98" Bavarian Amber special release of two years ago, although I liked that better. And I'll admit I'm detecting some malt complexity as I get a little deeper into the glass (hmm … as always, letting a beer like this warm a bit is the key to pulling out the flavor). Overall, though, I'm wishing I'd gotten the Commemorator 100 instead of the Shiner Family Reunion mixed pack, which is the only way to purchase Kosmos Reserve at this time (you get one bottle of it, along with a Black, a Light, a Hefeweizen, a Bock, and a Blonde).

Monday, March 02, 2009

And the winner is ...

My poll for this past month asked which of the Shiner anniversary beers was your favorite. The winner by a nose: Black ("97"), edging out the current anniversary beer, Commemorator ("100") by just one vote. And apparently I'm almost the only one who remembers 96, an Oktoberfest Marzen style beer, because it got dead last.

The final tally:

96 (Marzen): 3 votes
97 (Black): 28
98 (Amber): 10
99 (Helles): 13
100 (Dobblebock): 27
none: 9

New poll coming soon.