Find Shiner Fun Fun Fun Fest cans around Austin

Photo by Lauri Johnston. Shiner's Fun Fun Fun Fest cans are going to be available for the first time outside fest grounds starting Monday.
Photo by Lauri Johnston. Shiner’s Fun Fun Fun Fest cans are going to be available for the first time outside fest grounds starting Monday.

The tradition continues. With the arrival of Fun Fun Fun Fest next month, Shiner Bock cans are once again being decked out with a special FFF design — but new this time around is that they’ll be available beyond the festival, at any bar or store where Shiner 12-packs are sold, starting on Monday. They’ll debut first at the Mohawk.

Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers have been partnering with Spoetzl Brewery, the makers of Shiner, to keep fest-goers hydrated while they jam out to all their favorite musical acts. That can be thirsty work, after all.

“It’s a fun little commemorative thing we did with our beer sponsor, Shiner, to see and have and keep as memorabilia,” fest organizer James Moody said last year about the cans, which will be available at the festival on Nov. 6-8 in addition to the various bar and retail spots that will carry it.

The ones this year were designed by McGarrah Jessee, a brand development agency in Austin that looked to preserve the overall look of the Shiner Bock can while adding distinct festival flair to it.

“Designing the commemorative can for Fun Fun Fun Fest is about maintaining the integrity of the Shiner brand while integrating the character of the festival,” Meredith Callaway and Courtney Ryan Cooper of McGarrah Jessee said. “And the ultimate testament is seeing fans treat the cans as collectibles.”

Which even Austinites not going to the festival will be able to do. Pretty cool, huh?

For more information about the Auditorium Shores-located festival, which focuses on music genres like hip hop and indie rock, as well as comedy, visit the FFF website.

5 local fall seasonals that aren’t pumpkin beers

Photo by Matt McGinnis. Uncle Billy's White Walker is the brewpub's fall seasonal on tap there only.
Photo by Matt McGinnis. Uncle Billy’s White Walker is the brewpub’s fall seasonal on tap there only.

Now that the pumpkin beer craze has largely died down (although it’ll reach a new peak on Monday, when the Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is supposed to release), it’s time to pay some attention to the other seasonal beers that have released for the few days of fall Austin will get. Here are a handful of the ones to look out for throughout the rest of this month.

Austin Beerworks Montecore: This collaboration beer with the Easy Tiger team is one of my favorites of the Oktoberfest beers out there. The märzen-style brew (a malty lager) was released last month at the beer garden’s Oktoberfest celebration, but you can still find it on tap at a few places, including sister restaurant Arro on West Sixth Street. Although many Oktoberfest parties have come and gone with September, this month stills calls for such an easy-drinking fall beer.

Hops & Grain’s Alteration: Yes, it’s almost back! The altbier that had once been part of Hops & Grain’s mainstay lineup was moved into fall seasonal status to make way for A Pale Mosaic, now in year-round cans. This German-style beer is worth stocking up on as soon as you see six-packs of it in stores because of how nicely it balances each element, from an up-front maltiness to a crisp finish. As the brewery website states, the noble hop varieties in it provide “a bitterness and level of earthy hop spice that plays a fancy partner to the classic German malt backbone.”

Independence Brewing’s Reaper Madness Black IPA: Previously the brewery’s 9th anniversary beer in 2013, head brewer Brannon Radicke decided to bring it back from the afterlife and reincarnate it into Reaper Madness. It’s not hard to figure out why it was popular enough for a second coming: the Black IPA is full of both roasted malty goodness and juicy hops, and at 6.1 percent ABV, it’s not as heavy as some of the other darker beers that dominate this time of year. Look for it in cans and on draft through late January.

Photo by Courtney Cobb. Twisted X's Senor Viejo releases this weekend.
Photo by Courtney Cobb. Twisted X’s Senor Viejo releases this weekend.

