Austin’s drinking events calendar, August 2016

Booze and Food Series No. 9 at Jenna’s Asian Kitchen, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2. The ninth installment of Jenna’s popular food pairing series returns with beverages from Texas Saké Co. $70.

Contributed by Jenna's Asian Kitchen. Texas-made sake is the featured pairing at a Jenna's Asian Kitchen dinner.
Contributed by Jenna’s Asian Kitchen. Texas-made sake is the featured pairing at a Jenna’s Asian Kitchen dinner.

Duck Derby Happy Hour, 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4. Odd Duck and Hops & Grain are offering bites and beers in support of the Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area’s Austin Duck Derby. $35.

The Paramount Theatre’s 2016 Beerlympics, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4. Compete on teams to try and win backyard and tailgating games like flip cup, giant Jenga and more. $25.

Austin Beerworks’ Super Awesome Lager Release Party, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5. Get a taste of the brewery’s latest seasonal, a tribute to the Bavarian helles lager.

Infinite Monkey Theorem’s First Friday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5. The urban winery will have tarot readings, a silent disco, henna tattoos and more for this monthly tradition.

Burgers & Beer at Central Market Cooking School, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5. Learn how to pair two of Americans’ favorite things at this cooking class, sampling both food and drink. $50.

Banger’s 4th Anniversary Party, 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Live music and another epic beer list – with collaborations between Banger’s and certain breweries – heralds the milestone.

Waller Creek Pub House’s Grand Opening Part Two, 12 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Celebrate the first anniversary of this beer bar with street tacos, live reggae music and special beers.

The Beer Museum Grand Premiere, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. The pop-up museum with aspirations of a brick-and-mortar launches at Last Stand with a look at the history of beer.

White Linen Night, 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Try bites from Second Street District restaurants, as well as wine and beer from 4th Tap Brewing Co-op. $35-$50.

Easy Tiger’s Rosé Party, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7. Try flights of French or American rosé, also available by the glass, alongside special food pairings.

Independence Brewing Pairing Dinner at Pizzeria Vetri, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7. Girls Pint Out is hosting this four-course dinner with Independence RedBud, Power & Light Pale, and more.

The Craft Series Beer Dinner at the Driskill, 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. This monthly beer pairing dinner is a collaboration this time with Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, featuring Zilker brews.

Odell Beer Dinner at Easy Tiger, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9. Five courses paired with Odell Brewing’s suds await at this feast hosted by owner Doug Odell. $60.

Blue Owl Brewing’s Hop Totem Sour IPA Release, 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10. Yes, you read that right: a sour IPA, with heavy additions of Amarillo, Chinook and Galaxy hops.

Rogness’ Super Final Hiatus Party at Growler Bar, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10. Have one last pint of Rogness beer – such as Yogi or Heller Weizenbock – and learn about the plans for Rogness Brewing’s resurrection.

Photo by Emma Janzen/ American-Statesman. Jester King beers are a commodity in the beer community, especially for people looking to trade for other top-notch brews.
Photo by Emma Janzen. Come to Six-Pack Stories early for a meet-and-greet happy hour; the panel starts at 8 p.m.

Six-Pack Stories: Sour Showdown, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11. The second panel in this series explores sour brews at one of the biggest local places to find them, Jester King Brewery. $16.73.

Lager Jam 3 at Billy’s on Burnet, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. Enjoy pours of some cold and crisp lagers from Austin breweries, with $30 getting you a Lager Jam pilsner glass, screen-printed shirt and koozie.

Last Stand’s Big Brewery Tour, 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. It’s the first tour of the brewery since Last Stand opened the new taproom. $10 includes a branded pint glass and pour of beer.

Middle School Dance Party at Cheer Up Charlies, 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. Party like it’s 1995 and come dressed like it, too, if you want. There will be a special Spice Girls tribute at midnight.

Contigo’s Local IPA Pairing Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. A five-course meal featuring IPAs from a handful of Austin breweries, including Adelbert’s, Austin Beerworks, Real Ale and more.

Eureka’s Steal the Glass Night, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17. Buy the beer and take home the branded glass. This time, enjoy Rogue’s Honey Kolsch and Marionberry Braggot.

