Friday, October 30, 2009

Permit Problem Cancels St. Arnold Tour Day

The inaugural tour day scheduled for this Saturday at the new brewery has been canceled due to city permit problems. According to the story posted on the Beer, TX blog on the Chronicle website, it looks likes Saint Arnold had not secured all the necessary permits and the city inspectors are not going to let the public tours begin as planned. They're hoping to have all the issues corrected and the necessary permits in place to start the tours on November 7th instead.

Pike Brewing Beer Tasting at Ginger Man

The founders of Pike Brewing in Seattle, WA will be pouring free samples of their beer at the Houston Ginger Man this afternoon from 4pm ~ 6pm. Thanks to Ronnie Crocker at Beer, TX for pointing this out as its not on the Ginger Man webpage. You can also read about the connection that he discovered the founders have to Houston on his blog.

I've been to Pike Brewing a few times in Seattle and most of their beers appear to be available at Spec's locations around town. I'd like to try their Entire Wood Aged Stout as it gets pretty good reviews, so hopefully it shows up down here soon (if its not already).

No Label Brewing Secures Brewery Space

The Houston area may be one step closer to having another microbrewery. According to some recent tweets, the founders of No Label Brewing Co. have secured space for their new brewery in Katy, TX (just west of Houston on I10). I haven't had a chance to try any of their beers, but they've apparently been giving away samples at recent UH tailgate parties. More information about the young upstart as well as the story behind the name can be found on their website.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Left Hand Beer Dinner At Petrol Station

The Petrol Station in Houston will be hosting a beer dinner on December 14th featuring beers from Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO. Five courses will be paired with five different cask conditioned beers and the brewer will be there as well. Tickets are $50 each and available from the Petrol Station. They don't have a website, but they do have a Facebook page which they update regularly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Open House at (512) Brewing

(512) Brewing in Austin is having an open house and costume contest at the brewery on Halloween from 1pm ~ 4pm. Their new seasonal, a Double Brown Ale named (512) Bruin, will also be available for sampling. I look forward to giving it a try the next time I make it up to Austin.

Draught House Celebrating its 41st Anniversary

The Draught House in Austin is celebrating its 41 anniversary on Saturday, November 7th from 1pm ~ 10pm. For $10, you get a special tasting glass to keep and four samples of some of the special beers on tap and cask. They'll also have a DJ spinning some soul tunes, beer trivia games and meat on a stick! If you want to know more about the Draught House, its history and the planned anniversary festivities, check out the interview with Josh Wilson, the current Brewmaster and Manager of the Draught House, that was just posted over at Beertown Austin. It looks like a list of beers that will be available is below the video as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yard House opens in San Antonio, Houston next

The Yard House is an upscale causual eatery with a large of selection of draft beer. A new location just opened in San Antonio at The Shops at La Cantera and a Houston location is scheduled to open at City Centre on November 22nd.

They advertise themselves as having the "World's Largest Selection Of Draft Beer". The food and beer menus for the San Antonio location are available online and I assume the Houston selection will be similar. I count 113 draft beers listed on the San Antonio beer menu (their Facebook page says it has 130) which includes macro lagers and ciders. World's largest? Not with only 113, but apparently some of their other locations have upwards of 250. One glaring omission are Texas beers. I only saw Shiner Black Lager, Fireman's #4 and Saint Arnold's Seasonal on the menu. I assume that initial selection is based on the offerings of the distributor that the location is dealing with and hopefully some of the local Texas breweries will be able to win over a few taps. I would expect the Houston location will have more Saint Arnold beers. The Houston location is also currently hiring for all positions if anyone is looking for a job in the food and beverage service industry.

Saint Arnold's new brewery opens for tours

The first weekly tour at Saint Arnold's new brewery will be this Saturday, October 31st. The new brewery is located at 2000 Lyons Ave, just north of downtown in the old HISD building. Their recent newsletter indicated that the price of admission for the tour will increase to $7 due to "spending more money then we could really afford and the higher operating costs". I'm sure the Saint Arnold's Army will be happy to pay the increased amount as the new location includes air conditioning, big bathrooms, more tables and more beer taps.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Independence Anniversary Photos & Video

It was a great crowd for the 5th anniversary party. The line started forming early and stretched pretty long by the time the gates were opened. Everyone was given a wristband with three beer symbols on it and a wooden token. Each of the symbols on the wristband was good for one of the regular Independence beers. The wooden token could be traded in for either an 8oz glass of the Oatmeal Stout or a sample flight of the three different versions of the Jasperilla 08. Even though the crowd was large, the beer lines were relatively short after the initial surge.