Twisted X’s Senor Viejo: This boozy old gentleman is returning Saturday at the brewery and Monday in bars and stores. It’s an imperial black lager that was aged in Garrison Brothers whiskey barrels. But wait! Before the Dripping Springs brewery got them, Dulce Vida Tequila added its signature Lone Star Edition Añejo into them also — and the result of all that whiskey and tequila-soaked barrel-aging is notes of vanilla and oak combined with the softening element of agave sweetness. It’s Twisted X’s biggest beer, one that you’ll want when the temperatures finally start to dip.

Uncle Billy’s White Walker: Part of the Hop Zombie IPA series, this white IPA featuring a malt bill of 50 percent wheat is a sessionable treat. In it, you’ll notice the traditional grapefruit notes from Amarillo hops are there, but the Sorachi Ace hops also present give it lemon and herb characteristics that nod to the witbier style. The Hop Zombie IPA series has allowed head brewer Trevor Nearburg to experiment with hops; this latest version is no different and particularly suited to Texas’ idea of autumn.

We’ll see the porters and stouts of winter and all their barrel-aging variants hit tap walls soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy these lighter options.

The Townsend’s Justin Elliott named one of America’s best bartenders

Photo by Todd Wolfson. Justin Elliott of the Townsend is one of America's best bartenders according to Thrillist.
Photo by Todd Wolfson. Justin Elliott of the Townsend is one of America’s best bartenders according to Thrillist.

The food and beverage director at the Townsend, one of Austin’s top new bars, has just received a pretty hefty honor: Thrillist has named him as one of America’s best bartenders, on a list that also includes such renowned names as New York’s Ivy Mix and Portland’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Justin Elliott was, in fact, the first name on the list for his work at local places like culinary hotspot Qui and, now, the Townsend, which made national news in July upon opening because of its focus on giving guest bartenders royalties for their original drinks.

About Elliot, Thrillist wrote: “From OG absinthe revivalist Peche, to $5 Old Fashioned haunt Volstead, to cooler-than-thou reservation speakeasy Midnight Cowboy, to elevated restaurant-bar Qui, to his most recent station slinging gimmick-less cocktails at The Townsend (which he hopes will transcend all of the aforementioned trends and just be a damn good place to drink), Justin Elliott’s resume reads like a road map of the city’s cocktail evolution.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Lamplight (left), the Single Engine Plane and the Carriage House are among the tasty cocktail on the menu at the Townsend, Congress Avenue's newest bar.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Lamplight (left), the Single Engine Plane and the Carriage House are among the tasty cocktail on the menu at the Townsend, Congress Avenue’s newest bar.

“And yet, he’s not one of those bartenders with a PhD in ice block engineering or a collection of vintage suspenders; he’s simply the guy behind the bar who’s friendly enough to help you order exactly what you want, but grumpy enough that you know he’ll make it just right.”

I don’t know about grumpy — he seems pretty happy to be pouring drinks for just about anyone with a love of well-made cocktails — but this recognition is well-deserved.

The only other Texas bartender to make it on the list was Alba Huerta, a powerhouse in Houston’s cocktail scene.

Relocated Dog & Duck Pub aims to open next week in East Austin

Almost a year after closing in the campus area, Austin’s beloved Dog & Duck Pub is finally ready to re-open in a new location on the east side as soon as next week.

Photo by Jeff Mckillop. The new location of the Dog & Duck Pub will have many of the old elements that defined the English-style pub when it was in the campus area.
Photo by Jeff Mckillop. The new location of the Dog & Duck Pub will have many of the old elements that defined the English-style pub when it was in the campus area, including the ceiling.

Dog & Duck co-owner Jeff McKillop said that after one last round of city inspections this week, the bar will start serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with beer and wine, at 2400 Webberville Rd., Ste. A, from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily.

