Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My 'Current' Column on Winter Beers

My latest "Bottle and Tap" column in the San Antonio Current is now available. The subject: Christmas/Holiday/Winter beers. Enjoy:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New S.A. Current column: beer fests

My latest "Bottle and Tap" column in the San Antonio Current is now available. The subject: Fall beer festivals! I'll let you give it a read by clicking here while I sit here and savor this Divine Reserve 13. (Photo courtesy of Texas Craft Brewers Festival)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ranger Creek Releases New Whiskey Born From Belgian Beer

As I try to revive this blog I'm hoping to move away from simple cutting-and-pasting of press releases, but this is just too interesting not to share. Gotta get me some of this:

SAN ANTONIO, TX, September 19, 2013 – In the fall of 2010 the guys at Ranger Creek were installing the equipment at their brewstillery and anxiously waiting to sell their first keg of beer.  They had brewed a batch of Belgian beer that couldn’t be sold because they were waiting for government paperwork.  On the distillery side, they needed to run something through their still in order to test it.  So they looked at the beer and decided to distill it.   The end result surprised them by how interesting and unique it was.  Three years later they are releasing this happy accident to the public.

As a combined brewery/distillery, Ranger Creek is fascinated by the relationship between beer and whiskey.  They are also committed to finding answers to crazy questions like “How does a Belgian beer taste when distilled into a whiskey?“  The resulting spirit is something that could only be created at a brewstillery, and it’s so unique that Ranger Creek had to create a new term to accurately describe it: Belgian White Whiskey.  

The new whiskey is the evil twin of the beer.  While the beer is named La Bestia Aimable (The Friendly Beast), the whiskey is called La Bestia Defavorable (The Unfriendly Beast).  The packaging showcases the relationship.  The whiskey was put in a 750 ml amber glass beer bottle with a beer crown finish and a swing top to reseal it.  When placed next to its twin brother the relationship is apparent.  Pictures of both bottles are available here:

La Bestia Defavorable will be available in Texas only.  The recommended retail price is $32.99/750 ml bottle at Spec’s and other fine spirits retailers across the state.  Bottles are available for purchase for $25.00 when visiting Ranger Creek’s brewstillery in San Antonio. Less than 500 cases of Ranger Creek La Bestia Defavorable will be released, so whiskey enthusiasts are encouraged to buy bottles while they last. 

Release events will commence in Ranger Creek’s hometown of San Antonio on Thursday, September 19 with a release party at The Brooklynite, featuring two special cocktails prepared with the new whiskey.  Bottles will be available on retail shelves starting on Friday, September 20.

EDIT: Details on that Brooklynite party:

The Brooklynite is Hosting a Ranger Creek Whiskey Release Party
Ranger Creek Introduces La Bestia Defavorable at The Brooklynite

WHAT:        The Brooklynite is hosting a Ranger Creek Whiskey Release Party! Ranger Creek will be introducing a brand new whiskey named La Bestia Defavorable this Thursday, September 19th, at The Brooklynite. No Cover and free samples of the new whiskey all night. Come out and try Ranger Creek’s new white whiskey that was born from a Belgian Beer! Cocktails and beer also will be available for purchase.  Food will be available for purchase via food trucks outside of The Brooklynite.

WHEN:        Thursday, September 19th
                  8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

WHERE:      The Brooklynite
                  516 Brooklyn Ave
                  San Antonio, TX 78215

PRICE:        No Cover and Free Samples



ITE:            Showcasing premium spirits alongside house-made cordials, bitters and juices in craft cocktails, The Brooklynite Team prides themselves on being supremely balanced, unapologetically playful, totally unique and always providing top-notch service.

CREEK:       Ranger Creek is a combined brewery/distillery proudly located in San Antonio, TX. We make beer and whiskey in our “brewstillery”, and we make it by hand one batch at a time with lots of love and attention. We like to focus on the relationship between beer and whiskey. As a combined operation, we can do things to highlight this relationship that no one else can, like age our own beer in our own bourbon barrels and distill our beers into whiskeys. We also use much of the same equipment to make both our beer and our whiskey, and we can do this because there are a lot of similarities between the two processes. 

MORE:        Website –

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back in the writing game

Hello loyal readers (the few of you that are left). As you may remember, I was for about three years the beer writer for The Austin Chronicle, the alt-weekly in beautiful Austin, Texas. Today I'm happy to announce that I'm back in the beer-writing game, again for an alt-weekly: On Wednesday, I took over as the beer columnist for the San Antonio Current. It may seem odd for an Austin-based writer to be covering brew for a San Antonio paper, but since I work for a state senator from San Antonio, I'm down there quite a bit.

