Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Poll: What is your favorite Austin-area brewery?

For the Austinites, and those who have visited Austin:

At the newspaper for which I write, The Austin Chronicle, we're preparing for our annual "Best of Austin" issue. Which got me to wondering: Now that the number of breweries here is expanding enough to almost say we have an actual brewing scene, I want to know what is your favorite among our locals. Thus, please see the poll in the right-hand column of this blog.

Although I realize an argument could be made that Shiner qualifies as an Austin brewery, I decided I'm limiting it to nothing further away than Blanco – in other words, anything within about an hour's drive of Downtown.

I'm also limiting it to breweries that are actually fully operational and currently putting product out on the shelves and in the barroom taps, so you fans of Black Star and others will just have to wait until next year, when I'll hopefully remember to run another such poll.

Yes, the poll is unscientific, and you could get away with voting multiple times, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd just vote only once. I'm leaving this open for a good long time: a whole month.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beer News in the Chronicle

The new Austin Chronicle is out, and I have a "Beer Flights" (my beer news column) in it. It has some of the same stuff that was in my "Random Beer News" post about a month ago, but with some new stuff, too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Black Star Co-op: The Food

Dang it, Black Star Co-op's future location is walking distance from my house, but I almost always seem to have a conflict when they're having an event! Well, I need y'all to go in my stead and tell me how it was: This Saturday, July 17, the co-op will take its monthly beer socials beyond the brew and give you a glimpse at what its food menu will be like. Details here.

Last I talked with the co-opers, they said they were shooting for a September opening date. I'm really excited about it.

UPDATE: Black Star + Thirsty Planet = Yum. Black Star e-mailed me to say that they'll have some brews by Thirsty Planet at this event. How cooperative of them! Having gone to Thirsty Planet's grand opening just a few days ago (I'll update soon) I can tell that will be quite enjoyable.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Anti-Microbrewer Group Reiterates Support of Perry

Today, the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, a lobbying group, reiterated its support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for reelection. WBDT, of course, is the powerful group that keeps blocking legislative bills that would legalize on-site sales for microbreweries. WBDT made a similar endorsement last year during Perry's primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Therefore, I think it's time we revisit this post.

Obviously, some things have changed since that posting: Perry, of course, got the GOP nomination; Bill White did, in fact, switch from a U.S. Senate run and became the Democratic nominee; and Kathie Glass is the Libertarian candidate. However, my opinions of WBDT and Perry have not changed.

I just sent an e-mail to the White campaign asking for their opinion regarding on-site sales. As of this posting, they haven't yet replied, but I suspect this photo offers a hint. I'll also ask Glass her opinion; I would assume allowing on-site sales would be the logical Libertarian stance.

Drinking in Cedar Park

It's pretty unlikely that I ever would have made it out to the Dig Pub or the Tap Room if it weren't for my longtime good friend Pub Knight coming back to Austin. In fact, in the old days, the bicycle-centric Pub Knight would never have been seen driving a car out in the 'burbs. But since he landed a free place to stay out there, that made those two places (and to a lesser extent, North by Northwest) the more viable options for getting together.

Rather than write the places up myself, I'm going to be lazy and just link you his reviews, since he pretty sums up the way I felt. Nice places to which I might never return, just for logistical reasons – with NXNW, the Pour House, Billy's on Burnet, and the Draught House all nearby, there just isn't much reason to go that far north. And heck, if I just have a craving to go to a strip mall, Bagpipes and Sherlock's are close by, too. But if I lived out there, Dig Pub and Tap Room would probably be regular stops for me.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Reviews: A bunch of Magic Hat and one Deschutes

The folks at Magic Hat and Deschutes have sent me several beers to review over the past few months, and I’ve been terribly tardy about reviewing them. Hopefully early July isn’t too late to review the summer seasonals, and at least I’m ahead of the curve on the Autumn seasonal.

Magic Hat Odd Notion Summer '10

Nice seasonal. Unfiltered golden ale. Light, easy drinking taste, very refreshing. Easy on the hops, but noticeable. The real highlight is as you swallow – you get this sharp kick of ginger that’s really delightful. I guess that makes it a ginger ale?

The few Magic Hats I’ve tried haven’t left me real impressed (and frankly, I have some friends who agree, so it’s not just me), but here in the Texas heat, this one does the trick.

Magic Hat Wacko Summer Seasonal

Clean drinking, not a whole lot of flavor, but if you’re looking to put away a few on a hot day, this goes down easy.

Magic Hat Roxy Roller Autumn Seasonal

My initial impression is that the flavor is a bit thin for what seems to be trying for a rich heaviness. It just seems like there ought to be more going on here. I decided to let it warm a bit, which helped. Some caramel notes come out. Toast. Strong hops. A bit of sweet fruit hiding deep within. Still, it just feels like something is missing.

Magic Hat IPA on Tour: Blind Faith

Part of a series of IPAs that Magic Hat has been rolling out. Nice fruit notes, something citrusy going on underneath the hops. Yet, like many Magic Hat beers, it’s just not outstanding. See my comment above about “something is missing,” only even more so.

Deschutes Hop in the Dark

I shared this with friends at a party several weeks ago, and I wish I’d taken better notes. But let me just cut to the chase: outstanding. I can only remember so much, but I just remember everyone going “wow, this is great.” It’s a black IPA, a style that seems to be on the rise (Stone has one as well). I remember it being very mellow, with a very balanced hop bite that is subtle, not overwhelming like some IPAs. A touch of coffee. This is part of Deschutes Bond Street Series, available May-September, and I encourage you to grab some now if you can find it – here in Texas, I think all we get from Deschutes is Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale (seriously, guys, could you at least start sending some Obsidian Stout down here?).

UPDATE: Somebody with Deschutes e-mailed me to say:

You will be getting Hop in the Dark 22oz bottles in Austin. It should be on shelves in Austin by now and a few of the places where you will be able to find it include: Whip In (S. I35), Spec’s Airport, Spec’s Brodie, and Central Markets. Hope this helps and if you don’t see it on the shelves, please ask for it since it should be out until about August.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Craft Brewing From Cajun Country

Got a minor revelation tonight: There's more to Louisiana craft brewing than Abita. (Not that there's anything wrong with Abita.) A friend recently brought me some LA 31 Bière Pâle from Bayou Teche Brewing. I'd never heard of it, but was impressed. Pretty sure you can't get it here in Austin, so I guess you'll have to go hunt it down in Cajun Country. And you know what, I'm long overdue for a trip back there. Been more than a decade since I've been dancing in those Cajun and zydeco dancehalls.