Sunday, August 30, 2009

Biking Under the Influence

A judge in Amsterdam says the Beer Bike can ride on.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shiner Smokehaus and BBQ

Upon first trying Shiner Smokehaus, I speculated that "this may be the perfect beer to drink with BBQ." But until now, this had only been speculation on my part – the only barbecue joint I've hit this summer is Uncle Billy's Brew & Que, and I always buy their house brews when I'm there. (And though they stock other Texas beers, I'm not sure if they have Smokehaus.)

So today, before this summer seasonal brew goes away, I decided I better jump on it. I ran over to Mann's Smokehouse for lunch, which despite being only two miles from my house, I'd never patronized. I decided it was about time, considering the glowing reviews I'd heard from the Chronicle, Texas Monthly, and Bobnoxious.

I tried to create the perfect setting. After I grabbed the brisket plate to go (and some blackberry cobbler), I ran home, fired up some Willie on the iPod, and poured myself a Smokehaus into a frosty mug (yeah, I know, I'm normally against frozen mugs, but that rules gets waived when it's 105 outside).

And you know what? I was absolutely right. The mesquite smoke of the Smokehaus perfectly complemented the mesquite-smoked meat. I was in heaven. Best lunch I've had in a while. Mann's does good work — the brisket was only the teeny tiniest bit tough, by which I just mean it took a knife to cut it, not that it was actually chewy. On a 10 scale, I'd give it a 9. Delicious tomatoey sauce, and sides of crunchy fried okra and delicate, buttery, mashed potatoes. And blackberry cobbler for dessert. I'm definitely taking the whole family back there.

Spoetzl, I certainly hope you aggressively marketed Smokehaus to BBQ restaurants; if not, you missed a big opportunity.

If I'd been thinking more clearly, I would have snapped a picture of the BBQ plate before I ate it. But I was lusting so badly for meat and beer by the time I got my food home that I just wolfed it down. I'm afraid all you get is this snapshot of the aftermath:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Divine Reserve No. 8 Is Coming

Saint Arnold sends the following message:
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, Release of Divine Reserve #8-a big ol' "Wee Heavy", aka, Scottish Ale.
I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Austin Doing Cask Beer Wrong?

In response to my story in last week's Austin Chronicle about cask-conditioned beer, somebody replied that the picture of Draught House brewer Josh Wilson shows him tapping the keg all wrong. But I thought that's they way everyone did it if you plan to use gravity to dispense the brew.

What do you think: Are we befouling our "real ale," or is this guy just too picky? (Bottom line for me: Just about every cask beer I've ever drank in Austin has tasted anywhere from damn good to magnificent, including the one being tapped in that picture.)

I encourage you to not only leave replies here, but to respond in the comment section at the end of the Chronicle story.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The 2nd Annual No.3 Bus Pub Crawl

Finally, by overwhelming popular demand, my recounting of the Second Annual No.3 Bus Pub Crawl is available. Read it here in The Austin Chronicle. (But if you live in Austin, I highly recommend you read it in Thursday's paper version of the Chronicle instead, so that you can see the fantastic layout by our art director.)

Also in tomorrow's issue: My round-up of where to find cask-conditioned ales in Austin.

(Picture of me reading the bus schedule by Jack Anderson; do not reproduce without his permission.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm Tweeting Now

Or at least, I'm trying to. I loaded my Twitter feed into the sidebar to the right, but my tweets aren't showing up here for some reason. I'll try to figure it out, but in the meantime, you can go directly to my Twitter page at

Update: Okay, there was a lag. It's working now.

Update 2: HUGE thanks to The Austin Chronicle's Jack Anderson for allowing me to use his Texas beer photo for my Twitter background. It looks so cool. If I ever make a dime off of this blog, I'm going to pay him for it. (That photo is his copyright, so don't you dare use it without his permission.)

Austin Area Beer News

Various bits of Austin-area beer news, cut and pasted directly from brewery newsletters:

Real Ale:
Going to the movies is always a great way to spend quality time in some cold a/c. We love the Alamo Drafthouse because they have made catching a film even more pleasurable by adding beer, wine and high quality food to the experience. Last month we started brewing the house beer for all of the Alamo Drafthouse locations. Drafthouse ESB is a British style ale with a healthy dose of hops - pairs brilliantly with that bucket of buttery popcorn!