The East Austin spot — a smaller space but better designed than the old one, McKillop said — retains some of the more iconic elements of the former Dog & Duck Pub that had been serving locals pub grub and beer since the spring of 1990. The tin ceiling, fireplace and dog-and-duck statue are back, as is the wood floor in the form of wainscoting along the walls. The original bar is also returning, albeit as a “drinks stand” in one corner, McKillop said.

Plus, 33 beer taps will carry local and international brews, a program the owners are putting together now.

The food menu has probably undergone the most change. “We’ll have a revamped menu that is more English than at the old location, and we’re hoping to be able to be open for breakfast,” McKillop said, listing fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and Scotch eggs as among the items you’ll find at the new Dog & Duck. Look for the updated menu on the Dog & Duck website later this week, when he and co-owner Susan Forrester plan to post it.

Even though the Dog & Duck hasn’t been opened for nearly a year — and is re-opening in an area full of other great local eateries and bars — both owners hope they’ll still be able to draw their old regulars and new faces alike.

“We try to buy locally, everything that we can locally,” McKillop said. “We’re really focused on being part of Austin. We’re Austinites and we want everyone to feel welcome.”

Help Adelbert’s Brewery raise money for local breast cancer charity

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — in other words, the perfect time for Adelbert’s Brewery to release its limited Whimsical Hibiscus Saison again, this time in bottles.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Adelbert's Whimsical Hibiscus Saison is releasing at the brewery again for a special fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas. These colorful glasses are also being sold.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Adelbert’s Whimsical Hibiscus Saison is releasing at the brewery again for a special fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas. These colorful glasses are also being sold.

The bombers are in local stores now; plus, make sure to visit the brewery tomorrow for a special event centered around the brew that will raise money for the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas. From 1 to 7 p.m., Adelbert’s will be selling pours of the Hibiscus Saison as well as a commemorative glass (which you can see in the picture at right). Five percent of all the saison sales tomorrow, as well as $3 of every $16 glass sale, will go toward the local breast cancer charity.

With these combined sales, Adelbert’s hopes to make a generous donation to the cause.

Previously on tap back in July as the first beer of the Austin brewery’s Whimsical rotating series, the Hibiscus Saison is a pretty pink-hued beer that was brewed with hibiscus flowers and dry-hopped with Citra hops, imparting it with notes of tropical fruit, citrus and a hint of tartness.

Adelbert’s Sarah Zomper Haney, who had a big hand in brewing the bright pink saison, felt inspired to donate to the breast cancer support organization after noticing the color of the beer. Helping out this cause is especially important to her, she said on the original event’s Facebook page, because her mom is a breast cancer survivor. “I’m so happy to be able to use this beer to give back to such an important cause,” she said.

The bombers of Adelbert’s Whimsical Hibiscus Saison now in stores are sure to go fast, and they’re the only batch of the beer that will be made until mid-2016. You’ve been warned.

Adelbert’s Whimsical Hibiscus Saison Fundraiser, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. Free. 2314 Rutland Dr. Ste. 100.

Do you know where your nearest brewery is, Central Texas?

Sure, Austin still has a long way to go before it reaches “beer haven” status claimed by cities like Denver, Portland, Ore. and Seattle — but the city is well on its way.

We’ve already reported a number of times on Austin’s beer boom, but to give you graphic evidence, you should check out the below map by the Washington Post.

Using data from POI Factory, a website built and used largely by GPS users plotting points of interest across the United States, the Washington Post’s 

The end result shows you what local beer is closest to you, and points out especially diverse beer hubs (as well as wastelands). Use your mouse to hover over the map below to explore:

Credit: Washington Post. Note: Not mobile-friendly

If you take a look specifically at Texas, you’ll notice that a good portion of the Lone Star State’s breweries are concentrated in Central Texas. Just look how colorful the Austin is:

Screenshot of Washington Post interactive
Did you catch any Austin breweries that didn’t make it into the map?

As we’ve been saying, it’s a good time to be alive and drinking local beer in Central Texas.