Before the second band started to play, Amy Cartwright introduced the brewery staff and led the crowd in a "high five" to celebrate 5 years of brewing fresh beer in South Austin.

The regular monthly tour and tasting will resume on Saturday, November 7th at 1:00pm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Independence Brewing's 5th Anniversary

Just a reminder of the 5th Anniversary party at Independence Brewing in Austin tomorrow afternoon. Festivities kick off at 4pm with live music from The Blue Diamonds and Space Thief, Mangia Pizza will be offering their amazing food and most importantly, free beer!

In addition to the regular lineup of beers, the following special releases will also be available:

Jasperilla Old Ale 2008
Jasperilla Old Ale 2008 aged on light oak
Jasperilla Old Ale 2008 aged on toasted oak
Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout

As well as a special surprise 5th Anniversary Beer to commemorate five years of brewing fresh handcrafted beers in South Austin.

I'll be there wandering around and helping out. There are several other beer events taking place in Austin this weekend, but definitely make some time to stop by and help celebrate.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A great weekend paired with great beer

We went up to my in-laws house on Lake Conroe last weekend to celebrate the completion of their remodeling project which included updating the kitchen and pool area. It was a great excuse to dig around in the back corners of my beer cellar for beers that would compliment the homemade paella my mother-in-law had decided to cook for dinner as well as for an afternoon and evening of lounging around the new poolside and hot-tub.

It was a beautiful sunning afternoon and I started things easy by trying some of the new Hoptober from New Belgium, Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing and a few of my own American Mild. I was a little disappointed by the Hoptober. I know its only a golden ale, but something brewed with five different hops and the word "hop" in the name should be more, well, hoppy. The Modus Hoperandi, however, was excellent. A very well-balanced and easy drinking IPA. And, of course, I can't say enough good things about my own session beer.

I'll admit, I did consult Garrett Oliver's The Brewmaster's Table to determine a beer for the paella. A lager or amber ale was the first thing that came to mind, but I wanted something a little more complex and unique. Garrett suggested a Belgian Strong Pale, but while moving bottles around, I spotted a 4 year old bottle of Midas Touch from Dogfish Head. Brewed with muscat grapes, honey and saffron, it turned out to be a great match. The saffron in the beer complimented the saffron in the paella and the sweetness from the grapes and honey worked well with the spiciness from the chorizo. It was also fairly light bodied which I was looking for since paellas can be pretty heavy.

As we were finishing up dinner, I moved on to a bottle of Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale which I had originally thought might go well with the paella. It's a Belgian strong pale ale with some honey, fruit and spiciness (similar to the Midas Touch), but with a slightly sour finish instead of sweet. The initial flavours went well, but the sourness didn't compliment the spiciness.

I hadn't specifically thought about dessert while picking out beer, but I had picked up a four-pack of Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout for my father-in-law to try who likes beer with a chocolate profile such as Independence's Bootlegger Brown and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. I don't think it was the best choice to have with a homemade key-lime pie, but they were both excellent.

Following the Belgian theme I had started earlier, next up was a bottle of Hugh Malone from Allagash. Somehow I ended up with two bottles of this in the cellar without actually having tried it, so a cool evening on a patio seemed like an appropriate time to open one. The flavour was actually pretty mild for a Belgian IPA and not very complex. Flavours were sweet and almost tropical with a dry finish. The Belgian IPA style is pretty wide open to interpretation, I just wasn't overly impressed with this one.

When we were done with dinner, dessert and a little relaxing, it was time to hit the hot-tub. The weather has been cooling around here lately with the evening lows getting into the 50's. I'd really prefer it to be snowing while sitting in a hot-tub, but we're in Southeast Texas and that's as cool as can be expected for this time of the year. I had specifically picked out a couple of strong beers that are suitable for slowly sipping as the evening winds down. When I stumbled across the Midas Touch, I had also found the rest of my stash of stronger Dogfish Head beers which included a few Immort Ale and Raison D'extra. At 11% and 18% ABV, these are certainly evening-enders.

