Georgetown’s Rentsch Brewery plans major expansion, canning beers

Georgetown’s only brewery has been in business for just over a year — but already has a $1.5 million plan in the works to triple the size of its facility, put some of its beers into cans and add an outdoor beer garden.

Rentsch Brewery can't make enough beer, like this seasonal Oktoberfest, to keep up with demand, but a big expansion will help.
Rentsch Brewery can’t make enough beer, like this seasonal Oktoberfest, to keep up with demand, but a big expansion will help.

The expansion will increase production of Rentsch Brewery’s beers “ten-fold,” according to the City of Georgetown.

Rentsch Brewery opened in August last year as the operation of father-and-son team David and Andrew Rentschler, after Andrew, now 26, studied abroad in Germany and fell in love with Old World styles of beer like the Hefeweizen and Weizenbock now featured on Rentsch Brewery’s beer list.

He and his father have decided the expansion — which they expect to be completed by next spring — is necessary to meet the demand for their beers, which was instantaneous from the day Rentsch Brewery opened its doors.

“We sold out of everything we had at the grand opening, and we’ve been behind on the supply side ever since,” Andrew Rentschler said. “We had started with a small setup because we weren’t sure what the need would be in Georgetown and the surrounding suburbs. We serve beer completely in Williamson County.”

For anyone who lives in the area, Rentsch Brewery’s high demand might not come as a surprise given that the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year named Georgetown as the fastest growing city of its size (population 50,000 or more). According to the City of Georgetown, the brewery is just the latest business in the town to expand its operations.

Rentsch is moving into the the other half of the building in the lightly industrial part of Georgetown where it’s currently located — providing the brewers with an extra 7,250 sq. ft. of space to use.

Continually running out of beer “is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem,” Rentschler said. “It’d be nice to make enough to satisfy everybody. We make high-quality beers for your regular, average consumer. We’re not doing anything niche, but I think that’s what appeals to people, especially in the suburbs.”

He said the brewery plans to put the Hefeweizen and Weizenbock into cans, as well as the IPA and the blonde ale. One other Rentsch brew might go into cans as well, although that, like many other decisions in the works for Rentschler and his dad, has yet to be determined. They have figured out one very important thing, however: Rentsch’s expansion will increase beer production from 1,200 barrels per year to 12,000 barrels per year — a massive jump in size.

Plus, Rentsch Brewery is going to add a beer garden that will be “kid-friendly,” Rentschler said. “We want to have a good family environment and offer a good destination brewery for everyone.”

But drawing even more regulars to the taproom isn’t all that he wants to do. The addition of cans and the skyrocketing production ability means that Rentsch Brewery will one day be able to get its beers into retail establishments in the area, in addition to more bars and restaurants.

“We’re mostly in restaurants right now. Our beers go well with dinner; I think that’s why we do so well,” he said.

For more information, visit rentschbrewery.com or facebook.com/rentschbrewery/.

Here’s your guide to Austin Beer Week 2016

Photo by Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Real Ale's Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery's most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of beers.
Photo by Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Real Ale Brewing is just one of the local breweries providing a host of Austin Beer Week fun through Nov. 6.

The glorious 10 days of beer-soaked fun known as Austin Beer Week have returned with the usual frenzy of events at local bars, breweries and restaurants, all to celebrate Austin’s close-knit beer industry. The Austin Beer Week website lists all of the things to do around town — and there are a lot — so consider this post your guide to what to choose throughout the next several days.

Austin Beer Week starts Friday with a special kick-off party at Craft Pride and runs through Nov. 6. Here’s a sampling of some of the best events to check out — ones you won’t want to miss.

Friday, Oct. 28

Official Kick-Off Party at Craft Pride: Welcome the week ahead with a beer list that will surely make your mouth water. Is that nearly a whole lineup of Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel brews we spot on there?

ATX Brewpub Collusion: The first of the pale ales being released for this collaboration running the duration of Austin Beer Week is being tapped at Black Star Co-op. It’s one of six local brewpubs that has brewed the same recipe, but thanks to each brewpub’s own personal touches, the beers will all result in different flavors and aromas. Try ’em all throughout the week.

Saturday, Oct. 29

An Chih Cheng / American-Statesman. The Draught House is celebrating another big birthday with a lot of hard-to-get beers.
An Chih Cheng / American-Statesman. The Draught House is celebrating another big birthday with a lot of hard-to-get beers.

