Austin’s drinking events calendar, June 2017

Contributed by Olive & June. Negroni Week returns to participating Austin bars and restaurants from June 5-11. Proceeds from Negroni purchases, like this Frozen Show Pony Negroni from Olive & June, go toward good causes chosen by each place.

Thursday, June 1

Banger’s Summer Love Luau with Victory Brewing, 6 to 10 p.m. Summery outfits are encouraged at this party featuring a variety of Victory beers, including Summer Love Blonde Ale.

Boots & Bourbon at the Driskill Grill, 7 to 9 p.m.The Driskill restaurant is pairing meats from Austin’s Ranger Cattle with whiskey from Fort Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling. $79.

Friday, June 2

Blue Owl Brewing Saison Puede Release, 12 p.m. Don’t miss this limited run of bottles filled with Blue Owl’s sour, spicy and fruity spring seasonal.

Uncle Billy’s June First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. This month’s firkin is a Coffee IPA: the Green Room IPA with lightly roasted Puerto Rican Arabica coffee beans.

Saturday, June 3

Craftsman’s 2nd Anniversary Luau, 4 p.m. Pau Maui Vodka cocktails, a pig roast, hula girls and fire dancers will mark the birthday of this East Cesar Chavez bar.

Crystal Creek Distillery’s Grand Re-Opening Bash, 5 p.m. The Spicewood spirits maker has a new distillery and tasting room and wants to show it off with live music, giveaways and more.

Monday, June 5

Friends & Allies Can Release, 4 to 10 p.m. Friends & Allies Brewing is releasing its beers in cans for the first time. Pick up a six pack, but first, enjoy a draft pint of one of its limited seasonal options.

Gin Class at Bullfight, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Parkside Projects’ beverage classes continue with this study of gin, featuring gin cocktails and tapas from the Spanish-inspired restaurant. $32.50.

Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 p.m. This special edition of the monthly talks about the cosmos over beers brings in astronomers from the American Astronomical Society.

Thursday, June 8

South Lamar Negroni Stroll, 6 pm. Sip Negroni cocktails from Backbeat, Vox Table, El Burro and the Highball as part of the charity-focused Negroni Week.

Friday, June 9

Kings of Craft Series: Meet David Walker of Firestone Walker, 6 p.m. Flying Saucer is hosting a Firestone Walker tap takeover with the founder and lots of Parabola variations.

“Trappist Beer Travels” Book Release at WhichCraft Taproom, 6 to 10 p.m. The locally based authors of the new book about Trappist breweries will officially share the combination beer journal, history book and travelogue.

Saturday, June 10

Now That’s What I Call a ’90s Party at Hops & Grain, 1 p.m. Come dressed as your favorite Nickelodeon character or in straight-up ’90s garb for this old-school party at the brewery.

Reinheitsgebot Party at Orf Brewing, 2 p.m. No, Austin’s newest brewery isn’t celebrating the German purity law — just the German way of partying with beer.

National Rosé Day at Backbeat, 4 p.m. Say yes way to rosé with Backbeat, which is expanding its summer rosé list with 7 incredible rosé wines from around the world.

Sunday, June 11

Austin’s First Tequila ‘n’ Tacos Crawl, 1 p.m. Enjoy helpings of Austin’s favorite food with cocktails while exploring West Sixth bars like Star Bar and Parlor & Yard. $35.

Whisler’s 4th Anniversary Party, 1 p.m. To celebrate this boozy birthday, on-site food truck Thai Kun is whipping up something special. Plus, there will be live music, drink specials and prizes.

Monday, June 12

They’re Back! Celis Re-Launch at Whip In, 5 p.m. Celis’ iconic Celis White and new Citrus Grandis IPA will be on tap in advance of the brewery’s reopening in North Austin.

The Craft Series at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, 6 to 9 p.m. The Driskill Hotel’s beer pairing dinner series continues, this time with Blue Owl Brewing’s sour-mashed beers. $40.

Tuesday, June 13

Easy Tiger’s Celis Launch Party, 5 p.m. Raise a glass of Celis White or Celis Citrus Grandis IPA with Christine Celis, the daughter of Celis Brewery’s original founder Pierre.

Wednesday, June 14

National Bourbon Day at Easy Tiger, 5 p.m. Celebrate this most important day with a special flight of Basil Hayden’s, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek & Booker’s for $12.

Vox Table’s Shacksbury Cider & WhistlePig Whiskey Dinner, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Chef Joe Anguiano has prepared a special four-course menu to pair with the cider and whiskey. $65.

Thursday, June 15

Cannon + Belle’s Texas Winemaker Dinner Series, 7 p.m. This month’s multi-course feast will feature wines from Lubbock’s McPherson Cellars as well as the founder, Kim McPherson.

Saturday, June 17

Hi Sign Brewing’s New IPA Release Party, 12 to 10 p.m. The brewery is making its lucky number seven beer and wants to celebrate the milestone with you. Relax in Hi Sign’s on-site hammocks.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hi Sign is releasing a new IPA at the brewery, the seventh beer it has made.

Off Flavor Tasting at B.B. Rover’s, 3 to 6 p.m. Train your palate to recognize off flavors in your beer with the help of this workshop led by a certified cicerone (beer expert). $25.

Garrison Brothers’ Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner. The Hill Country whiskey distillery is hosting a dinner to celebrate filling its 10,000th barrel with booze. $25-$40

Sunday, June 18

Father’s Day BrewBCruise, 2 p.m. Feast on Uncle Billy’s barbecue and beers while enjoying a relaxing cruise down Lady Bird Lake with your old man. $40.

Central Market Cooking School: Father’s Day Beef & Beer Dinner, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Spend the evening with Dad while learning to make beefed-up dishes paired with craft beer. $140.

