30 January 2012

Replace your Growlers

I've written about growlers before. This just might get me to stop using pub specific growlers for ever!

The Hydro Flask in a double wall insulated, 18/8 stainless steel bottle that will keep your beer cold and carbonated for 24 hours. You can get them in three sizes: 21, 40 and 64 ounces.

Founder Travis Rosbach came up with the idea when he became concerned about BPA in plastic drink bottles, not to mention how quickly hot things got cold and cold things got hot.

Besides being better for the environment, Hydo Flask also donates 5% of their profits to charity.

So put this on your gifts-to-me list.  The 64 oz bottle costs a measly $50.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:32 0 comments links to this post

28 January 2012

Children Seeing Beer

In a fairly mundane article about whether or not it was a Virginia state law to put six packs of beer in a plastic bag (It's not. It's store policy.), I came across a brain numbing sentence. Raj Gupta, a Seven-Eleven franchise owner has a policy that all beer be bagged for several reasons, including "that it prevents minors from seeing people carrying alcohol".

Dude, if you're that concerned, stop selling alcohol!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:51 0 comments links to this post

27 January 2012

Want to Invest in a Brewery?


While Satan sits, hesitating, on the fence about opening his own brewery, more and more people are taking advantage of Kickstarter to get their breweries off the ground. The latest brewery to try it is Lucky Town Brewing, who hopes to be Mississippi's second brewery.

Lucas, Chip, Brandon & Angela want to tap (pardon the pun) into the growing craft beer market in Jackson, and want to offer local artists and musicians studios and practice rooms until they can afford their own. They also plan to be on the forefront of the effort to change Mississippi beer laws. Both laudable goals, in my opinion.

So if you want to stick it to The Man, head on over to Lucky Town Brewing's Kickstarter page and read all about their plans and their beers (“Stout of the Rising Sun” and "What the Elf?"), then go on and donate.

Beer can save the world!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 16:34 0 comments links to this post

26 January 2012

"It Tastes of Beef"

The Brandling Villa pub in South Gosforth, Newcastle, England has a special menu for dogs, and with it a beer made specially for dogs. The Menu includes "Chicken a la Franc" - a dog version of chicken chasseur; "Eggs Ladybird" named after the chef's dog; and a Sunday roast with "cat" gravy (That's beef stock with fish sauce. No cats were harmed in the making of the dish.)

The beer, called Dog Beer, is made with malt and hops, but also includes meat extract.  The manager pronounced it revolting, after sampling some before giving to his dog.  The dog didn't like it either.

This isn't the first doggie beer.  Bowser Beer is made in Arizona (with beef or chicken broth and malted barley but without hops, which are toxic to dogs).

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:36 0 comments links to this post

25 January 2012

Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale

For 103 years, Spoetzl Brewery has only made lagers. Until now.

Wild Hare Pale Ale has arrived, joining an ever grown line of innovative beers.  According the press release:

Shiner Wild Hare is a classic American Pale Ale made with American two-row barley with a blend of Munich and Caramel malts for rich malt flavor and clear amber color. US Golding and Bravo hop varieties are used in the kettle and fermenter for crisp bitterness and assertive fresh hop fruit and floral aroma. More than a pound of hops is used to produce each barrel of Shiner Wild Hare.

I've never tried Bravo hops, but according to this site, they are a high Alpha hop, 14-17%. And they have been used in many of my favorite West Coast Pale Ales.

The hophead in me is excited by this. I can't wait until February 3, the release date. And I have to factor in the inevitable lag between the beer is available in Austin and when the local distributor finally allows us to have some Wild Hare here in Paradise, but that's another post.

Anyway, although this is the first ale that Spoetzl has brewed it is not the first beer with the word "ale" on the label. Some of their stronger beers in the past have been labeled as ales thanks to state labeling laws. This is a true ale, made with top fermenting yeast.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:59 3 comments links to this post

24 January 2012

I Wish Senator Shumar was My Senator!