The Immort Ale had lots of dark fruit, vanilla and caramel malt flavours. Lightly carbonated with an almost creamy finish. Slight warming effect in the finish but not overwhelming. The Raison D'extra was similar, but with stronger raisin flavours as the name would suggest. Wonderful aromas of sweet malt and dried fruits. It clearly had benefited from the 5 years in my cellar as the high alcohol was certainly noticeable but not harsh or biting as I would expect it probably was when younger.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I got to enjoy some of the fantastic beers that were hidden away and almost forgotten about. I ran across a few more beers that definitely need to be enjoyed soon, so hopefully I'll have a few more weekends like this one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Orange Show Foam Raiser

Orange Show Center for Visionary Art in conjunction with Saint Arnold is hosting its 2nd annual Foam Raiser. In honour of the event, Saint Arnold will be featuring a special one time only cask release of their Christmas Ale brewed with honey (from a bee colony that was on the premises) and orange peel. I've always enjoyed their Christmas Ale and this sounds like a pretty tasty version of it. I used to brew a holiday beer every year with honey, orange peel and other spices. It was a huge crowd-pleaser and those flavours together always makes me think of the holidays. I'd probably go and check it out to try the beer, but I've already got plans.

The Foam Raiser takes place on Oct 24th from 7pm ~ 10pm at the The Orange Show. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and the live music and beer are included.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oklahoma Suks

Brewed once a year in celebration of the Red River Rivalry, the roll-out of Oklahoma Suks from Independence Brewing has been in full swing for the past two weeks. For those of you still wanting to pick up a case before the big game this weekend, its been delivered to most HEB's and Spec's locations as well as Central Market, Whole Foods (downtown) and various other locations around Austin. However, its always in high demand and sells out fast. If you're still looking for it, you may want to call first before driving around town.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, eh!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and relatives up in Canada. I'll have a turkey burrito in your honour. I typically make a traditional thanksgiving feast with turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc, but we're just finishing up with putting our kitchen back together after the remodel and I'm not really prepared to do all that this year. However, for those of you who are celebrating today, whether back in Canada or other places around the globe, don't forget that beer pairs very well with a turkey dinner. I suggest an amber ale or perhaps one of the Oktoberfest beers that have flooded the market recently or maybe even a Belgian trippel if you want something stronger. Everyone seems to have released a pumpkin beer this year which would probably go very well with that homemade pumpkin pie. If you're like me and don't particularly like the pumpkin beers, then you might enjoy an oatmeal stout, brown ale or an old ale instead. Post in the comments any particularly tasting pairings that you've had lately or other suggestions for pairing with a Thanksgiving dinner.

For more beer and food pairing suggestions, check the guide on the Brewers Association website.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Petrol Station celebrating their 4th Anniversary

The Petrol Station is celebrating their 4th anniversary with a party on Saturday, October 17th. They don't seem to have a webpage, but do have a page on Facebook that they keep updated regularly with event information and the beers that are currently on tap. According to some past posts, the party starts at 4pm and there will be "awesome rare beers, live music and free swag". I've only been out there once, but I really enjoyed it. They had great selection of beer and really good food. Unfortunately, its not in an area of town that visit very often, so I haven't been back since. However, their 4th anniversary party sounds like a good reason to get back over there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beer festival coming to West Houston

My wife alerted me to a news release this morning announcing "Beer festival coming to West Houston". I was surprised and excited to hear the news as Houston hasn't had a "beer festival" in over 10 years. However, the excitement was soon replaced by disappointed after I dug around on the Internet and found the official website for the event:

West Houston gets its first festival devoted to the craft beer culture FOAM on the RANGE. Bringing to Texans what Texans love….QUALITY BEER! Over 25 handcrafted beers will be featured for sampling and local restaurants will offer optional food for your enjoyment!

Sounds great until you read the list of beers:

1554 Black Ale, Abbey Ale, Amstel Light, Blue Moon Family, Blue Paddle, Cusquena, Dos Equis, Fat Tire, Grolsh, Guiness, Guiness 250, Harp, Heineken, Leinenkugel Family, Mothership Wit, New Belgium Seasonal, Newcastle, Peroni, Pilsner Urquell, Red Stripe, Shiner Family, Tecate

Umm, not too many "handrafted beers" on that list and the only Texas beer listed is the "Shiner Family". How do you have a "Beer Festival" in Houston without having Saint Arnolds beers? Although it appears to be part of a larger Zest in the West event which provides scholarships to a nonprofit group, its looking more and more like an open house for the new City Center Houston development in disguise as a fundraising beer festival as the $15 ticket also includes "high rise living model tours". Its on Friday, Oct 23rd from 5pm ~ 8pm, so it could be a good diversion if you're stuck in traffic on I10 on the way home from work.

The City Center Houston development is home to a new Yard House location which is scheduled to open this November. I've been to a few of their other locations and was impressed with the food and the beer selection, so I'm excited to see them opening a location so close to my house.