Tallgrass Brewing Austin Release at the Whip In, 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18. The Kansas brewery has launched in Texas with beers like the 8-Bit Pale Ale and the Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout.

Circle Brewing’s Pacific Jade Saison Release Party at Icenhauer’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19. Circle’s latest seasonal, a dry-hopped saison, will be on tap along with three other Circle brews. Plus, Icenhauer’s has whipped up a special beer cocktail for the event, the Jaded Daiquiri.

Oasis, Texas Brewing’s 2 Year Anniversary, 12 p.m. Saturday. Rain or shine, the Lake Travis brewery will have special tappings, including a cask of He-Man Session Hater. There will also be live music, food and more.

Cider Fest at the Whip In, 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. More than 15 draft ciders, special bottles and curated flights of cider from both around the globe and closer to home await at this celebration. Plus, local ciders Argus and Texas Keeper will be on hand for a Q&A.

The Spider House 20th Anniversary Festival, 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. One of Austin’s few remaining oases of “old Austin weird” is celebrating a big milestone with live music, water slide, dunk tank, custom Spider House piñata and more.

New Amsterdam Vodka’s It’s Your Town, 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. Street art and an Austin-inspired cocktail will make this bash a fun end-of-summer event.

Sierra Nevada Flight Nights at Easy Tiger, 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22. Otra Vez Gose, Kellerweis Hefeweizen and more beers from Sierra Nevada will be available in $8 flights. Fork over an extra $7 for a pairing board of Easy Tiger treats.

Summer-Friendly Wines at Central Market Cooking School, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22. The heat of the season isn’t over yet, so learn about which wines will keep you refreshed. $10.

Dog Days of Summer Yappy Hour at Little Woodrow’s, 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26. All Austin locations of Little Woodrow’s are teaming up with Tito’s Vodka’s charitable arm Vodka for Dog People to raise money for local dog charities.

1400 Miles Community Ride at Twisted X Brewing, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. Bike 24, 45 or 60 miles and then enjoy food and beer from the Beerliner, as well as good music.

Rentsch Brewery’s 1 Year Anniversary Celebration, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. For this party, Rentsch’s mainstay brews, Hefeweizen, Weizen Bock, IPA and Blonde will be available, along with a few special release brews and firkins tapping throughout the day.

Yard Bar 1-Year Anniversary Party, 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. Celebrate the birthday of this pooch-friendly bar and dog park with live music and top dog drink specials.

Punch Bowl Social’s Anniversary Party, 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28. 100 percent of the $20 tickets are being donated to two local charities, and they get you barbecue, drink specials, carnival games and live music.

Greenhouse Craft Food’s the Endless Summer Supper with Hops & Grain, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28. The Round Rock restaurant’s monthly craft beer dinner series continues, this time with Pacific Islander flavors inspired by the 1966 surfing film “The Endless Summer.” $68.63.

Retro-inspired bar Kitty Cohen’s replaces Bar 2211

The bar that had once aspired to grow the largest collection of canned beer in Texas is no more. In Bar 2211’s place is something very different: a retro-inspired bar called Kitty Cohen’s.

Photo from Kitty Cohen's Instagram. The new bar replacing Bar 2211 is going for a 1970s Palm Beach vibe, with an inviting patio area.
Photo from Kitty Cohen’s Instagram. The new bar replacing Bar 2211 is going for a 1970s Palm Beach vibe, with an inviting patio area.

“Inspired by the daredevil ladies in our life, Kitty Cohen’s is a bar, lounge & outdoor kitchen that is a little bit classy, a little bit trashy, and steals its design aesthetic from 1970s Palm Beach clubs, bungalows and swinging pads,” according to Kitty Cohen’s website.

Kitty Cohen’s — owned by 1886 Management, the group behind Proof & Cooper in Dripping Springs and the Blackheart on Rainey Street (and the now-defunct Bar 2211) — opens on Wednesday, with a grand opening celebration set for July 22, exactly a month later.