New York Senator Charles Schumer recently launched his "I Love NY Brew" Campaign inspired his trips across the state visiting the many craft breweries.

"...it was easy to see that craft brewing is actually one of our fastest growing industries in upstate New York and Long Island. . . I'm announcing a brand new initiative called the 'I Love NY Brew' campaign, to help get local brews on local shelves and into local menus. This is a call to restaurants, bars, convenience and fuel stores statewide to sell our locally brewed beer."

Schumer said he is going to ask the New York State Restaurant Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores to carry locally brewed beer, will be working with the New York State Brewers Association to help promote small breweries create jobs in the state.

The project won't have a budget, and will run by word of mouth out of Schumer's office.

Wouldn't it be great if Texas had such a forward thinking legislator; someone who wants to grow jobs in the state and collect more tax revenue?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:54 6 comments links to this post

22 January 2012

T-Shirts in Beer Drinker Sizes


I have found very few Texas breweries that sell shirts in beer drinker sizes (3XL and up). I picked up a couple at Stone Brewing back in June. A few years ago, I bought one from Bright Brewing in Eola.  I think he made a mistake ordering.  He hasn't had a XXXL since.

Apparently, brewers don't see that many fat people around the breweries. . .

(Of course it matters how the shirts are cut.  I have a couple of XXL shirts that fit well.)

posted by Jeff Holt at 20:24 0 comments links to this post

20 January 2012

Pre-Prohibition Beer Culture

Reader Zack Pilgrim emailed me and asked about Ice Houses, and wondered what beer his Great-greatgrandfather would have been drinking when he lived in the Texas Hill Country. He wondered what the beer culture was like. After some thought, here's what I wrote:


In the days before Prohibition, there were three basic types of venues that sold beer: saloons, ice houses, and Biergartens.

Saloons only sold beer, and were male only establishments. In most Texas towns, like Fredericksburg, San Angelo, had several saloons on the main street. San Angelo had 12 on Concho Street, Fredericksburg had ten. Basically, one on every block. In San Angelo, the owner of the Star Saloon was Hubert Wolters, who sold beer from his brewery in the saloon until the railroad came to town, and he started selling Pabst. In Fredericksburg, when Lone Star and Pearl came to town, because of the economy of scale, they sold for a nickel a glass, while the much smaller Probst brewery was being sold at a dime a glass. That "beer war" is probably what caused the brewery to close.

I think the reason there were so many saloons, was that everyone walked everywhere. In Fredericksburg, there were four butcher shops along Main Street, several grocery stores, and hardware stores. They all catered to the folks who lived a few blocks away.

So after a hard day at work--hard manual labor, remember--they would stop in at the saloon on their way home. They would have a couple of beers with their neighbor before heading home to the wife. I heard a story from a gentleman in his late 60s who told me his grandfather had a bucket in the chicken coop from one of the saloons. His grandfather would be sent to the saloon for a refill for his father. When the saloon closed, they made it a feed bucket.

Ice houses were the 19th century equivalent of a convenience store and were primarily in South Texas. Before electricity, they sold ice and food for the neighborhood. You needed ice for the old ice boxes. My dad says the one his mom had kept ice a week. In the evening, instead of sitting in a hot house, folks would sit out under the trees and gossip and drink beer. In the late 1800s, Ice houses were likely tied houses, and only sold one brand of beer. So Great-Greatgranpa Kurz probably drank Lone Star (owned by Augustus Busch but NOT a Budweiser brewery) or Pearl. If there was a railroad in town, maybe Pabst, Budweiser, Miller, Schlitz or Lemp.

The West Alabama Ice House in Houston was on "How The States Got Their Shapes."Today, they only sell beer. And they still sit out under the oak trees and visit with their neighbors. There are a lot of places that call themselves, but I think the only places that can be called ice houses are places that once sold blocks of ice.