The Draught House’s 48th Anniversary Party: Thank the beer gods for another year of this beloved local brewpub with another irresistible beer list, as well as craft ice cream, a live show from the Dead Music Capital Band and an event called the Beer Olympics.

(512) Brewing’s 8th Anniversary Party: Yes, it’s another year of having to choose between this brewery’s bash and the Draught House’s. But (512) makes a good argument for its own — namely, a roster of (512) brews you can’t get anywhere else. If only we could be in two places at once.

Real Ale 20th Anniversary Collaboration at Pinthouse Pizza: Real Ale and Pinthouse have collaborated on making a pilsner together to celebrate Real Ale’s big milestone. Did you know Tim Schwartz, director of brewing at Real Ale, and Joe Mohrfeld, director of brewing at Pinthouse, met at brewing school eight years ago? The beer they’ve made together will showcase elements of what both breweries do so well.

Sunday, Oct. 30

Hans’ Fest at Yard Bar: The pooch-friendly bar couldn’t be a more perfect place to host a celebration of Real Ale’s Hans’ Pils, a beer named after the owner’s beloved dog. Other Real Ale brews will be on tap as well.

Monday, Oct. 31

Hops & Grain’s 4th Annual Halloween Party: The only time the brewery is 21 and up, this boisterous Halloween bash is worth the headache you might wake up with Tuesday morning. Expect a costume contest, extra beers on tap and a DJ for your dancing pleasure.

Tuesday, Nov. 1

Blue Owl Brewing Flight & Seminar: Stop into Easy Tiger from 6 to 7 p.m. for a talk by Blue Owl’s Jeff Young and taste a flight of four sour Blue Owl beers, including the new Wee Beastie, a Wee Heavy with peated malt.

Wednesday, Nov. 2

Everything East at Hi Hat Public House: Love all of the beers made in East Austin? Hops & Grain, Zilker Brewing, Friends & Allies, Blue Owl and more will all be represented at this tap takeover celebrating neighborly love.

Jester King and Jolly Pumpkin Beer Dinner at Hopfields: Sure, it’s $120 per person, but the 8-course dinner is well worth it for the food and the beers (Jester King Cru-55! Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura! and many more!) that you’ll feast on, with rare bottles available for purchase afterward.

Dai Due’s Real Ale Beer Dinner: OK, big decision to make because you can’t attend both dinners. This one’s promising, too: $100 for a meal at one of Austin’s best restaurants, paired with beers — like the new Axis IPA — from our oldest brewery.

Thursday, Nov. 3

Austin Beer Week Discussion: What Is Hoppy?: The week couldn’t be all fun and games. Get serious with hop wizards Will Golden of Austin Beerworks, Joe Mohrfeld of Pinthouse Pizza and Josh Hare of Hops & Grain, who will focus on hops — how to source them, how hopping techniques work and what the future looks like for hoppy beers. Come early for a flight of hoppy offerings from the participating breweries.

Jester King Flight & Seminar: Grab your $25 tickets to listen to Jester King founder Jeff Stuffings discuss his popular farmhouse brewery while you sip on your flight of four Jester King beers, which include Fen Tao and Atrial Rubicite.

Gluten-Free Oktoberfest at Texas Keeper Cider: Take a break from beer (as if you’re sick of it) with this $65 three-course dinner featuring food from Anjore and three ciders, including Texas Keeper’s new Honey Thief Cyser.

Antonelli’s Cheese Pairing Class: Circle Brewing and Antonelli’s have teamed up to demonstrate all the ways that beer and cheese are a perfect match. Not that we ever doubted it, of course. Reserve your $25 ticket ahead of time.

Friday, Nov. 4

Austin Homebrew Festival: You never know — one of the featured homebrewers might one day own your favorite neighborhood brewery. Try their beers at this special fest that raises money for the AHB Community School. The $15 tickets get you access to the event, where you can vote on your favorite homebrew or bid in the silent auction.

Big Mama Red’s Magic & Mayhem: The ABGB is celebrating its biggest beer with a bodacious show featuring burlesque and vaudeville acts. If you purchase a $25 VIP ticket, you’ll be front and center for all the red-hot action.