Friends & Allies Brewing plans for 2016 opening in East Austin

The East Austin brewery Friends & Allies got its cool logo and brand design from Ben McCraw, a local designer who also helped come up with the name of the brewery.
The East Austin brewery Friends & Allies got its cool logo and brand design from Ben McCraw, a local designer who also helped come up with the name of the brewery.

Even though friends Ben Sabin and Devon Ponds held different jobs in the brewing industry, at one point not even living in the same state, they knew eventually they’d pursue a goal they both wanted: founding their very own brewery together.

Ponds knew that, at least. “I had to sell him on it,” he said, noting that Sabin was leery of stepping into what he worried was an overcrowded market.

But after they had met in their old apartment complex in South Austin, bonding over a shared hobby of homebrewing, opening the place that would later become Friends & Allies Brewing seemed almost inevitable. Since their first meeting, they’ve worked various positions in breweries here and in California, and they’re now ready to take their expertise to the next level with Friends & Allies, which they plan to open in an East Austin space next year.

In the meantime, they aren’t wasting any time getting the brewing started. By the end of the year, they and Friends & Allies’ head brewer, Nathan Crane, will have produced a session IPA using 4th Tap Brewing Co-op’s brewhouse, an arrangement they’ve been able to make thanks to a handy law passed by the 2013 Texas legislature. Getting one or two Friends & Allies beers out ahead of time, before the brewery and tasting room is ready, is important to both Sabin and Ponds.

“It’s helping us get our story out earlier, using one beer to introduce our brand and our brewer and what he can do,” Sabin said.

That story is tied to the duo’s past working at other breweries: Sabin as the sales guru at Thirsty Planet, Ponds as the financial manager at San Diego’s Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey in San Marcos, Calif. (Before that, he got into the industry at South Austin Brewery.) Their head brewer, Crane, has also come from Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey — which means that Friends & Allies beers will lean toward hoppy styles. The mainstays include a West Coast-style IPA, a Belgian table beer and the session IPA that will be first brewed at 4th Tap.

4th Tap, a worker-owned brewing cooperative, is on the cusp of opening in the North Austin area where Austin Beerworks, Adelbert’s and Circle Brewing have already been coaxing you into a Saturday brewery crawl. Although 4th Tap’s making a lot of beer for an initial foray into the local market, co-founders Chris Hamje and John Stecker, an old middle school friend of Ponds’, don’t anticipate reaching full capacity and have agreed to let the Friends & Allies team use the space when they aren’t there.

“It’s not a contract deal,” Sabin said, although he knows that’s what it might be perceived as. “We are leasing their brewery temporarily, so we’re making the beer ourselves, kegging it ourselves. They have to leave the production floor completely.”

The deal is called an alternate proprietorship, and Texas law designed it as a temporary solution. “It’s for people who want to open their own facility eventually,” Sabin said.

Opening Friends & Allies Brewing at Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard is the next step. Both Ponds and Sabin were excited to find the old food distribution facility on the east side because it’s surrounded by Austin’s creative, health-minded community. Next door is an upcoming rock climbing gym called the Austin Bouldering Project; Austin Eastciders, Springdale Farm and Daily Greens are nearby.

“That’s why we call ourselves Friends & Allies,” Ponds said. “We’re going to be in a big community of makers on the east side. Coffee roasters, other breweries, farmers, artists, metal workers. We want to incorporate them like a family around our business.”

He’s even hoping Crane can use some of the fresh ingredients from the nearby farms like Springdale in some of the brewery’s seasonal beers. Additional collaborations with other breweries or businesses won’t be a problem, either, thanks to Sabin, whose time peddling Thirsty Planet brews around town means he knows everyone. And when it comes time to start distributing Friends & Allies’ canned brews, he can put those contacts to good use.

“In a crowded marketplace, that’s how you stand out: by having those relationships with people,” Sabin said. “If they need a last minute tap handle, a keg of something, you deliver it. You get to know the bartenders and the people putting your beer on tap.”

