Greater Goods Coffee Roasters puts local causes front and center

Greater Goods Coffee founders are bringing local philanthropy into their coffee business.
Greater Goods Coffee founders Khanh Trang and Trey Cobb are making local philanthropy a big part of their coffee business.

Each bag sold of Greater Goods Coffee Roasters — a local business in the middle of officially launching — is supporting a cause.

Being charitable is one of the central missions behind the home-grown coffee company, which is making sure a portion of the proceeds from each bag of roasted beans goes toward one of four area nonprofits: Austin Pets Alive, the Autism Society of Central Texas, the Capital Area Food Bank and the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. The bags are even color-coded by charity so that you’ll know exactly which organization you support by buying the coffee.

Greater Goods co-founders Trey Cobb and Khanh Trang, who double as partners in business and life, decided they didn’t want to just responsibly source the beans they get for the coffee roasting, although that’s a big part of their operation as well.

Part of the proceeds from each of the different varieties of Greater Goods Coffee goes toward charity.
Part of the proceeds from each of the different varieties of Greater Goods Coffee goes toward charity.

“Coffee philanthropy is nothing new, but we thought why not create amazing coffee and give back, right here in our own backyard?” Cobb said in a press release.

Working out of a Dripping Springs facility, the couple is roasting up a range of Greater Goods coffee products, from single-origin to espresso blends. The 15 different options — which are all available now via the Greater Goods website — include Life Saver, a Guatemalan roast with notes of honey and orange, and Stimulate, an espresso blend full of citrus and a creamy finish. (Two others, Spark and Kickstart, have already earned medals in the Golden Bean Coffee Roasters competition.)

Both Cobb and Trang are careful about where they get the beans for each of their products, according to the release. Only 2 percent of the coffee grown worldwide meet Cobb and Trang’s strict standards, specialty-grade requirements that help them secure the best of the beans out there.

“Coffee is very dynamic, due in part to factors such as soil, elevation, when it was harvested and how it was processed,” Trang said in the press release. “Our approach in finding and highlighting the best attributes of each coffee is equal parts art and science. Once these traits are found, we consistently roast it so the coffee you fall in love with remains the same week after week.”

Greater Goods Coffee is already poised to have a big year: Whole Foods has picked up the brand and will start carrying it on shelves very soon. Bee Cave Coffee, Thyme & Dough and Thom’s Market are carrying it now. Plus, Greater Goods will be opening “both a grab-and-go outpost and a more traditional coffee shop, with training and event space that can be utilized by their charitable partners, later this year,” according to the press release.

For more information — including what the purchase of a bag of Greater Goods Coffee Roasters will get for each of the four nonprofits — visit greatergoodsroasting.com.

Kamala Gardens in the works as another Austin brewery

Two Austinites with roots in the brewing industry here are joining forces to sow a brewery of their own.

Photo by Lukas Keapproth / American-Statesman. A new brewery is coming to Austin, but it's from two people with deep roots in the local brewing scene.
Photo by Lukas Keapproth / American-Statesman. A new brewery is coming to Austin, but it’s from two people with deep roots in the local brewing scene.

Dipak Topiwala, who helped to launch the now-defunct Kamala Brewing at the Whip In, and Jim Sampson, founder and head brewer of the Dripping Springs-located Twisted X Brewing, are planning Kamala Gardens Brewery. It’s still in the early stages of development while both work to secure funding, and they’ll announce its location soon.

“We are excited to use our backgrounds to create something that we love,” Topiwala and Sampson said in a press release. “Kamala Gardens Brewery will be both a brewpub and brewery, a place for you to do your work, bring your family and your dog, get inspired by music and art, and who knows, maybe even fall in love.”

In addition to making “fresh type-specific (beer) varieties we all enjoy daily,” Kamala Gardens will also focus on cultivating a cellar of barrel-aged and sour brews.

Topiwala was integral in turning the Whip In into “a mecca for quality craft beer, a locavore-focused brewpub and a live music venue,” while Sampson was dedicated to making Twisted X into the maker of reliable Mexican-style beers. Both, they said in the press release, are ready to take on new challenges with Kamala Gardens.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/kamalagardens.

