You can celebrate Willie Nelson’s birthday with a beer named after him

If you want to toast Willie Nelson on his 84th birthday Saturday, we’ve got just the Texas beer for you: Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling’s Red Headed Stranger, inspired by the singer himself.

The beer is, fittingly, a red IPA and one of the San Antonio brewery’s bottled mainstay beers, which means it won’t be too hard to find this weekend.

04/22/17 Suzanne Cordeiro/ for American-Statesman Willie Nelson performs onstage at the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas.

“We figured since hops are a cousin to cannabis that the Red Headed Stranger himself would appreciate a hoppy red IPA,” co-founder Mark McDavid said. “Plus, we love Willie’s music, and we love to honor Texas musicians with our beers.”

Red Headed Stranger has “a strong malt backbone with an assertive bitterness of sticky sweet American hops (Nugget, Zeus, Chinook and Cascade),” according to the brewery. It’s one of the four year-round beers that Ranger Creek makes, including the recently award-winning San Antonio Lager.

You can find a six-pack of Red Headed Stranger at various locations of Spec’s, Total Wine & More, HEB and Central Market. Whip In might also carry some — as well as the new 365 by Whole Foods Market in Cedar Park that opened earlier this week.

Photo by Josh Huskin. Red Headed Stranger is a hoppy tribute to Willie Nelson, who is turning 84 on April 29.

Better yet, the Yeti Flagship on South Congress Avenue is throwing a birthday party for the beloved Texas singer (and delighting our pun-loving hearts by calling it Have a Willie Nice Birthday). The party will feature the Texas Gentlemen on stage singing nothing but Willie tunes. There also will be custom Yeti Flagship bandanas and — you guessed it — Red Headed Stranger pouring at the Barrr.

Have a Willie Nice Birthday runs from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at 220 S. Congress Ave. For more information, visit haveawillienicebirthday.splashthat.com.

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Cuvee Coffee celebrates return of its crowlers, no longer illegal in Texas

Cuvee Coffee Bar’s crowler machine has been reinstated behind the bar after a lengthy court battle with the TABC.

Even when a Texas judge ruled in November that retailers like Cuvee Coffee could sell crowlers, founder Mike McKim wasn’t convinced that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission would simply let the ruling stand.

But, it seems, victory has come at last: Cuvee’s crowler machine, which had been confiscated during the early stages of a long battle between the coffee company and the TABC, was returned at the end of last month. Now, the East Sixth Street coffee shop and beer bar wants to celebrate.

On Thursday, stop by Cuvee Coffee Bar to toast to the win at the Crowler Independence Party running from 6 to 11 p.m. There will be a limited number of free crowler koozies, a boot-stomping live music performance from the Mismatch, food from Slab BBQ, a photobooth and, of course, a menu of draft-only Texas beers.

According to Cuvee, “April 27th now marks Crowler Independence Day, the official day we recognize the legality of crowlers and the independence gained in court.”

Crowlers — 32 oz. aluminum growlers that look like supersized cans — are filled up with draft beer and then sealed using a crowler machine on-site; from there, customers can take the beer to go to enjoy later. Although the TABC argued that only manufacturers of beer (breweries and brewpubs) could can beer, Texas Administrative Law Judge John Beeler ultimately ruled that the government agency hadn’t succesfully defined why crowlers were illegal but growlers were not.

“TABC witnesses agreed that beer could be sold to customers in just about anything except crowlers,” according to his decision. “The sale of beer in buckets, mayonnaise jars, or even tennis ball cans, for off-premise consumption is permitted.”

Being able to use growlers and crowlers are appealing to customers because they can have beer only available on draft, versus also in cans or bottles, at home. Crowlers in particular are popular because they are recyclable and already a familiar vessel, albeit in a larger size.

Here are the draft-only beers Cuvee is tapping on Thursday:

  • Lone Pint’s Zythopile Ella IPA
  • Blue Owl Brewing’s Saison Puede
  • Friends & Allies Brewing’s House D’Orange (tart orange ale)
  • Zilker Brewing’s Parks & Rec Pale Ale
  • Hops & Grain’s Maibock
  • Real Ale Brewing’s Axis IPA
  • Karbach Brewing’s Here Comes the Sun (Belgian-style tripel)
  • Pinthouse Brewing’s Electric Jellyfish IPA

For more information, visit facebook.com/CuveeCoffeeBar.

