Thursday, March 31, 2011

Benefit Concert for HB 660

Poster for a concert that would benefit House Bill 660, the legislation that would allow Texas brewpubs to sell their products in stores and other bars, and put them on a level playing field with out-of-state brewpubs:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Correction: DR 11 Coming Out March 29

In a previous post, I said that Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve 11 would come out April 1. Actually, the press release said "around April 1." The actual release date is now set at March 29.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HB 602 and 660: Austin Chronicle Write-up

I just posted my write-up of yesterday's hearing on House Bills 602 and 660 at the Texas Legislature to The Austin Chronicle's Newsdesk blog. Read it here. It offers more detail and quotes than my post from yesterday.

(Pictured: Scott Metzger of San Antonio's Freetail Brewing and executive director of Texas Beer Freedom.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HB 602 and 660: Texas Brewers Make Their Case

Texas brewers went to the state House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee today and made their case in favor of House Bills 602 and 660.

Now, normally I wouldn't wish sitting through a committee hearing of the Texas Legislature on my worst enemy, but seriously: If you're a lover of our state's craft beer and interested in these bills, you should watch the entire hearing on HB 660. (The HB 602 portion is less interesting because it had no opposition.) Click here and go to 26:35, when the 660 testimony begins.

Why would you want to do a thing like that? Because unlike most hearings, which are tedious and filled with technical mumbo-jumbo and good cures for insomnia, this was exactly the opposite: The proponents of 660 (including many beer distributors) were clear and concise in making their points, very effective. By contrast, the opposition — that is, the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas lobbying group, and no one else — were completely ineffective. I don't say that just because I support the bill, I actually mean that objectively. I really expected WBDT's attorney to get up and say something devastating, some bit of logic we hadn't thought of before, that would send 660 supporters scrambling for a counter-argument. It never happened.

The supporters' case:
  • It's good for Texas businesses, and will end the state's current discrimination against its own brewers in favor of out-of-state ones. It was hilarious to watch El Paso Rep. Chente Quintanilla struggle to comprehend why non-Texan brewpubs can sell their beer in Texas stores, but Texas brewpubs can't. I'd say mark him down as a supporter.
  • And if it's good for Texas business, then it's good for tax revenue, which the state badly needs right now.
  • The bill would actually put more money in the hands of distributors, which is why the Beer Alliance of Texas, another distributor lobbying group, favors it.
  • Brewpubs in other states have grown to be national success stories, such as California's Bear Republic. That will never happen if HB 660 does not pass.
The opposition's case seemed to be: The three-tier system should be preserved exactly as it is because … it just should. Seriously, that was really it. The WBDT attorney's main point was that the three-tier regulatory scheme divides manufacturers from distributors from retailers, and that brewpubs are retailers, and should not be allowed to have legal status as manufacturers. Bill author Mike Villarreal of San Antonio pointed out the obvious: “House Bill 660 will allow Texas brewpubs to be recognized for who they are. They manufacture beer.”

Now, go write to your state legislators (and the committee members) and tell them you want these bills passed.

Texas Brewers Lobbying Right Now at the Capitol

Press release from Texas Beer Freedom about its activities today at the Capitol:
Texas Beer Freedom supporters host advocacy day in support of HB 660

AUSTIN, TX - Texas brewpub owners and supporters visit the Texas State Capitol in support of HB 660, authored by Rep. Villarreal (D) and Rep. John Garza (R) of San Antonio, to discuss the 64 million dollar impact for the Texas state budget.

"We have a chance to grow small businesses and give consumers access to great Texas beers. I believe in government rules that protect consumers and encourage competition, but our current brewpub laws do the opposite. It's time for a change," said Rep. Villarreal.

House Bill 660 affords our state with an easy opportunity to inject up to $57 million annually in new tax revenues into our state budget. Thatʼs on top of the $7 million of annual tax revenues that our brewpub members currently inject into the state budget. Davis Tucker, NXNW brewpub owner said, “HB 660 wouldnʼt just enable Texas brewpubs to expand their local businesses and create 6,800 new jobs, it would lead to an eightfold improvement in the tax revenue we would provide to the state coffers.”