Just like a real friend and ally would.

For more information, visit or the brewery’s Facebook page.

Alamo Drafthouse, Firestone Walker collaborate on “Crimson Peak” beer

Austin’s favorite movie theater chain and a spectacular craft brewery teamed up to produce a beer based on a Guillermo del Toro film? Um, we’ll have a pint of that.

From YouTube. The Crimson Peak Ale is a collaboration between the Alamo Drafthouse and Firestone Walker and available throughout this month.
From YouTube. The Crimson Peak Ale is a collaboration between the Alamo Drafthouse and Firestone Walker and available throughout this month.

The blood-red brew, called the Crimson Peak Ale after the upcoming gothic romance that del Toro is releasing into theaters on Oct. 16, marks the first (and hopefully not the only) collaboration between the Alamo Drafthouse and Firestone Walker, a California brewery that always tends to make a big splash at awards shows like the Great American Beer Festival for its stellar suds.

The two businesses decided to work together to produce this beer because the release of “Crimson Peak” — which stars Mia Wasikowska as a newlywed caught up in the horrors of her husband’s creepy family and even scarier gothic mansion — “is definitely cause for celebration,” according to beer-loving Drafthouse founder Tim League in a press release. “Firestone Walker is one of the best breweries in the nation. So we jumped at the chance to collaborate on a beer to mark this occasion with something special.”

Members of the Drafthouse’s beer team traveled to Firestone Walker’s brewery in Paso Robles, Calif., in August to help make the beer. (Which, by the way, isn’t the first one that the theater has collaborated with another brewery to make; it’s also worked with breweries like Odell in Colorado.)

The resulting beer this time sounds like the perfect fall substitute for all those pumpkin beers you’re already tired of having. Yes, the light-bodied ale is really scarlet-hued and thus Halloween-ready. That’s thanks to the unusual use of hibiscus flowers as an ingredient. According to the press release, the beer gets its “refreshingly tart taste and striking red color” from the massive amounts of the flower brewers added in — a total of more than 200 lbs.

Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matthew Brynildson said in the press release that brewing with hibiscus flowers proved to be fruitful.

“Sourcing hibiscus flowers and integrating them into a brew was an eye-opening experience,” Brynildson said in the release. “But it created the perfect effect: a ruby-crimson color, lemony-tart and berry-rich flavor and a clean citrus-flowery finish that begs for another sip.”

You’ll be able to order it while you watch “Crimson Peak” (or any other flick, for that matter) throughout the month of October, when the beer will be on the menu at all Alamo Drafthouse locations, as well as in stores. If you get the pint at the Drafthouse, it’ll even come in a special “Crimson Peak” glass designed by Mondo.

Interactive assigns each U.S. city an ‘Oktoberfest’ score

Is Austin a beer city? If so, how do our beer-drinking ways compare to others?

Photo by Renee Brock
Photo by Renee Brock

A new interactive by Esri, a geo-mapping and data site, seeks to answer this question as well as offer some perspective on Austin’s overall drinking culture.

(What on earth did you think an “Oktoberfest score” could possibly be?)

Plug in your zipcode or “Austin, TX” to explore all the demographics data Esri used to assign the scores. Esri assigned Austin a “5.” For reference, the highest score, assigned to Chevy Chase Village, Md., was a “10.” The highest score in Texas, a 9.2, went to Montgomery.

According to Esri’s data, which is compiled some from unnamed, mystery data set, Austin households. which Esri identifies are mostly single-person households, on average spend $125 per year on beer. Note these numbers don’t include beer purchased at liquor or grocery stores.

In 2014, the Statesman found that Travis County sold an average of $410.05 worth of alcohol per person per year, so Esri’s number could add up if you take into account wine and other alcoholic drinks.

For comparison, Austin household spend about $32 more per year on beer than San Antonio, $41 more than San Marcos and $15 more than both Houston and Dallas.