In fact, my first column is about my boss, and some really great beer-friendly laws she helped pass in the recently ended legislative session. Read about it here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Big Bend Brewing a Quick Success Story

Last year, one of the pioneering icons of the Austin brewing scene surprised Central Texas beer lovers by picking up and leaving town. As I documented in the Austin Chronicle, Live Oak Brewing's (and before that, Waterloo brewpub's) Steve Anderson announced he was moving out to the wide open spaces of West Texas to open up Big Bend Brewing in Alpine.

I happy to announce his venture into the Davis Mountains has been a success, and the news comes from my good friend Bret, normally a sports writer for the El Paso Times but today taking a turn at beer journalism. Apparently, Bret says, they're drinking up Steve's beer faster than Steve can brew it. Read Bret's great write-up here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Win a Trip to GABF!

Press release from the Denver Convention and Visitor's Bureau. I think you're gonna want to read it.


Denver’s Ultimate Beer-cation Giveaway
Offers a Trip To The Center of the “Brewniverse”

The Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) Sold Out In Minutes – Giveaway Includes Roundtrip Airfare, Accommodations and Tickets to GABF
DENVER, CO – August 21, 2013 – The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – to be held Oct. 10-12 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver – sold out in a matter of minutes, leaving thousands of brew lovers crying in their beers. But a trip to craft beer paradise is still within reach! Denver’s Ultimate Beer-Cation Giveaway, running through September 2, will bring one winner and a friend to The Mile High City for a truly brew-tastic weekend.

The randomly selected winner will receive:
·         Round-trip airfare for two to Denver on Frontier Airlines (October 11-13)
·         Two nights at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver (October 11-13)
·         Two tickets to the Great American Beer Festival (October 12)
·         Two ‘Hops N’ Honey’ pedicures at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver (October 12)
·         Dinner for two at Ale House at Amato’s (October 11)
·         Two Denver Beer Trail guides

Entering is as easy as cracking open a cold one.
1.    Go to Denver Rocks Giveaway page:
2.    “Like” VISIT DENVER (if you haven’t already!)
3.    Fill out the easy entry form and submit

Sharing is caring – and pays off! Entrants who share this contest with Facebook friends increase their chances of winning. Every time a friend enters through the post on your wall, your name will receive five more entries into the contest.

GABF is considered to be the most prestigious and coveted beer competition in America. It is certainly the world’s largest beer celebration, with a Guinness World Record for the most beers ever made available for tasting at a single event, and this year officials estimate that during the 2013 GABF, an astonishing 3,000 different beers will be available from 600 breweries.

But GABF is just the tip of the beer iceberg that month in Denver – a city that brews more beer than any other. From October 4-12, the citywide suds celebration known as Denver Beer Fest, returns for its fifth year with more than 150 events, including Meet the Brewer Nights, an Oktoberfest celebration in lower downtown, beer-paired dinners, firkin nights, brewer versus brewer competitions and a whole lot more. If you love – or even just like – beer, Denver is the place to be this October. All events are listed at

Were you one of the lucky ones, and already have your GABF tickets but still need a place to stay? Go to to find special rates and packages timed to the Denver Beer Fest. 

M # M # M # B # E # E # R

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Volunteer for Texas Craft Brewers Festival

The Texas Craft Brewers Festival (which I heartily endorse) is coming up next month. Open the Taps (the political arm of the Texas craft beer community) passes along this message from the Festival:

Hello Open The Taps Supporter!

The Young Men's Business League and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild are reaching out to you as supporters of Texas Craft Beer.  The 2013 Texas Craft Brewers Festival will be held on Saturday, September 28th at Fiesta Gardens in downtown Austin. This is the original Texas-only craft beer festival and we will feature 40 Texas breweries this year. We are looking for many volunteers for our event and know you will be a huge help with this task.  We need everything from beer pourers to merchandise sales to volunteer check in and more.  Please consider volunteering for the Festival and visit the Texas Craft Brewers Festival volunteer page.  The sign-up form can be found here:
As a volunteer, you will receive entry into the Festival as well as a Festival t-shirt.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Please email
Thanks for your support of Texas Craft Beer.
Kristin Jacobson
Texas Craft Brewers Festival Volunteer Coordinator
Charles Vallhonrat
Executive Director, Texas Craft Brewers Guild

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Real Ale Brewing Co. Announces Local Food Drive Benefitting Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

Real Ale Brewing Co. Announces Local Food Drive Benefitting Capital Area Food Bank of Texas:
“Cans for Cans” Food Drive features Local Beer, Music & Food

Austin, TX – July 15th, 2013 -- The 1st annual Austin “Cans for Cans” Food Drive will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 at The Browning Hangar at Mueller located at 4550 Mueller Blvd. Austin, TX 78723.

