Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Reports Record First Half Production

Yeah, I was bitching just yesterday about how Texas' archaic beer laws are holding back Texas' craft brewers and making it hard to grow their businesses. Thankfully, however, some Texas brewers are swimming against that tide and expanding nonetheless. Just imagine how well they could do if our laws were more like those of California or Oregon.

Here's a press release from my favorite Houston brewer (glad to see that note about the popularity of Weedwacker — that is an absolutely marvelous beer, and I want to continue seeing on store shelves. If you haven't tried it yet, hunt some down):

HOUSTON, July 27, 2011 – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, today reported record first half production of more than 17,000 barrels of beer. The Houston brewery is due to expand production in the second half of 2011 with the addition of four 240-barrel fermenters to keep pace with increasing demand throughout Texas and Louisiana.

Overall, shipments from the brewery were up 22 percent with the brewhouse limited by fermentation capacity for much of the period. Sales of Saint Arnold brand beers were up 50 percent from the same period in 2010 at the distributor level as distributor inventories were depleted severely. Shipments related to the brewery’s brands that are sold primarily at BJ’s restaurants decreased as the brewery shifted more of its capacity to its Saint Arnold brands. By market, sales of Saint Arnold in San Antonio surged 102 percent over the same period in 2010, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth, up 66 percent. Houston was up 51 percent, while Austin was up 44 percent.

“We are seeing a long-term shift in people’s perceptions of what beer is and what beer can be,” said Brock Wagner, Founder/Brewer of Saint Arnold Brewing. “People in their 20s and 30s now expect a wide spectrum of flavor and diversity from their beers and they get it from Saint Arnold and other craft beers.”

Year Production % Growth

2011 (1st Half) 17,018 barrels 22 percent

2010 31,445 barrels 22 percent

2009 25,710 barrels 13 percent

2008 22,749 barrels 28 percent

2007 17,811 barrels 30 percent

The big surprise of the first half was the enthusiasm for Saint Arnold Weedwacker, which was introduced as a year-round beer during the second quarter. Early sales of Weedwacker have rivaled Saint Arnold’s top-seller Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer.

The first half of 2011 has also been notable for Saint Arnold’s efforts to promote community. The recent Feast of Saint Arnold Week raised $15,000 for Texas Children’s Hospital IBD Clinic, the brewery’s team in the BP MS 150 raised more than $262,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the brewery donated $10,000 from the sale of Saint Arnold Elissa IPA to support the preservation of the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA.

About Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Saint Arnold Brewing's ten brews are made and sold by the company’s staff of 32 dedicated employees. The brewery was listed by USA Today as one of the “10 great places to see what’s brewing in beer,” and Smart Meetings magazine named it among the “Top 5 breweries to host an event.” Saint Arnold is located at 2000 Lyons Avenue and its brewery tour and tasting is offered every weekday at 3:00 P.M. and Saturdays starting at 11 A.M. For more information on Saint Arnold's five year-round and five seasonal beers as well as root beer, log on to

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Open the Taps: A Political Movement

You probably already know about this, because I'm a little late to this party and every one else has already written about it. Sorry, I'm on vacation right now, and can't overcome an inertia that only allows either swimming, or lying on the couch and reading, or drinking beer. But here's the quick and dirty: A nonprofit group called Open the Taps — a successor, I suppose, to Friends of Texas Microbreweries? — has formed in order to "act as an advocate for craft beer enthusiasts in Texas within the bounds of the multi-tier system and the legislative process."

In other words, they're getting organized now in hopes of changing Texas absurd laws regarding microbreweries and brewpubs, laws that unfairly restrict their ability to grow their businesses, in the 2013 legislative session. Attempts at reform have been killed by certain distributors who insist Texas cling to its outdated "three-tier" distribution system (requiring that producers, distributors, and retailers be kept separate). Do a search on my blog or on the website of The Austin Chronicle to see my coverage of bills that failed at the Lege this past spring.

Since I'm feeling too lazy to do a big write-up right now, I'll direct you to the reporting of the Houston Chronicle's Ronnie Crocker. The killer quote, which will likely become the official battle cry, from Houston's Ted Duchesne of the Barley Vine blog: "The fourth tier wants to speak up."

My vacation ends next week. I promise to resume being a better beer blogger and reporter when I return.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Best Texas Beer Snob Contest

Message from Opal Divine's:
Starts Monday July 25th (tomorrow). Every day from 4-7pm at at all Opal's there will be a $5 Blind Texas Beer sampler of 4 Texas beers from our regular menu. Guess all 4 and you're in the finals Saturday at Freehouse 7pm! A different sampler will be served each day!
Who has the best Texas Beer Nose in Austin? Maybe you! Go Local, Go Texan!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Belgian Beer Week at Draught House

Message from one of my very favorite bars in the whole world, the Draught House:

tomorrow (7/18) starts Belgian Beer Week and we will be celebrating at the Draught House with a range of good ones and some cheese pairings too.

Monday- Chouffe Houblon- get a glass and cheese sample free with beer purchase.