Photo by Emma Janzen. Pinthouse Pizza is celebrating two years in business in November.
Photo by Emma Janzen.
Pinthouse Pizza has collaborated with Craft Pride on a special new beer.

Craft Pride Collaboration at Pinthouse Lamar: That’s right: Craft Pride made a beer with lots of help from Pinthouse Lamar, where the Alpha Beta IPA will be tapping. It was brewed using new-age hop techniques and dry-hopped with experimental hops. Sounds like a good one.

Saturday, Nov. 5

Contemplating Waterloo at Adelbert’s: The limited-release gin barrel-aged saison has returned, so get it on tap or take it in bottles to go from Adelbert’s, where you can also enjoy free games like giant jenga, corn hole and hula hoops.

Hops & Grain And Grapes: Try three different versions of Hops & Grain’s Alteration at the Brew & Brew, where you can learn about the effects of wine barrel-aging and wine barrel-fermenting. Both processes yield intriguing (and delicious) results if done right.

Sunday, Nov. 6

Pints & Poses at Circle Brewing: Close out the week with a detoxifying hatha yoga class that will help you recover. You can also grab a pint of Circle beer if you’re up for it. And don’t forget your mat! The class and beer are $10.

Central Market Westgate to offer 20 beers on tap starting Friday

Phillip Patterson. As of Oct. 28, Central Market's Growler Station is up and running with 20 craft beer taps.
Phillip Patterson. As of Oct. 28, Central Market’s Growler Station is up and running with 20 craft beer taps.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m. Oct. 28: Central Market is waiting for a few parts to arrive to open the Growler Station as promised at 5 p.m., but even if it’s not quite ready, the store plans to have plenty of beers for people to sample nonetheless.

EARLIER: When the Growler Station opens at the Westgate location of Central Market on Friday, beer lovers will be able to get their favorite brews poured straight from the taps.

Central Market has long offered an extensive selection of bottled and canned beers, but now one Austin store is also adding 20 draft beers to the mix so that customers can get their growlers — 32 and 64 oz. reusable containers — filled with beer to go. So far, the Westgate store on South Lamar Boulevard is the only Central Market in Austin to have a draft wall.

The specialty grocery store owned by HEB, Central Market is tapping into a trend in the grocery business by opening the Growler Station.

Increasingly, stores like competitor Whole Foods have found that strong craft beer selections aren’t enough; they can grow their shopper base — and keep them in the store longer — by having draft options in addition to bottles and cans. A Houston location of Whole Foods, in fact, even opened a brewery within the store in 2014.

But Central Market has another reason for getting the Growler Station up and running. Often, a brewery’s limited-edition beers are draft-only, so their fans can’t find them in stores. These sought-after suds extend to brewpubs as well, which in Texas can package a very limited number of beers for distribution on the market.

On Friday, one of those brewpubs, Pinthouse Pizza, is taking over 10 of Central Market’s taps with its hop-forward ales like the Electric Jellyfish IPA and the Fully Adrift Double IPA. From 5 to 7 p.m., pair these with free pizza bites that Central Market’s café is offering in celebration of the Growler Station’s debut.

If you can’t make it to the kick-off party, however, Central Market has a sudsy special going through Tuesday: a sale on growler fills when customers purchase two or more, according to the store. Don’t even have a growler yet to get filled? The store will also have 32 oz. and 64 oz. plastic growlers available for $1.99.

Look for craft brews like Sixpoint Tesla Lager, Jolly Pumpkin Gratzer and Texian FM 359 to hit the taps in coming weeks. Central Market Westgate is located at 4477 S. Lamar Blvd.

Revived Krause’s Cafe in New Braunfels becomes German beer hall

Longtime Central Texas residents might remember Krause’s Cafe, a restaurant that ran from 1938 to 1995 in the heart of New Braunfels — and is returning next month with updates that reflect the town’s German heritage.

Krause's Cafe is reopening as a German beer hall and beer garden in November.
Krause’s Cafe is reopening as a German beer hall and beer garden in November.

Central to the revival of Krause’s Cafe is a beer hall and beer garden (excuse me, bierhalle and biergarten) that will feature more than 70 local, regional and international beers on tap, along with cocktails and wines on tap.