In Fredericksburg, where I live, there were four ice houses in town in the 60-70s: Lakeway Ice House, 87 Ice House, 290 Ice House, and Tower Ice house. They were more bar like, though they all had big freezer doors on the sidewalk. By the time I turned 18 (the legal drinking age) in 1980, The Tower Ice House had closed. I went to Lakeway, because it was near my house. It was more of a bar by then. Today only 87 Ice House is open, and they advertise themselves as more of a sports bar. I haven't been there in years.

I have seen a book about Texas Ice Houses. Here's the link for the Amazon page. It lists some of the still existing ice houses, including the ones that I don't consider ice houses.

Another type of business catered to big city beer drinkers: Biergartens. There were large biergartens in all the major cities. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Midway Gardens in Chicago, for example. The biergartens were family affairs. A way to spend a day outside of your hot home. In Austin, there was Pressler's Biergarten on the Colorado River, on the east side of town. There were several pavillions, one for families, one with alligator wrestling, one with a brass band, and more! Before TV and radio, that's how Austinites entertained themselves. The only remnant of Pressler Biergarten is Pressler Street in the city park along Lady Bird Lake. Scholtz's Garten still exists in Austin, a few blocks north of the capital. Now it's more a restaurant.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:27 1 comments links to this post

18 January 2012

Shipping 15 Case of Beer to Alabama the Wrong Way

Gloria Crisantes Salazar of Alabama was stopped driving south on Interstate 65 in Alabama with 15 cases of 40-ounce bottles of Bud Light inside the cabin of her vehicle. She could have been charged with transporting untaxed alcohol into Alabama, transporting more than 5 gallons of alcohol in her vehicle, and trasnporting alcohol in the cab of the vehicle rather than the trunk. She was only charged with misdemeanor transporting of prohibited liquor. The article did not mention where she purchased the beer. Presumably it was outside of Alabama.

In Alabama, you can only buy 1 case of beer or two fifths of liquor in a wet county for transport into a dry county, and it must be in the trunk of the vehicle.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was quoted as saying: “It isn’t something we are out there looking for. We don’t do beer patrols in Limestone County — we have plenty of theft and drug cases that take precedence — but a person could be arrested for it.”

Salazar is in the country illegally and is being held for immigration officers for possible deportation. The article is vague as to why she was stopped, but quite clear on her immigration status.  Did the officer see more than one case of beer, or her brown skin, or was she speeding?

At any rate, let this be a lesson to us: hide the beer.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:48 0 comments links to this post

16 January 2012

Freetail Brewing Responds to Cease and Desist Letter

Gosh, I like Scott Metzger!  Besides owning one of my favorite brew pubs, he's got a great sense of humor. A week or so ago, his reply to a cease a desist letter regarding use of the term Hopsaurus Rex hit the Internet  that got almost as much notice as the Overrated Breweries thread on Beer Advocate.

Even though the letter is redacted, it didn't take long for me to figure out the offended brewery was Steelhead Brewing in Oregon. I consulted Google.

I searched for "Hoposaurus Rex" (waiting on the Cease and Desist letter now for using that name on Google) and found two other breweries that have used the name Hoposaurus Rex: Steelhead Brewing in Eugene and Burlingame, Oregon; and Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Since Scott said he had a beard, too, I think we can rule out a Green Bay brewery (who has likely also received a Cease and Desist letter). While I understand the need to protect copyrights secure, I don't understand how a a brew pub in Oregon can claim nationwide rights. But, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't care.

These things have come up before. A thread in the Brewing Network Forums revealed that Magic Hat Brewing had served a Cease and Desist on Georgetown Brewing to stop using the numeral 9 on their label.  Magic Hat felt that 9 LB Hammer Porter would confuse people looking for Magic Hat #9. (I don't know why the brewery didn't change it to Nine Pound Hammer - removing the offending numeral, but again, I'm not a lawyer.)