Have 67-cent beers at Austin breweries during Barks for Beers fundraiser

Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman. Divine Canines’ annual fundraiser, Barks for Beers, is taking place at 30 local breweries throughout the month of May.

If you visit all 30 of the local brewpubs and breweries participating in this year’s Barks for Beers fundraiser, each of the beers you receive from the fundraiser will amount to a total of roughly 67 cents.

That’s quite a deal, and the organization behind Barks for Beers, the Austin-based pet therapy organization Divine Canines, is banking on it to reach its goal of raising $75,000 — the highest amount yet for the boozy benefit now in its fourth year.

Here’s how it works.

It’s pretty simple: Buy a Barks for Beers pint glass and an accompanying “pawsport” for $20, and you’ll be able to take them to any of the 30 participating breweries and receive a free pint of beer in return (but only one from each brewery). Participants include Barks for Beers veterans like Hops & Grain, Thirsty Planet and the ABGB and newcomers like Hi Sign Brewing, St. Elmo Brewing and Idle Vine Brewing.

Although the fundraiser officially kicks off at the beginning of May and runs the entire month, some breweries are getting started early and already have pint glasses available for purchase.

Barks for Beers organizer Mike Pizinger, whose two dogs, Shiner and Amstel, act as therapy dogs through Divine Canines, has been able to grow the event every year, increasing both the number of breweries participating and the number of people purchasing the pint glasses. It helps, of course, that Austin seems to add a new brewery to town on a near-monthly basis. But he thinks the success of Barks for Beers is a result of something else, too.

“It’s just this great way for people to check out the breweries,” he said, noting that he’s heard Barks for Beers used as a brewery-hopping experience during a family reunion, as a welcome-home gift from a father to his college-age daughter and as the first introduction to local breweries from locals who want to help out a good cause.

All proceeds from the sales of the pint glasses go directly toward Divine Canines. So far, Pizinger said, the fundraiser has proved invaluable in more ways than one.

“In addition to Barks for Beers being our primary fundraiser, it is also a community outreach program and how we gain new volunteers,” he said. “We have a waiting list of organization who would like our services, but we need more dogs and handlers to meet the demand. All of the breweries and retailers are dog-friendly, so even if your canine isn’t ‘divine’ yet, bring them out to learn more about the Divine Canines organization.”

You can get your free pint of Barks for Beers brew at any time the breweries are open, but many of them are also throwing specific Barks for Beers events. Here are some of the ones you don’t want to miss:

  • Craft Yoga + Barks for Beers at South Austin Brewery on April 29. You probably won’t see any dogs doing yoga, but you’ll be able to follow up your workout with your first drink in the 2017 Barks for Beers pint glass.
  • Hops & Grain’s Barks for Beers Kickoff Party on April 30. Hops & Grain is one of the breweries wanting to get the fundraiser started early. Visit the East Austin brewery from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and you’ll get to check out pet-friendly vendors on site, a photo booth, a food truck for the humans and YoDog Snackery for the pups, as well as meet Hops & Grain’s four-legged Divine Canines ambassador.
  • Barks for Beers & Baubles at Copeland Jewelers on May 4. Nope, it’s not a brewery, but the Westlake Hills jewelry store is a big supporter of the cause and is selling the pint glasses. There will be many cute Divine Canines running around, as well as free beer from Strange Land Brewery and free pizza from 360 Uno.
  • Barks for Beers at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling on May 7. Newly a brewery, Treaty Oak will just about have it all at this special event for dog and beer lovers. Meet some of the dogs involved with Divine Canines and enjoy live music, beer and cocktails, and brunch at the recently opened restaurant on-site at the ranch.
  • Bluebonnet Beer Co.’s Barks for Beer Party on May 13. Even Round Rock is getting a taste of the Barks for Beers fun thanks to Bluebonnet Beer, which became a participant for the first time this year. There will be cool doggy swag at the event, as well as a food truck.
  • Barks for Beers Pup Run on May 13. The first-ever pup run will start at Hops & Grain and will take you and your furry friends on a two-mile adventure to some of the other participating Barks for Beers breweries.