  • Lost Gold IPA - This year's edition of our Lost Gold is out now and should be available at a fine draft establishment near you. We think it is our best IPA yet and we encourage you to give it a try while it is still available. It's going fast!
  • Anniversary Ale 13 - To celebrate our 13th year of brewing, our brewers concocted this intriguing and special recipe. It's a unique hybrid of Belgian and American styles with a few surprise ingredients added to the mix. Those of you who missed out on its debut at our anniversary party will now be able to imbibe this wonder in the comfort of your local tavern - but there's only one batch so don't sleep!
  • Oktoberfest - It might seem a little out of character for the RABC to brew a lager - but to honor the largest celebration of beer drinking in the world we decided it would be appropriate! A traditional Bavarian - style Oktoberfest - the beer is in the tanks now coming along nicely. Look for it in September/October and get ready for "O'zapft is!"
North by Northwest:
This month in honor of our ten year anniversary we are featuring a great ten night music series. This series highlights some of our favorite musicians who have shared the stage of the North by Northwest pavilion. We will kick things off on Thursday August 27th at 6:30pm with Phil Wiseman. Betty Soo and Charlie Faye will keep things moving on the 28th. Check out our website for the rest of our music listings. We will cap off our music series with Malford Milligan and John Garr on September 6th.

There will be no cover charge for the music series but we will have volunteers collecting donations to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center.

To end our Birthday Celebration with a bang, Executive Chef George Powell and Head Brewer Ty Phelps are teaming up to prepare a special Birthday Brewers Dinner on September 9th at 7pm.

Ty and George are creating a five course feast for our guests. Each course will be perfectly paired with a North by Northwest brew best suited to highlight the flavors and nuances of each dish.

The dinner also includes a tour of the three story brew house.

$49 per person. Reservations are required.
Call 512-467-6969 to speak with a manager to make your reservations today! Visit our website for more details!


CORRECTION [This text is different from what I originally posted]: On Monday, August 31st, NXNW will be tapping a cask of our Double IPA Anniversary Ale. (A previous Brewsletter mentioned the wrong date for the tapping of one of the casks.) To celebrate our 10 year anniversary on Sunday, September 6th, we will be tapping a second cask of our Anniversary Ale. In addition to the great beer we will also have live music by John Garr and Malford Milligan. And dont' forget to stop in for cake.

Beer Crawl for Cancer

I just got word about this, and the deadline to enter is rapidly approaching: August 17.

The Crawl for Cancer will be held on Sept. 12 on Fifth and Sixth Streets in Austin. You can only enter in teams of 10, so start rounding up friends quickly. Entry fee is $450 per team. For more info, go to the website.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I survived.

The 2nd annual No.3 bus pub crawl is over. I have just survived 14 straight hours of drinking and bus riding. I'll update later.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's Coming …

A certain Very Big Event is happening Saturday. An event that marks my birthday. If you're a regular reader of this blog you may know what this means, and you're welcome to join me along the route. I'll start at 10am.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Is Your Congressman In the Small Brewers Caucus?

Mine (Michael McCaul, TX-10) is not. And he really ought to be, because his district stretches from Austin to Houston. The former has the highest concentration of microbrewers and brewpubs in the state, and Houston has Saint Arnold's.

What is the Small Brewers Caucus? Here's info from the Brewers Association (sorry that some of the formatting is a little screwy):
Support the Community of Beer Enthusiasts and Small Brewers:
Contact Your Congressional Representative

Dear Beer Enthusiasts and Homebrewers,

We’re asking you to contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to join the House Small Brewers Caucus. What is the House Small Brewers Caucus?

The U.S. House of Representatives Small Brewers Caucus was formed in 2007 by interested Members of Congress. Their mission is to gain a better understanding of all aspects of small, amateur and professional craft brewing, from business and regulatory issues to the brewing process and history of the small brewing community. The members of the Caucus are passionate about small brewers and craft beer. Co-chairs Representative Peter DeFazio (OR) and Representative Denny Rehberg (MT) have themselves been homebrewers and are avid beer enthusiasts.