The bar hopes to become your go-to summer hangout and makes a persuasive case for it with a bright and colorful outdoor patio area, complete with big blue umbrellas and even a shallow-water pool. (The most striking feature inside is a grand piano.)

Plus, the outdoor kitchen will become the site of pop-ups featuring local chefs. For drinks, expect cocktails, punch and other refreshing options like sake and beer.

At 2211 Webberville Road, near the tiny Fleet Coffee and the relocated Dog and Duck Pub, Kitty Cohen’s will be opened 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/kittycohens/timeline.

Texas Saké Co. relaunches Sunday with new saké

Adam Blumenshein and Tim Klatt opened Strange Land Brewery in the Westlake area late last year — and not long after, they quickly started taking on a different sort of brewing.

texas sake co.After purchasing the Texas Saké Company when they realized it was about to go under, they’ve spent the past few months developing a new recipe and producing it on a commercial scale with toji (head brewer) Jeff Bell. The saké, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, is now ready to debut with a big release party on Sunday at the brewery, followed by distribution around Austin at the end of next week.

“The process (for making saké) is a little more nuanced than making beer,” Klatt said. “It takes awhile to brew, and we had to learn all the aspects that go into it, from pressing rice to filtering it and blending it. We’re really pleased with our first few batches.”

On Sunday, you’ll be able to try their two versions of Texas saké, both of which use the same base recipe featuring rice grown right here in the state. One, junmai, is filtered, while the other, junmai nigori, is unfiltered and thus has a cloudiness from the kasu, small bits of rice particles that settle at the bottom. These particles contribute big differences in flavor and mouthfeel, Klatt said.

“Our junmai sake is very crisp and semi-dry with a great bouquet of honeysuckle and lilac and flavors of green apple and pear,” he said. “The nigori has the enhanced mouthfeel (from the kasu), and it’s got more of a flavor of oats, some creaminess and a warm licorice finish.”

These two varieties have already gotten good feedback from people who are lucky enough to be drinking at the Strange Land tasting room when Blumenshein or Klatt decide to open a bottle of saké from the initial batches. It’s these beer lovers, in particular, that Klatt hopes to attract with the revamping of Texas Saké Co.TXSake_Mockups_Nigori_Front

“We’re hoping for some crossover from the craft beer world because we’re bringing some really good craft flavors back into the saké,” he said, comparing the Japanese beverage to craft beer as it was just a few decades ago, when there was just a fledgling following devoted to the range of flavors that few knew beer could have.

“Right now, there’s a lot of industrial, mass-produced, uninteresting sake out there,” Klatt said. “What we’re doing is taking a smaller approach. We’re breaking some rules but still keeping it traditional. That’s what gets me excited.”

In Japan, he said, saké brewers have to follow strict guidelines, such as using particular types of yeasts at certain temperatures. But being in Texas, he and Bell, who joined the company from Austin Homebrew Supply, don’t have the same restrictions. That opens them up to producing fun experimental saké, he said, such as peach saké or even hopped rice beer.

The goal is to brew 10 barrels a month — but that, of course, depends on how sales do, something he can’t anticipate right now. Texas Saké Co. is going to be locally and regionally distributed, he said, and bottles will be available in sushi bars, wine outlets and mom-and-pop stores. Plus, “Saké Sunday” might become a regular event at the brewery.

Saké Sunday at Texas Saké Co. 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. 5501 N. Lamar Blvd. www.txsake.com.

Austin restaurants prepare for World Sake Day celebrations

It’s made from rice. It’s brewed, rather than distilled. And it’s a far more versatile alcoholic beverage than you might give it credit for — capable of taking on a variety of different flavors based on how much the rice is milled and how much alcohol has been added to it.

Sake, originating from Japan, is often called “rice wine,” but because it’s created in part by converting starch to sugar for fermentation, it’s more akin to beer. That’s just one of the facts about the drink to be aware of before World Sake Day on Wednesday. Once just a national event in Japan (Oct. 1 is traditionally the starting date of sake production in the country), it’s now an opportunity to become familiar with one of the lesser known beverages around. Three Austin restaurants can help further your education with sake cocktails and even a sake pairing dinner.