Oktoberfest at Southern Star Brewing

Southern Star Brewing in Conroe,TX is having an Oktoberfest party on Saturday, October 24th from 5pm ~ 9pm. Tickets are $35 which includes a ceramic 28 oz stein, food, beer and live music. Only 225 tickets are available and they must be purchased in advance. More information about the event including how to contact them to purchase tickets is available on the website.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Special releases at Independence Anniversary Party

Information regarding the 5th Anniversary Party at Independence Brewing is now available on the website. The party is at the brewery in South Austin on Saturday, October 24th from 4pm ~ 9pm. That should allow you to check out some of the other events going on around town and still make it out to the party that evening. Entrance and beer samples are free and 5th Anniversary glasses will be available for purchase for $10 (bring cash, no credit or ATM access). Music provided by The Blue Diamonds, Roger Len Smith and Moving Matter.

In addition to the regular lineup of beers (Austin Amber, Bootlegger Brown Ale, Freestyle Wheat, Independence Pale Ale), the following special releases will also be available:

Jasperilla Old Ale 2008
Jasperilla Old Ale 2008 aged on light oak
Jasperilla Old Ale 2008 aged on toasted oak
Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout

As well as a special surprise 5th Anniversary Beer to commemorate five years of brewing fresh handcrafted beers in South Austin.

Check the website for further information and directions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Secondary Beer Storage

It's been over two months since we've had a fully functioning kitchen. It was starting to feel like we were living in our own version of The Money Pit (a must-watch before beginning any large remodeling project). But finally, this weekend, the kitchen remodel was completed! We no longer have to cook using the microwave in the dining room or rinse out glasses in the bathroom sink. The sight of shiny new appliances and running water almost brought tears to my eyes. I decided to celebrate the completion with whatever the strongest beer was in the fridge, which turned out to be a bottle of Stone Russian Imperial Stout. A great side benefit to our kitchen remodel is that the old fridge will be moved to the garage where it will begin it's new role as secondary beer storage. And, with a few modifications and the right parts, it should soon be dispensing draft beer as well.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beer Dinner at Pappas Bros.

Could restaurants in Houston finally be catching on to this whole crazy craft beer thing? I stumbled across another craft beer dinner in Houston, this time at the upscale Pappas Bros.

You can wine all you want but a beer is sometimes the only thing that will quench your thirst. Our inaugural Beer Dinner will feature some of our favorite lagers, ales, porters and lambics. Come see why most wine professionals are hop-heads!

For saying they are "hop-heads", there's only one hoppy beer (Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA) being served.  The rest are a mix of lagers, Belgians, stouts and porters.  The dinner takes place on Friday, October 16th, the cost is $65 per person and reservations are required.  The full menu and beers being served with each of the four courses is available here (scroll down).

I love the fact that beer dinners are starting to pop up around Houston, but I'd like to see more of them below the $50 mark (if there have been any, I haven't seen them).  The last few beer dinners I saw were at Brenner's Steak House, Hotel Icon and Cullen's American Grille, all of them upscale restaurants and for around $75.  I went to the one at Cullen's, but it was because they were serving Independence beer with one of the courses.  Even other beer enthusiasts I know have shied away from these dinners because of the cost (although, we regularly pair beer with food at home or when eating out anyway), so its even harder to get someone unfamiliar with craft beer to attend.  However, I still applaud the effort and hopefully its just the start of a stronger appreciation for craft beer in Houston. 

If anyone knows of other beer dinners coming up around town, please let me know.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oktoberfest at the Houston Ginger Man

The Ginger Man in Houston is having its annual Oktoberfest Celebration on Saturday, October 3rd. Traditional German food and lots of great beer will be available. Doors open at noon and there is no cover charge.

According to their website, they have (or will have) the following Octoberfest beers available:
Every year I get excited by the arrival of the Octoberfest beers.  Not necessarily because I'm a big fan of Octoberfest beers, but because its a sign of things to come.  I'm typically bored with the lighter summer beers by now and looking forward to the heavier and stronger fall and winter seasonals.  I can't remember if I've had the Brooklyn Oktoberfest before and I'm curious to try Real Ale's first attempt at one, but most seem to leave me disappointed.  However, that never stops me from trying all of them every year.

Independence Brewing's 5th Anniversary

Independence Brewing is celebrating their 5th anniversary on Saturday, October 24th at the brewery in Austin. More details will be announced during the weeks to come, but just a reminder to save the date. Also, there will not be the usual tour and tasting on the first Saturday in October, as the anniversary party will take it's place.