The food menu will also nod to New Braunfels’ German origins, with items like a Reuben sandwich and a sausage sampler plate, while adding South Texas flavors as well.

The 11,000 sq. ft. space is now in the ownership of Ron Snider, who founded the nearby New Braunfels Farmers Market and who reached out to local residents earlier this year for input on the renovation process. He’s wanted to make sure the new Krause’s Cafe stays true to its historical roots.

“We are looking forward to integrating the restaurant into the German traditions of the city by adding a beer hall with crested banners representing New Braunfels’ founding families,” he said in a news release about the reopening.

Krause’s Cafe was originally a different restaurant called Gene’s Place, which opened on New Braunfels’ Plaza in 1938 under the ownership of Gene Krause. He relocated it to the current location in 1948, changed the name and saw it become a place for many of the city’s leaders to meet and make important decisions for New Braunfels, according to the release. Krause’s son, Kermit, took over operations in 1959.

There’s not an official reopening date for Krause’s Cafe, located at 148 S. Castell Ave. in New Braunfels, but for more information, visit krausescafe.com.

Catch the ATX Brewpub Collusion during Austin Beer Week

The brewers of a handful of local brewpubs collaborated on a pale ale recipe for a special Austin Beer Week event, the ATX Brewpub Collusion.
The brewers of a handful of local brewpubs collaborated on a pale ale recipe for a special Austin Beer Week event, the ATX Brewpub Collusion.

Austin Beer Week — which starts Friday and runs through Nov. 6 this year — celebrates local brews through a multitude of events at bars, breweries and restaurants throughout the week.

This time around, a half-dozen of Austin’s brewpubs are doing something new to highlight the collaborative spirit that so often defines the beer industry locally and beyond: the ATX Brewpub Collusion.

Brewers from the ABGB, Black Star Co-Op, NXNW Restaurant & Brewery, Pinthouse Pizza, Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co., and Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse are each releasing a special collaboration beer — a pale ale made using a specific recipe. The brewpubs came up with this recipe together, but each one then made the pale ale using their own particular style and techniques, guaranteeing that the beer will taste differently at each brewpub.

During Austin Beer Week, you’ll be able to try each version at all of the brewpubs starting with Black Star Co-op on Oct. 28.

The brewpubs created the idea of the ATX Brewpub Collusion after conversations at a recent gathering for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, an organization that fosters and develops the natural camaraderie among the state’s brewers. The ABGB, Black Star and the other Austin brewpubs decided to create a pale ale with a pilsner base and only Columbus and Mosaic hops, but they could interpret the recipe with their own twists beyond those parameters.

Here’s the schedule for each ATX Brewpub Collusion release during Austin Beer Week. (Each of the links will take you to the corresponding Facebook event.)

If you try all eight of the beers and post photos of them with the location on Instagram or Twitter and the hashtag #ATXBrewpubCollusion, you’ll be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a prize. Three winners will be chosen at random and announced through social media.

Tomorrow, look for a guide to Austin Beer Week in this blog that will help you sort through and select among all of the fun events.

South Austin’s St. Elmo Brewing officially opens in December

Heather Gallagher. Bryan Winslow and Tim Bullock are opening St. Elmo Brewing off South Congress Avenue. The brewery's taproom includes a 22 ft. bar that the two co-founders made themselves.
Heather Gallagher. Bryan Winslow and Tim Bullock are opening St. Elmo Brewing off South Congress Avenue. The brewery’s taproom includes a 22 ft. bar that the two co-founders made themselves.

South Austin is getting a new brewery very soon: St. Elmo Brewing, in the multi-use Yard complex, is hosting a grand opening celebration on Dec. 3.

Two Austin Beerworks veterans, Bryan Winslow and Tim Bullock, have had a brewery of their own in the works for awhile, crediting their time at the beloved North Austin brewery beforehand with honing their brewing skills and giving them the knowledge to run a business. Winslow was Austin Beerworks’ lead brewer for a time, while Bullock served as bar manager there.

“I had, not-so-secretly, been planning my own brewery since I started at Austin Beerworks.  I decided from day one to learn every single aspect about how beer is made,” Winslow said in a press release about the grand opening. “It wasn’t until about 2013 that I started to get an idea about what I wanted to do in Austin. The St. Elmo neighborhood was the goal from the beginning. It is so unique and ripe with opportunity.”

St. Elmo Brewing — which will have its own on-site food truck, Soursop, with which to make beer pairings — will have three brews on tap year-round, in addition to rotating options. Those mainstays are a clean kolsch called Carl, a hoppy pale ale called Chico and a dry stout called Angus.

When the brewery opens, it’ll also have “an American IPA named Slater, a hefe-barley named Dampf and a German IPA named Jan,” according to the release, with other upcoming styles ranging from saisons to kettle sours. These are all getting produced on St. Elmo’s 15-barrel brewhouse.

But St. Elmo Brewing’s beverage menu will be quite diverse, going beyond beers. Winslow and Bullock are going to serve coffee from a variety of different roasters, as well as two things they have created themselves: house-made soda and house-made mineral water called Wholly Water.

They brought in Chef Teddy Bricker to have food on-site. At Soursop, he’ll have a diverse menu of Southeast Asian-inspired dishes that are intended to pair with St. Elmo brews, according to the release.

Named after the road where the brewery and the Yard are located — and where other booze businesses like the upcoming Still Austin Whiskey Co. will be — St. Elmo Brewing, at 440 E. St. Elmo Rd., is set to be opened 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 12 to 10 p.m. Sundays.

And keep an eye on the brewery’s social media: St. Elmo might be in soft open starting in early November, well before the grand opening celebration.

For more information, visit stelmobrewing.com.

Real Ale announces recall due to possible glass defect

Real Ale Brewing has recalled fewer than 500 cases of two kinds of beer: Devil's Backbone and Hans Pils. Contributed by Real Ale Brewing
Real Ale Brewing has recalled fewer than 500 cases of two kinds of beer: Devil’s Backbone and Hans’ Pils with certain best buy tdates. Contributed by Real Ale Brewing

Earlier this week, Real Ale Brewing announced a voluntary recall of select cases of Hans’ Pils 12-pack bottles and Devil’s Backbone 6-pack bottles due to a potential glass defect that could cause small pieces of glass to break off and fall into the bottle.

According to the Blanco-based brewery that turned 20 this year, the recall affects fewer than 500 cases that were delivered to retailers in North and Central Texas. Real Ale said that they haven’t received any reports of injury or defective bottles from consumers, but they are recalling very specific 6- and 12-packs just in case.

From a press release distributed by the company:

The recall includes two brewery production dates of Devil’s Backbone 6-pack bottles delivered to retail accounts in North Texas, and one production date of Hans’ Pils 12-pack bottles delivered to retail accounts in Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country areas. Real Ale is currently working with our distributor to remove any of the potentially affected bottles from the retail accounts in these markets.

Customers who have purchased Hans’ Pils 12-pack bottles or Devil’s Backbone 6-pack bottles can check the bottle codes on the back label to identify if the bottles are part of the recall, per the best before (BB) dates outlined below. If bottles are found with the impacted BB dates, they should not be opened or consumed. This recall is only for these particular brands with the following dates, and does not apply to any other Real Ale products.

bestbydates

Real Ale says that consumers can receive a refund for their purchase of the affected products by providing a picture of the back label and the name of the retail account where they bought the product by sending an email to refunds@realalebrewing.com.

Still not sure if that beer in your fridge is OK? You can see photos of the labels on the affected bottles by going to realalebrewing.com.

5 Austin bars where food is as good as the drinks

Knoxy Knox. Backbeat opened as a cocktail bar (with beer and wine as well), but its owners made sure to have a small menu of well-made food items as well.
Knoxy Knox. Backbeat opened as a cocktail bar (with beer and wine as well), but its owners made sure to have a small menu of well-made food items as well.

Tomorrow’s Austin360 cover story — which is online now — will be all about the best places in town to get a good drink, whether you’re looking for wine, beer or cocktails, a casual outdoor atmosphere, or live music befitting Austin’s title as the Live Music Capital of the World.

There was one category I had intended to include in the story but cut it for space — bars where the food is as good as the drinks. Because quality can so often be lacking for either one, I’m including that roundup now. Look for the American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam’s dining guide in a big spread online and in print on Sunday, when he’ll spotlight Austin’s top restaurants.

Drink.Well & Backbeat

207 E. 53rd St., drinkwellaustin.com; 1300 S. Lamar Blvd., backbeat-atx.com.

When local bar owners Michael and Jessica Sanders, who had helped transform the North Loop area into a budding entertainment district with cocktail bar Drink.Well, announced they were opening a second space, Backbeat, on South Lamar Boulevard, they made it clear that both places were going to be very different from each other.

But Backbeat hasn’t differed from Drink.Well in one regard. Both serve as well-rounded hangouts where food items like chicken liver mousse or a spicy kimchi reuben are as thoughtfully crafted and delectable as the cocktails. Drink.Well, in particular, focuses on the seasons for both programs and has recently released its fall menus, with drinks such as the Jinn’s Tonic (Old Tom Gin, apricot, grapefruit, cardamom, rose water and Mediterranean tonic) specifically intended to pair with the dishes.

You won’t go wrong at Backbeat, either, where the list of original cocktails are divided by flavor profile and types of spirits, and the food options include the sorts of higher-end snacks befitting such classy drinks, whether it’s a beet salad or a paté melt that you’re desiring. Backbeat also has seasonal menus to choose from.

Hopfields

3110 Guadalupe St., hopfieldsaustin.com.

Is it a charming French bistro? A laid-back beer bar in the campus area? Hopfields, a gastropub with French-inspired fare, manages to straddle both identities seamlessly. Here, you’ll find one of the best burgers in Austin — juicy, with creamy camembert cheese and caramelized onions — as well as a tap list that regularly features sought-after brews like Lakewood Brewing’s French Quarter Temptress or the AleSmith English Nut Brown. Don’t miss out on Hopfields’ pomme frites, with herbs and aioli, either. They’re an indulgence you won’t regret.

bangers-oktoberfest-0522
Contributed by Banger’s. On Rainey Street, Banger’s has sausages, a large outdoor area and craft beers to lure the crowds.

Banger’s

79 Rainey St., bangersaustin.com.

Although the feat of having more than 100 taps of beer — often ones you can’t find anywhere else — often overshadows all the other things Banger’s has to offer, the Rainey Street bungalow bar draws regular crowds for its dog-friendly patio and its food as well. The kitchen here specializes in gourmet hot dogs that run the gamut from more traditional fare (sausages like andouille and bratwurst) to the more exotic (sausages made from rabbit and South Texas antelope). It’s your chance to be as adventurous with your carnivorous side as with your craft brews.

Isla

208 W. Fourth St., islaaustin.com.

The sister bar to French-focused Peche in the Warehouse District, Isla is meant to feel like a Caribbean cantina that you’ve just stumbled into in the middle of downtown Austin. That theme plays out with both the food and the rum-filled cocktails like the Tituba (rum, coconut cream, lime, basil and jalapeño — a see-saw of spicy and sweet). The dinner menu is full of island specialties, including three types of ceviche, jerk-spiced beef rib and cast-iron lime chicken with Cuban beans and rice. Ready? Your tropical paradise awaits.

Waller Creek Pub House

603 Sabine St., wallercreekpubhouse.com.

Across the street from another beer haven, Easy Tiger, this downtown pub opened last year with 30 rotating beer taps and a menu of straightforward bar food. Waller Creek Pub House — named for Austin’s first mayor, Judge Edwin Waller, and the creek near the bar — has pub grub such as wings, grilled cheese and burgers, all the sorts of things we want in our bellies after a night of multiple pints. Get one of the “heaps of fries” baskets, which come as either plain, Greek, Asian or Italian-flavored fried potatoes.

Austin distillery creates unusual product, Martine, a honeysuckle liqueur

Knox Photographics. The Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur is a sweet new product that adds dimension to a variety of cocktails, but it's also tasty on its own.
Knox Photographics. The Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur is a sweet new product that adds dimension to a variety of cocktails, but it’s also tasty on its own.

The intensely fragrant honeysuckle plant is common in Texas, but no one had ever tried to distill the sweet taste of the nectar into a liqueur until now.

Martine is the new honeysuckle liqueur from Texacello, a small distillery known for making Paula’s Texas Orange and related products. The co-owner of the business, Gary Kelleher, also produces Dripping Springs Vodka and two Dripping Springs gins with his brothers in their San Luis Spirits distillery, and he’s become known for tinkering with new ideas like Martine, his mind abuzz with what to do next.

He had been thinking about creating a honeysuckle liqueur for awhile, thanks to happy memories of being a boy and plucking the honeysuckle flower from its stem to drink up the nectar within it — memories that evoke feelings of first love and summertime, he says — so he began playing around with early versions of Martine.

That was five years ago. The recipe took half a decade to get right because Kelleher wanted it to seem exactly as though he’d bottled up honeysuckle from his garden.

“Creating new liqueurs and liquors is something I love to do, but this one was hard to get right,” he says. “On the one hand, I wanted it to have the flavor of honeysuckle that’s in the blossom, but the other thing was that I wanted you to be able to taste what you get when you smell honeysuckle. So I wanted the flavor to include the aroma. Getting those two things balanced together took the longest.”

He won’t reveal the full recipe since there’s nothing like it on the market today, but he will say that it’s an infusion of sugarcane-derived spirits with an emulsion “that is a combo of honeysuckle blossoms, fresh fruits like orange and nectarine, and a blend of botanicals including vanilla.”

The result is undeniably sweet, and there’s only one way to describe it: Martine tastes like honeysuckle, precisely as Kelleher intended, to the point that you can drink it all by itself if you want. It’s meant to also add extra nuance to cocktails, he says.

“I wanted to create something that was delicious to sip by itself and evoked those memories of summertime,” he says. “But at the same time, it needed to be something that would fit into the mixology world. Something that you could use to enhance the flavor of cocktails, to create new flavor profiles with. That was really the idea behind it.”

Wanting it to mix well in a variety of different drinks meant that Kelleher, in the recipe creation process, had additional testing to do — making sure that it enhanced each of the spirits, from gin to tequila to whiskey, without being overpowering.

Right now, as Martine hits shelves, he’s discovering that all that hard work is paying off because bartenders and liquor store owners alike are showing interest in it, and “no one has turned us down,” he says. “It’s shocking; it’s wonderful. It’s a product no one has heard of, but everyone is willing to give it a shot.”

Martine will be pretty easy to find for home bartenders looking for a fresh liqueur to play with: Kelleher says it’s going into Twin Liquors stores, as well as Total Wine & More.

The Martine Cocktail

1 oz. Martine

4 oz. Sauvignon Blanc

Garnish lemon twist

Have the Sauvignon Blanc chilled ahead of time. Fill a wine or coupe glass with the Martine and wine and stir them together. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Como La Flor

1 oz. Reposado tequila

1 oz. Martine

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 tsp. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Pour into a coupe glass, sans ice, and garnish with a slice of lime.

— Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur

Austin cideries named among Food & Wine’s best places to drink cider

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Argus Cidery now offers its Ciderkin and Ginger Perry in six-pack cans.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Argus Cidery now offers its Ciderkin and Ginger Perry in six-pack cans.

Cider, like all alcoholic beverages, is experiencing a boom right now, with many makers across the country hastening to put their stamp on the alcoholic apple beverage.

Austin is home to a few of them — and two of these local cideries have made it onto Food & Wine’s “Best Places to Drink Ciders” list. Argus Cidery, on the road to Dripping Springs, and Texas Keeper Cider, south of Austin in Manchaca, have both received a worthy mention.

Of Argus, Food & Wine’s Joe Stanek writes that the cidery had trouble finding an identity at first but quickly found fans of quirky, well-made fruited beverages.

“When Wes Mickel applied for the first cider license in Texas, the question of whether his dry ciders were more like wine or beer came up a lot,” Stanek writes. “Sourcing a majority of apples from Texas and Arkansas — with other varietals brought in for use in special fermentation lines that produce as few as just 300 bottles — allows Mickel to press fresh juice year round.”

The cidery has grown its fan base with six-packs of Ciderkin and Ginger Perry, two of its most bestselling products. These originally came as 750 ml bottles but are now in cans.

Texas Keeper Cider is similarly doing small-batch ciders in its picturesque cidery and tasting room, as it’s been doing since 2013, Stanek writes.

These include a recent collaboration with the ABGB, as well as a cider and wine blend, Grafter Rosé, that is quite frankly one of the best drinks I’ve enjoyed all year. For a taste of something new that Texas Keeper is producing this time, a honey and apple blend called a cyser check out the Honey Festival at the cidery on Saturday.