Texas brewpub supporters from across the state, Denton to San Antonio, will attend the Texas Beer Freedomʼs lobby day. Supporters will testify at the Licensing and Administrative Procedure Committee hearing for HB 660 and then meet with legislators.

“This is an issue for all small businesses facing unfair restrictions,” said Scott Metzger, Freetail Brewing owner. “The state government shouldnʼt limit our right to a free market when brewpubs contribute 7 million annually in tax revenue.”

“HB 660 will allow Texas brewpubs to distribute their beer via the three-tier system in the state they brew it in,” said Lou Dicello, Uncle Billyʼs co-owner. “This will allow our great locally brewed beer to be purchased in Texas and expand our tax contribution to estimates of 64 million annually.”

Texas Beer Freedom is a grassroots effort to support Texas craft beer industry, founded by local brewpub owners Scott Metzger, Lou Dicello, Davis Tucker, Joey Villarreal and Rick Engel. Supporting proposed legislation, TX 82(R) HB 660, is currently the primary focus.This legislative action would allow Texas brewpubs to sell their beer to wholesalers and distributors.

HB 602 and 660 Hearings Delayed

The public hearings at the Texas Capitol on House Bills 602 and 660 have been delayed until approximately 11:30am and 1pm today, respectively.

If you read my post about the hearings being this morning at 8:05am, and you took precious time out of your day to be there this morning, I apologize. As a long-time attendee of such hearings (my real-life job is political reporting), I should have known better than to suggest in that post that "
you shouldn't have to wait too long to speak." Legislators are trying to juggle a million things at once, so things change rapidly.

You may be frustrated that you couldn't stick around and put in your two cents on the bill, and wondering why this happened:
  • To deal with the conspiracy theorists among you: Yes, sometimes hearings get moved as a tactic to make it harder for people who want to testify for or against a bill. It's entirely possible this is what happened. However, since this bill is really pretty small change in the larger Lege world of budget deficits, school funding, health and human services, etc., I'm doubtful of this one.
  • The reason I was given, and the more likely one: The committee chair, Rep. Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, saw how many people wanted to testify, and knew they'd never get done before the House gavels into session at 10am. So he moved hearings until after the floor session is done so that testimony could go uninterrupted.
If you came to the Capitol this morning and left, I hope you can make it back. If you do, please bear in mind the lesson from this morning: Those announced hearing times are approximate. The actual resumption time will depend on how quickly the House gets its business done, and how long it takes the committee to deal with any other bills that come before it.

EDIT: I just thought of a couple more points to make:
  • If you intend to come back for the committee hearing and want to be there for the whole thing, I recommend you eat a good meal first, because they likely won't break for lunch between 602 and 660. The committee members usually just disappear into the back room to get some lunch, so they don't have to break. No food for you, though. I recommend the Capitol Cafeteria, which is just right up the stairs from the committee hearing room.
  • If you want to watch the hearing from home, you may do so by going here. You'll need RealPlayer software installed to view the streaming video. It's free. Look for the Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures. If you want to watch it later, go down to "Archived Broadcasts" and click on "Recent Committee Broadcasts."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Notes From the Draught House

Just got an e-mail from the Draught House with various bits of news. The first one was about the hearing at the Texas Capitol tomorrow morning for House Bills 602 and 660, but I've already told you about that. (Try to be there if you love craft beer.) Here's the rest:
-Some of you may have noticed, but we have partnered with Antonelli's Cheese for beer and cheese pairing on Mondays. Each week, I will choose a beer and John will match a cheese with it. The sample is FREE with beer purchase. Tonight we have Chaubier, a French cheese made with 1/2 goat milk and 1/2 cow milk. It is dense and buttery and pairs nicely with Victory Brewing Company's Headwaters Pale Ale, their new soft, floral and very drinkable ale.

-This Wednesday, 3/23, at 5:30pm, we will have Deschutes brewers Tim Alexander and Brian Faivre in the House. Come by and say hi, get the inside scoop on their beers and keep a glass when buying the Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter or Inversion IPA.

-Firkin Friday's have been sporadic but this Friday, 3/25, we will tap Moylan's Hopsickle, for those of you who can't get enough hops. Coming up, we will have firkins of Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti and Southern Star (Creme Brulee) Buried Hatchet Stout.