Friends & Allies’ first beer, a session IPA, ready to launch

Although the brewery at Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard won’t be opened until later this spring, Friends & Allies Brewing already has a beer hitting the market tomorrow.

Contributed by Friends & Allies Brewing. Starting tomorrow, you'll start finding this tap handle at bars and stores around Austin.
Contributed by Friends & Allies Brewing. Starting tomorrow, you’ll start finding this tap handle at bars and stores around Austin.

That’s thanks to a legal arrangement with 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, which has allowed co-founders Ben Sabin and Devon Ponds and head brewer Nathan Crane to produce their first Friends & Allies brew at the 4th Tap space. The beer is a session IPA they’ve dubbed the Noisy Cricket.

The Noisy Cricket, a low-alcohol beer “packed with a tropical hoppy aroma,” is officially launching Wednesday at the Waller Creek Pub House with Friends & Allies glassware available and each of the three Friends & Allies guys present, according to a news release. After the release party, you’ll be able to find the session IPA at various local bars and retail stores.

“By offering up the opportunity for beer lovers to try our beer now, we would be able to start sharing our story,” Sabin, the sales director, said in the release.

The Friends & Allies brewery is on track to open later this spring with a large tasting room, and it’s going to be “focused on collaborating with various brewers, restaurants and local farms,” according to the release.

For more information, visit www.friendsandallies.beer.

Deep Eddy Vodka to debut a new flavor, peach

Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.
Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.

Take it as a sign that everything continues to be peachy at Deep Eddy Vodka.

The local distillery is launching a new flavored vodka nationwide next month, in keeping with its tradition at the start of every year to add a new bottle to your bar shelf.

This year — following lemon, cranberry and grapefruit — the debuting vodka flavor is peach. Like all others in the Deep Eddy line, Deep Eddy Peach is made with real fruit and Texas aquifer water, and it’ll be available first at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday.

The vodka company decided to pursue peach as its sixth-produced spirit because of how ripe the fruit is for use in cocktails, especially light, refreshing ones in spring and summertime like the Bellini.

“Peach is a classic American flavor and has seen a resurgence in cocktails over the past few years,” Brandon Cason, Vice President of Marketing at Deep Eddy Vodka, said in a news release. “We worked on Deep Eddy Peach for more than a year to ensure we capture the flavor of real peaches in a way that enables both simple mixology at home and complex cocktails for advanced bartenders.”

Deep Eddy Vodka has seen skyrocketing growth over the past few years and produced more than 700,000 cases last year after being bought up by a Kentucky beverage company. Each of its bottles are found in all 50 states. Deep Eddy Peach, which officially launches in February, will go on retail shelves for $19.99.

Once you’ve got your bottle of the peach vodka in hand, try it in these easy-to-make cocktails.

Peach Bellini

1 oz. Deep Eddy Peach Flavored Vodka

4 oz. sparkling wine

Pour the vodka into a champagne flute, then top with wine.

The Southern Belle

1 oz. Deep Eddy Peach Flavored Vodka

1 oz. Bourbon

½ oz. lemon juice

Club soda

Mix first three ingredients in a cocktail glass. Top with club soda.

— Deep Eddy Vodka

For more information, visit www.deepeddyvodka.com.

Whitestone Brewery a new beer destination in Cedar Park

Cedar Park residents might never need to head into Austin again for their nightlife needs: Whitestone Brewery has recently joined Red Horn Coffee House & Brew Pub as another place where locals can grab a beer straight from the source.

Whitestone Brewery's taproom opens to the brewhouse beyond. It's now opened in Cedar Park seven days a week.
Whitestone Brewery’s taproom opens to the brewhouse beyond. It’s now opened in Cedar Park seven days a week.

But they aren’t the only ones getting neighborhood watering holes.

All over Austin, new breweries are setting up shop, and existing ones are moving into entirely new locations (Live Oak Brewing) or opening additional ones (Hops and Grain). In tomorrow’s Austin360, I’ve produced a round-up of upcoming bars and breweries to look for this year, which you can read online now.

