Hops & Grain brews an ale for Beer Mile Championship

Photo by Stephen Spillman. Chris Kimbrough, 45, is one of the runners to watch at Wednesday's Beer Mile World Championships in Austin. Although her beer of choice to run with is Hops & Grain's Alt-eration, the brewery has created another beer for the competition, a German-style blonde ale.
Photo by Stephen Spillman.
Chris Kimbrough, 45, is one of the runners to watch at Wednesday’s Beer Mile World Championships in Austin. Although her beer of choice to run with is Hops & Grain’s Alt-eration, the brewery has created another beer for the competition, a German-style blonde ale.

UPDATE: The Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships have been moved to the Circuit of the Americas at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Can you chug 12 ounces of a beer at 5 percent ABV or above? Can you do that while running and not spilling the beer all over the track? That’s the goal of a group of runners on Wednesday who will participate in the first-ever world championship event for the beer mile, an activity that’s involved runners doing four laps around a local track and drinking a can of beer with each loop, but the athletic feat hasn’t been official until now.

You can read more about the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships, taking place in Austin at the Yellow Jacket Stadium, in Statesman fitness writer Pam LeBlanc’s story (linked to above), and about the athletes to watch for during the race. And you can also go cheer on the runners at the free event. They’ll most likely be swigging a can of Hops & Grain beer: a German-style blonde ale, similar to a kolsch, that brewery owner Josh Hare decided to create just for beer mile-chugging.

He had been thrilled when professional runner Chris Kimbrough chose Hops & Grain’s Alt-eration as her beer mile brew last month when she set the women’s beer mile world record (breaking the one previously held for 17 years by Canadian Seanna Robinson, LeBlanc wrote in the story). A runner himself, Hare brewed up a beer even more perfect for a run after his brewery became the official beer sponsor of the Wednesday championships. Although it’s similar to a kolsch, a press release said, he put in “a small amount of dry-hopping to give the beer a spicy hop character that adds a clean, crisp finish.”

Because the rules of the beer mile state that runners must down a beer that can’t be below 5 percent ABV, the Hops & Grain beer clocks in at 5.1 percent ABV.  The brewery will also be providing its other beers to spectators.

The Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships start at 5 p.m. Wednesday at 3100 Hargrave St. If you can’t make it to the stadium, the competition is also going to be live streamed on flotrack.com.

“Whiskey Distilled” author to speak at BookPeople

"Whisk(e)y Distilled" by Heather Greene is a comprehensive guide to whiskey from all over the world, addressing how it's made and how to drink it.
“Whisk(e)y Distilled” by Heather Greene is a comprehensive guide to whiskey from all over the world, addressing how it’s made and how to drink it.

When Heather Greene first moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband, she didn’t know much about whiskey; she was a struggling musician who’d shown great promise in the states but overseas couldn’t get her label to pay what they owed.

“During one of my lavish pity parties, my husband turned to me and said that I really needed to do something. So I went out drinking,” she writes in the introduction of her new whiskey guide, “Whisk(e)y Distilled” (Viking Studio, $25).

She ended up getting hired on her first day in pursuit of a job by Scotsman Douglas McFarlane, manager of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a private membership bar for Scotch whisky lovers — and the gig that originated from a Help Wanted ad in the local paper quickly became much more. Greene is now a foremost expert on whiskey around the world, from Scotch to bourbon to rye to Irish whiskey and beyond, with a hefty resume surrounding whiskey to boot. She currently works as the director of the Whiskey School at the Flatiron Room in Manhattan and is teaching the same sort of lessons in the book as she does in her classes.

“My goal is to demystify whiskey and answer questions like: How do you taste whiskey? What are you supposed to smell? Do you swirl whiskey like wine? Can you put ice in a whiskey? Water? What does ‘small batch’ mean? Why is Johnnie Walker Blue so expensive? What is moonshine? Why does this bottle say non-chill filtered? How do you store it? Can you make money by investing in it? Can women drink it?” she writes in the introduction.