This unique event will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas by allowing guests to exchange cans of nonperishable food items for cans of local craft beer donated by Real Ale Brewing Co. The event is FREE and open to the public of all ages. Food donations are encouraged but not mandatory for admission. Once guests have shown their ID for age verification, they will receive (1) beer ticket for every (2) cans of food donated (limit (3) beers per person). The Food Drive will feature local music from 2 Fer 1 featuring Graham Wilkinson & Shawn Nelson, The Preservation, and Bobby Jealousy and local food trucks, which will include: Short Bus, Mmmpanadas, Whole Foods Food Truck, Fresh Off The Truck, Elixer Coffee solutions and Bud’s PoBoys. Beer will include Real Ale’s Hans’ Pils, Four Squared DryHopped Ale and Firemans #4 Blonde Ale.

*Most Needed Food Items include: 100% Peanut Butter, Chili, Canned meats, Canned tuna, Canned stews, Canned soups, Canned vegetables, Canned pasta sauce (low-sodium, no added sugar), Dry Beans, Canned fruit (in its own juice), Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta), Healthy cereals, Low-fat Shelf Stable Milk, Full meals in a can/box, “Pop top” food items

ABOUT THE FOOD BANK: The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (CAFB) provides food and grocery products to more than 300 Partner Agencies in 21 Central Texas counties. In Fiscal Year 2011-12, CAFB provided more than 22 million pounds of food. The CAFB service area covers 19,064 square miles in Central Texas. The mission of the Capital Area Food Bank is to nourish hungry people and lead the community in ending hunger.

ABOUT THE BREWERY: Welcome to the Texas Hill Country - the home of Real Ale Brewing Company, where a dedicated team of brewers produces quality handcrafted ales. Utilizing a 60-barrel stainless steel brewing system, we incorporate 100% malted grain, domestic and imported hops, and crystal clear water into our unique recipes. We've been brewing since 1996, and now you can find Real Ale all over the Lone Star State. If you don't see us at your favorite stores, bars, and restaurants, make sure to ask for us by name! Cheers and thanks for your support!

WHAT: 1st Annual Austin “Cans for Cans” Food Drive
WHEN: Saturday, August 24th, 2013 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
WHERE: 4550 Mueller Blvd. Austin, TX 78723
BENEFICIARY: Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
SPONSORS: Real Ale Brewing Co., The Browning Hangar at Mueller
FEATURING: Local Music, Local Food Trucks, Real Ale Giveaways & Other Activities
COST: The event is FREE and open to the public of all ages (with an encouraged canned food item donation)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Press release from Hops & Grain below. When I find time, I'll make a little additional comment about the new Texas laws that the press release refers to. Now that I work for the Texas Legislature, I got an inside view of these laws moving through the legislative process. My boss, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio played a key role in making this happen, and I'm very proud of her.

Great Things to Come for Hops & Grain Brewery
New Craft Beer Laws Pave Way for Expansion

(Austin, TX) – In response to Texas’ new craft brew laws, Austin-based brewery Hops & Grain has successfully applied for a Brewpub license and proudly announces an enhanced experience and expanded set of hours in its tap room beginning the first week of July. 
Governor Rick Perry graciously signed the bills into law last week, which went into effect immediately. Hops & Grain, among other breweries in the area, will officially become a brewpub, which owner Josh Hare applied for this past April.

With a brewpub license, Hops & Grain will be able to sell its beer on-premise, which will begin this weekend, giving customers the chance to drink and buy beer from the source. That means that visitors to the tap room can now purchase a beer or two from the tap wall, plus cans and growler fills to take home. Starting the first week of July, tap room hours will also be expanded to Thursday and Friday from 2 - 8PM and Saturday and Sunday from noon – 6PM. However, the first Thursday, July 4, Hops & Grain will be closed in observation of the holiday and will open its first Thursday tap room day on July 11. 
This means great things for Hops & Grain, as well as for the consumer. Allowing the brewery to provide reasonably priced beer directly to the consumer from the brewery as well as allowing direct distribution to local retail establishments, these new laws open the door for Hops & Grain to grow to its full potential and to give the people what they want – great craft beer! 
“We are stoked to be able to continue to offer the experience that our customers have come to expect with the added benefit of being able to purchase beer from our tap room to take home with you,” says Hare. “It’s a better, more sustainable experience for everyone.” 
About Hops & Grain: Specializing in craft beer and sustainability, Hops & Grain Brewery is located in East Austin (literally at the end of East Sixth Street) at 507 Calles, Austin, TX 78702. Hops & Grain Tap Room is currently open every Friday from 2 – 6PM, and every Saturday from Noon – 4PM with tours of the brewery given on Saturdays at 1 and 3PM. Tours are approximately 45 minutes and include special samples not available in the tap room. Beginning July 1 the Tap Room will expand its hours to Thursday and Friday from 2 - 8PM and Saturday and Sunday from noon – 6PM. For further information please visit or call 512.914.2467. ‘Like’ us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @HopsandGrain.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Founders Brewing Coming to Texas