Today, it seems, Cease and Desist letters are the norm. Back in 2001, two brewers discovered they both made a beer called Salvation. What did they do? They sat down together over a couple of beers and decided that Russian River Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company could share the name. (I guess they realized most people actually read the labels to make sure they get what they want, and don't just assume.  Whatever. I'm not a lawyer, but I am a bit tired of government and companies telling us how stupid we are, but, that's another post.) Later, they decided to blend the two beers and came up with Collaboration not Litigation Ale.

At any rate, my little temper tantrum here won't make breweries pick up the phone and call the other party before deploying the nuclear option--getting a lawyer to write an insulting letter.  But I did learn how to respond with resorting to shouting "Pha Q!" (You'll have to say that out loud.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to trademarking (830) and (210). I need me some of that phat brewery litigation money. . .

Meanwhile, head over to Scott's blog for his response to this whole thing going viral.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:13 0 comments links to this post

14 January 2012

Pecan Street Brewing, Johnson City, Texas

On Saturday December 31, I finally made my way over to Pecan Street Brewing on the square in Johnson City, Texas.

Since it was a holiday, I expected Johnson City to be packed with tourists, but no! At 2 pm, there were only four cars on the square and I found a parking spot next to the steps up to the sidewalk, right in front of the brewery.

I looked around the square. It was quiet and deserted. If the brew pub's neon OPEN sign hadn't been on, I would have been convinced the town had been abandoned in advance of a zombie holocaust.

The restaurant has a nice casual feel to it--with mileage signs to famous beer cities on several posts--and wraps around the brew house, which you can see through a large window behind the bar. (The Department of Homeland Security requires all new brew pubs to put the brew house behind solid barriers because terrorists are planning an attack America's beer supply.)

I sat at the bar and perused the chalkboard menu.  And perused it.  And perused it. And perused it. I wondered if the bar tender was blind in her left eye, because it took her almost ten minutes to ask if I wanted anything. I ordered the sampler. She returned a few moments later bearing a paddle with five beers: a blonde ale that tasted very pilsner-like, a crisp wheat beer, a surprisingly drinkable amber (and I hate ambers!), a chocolately stout and a holiday ale brewed with pumpkin and spices, and dutifully recorded my thoughts on Untappd.

As I finished the last sample, I decided the stout was pint worthy.  And so for five minutes I tried to catch the bartender's attention.  I make a small waving motion with my hand when she turned in my direction.  I would clear my throat as she came back from the kitchen. Shortly before resorting to blowing my referee whistle she came over and took my order, which included jalapeno poppers.  And after bringing me a second stout, she brought out my jalapeno poppers, which were very good.

While I was focused on how a liberal application of bacon and cheese makes everything taste better--especially a deep fried mild jalapeno--a Napoleon Dynamite look-a-like took over the bar, and made sure I was well taken care of for the rest of my visit.

To be fair, it was obvious they were prepping for the night's New Years Eve festivities. I could see determined food prep going on in the kitchen, and a waitress stacking several dozen champagne flutes on a shelf. But still, service could have been a bit faster.

I overheard the end of a conversation which resulted in the customer being put on the "Please Make An IPA" list. Pecan Street Brewing's beers are solid examples of the styles, but just don't seem very bold or adventurous.  That may be the result of the local clientele, as it is in Eola. They may have to educate their core customers before they start their barrel aging or program sour beer experiments. This cautious approach applies to their menu which is standard pub grub: oven fired pizzas and burgers. I certainly enjoyed my poppers, so I assume the rest of the menu is as good. Not complaining, for I took a growler of the stout home with me, and drank it all the next afternoon.

Overall, I had a good time at Pecan Street Brewing, and plan to go back. Good beer, good food, gold folks, and a nice small town atmosphere.

Pecan Street Brewing is at 106 East Pecan on Johnson City's historic town square. It's only a few blocks from the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park - Boyhood Home.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:18 0 comments links to this post

12 January 2012

New iPhone App - Beer Prophet

To quote David Ranii of newsobserver.com, "Amazon does it with books. Netflix does it with movies. Pandora does it with music. Beer Prophet does it with beer."