Lucky Robot

The Japanese restaurant on South Congress Avenue has a handful of sakes that you can sip straight in masu boxes — an easy way to catch all the nuance, from sharp and clean to floral and aromatic, that sake can deliver — but once you recognize some of their defining notes, the seven sake punches show off how sake can complement other cocktail ingredients.

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The Green Manalishi, one of Lucky Robot’s sake punches, comes with junmai sake, lemon and lime juice, agave nectar, cucumber, cilantro, mint and serrano.

“Sake is subtle like vodka, which makes it very versatile,” Lucky Robot’s Mason Evans said. “So consider the sorts of characteristics in incorporating sake (into cocktails) that you would with vodka. Some of sake’s finer notes can get lost in overpowering ingredients.”

That means you’ve got to know your sake. Evans does. He’s been working with sake for 10 years at Lucky Robot, and his punches are as varied as sake can be. For example, the Green Manalishi (named after a Fleetwood Mac song) starts off sweet, then gets feisty with a pinch of serrano pepper, before finishing with cucumber’s mild bitterness. The Barton Springs, a combination of prosecco and sake, is far more floral, in part thanks to the blueberry puree and lychee (a fragrant fruit native to Asia) mixed in. And the Lebowski, my unexpected favorite, is essentially a sake White Russian, rich and not too sweet.

In honor of Sake Day, Wednesdays now feature an all-day happy hour, with the Lewbowski, Peach Blossom and Green Manalishi available in 33 oz. carafes for $9.

Uchiko

A new sake cocktail will debut at Uchiko just in time for World Sake Day — and bar manager Nic Vascocu decided to get a little experimental with the sake itself, smoking it and steeping charred applewood chips in the sake for 12 hours. The fall cocktail also has lemon juice, maple syrup and apple bitters, but it’s the smoked quality of the sake complementing tart apple in a savory balancing act that you’ll notice most.

Uchiko's Natsu Jamu
The Natsu Jamu is one of Uchiko’s current cocktails, an easy summer sipper with Gekkeikan sake, ginger syrup, muddled mint and basil, lime juice and Angostura bitters.

The Uchiko staff is careful in selecting sake for both cocktails and straight sipping. Owner Tyson Cole noted that you don’t have to choose a high-grade sake, one with rice that’s been brewed to a very fine polish, to enjoy it.

“As long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters,” he said. “You need a good gateway choice because I think people are intimidated by sake.”

Another easy way to try sake is to pair it with food. And why wouldn’t you do that at Uchiko, where the cocktails are often influenced by the cuisine? Cole said it’s “one of the best pairing beverages. It’s less acidic than wine, it’s very clean and it lets the food shine by standing in the background, without disappearing.”

Tadashi

Although this Japanese restaurant, located in the Hill Country Galleria, might be a bit far from the Austin core, it’s well worth the drive out to Bee Caves to explore the selection of sake that owner Shawn McClain prides himself on carrying. He spent a few years living and working in bars in Japan and said that though beer and soju, a vodka-like Korean liquor, were most popular there, he tended to prefer sake. “I’d be working from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and then drink ’til noon,” he said with a smile.

tadashi sake
Tadashi serves sake sans cocktails but with little masu boxes, just as it’s often served in Japan.

And at his restaurant here, which attempts to bring alive the culture and food he misses after being away for so long, you won’t find any sake cocktails for a reason. Many natives of Japan don’t drink sake mixed with anything, and anyway, he said, “I want people to really taste sake since it’s such a relative mystery to some.”

He poured me a few small shots and explained that like beer, sake comes in different types all primarily based on the polish of the rice and whether alcohol has been distilled into it, a choice that some brewers make to help extract flavor and aroma. Plus, sake  “really starts opening up at room temperature” — which means that like Evans and Cole, he doesn’t recommend hot sake even though that’s often how people drink it.

Tadashi will be hosting a seven-course sake dinner featuring fresh fish and seasonal delicacies in celebration of World Sake Day. Among the courses that will be carefully paired with sake are Pork Belly Kushiyaki, Texas Poke and Japanese cobbler, all new to the restaurant’s seasonal menu. The dinner will be on Monday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m.