Whitestone Brewery — helpfully named after the street it’s located on, just west of Hwy. 183A — opened on New Year’s Day as the dream of former software guru Ryan Anglen. Although he got into the beer business by homebrewing, he’s letting someone else with a far more impressive brewing résumé make the beers at Whitestone. Head brewer Kris Gray, formerly of California beer powerhouse Stone Brewing, has helped Anglen transform the 4,000 sq. ft. space into a comfortable taproom with a beer garden to boot.

Their hope is that the brewery becomes a destination in Cedar Park for beer lovers. In addition to having six year-round beers on tap, Whitestone Brewery has food trucks regularly parked outside and will have live music shows as well.

“(My wife and I) found a facility that tailored perfectly to the vision we had,” Anglen said. “We built this as a place we want to go to when we have a babysitter for our two girls. A place to get a fresh beer that had been sitting in a tank a few feet from you.”

The six beers Whitestone Brewery is starting with run the gamut in styles, an intentional decision he and Gray made for diversity’s sake. These include the Long Gone Blonde Ale, “delicately balanced with local farm-fresh vanilla beans and orange peel for a creamy citrus character,” according to the Whitestone website, and the Siesta Saison, which teases with a fruity aroma and delivers with a dry and tart finish. There are also the Porch Daddy Baltic Porter, Lovely Day IPA, Könverter Kölsch and Boondoggle Brown — all of which are Gray’s recipes.

“Kris had a lot of recipes in his back pocket,” Anglen said.

From the start, opening their brewery has been a family affair. Gray’s father has been helping them with “all the little moving parts,” as have Anglen’s father- and mother-in-law, both of whom “are having a blast talking to people in the taproom and finding out why they like craft beer,” Anglen said. Anglen’s wife, Danielle, also steps up when she can.

He decided to pursue founding a brewery after hearing the encouragement of people like his father- and mother-in-law, who enjoyed the beer he would make in his spare time when he needed a break from his career in software.

“They were not (into craft beer) until I started homebrewing as a hobby,” he said. “A lot of friends and family would come over, and we would barbecue and drink my homebrew. They were converts. They and everyone pushed me in this direction.”

But he readily admits that finding Gray, a native Texan, was the impetus he needed to get serious about opening Whitestone Brewery. “I was never foolish enough to think I was going to be a homebrewer and then a commercial brewer overnight, so Kris was the perfect fit for us,” he said. “We had a similar vision on the beers we wanted to put out.”

The brewhouse has a max capacity of 5,000 bbls, but Whitestone isn’t quite there yet. Anglen and Gray, who plan to self-distribute, haven’t even started getting the beers into other places around town; they want to figure out the needs of the taproom first. That, Anglen said, will depend on how many people stop in for a beer.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive reception so far, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know we’re here,” he said.

A couple of good opportunities to visit Whitestone Brewery: On Monday, it’s bringing in food truck Bohemian BBQ for a College Football National Championship watch party; in early February, it’ll be throwing a grand opening party. Keep on eye on Whitestone Brewery’s Facebook page for upcoming details about the party.

The brewery is tentatively opened 1 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and noon to midnight Thursdays through Sundays at 601 E. Whitestone Blvd. For more information, visit whitestonebrewery.com.

Jester King Brewery plans expansion into farming, winemaking

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Lambic fans, rejoice: Jester King is helping to bring the revered beers of Cantillon to Texas.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Jester King’s majestic Hill Country property has grown by 58 acres.

As much as Austin and surrounding towns are growing, one change we won’t see in a few years is a subdivision of houses near Hill Country brewery Jester King — which announced today that it purchased 58 acres of land surrounding the current property.

With all the extra acreage, Jester King aims to start farming in the spring, specifically by planting an orchard and growing grapes. The brewery also has long-term goals that will take years to be realized but pretty special once completed.

“With time, we seek to make Jester King a leading destination for artisan foods, beverages, goods, and all things fermentation,” founder Jeffrey Stuffings said in a blog post. “For instance, we plan on using agriculture to support a farm-to-table restaurant and livestock to support cheese-making and cured meats. Winemaking and distilling will come into the picture using fruit and grains grown onsite, and we’ll get honey from an apiary on the land.”

But the first reason Stuffings and his team decided to significantly expand Jester King has to do with the heart of the brewery, the things they’ve been doing from the start: those tasty tart beers that have already turned it into a destination.