Hops & Grain 'Stool Sample' Project

No, not that kind of stool sample. Hops & Grain, a new brewery that's starting up business in East Austin, wants you to design the stools that will grace their tasting room. You have until May 1 to submit a stool, and no, you don't have to be a carpenter. Here's the details:

The Hops & Grain Brewery is pleased to announce the Stool Sample Project. On the surface the SSP is a custom bar stool competition but at its core it is much, much more. The idea is to offer a select few the opportunity of having a custom bar stool of their own creation reside in the H&G tap room. We will be awarding 40 bar stools membership in the highly sought after Stool Sample Project. Every time the tap room is open for tours and tastings everyone in attendance will see and sit on these bar stools. No two stools will be alike and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are giving a 4 week time frame to create a stool to submit for the competition.

Assuming that we have more than 40 entries, all stools will be presented before a panel for judging. The winning stools, and their creators, will receive a custom Stool Sample Project T-Shirt and membership card, which holds possibly the greatest reward for the SSP. All card-holders will be invited to the tap room for periodic sensory panel tastings of the latest creations from our 3 bbl pilot system, The Greenhouse. Stool Sample Project members will be the first to sample these Greenhouse creations, and sit comfortably on their stool!

If you plan to participate in the competition you must email your name and contact information to by April 1st. Deadline for submission is April 30 and the winners will be announced on or around May 1st. We will be holding a special event at the brewery to celebrate and welcome the winners with plenty of beer on hand and an all around lively time. While this contest encourages creativity and ingenuity, there are a few guidelines:

#1- All stools must be meet certain height and width requirements. Our bar top is approximately 44 inches tall and the underside of the bar is 40” from the floor. All stools should have a seat no higher than 32”, standard height is 30”. Total height of the stool should not exceed 72”. No stool, in its entirety, should be more than 24” wide, standard bar stool width is 16”.

#2- Must be a custom design. Each bar stool submitted must have some level of customization. This could be anything from painting an already built bar stool or creating your own from scratch. Remember, creativity is the name of the game and the winners will be chosen based on this. And after all, the people sitting on these stools will be drinking beer, so make it cool.

#3- All bar stool creators must be ok with other patrons sitting on their bar stool at any given time. You cannot be selfish with your creation and all winning stools will be sat upon on a first come first served basis. Only exception being the Stool Sample Project special tasting events. Here you will be expected to sit upon your own creation, and brag about it all night.

Friday, March 18, 2011

HB 602 and 660 Scheduled for Public Hearing

Hey beer lovers, can you get yourself out of bed and get to the Texas State Capitol early next Tuesday morning to support freedom for Texas beer brewers and consumers? A public hearing for House Bills 602 and 660 is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, at 8:05am, before the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. It will be held in the Capitol Extension, Room E2.012. (The extension is the part that is underground, to the north of the historic capitol building. Go into the main Capitol, and have someone point you either to the stairs or the elevators. This map page might be helpful.)

If you support these bills — and if you're reading this blog, you probably do — and you're a Texan, you should go down there and either sign up to speak on behalf of the bill, or if you don't want to testify, at least sign a card indicating your support. Remember, be polite and respectful and explain why this would be good for business and consumers.

Both bills are scheduled fairly early on the agenda, so unless the first bill is controversial, you shouldn't have to wait too long to speak.

(UPDATE: A reminder from craft beer lover Courtney Forsell: "Make sure to come early to get through security and find the room! If you're not familiar with the building, this is in the Capitol extension. Enter the Capitol like normal, but take the elevator down to E2. Walk almost all the way down the hall and right before you get to the outdoor rotunda the room will be on the right.")

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Divine Reserve No. 11 Coming Out March 29

(UPDATE: So apparently, "around April 1" actually means March 29.)

Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Will Go Big with Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11
HOUSTON, March 17, 2011 – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, today revealed plans for its upcoming release of Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11. Brewed in mid-February, Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11, is a Double IPA (India Pale Ale). The beer is slated for release around April 1, 2011 – no fooling.

The Saint Arnold Divine Reserve series was introduced more than five years ago and generates considerable excitement among craft beer fans for delivering high-quality, full-flavored beer in limited quantities. In response to frustrations voiced by some who have been unable to locate previous releases of Divine Reserve before supplies ran out, Saint Arnold significantly increased production of Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11.