New bar from Drink.Well owners to open on South Lamar

Almost as soon as Michael and Jessica Sanders opened their North Loop pub, Drink.Well, they would get asked, “So when are you opening a new bar? When are you opening one down south?”

They can finally give a concrete answer: hopefully by the end of this year. The Sanders are opening Backbeat, a two-story cocktail bar with a rooftop patio, next door to the South Lamar Boulevard location of Ramen Tatsu-Ya after quietly beginning construction on the 2,200 sq. ft. space in June.

Photo contributed by Jessica Sanders. Michael and Jessica Sanders, the husband-and-wife team behind Drink.Well, are opening their second Austin bar at 1300 S. Lamar Blvd. later this year.
Photo by Knox Photographic. Michael and Jessica Sanders, the husband-and-wife team behind Drink.Well, are opening their second Austin bar at 1300 S. Lamar Blvd. later this year.

“We didn’t want to do a second project just to do a second project,” Jessica Sanders said. “We wanted some place that contributed something to the neighborhood it was located in. It came down to finding the right neighborhood. That part of town has so many fantastic restaurants but not any standalone cocktail bars.”

In many ways, Backbeat will be like its sister bar Drink.Well — offering stellar cocktails and beer and an expanded wine list in a welcoming setting — but it’s got its own distinct tune, too.

With such a large space that includes a rooftop patio with views overlooking downtown Austin, Backbeat is allowing the Sanders to stretch their creative muscles and have a variety of different drinks upstairs and downstairs, rather than just one seasonal cocktail menu for both. The rooftop is going to be the place for low-ABV cocktails, perfect for outdoor drinking, whereas the indoor bar below will be devoted to a larger menu of classics.

“We’ll be one of the first true cocktail bars on South Lamar that’s not tied to a restaurant,” Sanders said. “We want people to rediscover classic cocktails that aren’t top of mind, in addition to the original cocktails that we create.”

Unlike Drink.Well, which is as much a dinner spot as it is a bar, the new place won’t have a large food menu, although it will offer bar snacks that will be made at Drink.Well, Sanders said. She and her husband envision Backbeat, to be opened until 2 a.m. each night, as the bar Austinites will go to before or after a dinner at Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Odd Duck or any of the other top dining choices along that stretch of South Lamar. That’s in part why they aim to make the cocktails at Backbeat very good.

“What’s distinct about the restaurant scene in that area is that they have very bold cuisine,” she said. “Very bold and vibrant flavors. So how do you take that and turn it into a drink menu that complements the food? We’re making that our focus.”

They decided to call the bar Backbeat — a musical term referring to the second and fourth beats of a four-beat measure that give jazz and rock ‘n roll their sound — to highlight “the rhythm behind the bar,” she said. Plus, “the rooftop is set back from the downstairs space, so we envision the spaces feeling different. Downstairs, comfortable and intimate, it’s like a little bit of a downbeat. Upstairs, an upbeat al fresco patio. So I think the space itself has a backbeat with the two levels.”

Two visually compelling levels, that is. Backbeat is being designed by Jamie Chioco of Chioco Design (he’s done up many of the restaurants and bars in Austin, including Counter 357, Perla’s and Winflow Osteria), and he’s got some impressive ideas for transforming the space.

At heart, the Sanders just want their new bar to reflect the part of Austin it’s located in.

“Michael and I are very much about bringing great drinks and great experiences to neighborhood spaces,” Sanders said. “I feel like Austin is at that place where if we are thoughtful about it, we can have self-sustaining neighborhoods with their own bars, restaurants, shops. Places that will make you feel like you’re in a particular part of town.”

For a first look and taste of Backbeat, check out the cocktail lounge at the Contemporary Austin’s La Dolce Vita Food and Wine Festival on Oct. 16. The Sanders will offer a couple of drinks there “in the style of Backbeat,” as well as a glimpse of the branding.