Monday, June 19

St. Elmo Brewing, Soursop and Lewis & LeRoy Beer Dinner, 6 p.m. This collaborative dinner between two Austin food trucks and a brewery will feature a special beer, a Sichaun Saison. $78.

Saturday, June 24

Meet the Founder of Avery Brewing, 12 p.m. Banger’s is hosting Adam Avery of the Colorado brewery and will have a variety of Avery beers on tap like Liliko’i Kepolo.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, 5 to 9 p.m. Beer Camp on Tour comes to Austin and will feature both Beer Camp collaborations and other beers from U.S. breweries. $40-$75.

Uncle Billy’s, under new ownership, will expand by contract brewing at Celis

Uncle Billy’s is no longer a brewpub in the hopes of making cans of its beer more widely available across Texas cities like Austin, San Antonio and Houston and has begun the process of moving much of its brewing operations to North Austin’s soon-to-open Celis Brewery.

Photo by Matt McGinnis. Uncle Billy’s, at 1530 Barton Springs Road, is becoming a production brewery that will begin to have a lot more experimental releases on tap.

But that doesn’t mean much will change about the Barton Springs location where people have been coming since 2006 for beer and barbecue. Uncle Billy’s Brewery, as it’s now being called, is a “taproom-restaurant” still offering food, although it can’t sell wine, liquor or beer from other breweries any longer, and people will no longer be able to pick up six-packs of Uncle Billy’s beer to go.

These are a necessary sacrifice for the growth of the brand, Rick Engel, who opened the brewpub in Austin 12 years after opening Houston’s first (now defunct) brewpub since Prohibition, said in an interview.

“You have to decide what you want to be when you grow up with the way the laws are,” Engel said. “You start out as a brewpub, and if you want to get into distribution and expansion of the beer beyond the way the limits are, you have to go to the next tier, which is what we did.”

His Austin brewpub became the first in the state to start distributing to other restaurants and stores after a 2013 Texas law loosened up this restriction for the state’s brewpubs. But when Uncle Billy’s began canning, Engel didn’t realize the expansion in production would ultimately not meet demand.

Solving that problem has meant sacrifice on his part as well: Engel is no longer tied financially to Uncle Billy’s and has sold the business to Bob Leggett, CEO and founder of Artisanal Imports, one of the largest importers of Belgian beer in the U.S. Engel owns Ski Shores Cafe and various locations of Little Woodrow’s, retail establishments in the eyes of the law, and would have been in violation of the three-tier system by also having a manufacturing brewery.

Leggett, who remains at the head of his import business, had been looking to have a local beer he could add to the Artisanal portfolio and was put in touch with Engel for something much bigger. Importing beer and making it at the same time isn’t prohibited, and he jumped at the chance to take on a new project.

Yes, Texas law is complicated.

That’s why Engel worked closely with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission when he realized he wanted to take Uncle Billy’s more widely beyond the four walls of the business. He found the solution he was looking for by moving the bulk of production to Celis Brewery, which former Uncle Billy’s employee Christine Celis is opening in tribute to her father, the venerated Belgian brewer Pierre Celis.

All of Uncle Billy’s beer for distribution — currently, the Green Room IPA, Barton Springs Pale Ale and Lazy Day Lager — will be made at Celis, while the Barton Springs location of the brewery will continue making small-batch suds for enjoying on-site. Uncle Billy’s head brewer, Trevor Nearburg, had been trying to make enough of the brewery’s three canned mainstays while also producing a small roster of brewpub-only releases, a balance that didn’t always pan out.

“We’ve been at our 4,000 barrel capacity for almost 18 months,” Engel said. “But Celis has a much bigger barrel capacity, at 50,000. Celis will be brewing original recipes from Pierre and some other ones Christine’s developed with Daytona (her daughter), and there’s a regional brewer, Atwater, brewing out there as well in addition to Uncle Billy’s. There is plenty of capacity and growth for all of those brands.”

The founder of Uncle Billy’s, Rick Engel, is no longer the owner because of the way he decided to expand the brewery. But he remains the proprietor of other local businesses like Ski Shores Cafe.

New owner Leggett sees the Barton Springs location becoming a sort of “testing ground” for beers that may eventually join the three canned products beyond the brewery, and Nearburg is excited to expand his boozy repertoire.

“The beauty about taking production volume out of this facility to a place that is made to produce volume is that it will free up the brewers here to be creative, to make new things — stuff maybe they’ve wanted to make but haven’t had the time or the brewing capacity to do,” Leggett said.

That might eventually apply to other alcoholic beverages as well. Another future plan is for Uncle Billy’s to apply for a distiller’s permit and maybe even a winemaker’s permit, to bring back some of the drinks the brewery has had to abandon in its quest for greater distribution.

In the meantime, Leggett is just trying to transition Uncle Billy’s to a much bigger Texas footprint and getting customers across the state primed to the idea of having it available at more retail locations like HEB. The beer industry veteran certainly knows how to sell beer, having been involved in that side of the business since 1977. He was one of the first Shiner Bock distributors and began his import company in 1978 (a career move that eventually led to his meeting Pierre and Christine Celis at Hoegaarden in about 1986).

For Engel, it didn’t take long to see that Leggett was the right man to grow Uncle Billy’s into a much bigger brand. Engel will simply be a customer at the brewery now but believes the change was necessary.

“It was a big decision to make, but it was the right thing to do for the brand,” he said. “For me, it’s not about the money. It’s about the success of the brand and being able to watch it grow from what it was 11 years ago. It’s a dream to see your beers hit the market outside of your establishment and have people keep buying it.”