“We had intended to boost production of Divine Reserve No. 10 to make it easier to find, but we ran into some challenges in the brewing process and ended up with fewer than 2,000 cases and three dozen kegs,” said Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “We intend to come close to doubling production of Divine Reserve No. 11 so that people with jobs don’t have to take a day off to be able to score a six pack. Still, we thought previous production increases would help out with availability.”

This will be the second time the Saint Arnold Divine Reserve series offered a Double IPA, but this is the first Double IPA created by the Saint Arnold brew crew (the recipe for Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 3, also a Double IPA, was based on a winning entry from the Big Bash Brew Bash). Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11 uses Simcoe, Columbus and Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest, resulting in a very citrusy, hoppy beer. More information on the Saint Arnold Divine Reserve series is available at

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11 is priced at approximately $16 per six pack and will be available at stores, restaurants and bars in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Even with the larger quantities produced, Saint Arnold is requesting that retailers limit sales to two six packs per customer and is asking customers to limit their purchase to a six pack or two.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The 5th Anniversary Party …

… was a success. Thanks to everyone who showed up. Photos to follow.

Reminder: I Love Beer Fifth Anniversary Party Tonight!

My loyal readers: Please remember to swing by Black Star Co-op for a pint or three with me this evening, 6-9pm. I'll be celebrating the fifth anniversary of my first post to this blog. (Sorry, the beer isn't free, so bring your wallet.) See my previous post for more details.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I Love Beer Fifth Anniversary Party!

Damn, the fifth anniversary of my first post on this blog is coming up on Monday, March 14.

Now, if I had a lick of foresight and promotional savvy – like, say, those clever kids at Beer Town Austin or Craft Austin – I'd have scheduled a big blowout. You know, a special cask, bands, pint glasses, T-shirts, stuff like that. (Or maybe host a pub crawl on the No. 3 bus route!)

But I didn't. In fact, it almost escaped me that year number five was about to pass, because I'm such a dipstick.

So I'm going with something a little lower-key and informal. I'm just going to head to Black Star Co-op (pictured, behind the MetroRail train;
7020 Easy Wind Dr #100, aka where Airport Blvd. hits N. Lamar Blvd.) that night about 6pm and drink until about 9pm. If you're a fan of this blog, please show up, introduce yourself if we haven't yet met, and lift a glass or three with me. I'll be hanging out at the "bar-ninsula" (it'll be pretty obvious where that is when you get inside).

(Oh, don't forget: If you take the MetroRail to Black Star any day this month, show them your train ticket and you get $1 off on house beers.)

(UPDATE: Just so we're clear, no the beer is NOT on me, unless I spill it. So bring your credit card.)

Another On-Site Sales Bill Filed in Texas Legislature

So far during the Texas legislative session, I've been following House Bills 602 and 660. The former would allow, as I've been putting it, "kinda-sorta" allow microbreweries to sell their product on-premises. (Currently, they must go through a distributor to sell to the ultimate consumer.) I say "kinda-sorta" because 602 actually explicitly bars direct sales at the brewery (as a sop to the distributors' lobby), but allows breweries to charge admission for a tour, and then give away product at the end of the tour. But on Monday, Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez filed a true on-site sales bill, HB 2436. The bill adds language stating that brewers may "sell beer produced under [a brewers'] license to those persons to whom the holder of a wine and beer retailer's permit may sell beer […]"

Due to Texas' goofy legal definitions of what constitutes "beer," "ale," and "malt liquor" (which have nothing to do with how brewers actually use those terms) the bill also has similar language making the same allowances for malt liquor.

Given the iffy chances of 602 passing, I'm sure 2436 has even far less of a chance, but Rodriguez has a history of filing bills that have no real chance of passing but need to be filed anyway just because they are good ideas – as he put it to me in a discussion about another, non-beer-related bill, he likes to "keep the conversation going." And let's face it, allowing businesses to sell directly to their actual customers is a good idea. Getting 602 passed would be nice, but eventually, Texas microbrewers must be allowed true on-site sales.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Another Jester King Party

Jester King recently announced a collaborative beer with a Danish brewer, and they're throwing a party to celebrate it next week. Perhaps if you want an escape from the Downtown SXSW madness, this drive out to the Hill Country might be a good option. The event is on Wednesday, March 16, and the brewery is at 13005 Fitzhugh Rd.:
Jester King is throwing our very first SXSW party, and we want you to be there to celebrate with us out in the beautiful Texas hill country!