UPDATE TO THIS POST: Here's where you can get delicious Founders Brewing products on tap when they launch in Texas next week:

I get press releases all the time announcing the introduction of this or that brewery into the Texas market, and I usually ignore them, because I just don't think yet another out-of-state brewery squeezing onto our store shelves is that big a deal, even if they make decent beer.

But I'm making an exception for this one. I think Michigan's Founders Brewing makes excellent beer. Heretofore, I've only been able to taste their magnificent work when I travel to Kansas City to visit my in-laws. I've mostly had their heavier beers during my Christmas visits, and I especially loved the Porter and the Breakfast Stout. Seriously, the crappiest beer I've ever had by them was great. I'm really looking forward to this.

Founders’ Beers Will Be Available in the Lone Star State in April 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Mar. 5, 2012 - Founders Brewing Co. has partnered with Ben E. Keith Beverage Distributors to offer their unique beers across the Lone Star State beginning April 2013. Founders Brewing Co., established in 1997, has evolved into one of the highest recognized breweries in the United States. Texans will now have the opportunity to enjoy their products without having to leave the state. 

“Texas is an up-and-coming market, and we’re impressed with what we’re seeing there,” said Co-Founder & CEO Mike Stevens. “We’ve been getting more and more inquiries from Founders fans in Texas over the past couple of years. The Ben E. Keith team is dedicated to the craft beer market and is helping introduce complex brands like ours to eager consumers who are hungry for them. Besides, we’ve always wanted to get Founders beer to Willie Nelson’s home state. Now the time is right.”

"We are delighted to partner with Founders,” said Specialty Division Manager at Ben E. Keith Kevin Nettleton, “and are eager to distribute their esteemed beers in Texas."

Founders plans to include all of its year-round and seasonal ales as draft product in the first shipment for an April 8 release. Bottled beers will be released in May, and specialty releases will be available following the release schedule from there.

For a list of all the states in which Founders is available, as well as information on their new 2013 lineup and release calendar, visit


About Founders Brewing Co.
Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. has made a distinctive mark on the craft beer community by brewing complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders is one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the nation, currently ranking among the top 50 largest craft breweries in the U.S. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival, and its beers are often rated among the best in the world by RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild and the Brewers Association. For more information, visit 

About Ben E. Keith Beverages
Ben E. Keith Company, established in 1906, began selling Anheuser-Busch products in 1933. Today, Ben E. Keith Company’s Beverage division is the third largest independent beer wholesaler in the country. The company also distributes import beers, craft beers, wine products and nonalcoholic beverages. With fourteen Sales & Distribution Centers in Texas including Abilene, Austin, Brownwood, Commerce, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Houston, Kerrville, Llano, Palestine, San Antonio, and Waco, the company operates throughout the state of Texas. For more information, please visit

Texas Craft Brewing Legislation Being Discussed RIGHT NOW

As I post this, the Texas craft brewing legislation is being discussed right now in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee. (8am, March 5). If you want to watch, go to  and click on the Business and Commerce channel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beer Bills at the Texas Legislature

Hey, remember me? I used to write a beer blog.

And I used to be a reporter for The Austin Chronicle. And 2011 really kicked butt, because I kind of became the go-to guy in Texas for reporting on beer-related legislation, because I was the only beer writer in the state who just happened to also be a Capitol reporter and could live-blog directly from committee meetings in Austin. My blog traffic went nuts every time I broke news on the bills.

That was fun, but I can't be that guy anymore, because now I'm working inside the legislature, rather than reporting on it. And because my boss, state Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, is one of the coauthors of this year's beer legislation.

So I'll just step aside and offer you, without commentary, links to the reporting of others. Here's what happened yesterday: After months of discussions between various stakeholders, bills were filed that would benefit craft brewers in Texas. Here's a sampling of the reporting:

If you'd like to keep track of these bills yourself (and read the text, and get other details), go to these links and set up e-mail alerts that will notify you whenever the bills advance through the legislative process: