After opening Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub, the dance club Rose Room and two others last year, Jeff and Darren Van Delden — through their company the Union Venture Group — have extensively renovated the former Dallas Nightclub space, transforming it into a neighborhood pub they’re calling the Local Post.
Tomorrow, the Local Post debuts at 7113 Burnet Rd. in North Austin.
It’ll bring a relaxed good time to the Crestview neighborhood with Texas comfort food, happy hour specials, plenty of parking, indoor arcade games and big-screen TVs. By day, the Local Post aims to be a family-friendly restaurant — with menu options like smoked brisket sliders and 10 lb. Can Nachos that come three different ways — but by night, starting around 5 p.m., the pub will transition to more of a 21-and-older space.
Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and offers $2.50 domestic pints, $3 wells and daily drink specials for $3 or $4. You’ll be able to order drinks at any of the three full bars within the pub.
The Dallas Nightclub closed in September 2015 after 35 years in business slinging cheap drinks near a large dance floor, and the Union Venture Group scooped up the space last summer, deciding to completely gut it for their vision of a neighborhood bar.
“Someone was going to put a bar there, so we figured why not us?” Jeffrey Van Delden said in a Statesman story about the purchase. “We feel like Burnet Road has grown into a hot spot in the last few years. We want to make something very friendly for the neighborhood, very casual with lunch and dinner, a bar and a nice-sized patio.”
America’s beloved bourbon often steals the spotlight here, but one Rainey Street bar hasn’t forgotten about one of the oldest whiskeys of the world. The Blackheart is devoting an entire week to Scotch whisky starting Sunday and will have drink specials, happy hour events, tastings, Scotch 101 classes and more.
Each day, the Blackheart will have two featured Scotch whiskies available neat, on the rocks or in a classic cocktail like the Blood and Sand and the Rob Roy. One of the whiskies will be “a mid-price, everyman kind of Scotch,” while the other is more of a harder-to-find top-shelf brand, according to the Blackheart.
Don’t know much about Scotch? That’s OK. The bar will teach you with two workshops: a Scotch 101 tasting featuring Lagavulin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 and another one featuring Glenkinchie, Clynelish and Talisker Storm at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19. Peat Week is also kicking off at 6 p.m. Sunday with a screening of Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” — which, while not entirely related to the subject, is certainly an epic way to debut a boozy week.
“Some Scotch whisky distilleries slowly dry the malted barley (from which Scotch is made) using fires made from peat, a special kind of turf,” the Blackheart noted in a press release. “The 30-hour drying process gives the whisky a distinctive smoky flavor, often referred to as ‘peatiness.’”
Here’s the schedule of whiskies going on special each day:
Sunday, Jan. 15
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte
Monday, Jan. 16
Glen Scotia Samaroli
Auchentoshan Single Malt Whisky 12 Year
In 2013, Texas laws changed to allow breweries to sell their beers for on-site consumption — a step in the right direction — although brewers in the state are hoping that this year proves to be an even bigger boon for them.
Now that the 85th Texas legislature is in session, the lobbyists for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the organization that advances the interests of the state’s craft brewers, are going to push for more. Namely, they want breweries to be able to sell beer to-go from their taprooms.
“Having off-premise sales in breweries is our number one priority,” Charles Vallhonrat, director of the guild, said.
Currently, Texas law permits brewpubs, but not production breweries, to sell beer in bottles, cans and growlers to-go from their facility. Brewpubs can also offer beers from other breweries on-site, but they are limited in the amount of beer they can produce each year: no more than 10,000 barrels.
Introducing and then passing a bill that would give breweries more of the same freedoms as brewpubs — not to mention wineries and distilleries, which can similarly sell their products for off-site enjoyment — might not be so easy.
“We’ve been speaking with the distributor lobbies,” Vallhonrat said. “There’s certainly opposition to it, but we’re working through it. We’re also closely watching the Deep Ellum lawsuit. But we will bring a bill about off-premise sales to the legislature.”
Distributors, he said, are opposed to the idea because allowing consumers to buy beer to take home directly from the breweries could, theoretically, take away some of their business. That’s not how the guild sees it, however.
“We don’t see it as an alternative to retail sales,” Vallhonrat said. “People aren’t going to start buying their beer at the brewery all the time. They’ll go for special occasions, when there’s a big release or they have friends in town. Off-premise sales can drive beer tourism. It’s a great way to promote Texas beer.”
The guild is lobbying for breweries to sell growlers as well as their packaged products to-go, for “breweries to have the same flexibility that brewpubs, as retail licensees, have,” he said.
Tito’s Vodka has always been in the spirit of giving — but the local vodka company is taking its charitable pursuits a step further now by donating all of the proceeds from its online store to designated nonprofits.
The philanthropic initiative, according to the company, will go on indefinitely.
When you purchase an item from the store, you’ll be able to choose which of six charities you want your money to go toward. For the first quarter of this year, those nonprofits include Emancipet, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Grammy Foundation, American Red Cross, Operation Homefront and CORE.
All of the funds from the dog-related items in the Tito’s store will automatically be given to Emancipet.
“Philanthropy has always been something we are extremely passionate about at Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and there is no better way to express this than having 100% of our online store proceeds donated to charities from now on,” Bert “Tito” Beveridge, the founder of the company, said in a press release.
The juice bar empire is expanding once again by opening today at 6301 W. Parmer Lane #104, in the Jollyville neighborhood. In celebration of the opening, the new JuiceLand location is offering half-off all drinks throughout the day, limited to one per customer in attendance.
Those include what you’d find at the other JuiceLand locations, such as the Originator with apple juice, banana, blueberry, cherry, peanut butter, rice protein, spirulina and flax oil; Bam Bam with pineapple juice, banana, mango, hemp protein, coconut oil, spirulina and raw almonds; and Vegetable Kingdom with apple juice, carrot, beet, spinach, lemon, mango, cherry and spirulina.
“The new Parmer-McNeil location is part of JuiceLand’s goal to increase product accessibility across Austin to reduce the need for extraneous travel and ultimately cut back on carbon emissions,” according to a press release.
JuiceLand is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit juiceland.com.
“The bolstered sales will help Black Star Co-op maintain the values we have championed since we began,” Black Star said in a press release. “Moving forward, it is now our responsibility to preserve and cultivate all of the goodwill we have received from this experience. In the coming months we hope to earn your continued support and business as we make improvements to the co-op.”
In addition to the member-owners, Black Star acknowledged a slew of businesses and organizations that reached out in their time of need. The list included Project Transitions, Whip In, Craft Beer Austin, Jester King Brewery, Emancipet, High Brew Coffee, Vessel Coworking, Hopfield’s, Craft Pride, Blacklands Malt, Modo Yoga, Emmer & Rye, The Brewtorium, Austin Zealots, SHADE TX Craft Beer, The Beer Diaries, Red Horn Coffee, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op and more.
Although the temperature is heating back up to the low-80s this week, it’s still the season for dark beers — and Austin brewpubs and breweries are responding with an array of porters, stouts, barrel-aged brews and beers with winter flavors.
Here are some of the local beers to look out for this month and the next, too.
Austin Beerworks Sputnik:The one-time cans of the seasonal beer might be long gone, but you can still find Austin Beerworks’ beloved Russian imperial oatmeal stout on draft at bars around town, including at the Brass Tap Domain.
Tonight at 7 p.m., the beer bar is offering Sputnik, Sputniko, Battle Axe and Pearl Snap as part of an Austin Beerworks tap takeover.
In it, according to Zilker, “expect everything you love about the original: the caramelized sugar, the creamy texture, and of course the locally roasted coffee (thanks, Wild Gift Coffee), just more of it.”
Independence Brewing’s Illustrated Man Dark Sour: Although this beer won’t be ready for full-scale release in cans until next month, there will be a pilot brew version of it in the Independence taproom. The Illustrated Man is tart, with blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries adding extra flavor to the dark-hued ale.
Black Star Co-op Moebius: The brewpub put out a call to action at the end of last week, asking for customers to stop in and prevent a possible closure. A good time to be there is on Jan. 17, when the house beer Moebius is tapping as a Woodford Reserve Whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout.
According to Black Star, the rich and viscous “Moebius is a decadent beast of a beer” that clocks in at a robust 10 percent alcohol by volume. It taps at 5 p.m. next Tuesday.
Blue Owl Brewing’s Lord Admiral Gravitas: Remember Blue Owl’s Admiral Gravitas, a sour imperial oatmeal stout? This wood-aged version, which spent time in Balcones Brimstone barrels, takes the Admiral Gravitas up a boozy notch and has additional notes of oak, smoke and complexity.
The barrel-aged brew will only be found at the brewery taproom starting at 3 p.m. on Jan. 18, although the Admiral Gravitas is more widely available around town.
Uncle Billy’s Shakolad Chocolate Imperial Stout: This full-bodied stout full of cocoa nibs from Srsly Chocolate is Uncle Billy’s winter seasonal, and it certainly lives up to its name — Shakolad is Russian for ‘chocolate.’ The sweet addition has imbued the dark brew, at 9.5 percent ABV, with plum, dark cherry and cocoa characteristics and will have you yearning for those chilly winter temperatures again.
Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co.’s S.O.N. Double Stout with Coconut:The Son of Ninja series is just another example of the skill at the Cedar Park brewpub, which makes these rotating dark beers using an underutilized brewing technique called Parti Gyle.
This version is a double stout with a dash of lactose sugar to give it a smooth, sweet body. Don’t miss out on getting a pour of the 8 percent ABV brew because it won’t be around for long.
Pinthouse Pizza’s Fully Adrift Double IPA with Coffee: The beer might not be a seasonal porter or stout, but it’s got the coffee we like to have this time of year.
Stop into the Burnet Road brewpub on Jan. 21 for the second edition of the Pinthouse Pizza Fully Adrift Double IPA “Lost at Sea” series, which added a coffee infusion this go round. Starting at 11 a.m. that day, bottles of the beer will go on sale, and it’ll also be available on draft. Bottles are $14.99.
A pair of local bar owners are hoping day drinkers and late-night crowds alike will flock to their second concept in North Austin — a cozy neighborhood bar called Night Owl, opening soon in the Wooten area of Austin.
At 8315 Burnet Rd., Night Owl will have classic and original cocktails, bottled and canned beer, and a small selection of wine. It’s a drinks program that co-owners Danny Parrott and Jonathan Insley hope will be regularly enjoyed by residents in the neighborhood as well as other locals.
“We want to create a cool place for people in the area to walk to that’s nice and friendly. The kind of place where you’ll know the person behind the bar,” Parrott said.
He and Insley also own the Old School Bar and Grill on Sixth Street, a multi-story restaurant, bar and live music venue that opened in 2011. Though it’s much larger and draws big crowds, it operates now as a well-oiled machine — which means that the entrepreneurs got the itch to find a new, very different bar project in another part of town.
They wanted something smaller and more low-key, for starters, and found it when Parrott came across a tiny shopping complex on Burnet Road, just south of Highway 183, that seemed to be the perfect location. As soon as he’d seen it, he said, he envisioned one of the spaces as a hangout for Wooten residents. The neighborhood is bounded by the highway, Burnet Road and West Anderson Lane, and Night Owl is right on the border of it.
“When my business partner and I started talking about the concept and the philosophy behind it, it morphed into this idea of a neighborhood bar with craft beer and a slightly higher-end cocktail menu,” he said.
Cocktails are going to be a mix of classics like a Manhattan and a French 75 and more original options all named after surrounding neighborhoods and streets, such as Burnet, Crestview, Allandale and Brentwood. These drinks didn’t draw inspiration for their ingredients from each place but instead represent Night Owl’s embrace of the area, Parrott said.
They’re also going to be relatively simple, with “three or four high-quality ingredients,” he said. “We’re not wanting to have seven-adjective drinks with smoke coming out of them. We just want to offer a nice solid drink for someone, or they can get a Lone Star with a shot of whiskey if they want. We want people to know they can find what they’re looking for when they come here.”
That includes good beer. Night Owl is focusing primarily on local and regional brews, all in bottles or cans and not on draft because of the bar’s small size. Parrott is also hoping that food trucks will be able to park nearby so that dinner and drinks will be available all in one place.
“Neighbors have been popping in and say, ‘Hey, it looks great; when does it open?'” he said. “We’re hoping to engage people to come over and have a good time with us. Once a month, maybe we’ll do a cookout outside with burgers. Or have a crawfish boil…. Being so close to a neighborhood, that lends itself to day drinking. People no longer have to go downtown or up to the Domain to do that. But we’ll have a night crowd, too, as the name suggests.”
There isn’t a set opening date for the bar yet, although Parrott hopes that construction will be done by the end of next week.
Once it’s finished, Night Owl will have a “vintage warehouse feel,” with exposed brick, reclaimed wood, concrete floors, exposed Edison bulbs, vintage sconces and a long tufted booth running the length of one wall.
It’s a look nothing like the one Old School Bar and Grill has. And it will probably be very different from the next place that Parrott and Insley open together — another bar on the opposite side of town.
“That’s our goal as well. To have one bar south, one downtown and one north,” Parrott said.
Night Owl’s hours are tentatively set for 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. or noon to 2 a.m. on weekends. Keep an eye on the bar’s social media for a more solid opening date.
Facing “historically slow sales” in a marketplace flooded with competition, the cooperatively owned Black Star Co-Op yesterday sent out a letter to its member-owners asking for their increased patronage to help keep the North Austin brewpub afloat.
Black Star suffered a 14-percent decline in beer sales over the last year, which co-op co-founder and kitchen team leader Johnny Livesay partially attributes to the increased competition and new craft beer options in recent years. When Black Star opened in 2010, they were one of only a handful of craft beer options in town. In recent years, brewpubs and breweries with tasting rooms have sprouted up across the city.
And, in terms of the kitchen, when Black Star opened, they were a vocal champion of the nascent trend of farm-to-table restaurants, showing a strong commitment to sourcing all of their food locally.
“Now, that doesn’t mean anything because everyone says they do that or does that,” Livesay said.
“We’ve spent a lot more money on labor by not letting our front-of-house workers subsidize our restaurant,” Livesay said. But he acknowledged that Black Star’s pay structure, which includes a no-tipping policy, doesn’t give them much competitive advantage “when nobody else has to do that”
“It’s not easy to do the right thing,” Livesay said.
Black Star has made efforts to trim costs in recent months, cutting and freezing wages, paring back health benefits and performing layoffs. But the cooperative finally “reached a breaking point.” While Black Star has made some changes to try and stay afloat, they don’t intend to change their core mission or pay structure.
“That’s not what the co-op is trying to do,” Livesay said of Black Star, which has about 3500 member-owners.
Livesay knows that his brewpub is not the only local business struggling in the current over-saturated market.
“I’d be cautious if I was anyone looking to open a restaurant. It seems the Austin market can’t support certain types of restaurants and businesses anymore,” said Livesay, adding that one of Black Star’s fellow founding members is slated to open his own brewpub in the area this year.
Despite the slow first week of what should be the co-op’s busiest quarter of the year, Livesay said there is still hope that Black Star remains open. He recognizes that having a large member-owner base gives the co-op an advantage over many restaurants. That’s why Black Star’s 9-person board decided to put out the call for help from member-owners, a group the business says currently only accounts for six percent of monthly sales.
“We just need to have a normal month of sales, which would be like back to last year or even 2015 sales,” Livesay said.
Although the Austin area’s newest brewery has gotten its core beers into the market, serving them on draft at bars north of the city starting last month, Idle Vine Brewing‘s taproom wasn’t completely ready for visitors — until now.
Come this weekend, Idle Vine will open its doors for the first time, giving locals the chance to drink the brewery’s four core beers right from the source in advance of a grand opening celebration on Jan. 28. For head brewer Scott Ciampa, who has worked almost from the start with the co-owners on crafting a vision for the space, the opening has been a long time coming.
“Since we stood the tanks up last year, people have been poking their heads in asking, ‘Got beer ready? Got beer ready?'” he said. “People in this warehouse district have been excited to have a brewery right next door. And we’re excited to start serving.”
He was recruited away from his position as head brewer at Evil Czech Brewery in Indiana to take on the lead brewing role at Idle Vine when the co-owners, Todd Wink and Brian Bristow, reached out to him online.
Wink, in particular, already knows the beer industry north of Austin very well — he is also the owner of a Cedar Park beer bar called the Dig Pub. He and fellow businessman Bristow, a friend ever since Wink opened the Dig Pub in 2007, decided they want to take their love of beer to the next level by opening a brewery. But they needed someone like Ciampa, with six years of professional brewing experience on his résumé, to make the beers.
“The wheels started turning about two years ago, when they brought me on board, and the three of us kind of gave Idle Vine a real identity,” he said.
That identity includes the four beers that Idle Vine will make year-round, all from Ciampa’s recipe arsenal: the No Hitter Session Ale, the Idle Mind Pale Ale, the Idle Vine IPA and the Trackdown Pre-Prohibition Porter. Idle Vine will also make a roster of seasonals — including a hefeweizen in the spring, a pilsner in the summer and a hoppy red ale in the fall — and one-off brews available only at the brewery.
Although it’s located in a cluster of warehouses in a relatively quiet section of Pflugerville, Idle Vine Brewing won’t feel entirely industrial once you walk in, thanks to the homey taproom to the left. There, bench seating is brightened with string lights above, and a sleek bar area of black and brown (partially made with reclaimed wood from the Bastrop wildfires) catches the eye. On the right hand side is a 30-barrel brewhouse featuring five 60-barrel fermenters.
Those are in full view from the taproom, Ciampa said, as a neat reminder to visitors that Idle Vine’s brews are made just yards from the draft wall.
As much as he, Wink and Bristow are hoping to attract regulars to their brewery, they also have begun making a big push to get Idle Vine beers into bars, starting with Wink’s own Dig Pub in late December. Bars north of the city, the only part of town where the two co-owners considered opening a brewery, get first dibs.
“The distribution radius is 100 miles from the brewery, so we’re already in bars up in Waco and Temple,” Ciampa said. “The plan is to go south of Austin once we’ve gotten to places we want to here. There are a lot of good craft beer bars in those small towns that we want to be a part of, but Austin is still a priority for us.”
And in six months or so — just in time for another hot Texas summer — Idle Vine will start releasing cans of its core beers.
One of those, the Trackdown Porter, is particularly notable as an homage to dark beers made before Prohibition, when they tended to be on the lighter side and not as robust as today’s porters and stouts are. At only 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, the Trackdown is positioned to become a crossover beer for people still leery of dark-colored ales.
Ciampa also has something else pretty special in the works: the monthly bottle release of one style of beer, made a little differently each time, over the course of a year. The following year, he’ll choose another style and tweak that one each month.
“I’m starting with a Cascadian dark ale,” he said. “It’ll be the same base beer but, each month, released in a different way. Dry-hopped differently or aged on cherries, stuff like that.”
The beer itself isn’t even the coolest part of the project, Ciampa said. The bottle labels are going to be created by a local artist and will feature snippets of a comic strip that won’t make sense until all of the bottles are lined up together.
“Having the full 12 will reveal the comic,” he said.
To get the vertical of bottles, you’ll have to go to the taproom. Idle Vine is able to sell bottles to go, of vital importance to the co-founders, because it has a brewpub license. Eventual growth, however, might switch it to a production brewery. By then, Idle Vine’s brewer is hoping that Texas laws will have changed to allow breweries to sell their beer to-go, a major point of contention for beer makers in the state.
“If we reach the point of making over 10,000 barrels a year, we’d still like to be able to sell our beer from here,” Ciampa said.
Idle Vine, at 16920 Joe Barbee Dr., is planning a grand opening party from noon to 10 p.m. on Jan. 28 with live music, food trucks, and more. In the meantime, visit the brewery from 3 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 26. The schedule might expand after that to include more weekdays once the kinks have been worked out. That’s also when Idle Vine will start introducing food trucks, Ciampa said.