Due to certain regulations, tickets are now... FREE!!

***PLEASE NOTE*** You must still RSVP to in order to attend, as parking space is EXTREMELY limited.


The Invincible Czars (Austin) -

Lars and the Hands of Light (Denmark) -

Melogrand (Austin) -

Thee Attacks (Denmark) -


Vazquez Tacos - 915 East Braker Lane


- Please bring chairs
- No pets, please
- Family friendly, but children must be supervised at all times
- No ice chests or alcohol allowed in

Friday, March 04, 2011

Beer: A Genuine Collection of Cans

Recently received a promo copy of this book. It's good for nothing except fun. It combines my loves of beer, history, and things that are obsolete. (Jeez, no wonder I've never landed a high-paying job.) That's right, it's a whole book full of nothing but one man's awesome beer can collection. Go grab a copy.

Click the video for a quick preview.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

House Brown 660

So apparently there's this new beer on the Texas market called House Brown 660. But it's not just one beer – different brewpubs each have their own recipe, but they're all using the same name to promote House Bill 660 in the Texas Legislature, a bill that would allow brewpubs to sell their beer 0ff-premises, i.e., at your local grocery store, liquor store, or other bars.

As I've noted in previous posts, it's a good piece of legislation that would remove silly obstacles to allowing these businesses to grow. If you're a craft beer-loving Texan, or even if you just support small businesses' right to reach more customers, then you should write to your state representative and state senator right now and declare your support for it. (And for HB 602, which would kinda-sorta allow microbreweries to sell their product on-premises. Click here for fuller descriptions of both.)

I think North by Northwest served up a cask version Monday night. And tonight (Thursday), here in Austin, you can get Black Star Co-op's version of House Brown 660. Head on over there and grab a pint to show your support. Or, if you'd like to make your own, head to Austin Homebrew Supply and pick up the ingredients and a recipe for yet another take on it.

But most of all, get involved and get these bills passed!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Texas Beer Freedom Rally in Austin Sunday

I just spotted this on Facebook:

Texas Beer Freedom Rally

Sunday, March 6 · 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Austin Homebrew Supply
9129 Metric Blvd
Austin, TX

More Info
What do we want? TX BEER FREEDOM!
When do we want it? NOW!

Join us for a rally for TX House Bill 660. Raffle, t-shirts, glassware, and MORE!

Co-hosted by Freetail Brewing, NXNW Restaurant and Brewery, Uncle Billy’s Brew & QUE

Circle Brewing Grand Opening

If you're looking at this on Google Reader or some other program that doesn't show the images, click through to the actual page so you can see this flyer:

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Flying Saucer Spring Beer Dinner Featuring Deschutes

Press release from Flying Saucer Austin:
Austin, Texas, Feb. 24, 2011 – Flying Saucer Draught Emporium is set to host its annual Spring Beer Dinner on Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. at its 815 W. 47th St. location featuring selections from Deschutes Brewery and brewmaster Larry Sidor.

The Spring Beer Dinner, hosted in the Saucer’s Hollandsworth Hall, will feature Oregon’s renowned Deschutes Brewery and a special six-course beer pairing menu. The night’s courses will be served as follows: beets and goat cheese with Mirror Pond Pale Ale; spicy shrimp and polenta with Green Lakes Organic Ale; onion soup with Black Butte Porter; winter bruschetta with Red Chair NWPA; blue cheese and orange marmalade with Hop Henge Experimental IPA; and chocolate mousse and blood oranges with The Dissident.

“We’re excited to welcome spring with a great beer pairing event featuring Deschutes Brewery,” said Ted Rowell, general manager of Flying Saucer. “A great six-course beer pairing led by brewmaster Larry Sidor, the Spring Beer Dinner will be a must-attend event for any beer enthusiast.”

Tickets for the event are $35 for U.F.O. Club members and $40 for non-members. Early purchases are suggested as tickets are limited and the event will reach capacity.