Created by four Raleigh, North Carolina entrepreneurs, Beer Prophet lets you enter what you are drinking and it will make recommendations based on those past beers. Ranii's article says that an updated app should be coming out any day now.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/12/28/1737197/this-app-knows-your-tastes-in.html#storylink=cpy

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:10 0 comments links to this post

10 January 2012

Shipping 20 Cases of Beer to L.A. the Long Way

Smokey and The Bandit came to theaters in 1977, just three years before I graduated.  It rode the CB radio craze of the time, and paved the way for The Dukes of Hazzard.

In the movie, Bandit (played by Burt Reynolds) is hired to bring 400 cases of Coors to Atlanta  (At the time, it was not distributed east of Texas) within 24 hours, round trip. I confess, I have always wanted replicate the trip, albeit without the big rig, the beer, the Camaro, and the police pursuit.

Imagine my surprise when Jonny Lieberman of Motortrend wrote about his 3000 mile, twenty case "smuggling" run. Besides a great travel article, it's also a good car article.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:52 0 comments links to this post

08 January 2012

Crafting Better Businsess: Insights from the Craft Beer Industry


posted by Jeff Holt at 09:24 2 comments links to this post

06 January 2012

Victory in Ohio! Texas Legislators, Take note!

Far Seeing Ohio lawmakers, noticing that wine festivals bring in 2 million visitors annually, wondered what it would be like if Ohio beer festivals could do the same thing. So they passed a law that they hope will let small breweries grow their businesses.

In the past, Ohio charged wineries in the state required wineries to get a license that cost $76 annually an no license for a tasting room. On the other hand, the state required breweries who want the same right to get a second license that cost $3906 annually, in addition to their production licenses.

The Ohio Legislature passed a law that would allow micro-distilleries anywhere in the state, and eliminate the Tasting Room license.

Obviously, AB-InBev let this slip under their radar. They shut down a similar proposal in Texas. (Of course, they may not have brewery in Ohio, but they also challenged distribution laws in other states where they didn't have a brewery. . .)

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:46 0 comments links to this post

04 January 2012

Ranger Creek Brewing on TABC Suit

Mark McDavid of Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling spoke with KSAT.com about the impact of the Authentic Beverage suit against the TABC.  McDavid is looking forward to telling people where to buy his products. He also foresees more out of state competition, as more out of state breweries won't have to have labels designed exclusively for Texas. While he believes that more competition is good for consumers, it may not be so good for small breweries in Texas. "There's a finite amount of shelf space out there, so some breweries are a little nervous," he said.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:15 0 comments links to this post

02 January 2012

Colorado Breweries' Employment grew 22% in 2011

In late December, Colorado State University released a study showing Northern Colorado Brewers added employees almost 16% faster than the rest of the economy.

The report said employment growth at the breweries outpaced the rest of Larimer County's employers from 2000 to 2010 -- at a rate of 22 percent, compared with 6.3 percent for all other industries.

And each job at a brewery, which is considered a manufacturer, supports 1.7 more jobs in the county, the researchers said, which represents an additional $141.9 million on local companies' payrolls.

The people working at breweries make up 0.7 percent of total Larimer County employment, the study says, but breweries contribute 2.3 percent of local companies' output.

The economists looked at giant Anheuser-Busch; New Belgium, which is the third-largest craft brewer in the country with plans to expand to the East Coast; Equinox Brewing; Fort Collins Brewery; Funkwerks; and Odell Brewing.   
The study did not include brewpubs.

Ed Sealover, author of Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado's Breweries, said Colorado has 110 unique breweries and makes more beer than any other state in the country, mostly thanks to benevolent state laws about selling and distribution. Another factor is that people come to Colorado looking for adventure, not only in the mountains but in their beer. Also Colorado consumers prefer to buy local beers.

What Colorado doesn't have is the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, who are against job growth and increased tax revenue.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:56 0 comments links to this post