Plus, don’t forget to tag #barksforbeers on Instagram during your Barks for Beers adventures next month to be entered into a weekly contest. One photo will be chosen each week, with the winner getting a cool prize.

For more information, visit divinecanines.org/barksforbeers.

Flock of flamingos to help launch Strange Land Brewery’s new IPA

Strange Land Brewery wanted to make its mark in Austin’s budding brewing industry a couple of years ago with a focus on esoteric styles, like altbiers and hops-less beers called gruits. But now that the Westlake-area brewery has proven its knack for those rarer brews, it’s making one beloved among U.S. beer lovers: an IPA.

That’s one hoppy step up from last year’s Austinite Pilz, which debuted in cans to near-unanimous support and a clamoring from locals for more.

Strange Land Brewery’s newest beer is available on draft and in flamingo-themed cans, to be unveiled at Saturday’s release party.

The Flamingo IPA launches this weekend with a seafood boil, limited release beers, a branded IPA pint glass and the chance to take a photo with the flamingos from which the hoppy brew took its name and design.

“Our IPA cans pay homage to the storied history of our location and its beloved flocks of pink flamingos,” Strange Land co-founders Tim Klatt and Adam Blumenshein said. “In that same rebel spirit, we are proud to create one of the only naturally carbonated cans of IPA on the market.”

Like all Strange Land brews, the IPA is conditioned in its container rather than force-carbonated in a tank, a process most breweries choose for introducing carbon dioxide into their beers. Naturally conditioning the beer, Klatt and Blumenshein believe, imbues it with more flavor that wouldn’t otherwise be present.

And boy, is the IPA flavorful — and done in true Strange Land fashion.

“The Strange Land Flamingo IPA blends Old and New World flavors (through) classic malts and bittering hops with excessive amounts of floral and citrus dry-hopping,” the founders said.

They dry-hopped the beer using TripelPearl, Simcoe and Citra hops. The resulting brew “balances malt body with hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with a striking nose of citrus, pineapple and floral notes, plus flavors of melon and hop resin,” according to the brewery.

Strange Land decided to pay homage to the previous tenant at Bee Caves Road and Highway 360, the Pots & Plants Garden Center that closed in 2010 after 25 years in business. The store would frequently cover the lawn nearby in pink flamingo statues visible from the highway. Occasionally, Hat Creek Burger Co., in front of Strange Land at that corner, brings out the flamingos, and now it’s the brewery’s turn.

The flock will fly again (or at least look perfectly pink) at the IPA release party on Saturday, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m. and costs $25-$1,000. Buy a ticket in advance to guarantee entry to the party. Additional beers include IPA Watermelon — which will be served in an actual watermelon — and Peach Pilz, Hibiscus Honey Saison and Sour Wit.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the eventbrite link.

Flying Man Brewing set to soar in old Rogness building this summer

Flying Man Brewing is opening in Rogness Brewing’s old space, which the new owners are in the process of renovating to make their own.

The two co-founders behind an upcoming Pflugerville brewery seemed to have an easy start to their project.

They purchased the building that formerly housed Rogness Brewing, as well as all of the brewing equipment left behind, in August. They expected Flying Man Brewing, because of that, would be open in no time — but are now anticipating a summertime debut of the brewery and taproom, with an Indiegogo campaign up now to raise last-minute funds.

Adam Caudill and Matt Barker, who met through their mutual loves of flying and homebrewing, decided they didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the former tenants, Rogness, which closed up shop in mid-July with the promise that another brewery, in another space, was on the way. The building also needed plumbing and electrical updates to satisfy the City of Austin, which annexed that part of town after Rogness had already opened in 2012.

Now, Caudill and Barker are neck-deep in sawdust, pipes and the construction tools that will bring their smartly designed vision to life.

“It’s been a much bigger project than we originally thought,” Barker said. “We could have just left it exactly the way that it was, but we wanted to make it our own. That was really important to us because the ante’s going up every single day. You go into a brewery and you want a certain wow factor. For us, we want people to come in and leave and tell their friends, ‘Dude, you really need to check that place out. It looks amazing.'”

But Flying Man Brewing won’t just awe with a cool taproom. The two owners have hired Dan Wheeler, a former brewer at Rogness — and, most recently, at Solid Rock Brewing — who knows the ins and outs of the building and brewing system and how to update both to make them better.

As a result of his influence, the quality of the beer and the overall taproom experience for customers will also be better than it would have been, the Flying Man founders said.

“Dan’s become a pretty key part with what we’re doing now,” Caudill said. “He’s been able to help us future-proof the brewery. We’re going to be able to grow without any really big steps changing what we have to do. I think once we’re up and running that we’ll have room for a canning line. We have allocated space for that now.”

Wheeler, for his part, is excited to take the lessons he learned at Rogness and apply them to Flying Man. Caudill and Barker already knew they wanted to add insulation and install a large 18-foot fan on the ceiling to make the space more welcoming to taproom visitors, but Wheeler is able to share with them brewing-related ideas that he wishes could have been implemented at Rogness if the finances had been available.

“Now that we’re part of the city, everything has to be kind of brought to a different level, and it’s been fun going through there and making those changes and making them in a way that’s going to benefit the brewery,” he said. “It’s going to be easier to work in and hopefully make us more productive. Get more beer out there.”

He’ll be in charge of the brewing operations, for the most part, but each of them plan to contribute their recipes. Barker, for example, makes an orange-chocolate porter beloved among his friends and family that will now be made on a larger scale.

Flying Man Brewing will also release a blonde, a seasonal wheat, a saison, a red ale, an IPA, a double IPA and a stout, in addition to constantly rotating experimental brews. Because it’s licensed as a brewpub, Flying Man will offer bottles and crowlers of all of these beers to go. But before any customers visit the space, there will be a couple of beers already on the market to introduce locals ahead of time to what Flying Man can do.

“One of the first couple of beers we do is going to be a honey wheat with a little bit of molasses in it. It’s a pre-Prohibition German-style ale that I’ve done for several years and everyone seems to love,” Wheeler said.

Caudill and Barker are still brainstorming beer names, but they’re hoping to have an aviation theme with each of them. Barker is a competition hang glider pilot; Caudill, on the other hand, prefers paragliding. (Those might seem like similar windswept activities — think again.)

As a result of this other shared passion, both want to make sure their brewery becomes a hangout for people in the aviation industry. It was fellow pilots, often drinking their homebrew after flights and swapping “I thought I was going to die up there” stories, Barker said, who first encouraged them to open a brewery.

The Indiegogo campaign hopes to raise $25,000 toward that goal. Whether Flying Man Brewing is able to open by the end of summer isn’t dependent on the money, Caudill said, although it’ll certainly help.

“These projects are expensive, more than we budgeted for,” he said. “And to do it right, to finish it, we’ve got to raise some capital. We’re going to make it happen either way, but we think it’s an opportunity to reach out to the local market and offer them something and get a boost out there: who we are, what we’re about. We’ll offer them something, but in return we can finish the plumbing, the electrical, the backyard.”

Right now, Flying Man has about $3,500, with a little more than two weeks left until the campaign ends. To donate, check out the progress of the construction, or learn more about the brewery, visit facebook.com/FlyingManBeer.

One of the changes that Flying Man Brewing is making to the former Rogness space is placing the taproom bar directly across from the brewing equipment.

From stage to bar: “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails now unmasked

A new staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” will keep Austin audiences in suspense this week while it performs through April 30 at Bass Concert Hall.

Try “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails at El Chile Group restaurants through April 30. Pictured is the Night Rose from El Chile.

Plus, cocktails inspired by the mysterious masked man at the opera house will keep the thirst of the musical’s biggest fans at bay. The show’s sponsors have teamed up with El Chile Group to provide “Phantom”-inspired cocktails at all of the company’s Austin restaurants: El Chile and El Sapo on Manor Road, Alcomar on South First Street and El Alma on Barton Springs Road.

The drinks will be available for as long as the production is in town, through the end of April.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who first created “Phantom” with Webber, has reimagined the musical — about a masked man who haunts the halls of an opera house where singer Christine tries to make her big debut — to have vastly different staging, while keeping the music and the script mostly the same. Read our story about the dazzling production ahead of going to see it.

Here are the four “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails that you can try during the respective opening hours of the restaurants.

  • El Alma: El Fantasma (The Phantom) with La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila, Jimador Silver Tequila, hand-squeezed lime juice, blood orange, agave simple, and a black and white salt rim.
  • El Chile: The Night Rose with blueberry and juniper-infused Jimador Reposado Tequila, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, rose water, agave simple, lemon juice and a pink salt rim.
  • El Sapo: Phantom of the Sapo-ra with strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry-infused Tito’s Vodka; lemon juice; house-made ginger beer; and Chambord
  • Alcomar: Midnight Masquerade with Jimador Reposado Tequila, house blackberry puree, lime juice, triple sec, mint-infused agave simple, pink rock salt rim and candied blackberry

Want to make one of your own at home while watching Joel Schumacher’s extravagant cinematic take on the “Phantom,” with Gerard Butler in the title role and Emmy Rossum as Christine? Here’s one of the recipes.

El Fantasma

1 1/4 oz. La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila

1/4 oz. El Jimador Silver Tequila

1/4 oz. blood orange pureé

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. agave simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled coup glass garnished with a half white salt, half volcanic black salt rim. (To make the agave simple beforehand, combine 1 cup agave nectar, 1 cup hot water in a pan and stir to dissolve.)

— El Alma

“De-hazed” New England IPA, 8 other beers to celebrate release of new Austin Beer Guide

I’ll be blunt: You might have other ideas about how to spend the night of April 20. But just in case you’re not all about cannabis culture, Austin Beer Guide is throwing its spring/summer release party at the Draught House.

For beer lovers, that’s the place to be on Thursday, when the Austin Beer Guide authors will celebrate the debut of another free issue exploring local beers and the beer community. Several special brews from Austin producers are going on draft, including a collaboration between the Draught House and Austin Beer Guide called Don’t Haze Me Bro. The clarified IPA, done in the juicy style of a New England IPA, will come with free glassware if you order it.

An Chih Cheng / American-Statesman. The Draught House is once again the site of the Austin Beer Guide release party.

Another beer to watch for is Friends & Allies’ new Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee. That will also be on tap on Saturday during the East Austin’s brewery’s grand opening celebration, but you might want to relish the unusual style early. In it, notes of berry, apple and pear mingle with hints of dark chocolate.

Plus, North by Northwest and Last Stand Brewing have collaborated on Mr. Rogers, an imperial pale lager with Citra and Mosaic hops that the two breweries created for Dripping Springs’ Founders Day this weekend.

Here’s the full list of beers to enjoy starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

  • Draught House/Austin Beer Guide: Don’t Haze Me Bro
  • Blue Owl Brewing: Saison Puede Farmhouse Ale
  • Hops & Grain: Dispensary IPA
  • Jester King: Super Ultramega Hyperforce
  • Friends & Allies: Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee
  • North by Northwest: Mr. Rogers Imperial Pale Lager
  • Last Stand Brewing: Oatmeal IPA, double dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe hops
  • Zilker Brewing: Hellsner, a step-mashed summer lager
  • Independence Brewing: Illustrated Man Dark Sour

For more information about Austin Beer Guide, visit austinbeerguide.com.

UPDATE: Texas breweries could be forced to pay distributors for taproom beers

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. The 5,000 sq. ft. taproom at Oskar Blues Brewery regularly hosts philanthropic events and live music shows, but a new bill threatens its longevity.

UPDATE: The controversial Texas bill aiming to regulate the growth of the state’s breweries passed the Texas House of Representatives this weekend and faces a Senate vote later this week.

HB 3287, vehemently opposed by Texas craft brewers and pro-business groups, underwent key changes before being passed overwhelmingly in the House. Now, breweries like Oskar Blues making 225,000 barrels of beer per year or more are able to operate taprooms, but they must sell their beer to a distributor first and then buy it back for sale in their taprooms. The payment is essentially a tax on brewery sales.

The legislator behind the bill, state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, argued that it prevents mega breweries from gaining too strong a hold in Texas, but the opposition from state brewers believe the bill actually hurts their small businesses.

An amendment to allow sales of beer to-go in the taproom was proposed but ultimately did not pass. Texas winemakers and distillers are able to sell their products directly to customers for off-site consumption, and the state remains the only one in the U.S. that does not allow to-go taproom sales.

EARLIER: Texas brewers have been pushing for a number of beer-related bills to become state law — namely, that production breweries will be able to sell beer to go from their taprooms — but one of the first pieces of legislation up for debate might actually put some of those taprooms in danger of disappearing in their current form.

House Bill 3287, which has the full support of distributors, seeks to change the language of Texas law that allows breweries making no more than 225,000 barrels of beer per year to sell beer directly to consumers in their taprooms. That number is measured based on production at a single location, but the bill and its sister Senate Bill 2083 would now count premises “owned  directly or indirectly by the license holder or an affiliate or subsidiary.”

In other words, “if a brewery is financially connected to another brewery (either in or out of state), then the production at all breweries is considered when totaled and compared to the 225,000 barrel cap,” according to Texas Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Charles Vallhonrat. The organization, created to lobby for the interests of Texas craft brewers, came out against HB 3287 at a committee hearing last night.

The bill immediately affects three Texas breweries, including Austin’s own Oskar Blues, a brewery with additional locations in Colorado and North Carolina. DFW’s Revolver Brewing and Houston’s Karbach Brewing, purchased last year by MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev, respectively, also don’t make the cut.

Locally run Independence Brewing, which received an undisclosed investment from California’s Lagunitas Brewing last summer, may also feel the sting of the bill if it passes, but the language is too ambiguous, Vallhonrat said, to say for sure.

Authored by Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, HB 3287 appears primarily to benefit distributors in the state. They worry that the purchase of Revolver and Karbach by very large beer conglomerates harms the three-tier system ruling the flow of alcohol from producers to retailers to consumers. Distributors are the middlemen bringing the beer from the breweries to bars and stores, where customers can then purchase it.

With AB InBev scooping up Karbach, which has a restaurant and biergarten serving 2,000 to 3,000 guests per week, distributor trade groups Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas and the Beer Alliance of Texas argue that the beer behemoth is able to sell beer directly to consumers.

“The main issue is to defend the system from larger breweries entering all three tiers,” Keith Strama, counsel for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, said at the committee hearing. He added that not doing so could cause a vertical monopoly.

But that’s not how organizations like the Texas Craft Brewers Guild see it.

“This approach is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly,” Josh Hare, owner of Hops & Grain and board chairman of the guild, said at the committee hearing. “We believe there is a better path for protecting small businesses in Texas without immediately placing a ceiling on their growth potential.”

His brewery — which is opening an additional facility in San Marcos that will still put Hops & Grain well under the 225,000 barrel cap — isn’t directly affected by HB 3287, but Vallhonrat said there’s an intangible downside to the bill as well.

“All manufacturing breweries operating tap rooms can and should consider their tap room as a major asset of their business,” he said. “Independent of any outside interest from a larger brewery to acquire one of our members, the fact that it could, and has, happened means tap rooms have distinct value. That value can be used in seeking other lines of funding or credit, despite being quite intangible. By eliminating that asset from even a theoretical transaction, something of value is being taken away from our members.”

The guild is most worried about Oskar Blues Brewery, which chose to open a new facility in Austin last year because of the city’s quirky, irreverent vibe and deep love of live music. Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis said at the hearing that he wouldn’t have considered the move if this bill had been in the works back then.

Other large craft breweries won’t consider an expansion here in the future, either, Hare said.

“Taprooms have become an integral part of brewery culture, but most importantly, they’re the most effective, direct and hands-on way that we can market our product,” Katechis said. “If (HB 3287) passed, I have to think we’d be forced to lay off at least some of the employees that work there. I don’t understand how that’s even conscionable.”

The bill is a similar blow to Karbach Brewing, which co-founder Ken Goodman outlined in both a Houston Chronicle editorial and at the hearing, sparking a slightly combative tone throughout the remainder of it by making a heated comment about the United Airlines controversy last week that resulted in a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane.

“I don’t know what United Airlines passenger felt like, but I know what I feel like getting punched by this legislation,” he said. “This bill puts me out of business immediately.”

Second Bar + Kitchen launches happy hour at revamped downtown bar

When fine-dining restaurant Congress closed at the end of 2015, making way for an expansion of sister spot Second Bar + Kitchen, the bar that connected them, Bar Congress, shut down, too.

But the recently renovated space is back as the Second Bar and has begun offering happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., with a small selection of cocktails that you can only order during that time.

Photo by Jody Horton. Second Bar + Kitchen’s famous black truffle pomme frites are on offer during the new Second Bar’s happy hour.

The cocktails range between $5 to $7, and happy hour specials also include a $1 off draft beer and half-off select bottles of wine. Pair those with snacks like black truffle pomme frites, bacon-wrapped dates and flank steak satay while you sit in the bar or on the outdoor patio that faces the bustling Congress Avenue.

Here are those happy hour-only cocktails. Thirsty yet?

  • Bennett: choice of gin, vodka or tequila with lime juice and peel, turbinado and Angostura bitters
  • Sidewinder’s Fang: Kong’s Island Spice Rum, passionfruit, orange and citrus with tiki preparations
  • Brown Derby: Kentucky bourbon, honey, grapefruit and lemon
  • Normandy Sidecar: Cognac & Calvados, Cointreau, lemon and a fine sugar rim
  • Shandy: Miller High Life pony with lemonade

Second Bar + Kitchen and the adjacent Second Bar are located at 200 Congress Ave. The former Congress is now Congress Hall, a private dining and events area with an airy, modern design aesthetic that mirrors Second Bar + Kitchen.

For more information, visit secondbarkitchen.com/second.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp on Tour to make an Austin stop in June

One of America’s most respected breweries continues to build camaraderie and friendship among brewers — rather than the competition that befalls many industries — with its Beer Camp series, a line of collaborative brews released as a variety pack every year.

Another big component of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp is Beer Camp on Tour, an 8-city beer festival extravaganza coming to Austin this year on June 24. The California brewery is teaming up with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to bring hundreds of craft beers to Carson Creek Ranch from both local and national breweries, with profits from the fest benefiting the guild and its mission of advancing the interests of the state’s small and independent brewers.

Sierra Nevada has collaborated with breweries around the states and the world for its Beer Camp Across the World pack of brews.

“Beer Camp showcases the art, spirit and attitude of craft beer, and everyone’s invited — brewers and fans alike,” according to Sierra Nevada.

At Austin’s Beer Camp on Tour, you’ll be able to taste each of this year’s Beer Camp brews, created by Sierra Nevada and 12 collaborating breweries. These beers include the Dry-Hopped Berliner-Style Weisse made with Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing and the East Meets West IPA made with Massachusetts’ Tree House Brewing.

New this year, Sierra Nevada also collaborated with several international breweries, such as Ayinger Brewery and Duvel Moortgat.

In addition to those beers, Beer Camp on Tour has invited breweries from the state and beyond to pour at the festival. Taste suds from Lorelei Brewing in Corpus Christi, Absolution Brewing in California, Oak Highlands Brewery in Dallas and new Austin brewery Orf Brewing, as well as many more.

For Sierra Nevada, it was a no-brainer to select Austin as one of the cities for Beer Camp on Tour, “as one of the most social craft beer communities in the nation.”

Tickets for the festival, which starts at 5 p.m. on June 24, are on sale now and range from $40 (designated driver) to $75 (one-hour early access). There are also $55 general admission tickets. Beer Camp on Tour will have live music and food trucks in addition to plenty of brews.

For more information, visit beercamp.sierranevada.com/festivals/austin/?.