Currently, only 49 Representatives belong to the Caucus. To put that in some perspective, 344 Congressional districts are home to at least one small brewery and we assume every one of the 435 districts is home to homebrewers and beer enthusiasts.

You can help by asking your U.S. Representative to join the Caucus. Help assure that you have the strongest voice possible speaking on your beer behalf in Congress.

You’ve come to appreciate the flavor, diversity and quality of your homebrew or locally brewed beers from America’s small breweries. In these uncertain economic and legislative times you can imagine how important it is to educate Congress about the community of homebrewers, beer enthusiasts and small brewers.

Ask your Representative to join the Caucus. Following are resource materials to assist you, including a brief message you can use to make your contact, either sending it “as is” or modifying it to add your personal message.

Thanks for all you do in support of America’s small brewing community.

Charlie Papazian
Charlie Signature
President, Brewers Association

Gary Glass

Director, American Homebrewers Association


Below is a list of the 49 U.S. Representatives who are currently Small Brewers Caucus members. If your Representative DOES NOT appear on this list, please take a moment and email your Member of Congress about joining the Caucus.

If your Representative is already a member, please email him/her a brief thank you for their support of both small brewers and you, the craft beer drinker and enthusiast.

Please visit the official U.S. House of Representatives web site to access your Representative’s personal web page and contact information – just enter your zip code in the “Find Your Representative” search box in the upper left-hand corner and then click on your Representative’s name on the page that displays to enter his/her personal web page.

House Small Brewers Caucus Roster (as of July 28, 2009)
District Representative District Representative
AR-02 Vic Snyder MT-AL Denny Rehberg
AZ-05 Harry Mitchell NE-02 Lee Terry
CA-01 Mike Thompson NY-12 Nydia Velazquez
CA-02 Wally Herger NY-17 Eliot Engel
CA-06 Lynn Woolsey NY-22 Maurice Hinchey
CA-49 Darrell Issa NY-24 Mike Arcuri
CA-50 Brian Bilbray OK-03 Frank Lucas
CO-01 Diana DeGette OK-04 Tom Cole
CO-02 Jared Polis OR-01 David Wu
CO-03 John Salazar OR-02 Greg Walden
CO-05 Doug Lamborn OR-03 Earl Blumenauer
CO-07 Ed Perlmutter OR-04 Peter DeFazio
GA-05 John Lewis PA-06 Jim Gerlach
HI-02 Mazie Hirono PA-08 Patrick Murphy
IA-02 Dave Loebsack PA-15 Charles Dent
KS-03 Dennis Moore SC-01 Henry Brown, Jr.
MA-01 John Olver TX-23 Ciro Rodriguez
MA-09 Stephen Lynch TX-25 Lloyd Doggett
MA-10 William Delahunt VA-05 Tom Perriello
MI-01 Bert Stupak VT-AL Peter Welch
MI-02 Peter Hoekstra WA-02 Rick Larsen
MI-04 Dave Camp WA-04 Doc Hastings
MI-06 Fred Upton WA-08 Dave Reichert
MI-11 Thaddeus McCotter WI-02 Tammy Baldwin
MO-03 Russ Carnahan

Suggested letter for your U.S. Representative

Dear Representative _____________,

As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to join the House Small Brewers Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Peter DeFazio and Denny Rehberg.

The purpose of the Small Brewers Caucus is to provide Members of Congress and their staff an opportunity to learn about activities of the American craft brewing community, which includes over 1,500 small and independent American brewery businesses, and beer and homebrewing enthusiasts that participate in and contribute to local community activities and economies. The Small Brewers Caucus also offers opportunities to learn about the science and art of beer and brewing, the dynamics of running a small business as a brewery, the associated regulatory and societal issues and the value of craft beers and small brewing activities.

As a beer enthusiast and ardent supporter of America’s small professional and amateur brewers, I appreciate the many contributions their small, independent businesses make to their local communities. From their flavorful and distinctive locally brewed beers to their community involvement, small breweries are important economic and social hubs in their local communities.

Please contact the Washington office of either Representative DeFazio (202-225-6416) or Representative Rehberg (202-225-3211) to learn more about the Small Brewers Caucus and to join. Thank you for considering my request.