“The direction (Austin) is headed made it seem apparent that one day we’d look out from the front steps of the brewery and see rows of houses,” Stuffings said. “This would obviously compromise the rural, rustic character of the brewery and our ability to make authentic farmhouse ales. We felt we had to act.”

Jester King Brewery has always wanted to make beer “that’s inextricably linked to a particular time and place,” and farming the surrounding land — which will provide its fruity beers with fruit refermentations, among other things — will help the farmhouse brewery stay as authentic to its mission as possible.

“We seek to create a location where virtually everything we make comes from the land around us,” Stuffings said.

It’ll also become an integral community space. A final goal of Stuffings’ is to have “small-scale lodging for guests, a wedding and event space, nature trails, farmers markets, art fairs, and an education center on fermentation and sustainable farming.” (And don’t worry, fans of Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza: You can rest assured that this restaurant next door to Jester King will stay intact. Stanley’s remains a separate and independent business from the brewery.)

For more information, check out this video the brewery has put together to explain the next step for Jester King.

A planning guide for the 2016 San Antonio Cocktail Conference

Although it started a few years ago as a charity event, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference has become so much more since then — most notably, by helping to put Texas on the map as a serious innovator of spirits and cocktails.

IMG_3871
The San Antonio Cocktail Conference’s fifth year kicks off on Jan. 14, but you’ll want to get your tickets ahead of time.

From Jan. 14 to 17, the conference is, as always, four days of seminars, parties and tastings that will unite bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from all over the state and beyond. All proceeds from the event continue to go toward local children-focused nonprofits, so you’re imbibing for a very good cause.

But which of all those seminars, parties and tastings should you attend? That’s a crucial question to ask yourself ahead of time, especially because tickets aren’t all-inclusive. (Which is just as well, as most of the individual events offer alcohol in some form for you to drink. That can add up to a lot of booze.)

Here are some highlights of this year’s San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Women Shaking It Up. New to the five-year-old conference, this film screening serves as the premiere of the mini-documentary “Women of Tin,” which you’ll watch before enjoying bites and sips from some of San Antonio’s powerhouse female chefs and bartenders, who will also be in attendance. With such an empowering message for women, this pre-conference showing on Jan. 13 is a must-see. Tickets are $65, and proceeds benefit Girls Inc. of San Antonio.

A Round Table Discussion: The Influence of Sasha Petraske. Bartending maven Sasha Petraske’s unexpected death last year made waves country-wide among bartenders, many of whom had mentored under him, were inspired by him or were positively affected in some way by his revival of cocktail culture, most notably at New York’s Milk & Honey. His influence stretched all the way to San Antonio, where on Jan. 14 at Bohanan’s Restaurant & Bar — one of the places he helped to develop — some of his friends and colleagues, including Chris Bostick, Simon Ford and Jordan Corney, will discuss his legacy.

Petraske was also one of the planners of the very first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, and his fingerprints are still part of what it’s become: a fun, sophisticated way of celebrating the current cocktail renaissance. For this event, no tickets are required.

Waldorf on the Prairie. After attending drink-related seminars on Jan. 15 and 16, you’ll want to attend one of the two big evening events, and I’d recommend this one for a swanky time of it. Soak in old Texas charm at the St. Anthony Hotel, which was renovated recently to restore some of its original early-1900s glory that gave it the name Waldorf on the Prairie. Its glamorous setting is prime for a night of cocktails, which you’ll get for $120.

Whiskey Bon Voyage Sails Again. Scheduling the seminars you want to attend can be tricky because many of them overlap on time — but choosing this one with Treaty Oak Distilling’s Joe Castillo and Matt Moody is a no-brainer. A departure from the usual seminar setting of a hotel conference room, the one-and-a-half hour discussion will have you traveling down the San Antonio River Walk by barge. For $55, learn about what makes whiskey so special by tasting through out-of-production bottles, bottles on the market today and some from Treaty Oak itself.

To book your tickets (and a hotel stay if you need it) and get more information, visit www.sanantoniococktailconference.com. You can also get a sense of what you’re in for by reading my recap of last year’s conference here.