Tuesday- Chimay Blue- glass with beer purchase

Wednesday- Ommegang Witte- glass with beer and free cheese sample

Thursday- St. Bernardus ABT 12- glass with beer purchase

Friday- Duvel Green- Free glass and cheese with beer

Saturday- Lindemans Framboise- Free glass with beer

UPDATE: Apparently, it's also Belgian Beer Week at the Flying Saucer, as well. Here's their lineup:

Belgian Beer Week! All week long we will have Belgian glass giveaways at 7pm and plenty of Belgian brews on the wall and in package.
Monday - Timmermans
Tuesday - Blanche de Bruxelles
Wednesday - Duvel
Thursday - Ommegang
Friday - Maredsous
Saturday - Hopus

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vote in The Austin Chronicle's 'Best of Austin' Poll

Hey gang, the alt-weekly newspaper for which I write, The Austin Chronicle, is currently conducting its annual "Best of Austin" poll. There are two categories that specifically will be of interest to readers of this blog: Best Local Beer and Best Beer/Wine Prices, both under the Food and Drink category. If you're an Austinite or even an out-of-towner familiar with Austin's beer scene, I encourage you to make your voice heard. Click here to fill out a ballot. (No, you don't have to fill out every category, just the ones that interest you.) This is the first year we've done the Local Beer award — I'm really excited to see who you choose!

The deadline is Monday, July 18, so jump on it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feast of Saint Arnold, Benefiting Texas Children's Hospital

For my Houston-area readers, a press release from Saint Arnold:

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Launches Week-Long Celebration and Fundraiser

HOUSTON, July 11, 2011 - Saint Arnold Brewing Company (, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, wants to make the Texas Children’s Hospital IBD Center the leading center in the country for the treatment and study of IBD related diseases. With that in mind, on Friday, July 15, the brewery will host the Feast of Saint Arnold, culminating a week of activities to celebrate St. Arnold and the craft of brewing, which will raise funds for Texas Children’s Hospital IBD Center / Gastroenterology Clinic.

The Feast of Saint Arnold will feature dishes prepared by Scott Castell of Brenner’s. Each dish incorporates a Saint Arnold beer or root beer. Dishes of beef, pork, seafood and poultry will fill each table, and diners will be invited to sample each. They can either eat with utensils or their fingers, whatever feels right. Plus, this is no black-tie affair. In fact, it’s no tie or jacket affair. Just come hungry and casual.

“At Saint Arnold Brewing Company, we focus on two things: beer and community,” said brewery Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “We feel we are at our best when the two come together. The Feast will be the crown jewel of the week of events. We are imaging a feast like from Beowulf, but without Grendel or his mother visiting. We think St. Arnold himself would be proud.”

The Feast of Saint Arnold Week honors St. Arnold of Metz, for whom the brewery is named. St. Arnold was renowned for his piousness and generosity to the poor as well as his promotion of beer as a safe and healthy beverage. His actual feast day is July 18.

As part of the celebration, Saint Arnold Brewing will also have special beers available, in addition to their regular offerings. The special beers include chardonnay barrel aged Brown Ale with cherries as well as barrel aged Farmer Brown's Ale.

Tickets for the Feast are $85 with at least $50 per ticket going to the TCH IBD Clinic. The event is sold out. Doors will open at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 15, and The Feast of Saint Arnold will commence at 7:30. The Great Hall at Saint Arnold Brewing Company is located at 2000 Lyons Ave. in Houston.

Other events during the week include:

Monday, July 11: Starting at 2 p.m., Ginger Man, will feature rum barrel aged Winter Stout, Divine Reserve No. 11 on cask, bourbon barrel imperial stout on cask, and an auction. One dollar per pint plus a portion of auction proceeds will be donated to TCH IBD Clinic.

Tuesday, July 12: Starting at 5 p.m., Boondoggles will tap a cask of Divine Reserve No. 11. One dollar per pint will be donated to TCH IBD Clinic. Then, starting at 7 p.m., Petrol Station will tap a cask of Brown Ale, barrel aged with cherries. All proceeds will be donated to TCH IBD Clinic.

Wednesday, July 13: Starting at 7 p.m., Rudyard’s joins the celebration with a Saint Arnold Ale dinner. Tickets are $60, with $10 per ticket donated to TCH IBD Clinic, plus $1 per pint. For reservations, call 713.521.0521

Thursday, July 14: The Flying Saucer will tap a cask of Divine Reserve No. 11 and promises more surprises when that runs out. One dollar per pint will be donated to TCH IBD Clinic.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Uncle Billy's Oasis in the 'Chronicle'

It's rare, but there was actually something in this week's Austin Chronicle regarding beer that wasn't written by me. We printed our annual lakeside dining issue, and writer Kate Thornberry spotlighted the huge changes that have gone on out at the Oasis on Lake Travis, which is now a ginormous complex with three restaurants, including the new Uncle Billy's Brew & Que. Check out her review (scroll down past the review of Soleil).

(picture copyright Lee Nichols)

Sneak Peek of Flix Brewhouse

The media got a glimpse of the new Flix Brewhouse Wednesday, and I posted my report to Chronolog, our blog at The Austin Chronicle. Please go give it a read.

Big brewing news buried within the story: Flix hired head brewer Justin Rizza away from Independence Brewing; Indy hired his assistant Michael Waters as his replacement.