Throughout the book, she answers all those queries and more — it’s truly one of the more comprehensive books you’ll find on whiskey, written in a knowledgeable, engaging and accessible manner.

But sometimes hands-on instruction can be the best way to discover something new. Greene will be discussing “Whisk(e)y Distilled” at a book signing at BookPeople on Monday, and part of the event starting at 7 p.m. will feature a whiskey tasting. She might offer some of her tips on how to sample a new whiskey (and believe it or not, “All whiskey pretty much tastes the same,” she writes in the first chapter. “By taste, I mean our ability to detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami … through the receptors on our tongues. We simply cannot appreciate or even identify different whiskeys without using our noses.” So prepare your nose because you’ll need it).

37 West 26 Street is one of the original cocktail recipes published in Greene's whiskey guide.
37 West 26 Street is one of the original cocktail recipes published in Greene’s whiskey guide.

Or, if you’ve already got a pretty solid background on whiskey, the book also offers a variety of cocktail recipes, both classic and original, such as the 37 West 26. The Scotch-based cocktail will have a smoky but sweet personality, “a little mysterious yet approachable,” and I’m including the recipe here.

37 West 26

2 dry figs
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 to 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1/2 oz. Drambuie2 oz. whiskey

Muddle the figs in a shaker with the simple syrup. Add the lemon juice, bitters, Drambuie, and whiskey and ice. Shake vigorously. Strain and serve on the rocks. Garnish with lemon peel, open fig and lemon round.

— “Whisk(e)y Distilled” by Heather Greene

Troy & Sons brings moonshine whiskey beyond Appalachia

Asheville Distilling Co. has created a variety of cocktail recipes for their Troy & Sons' three whiskeys, including this Strawberry Blonde drink.
Asheville Distilling Co. has created a variety of cocktail recipes for their Troy & Sons’ three whiskeys, including this Strawberry Blonde drink.

When Troy Ball and her husband moved their family to Asheville, North Carolina, she never expected to get into the business of making hooch. They’d relocated from Texas and other parts of the country to keep her boys healthy, not to open up a distillery making whiskey — but after discovering the local moonshine makers’ habit of keeping the best of the spirit for themselves and selling the rest of it, she became intrigued by the “keeper” moonshine.

“I finally had some and was shocked at how smooth it was, nothing like the throat-burning stuff outsiders typically got,” she said.

She and her husband soon decided to open up a legal distilling operation of their own, naming it after their three sons. The Asheville Distilling Company produces Troy & Sons Platinum, an heirloom corn-based white whiskey; Blonde Whiskey, made using heirloom Turkey Red Wheat and white corn and aged in charred oak barrels; and Oak Reserve, made with heirloom white corn like the Platinum but aged in bourbon barrels. These have recently begun selling in Texas.

(It’s worth noting that the whiskey is ‘moonshine’ in name only. Moonshine by definition is illegally distilled alcohol — but legal whiskey producers like Ball often add it to their labels because it’s a folksy reference to Appalachia’s history of making the burning corn alcohol.)

The Troy & Sons website has a variety of cocktail recipes for moonshine newcomers to try the whiskey with. One such recipe, called the Strawberry Blonde, calls for the Blonde Whiskey. Having aged two years in oak, it will taste more like bourbon than either of the others.

Strawberry Blonde

1 1/2 oz. Troy & Sons Blonde Whiskey

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. Fragoli strawberry liqueur

3 dashes Angostura bitters

1 lemon rind

Shake all ingredients over ice. Strain into cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist.

— Asheville Distilling Co.

Deep Eddy Vodka’s distillery opening tomorrow in Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs is getting another boozy addition to the neighborhood with the opening tomorrow of Deep Eddy Vodka’s new distillery, which will begin hosting tours, tastings and private events on weekends.

Deep Eddy's new distillery will include a 5,000 square foot tasting area.
Deep Eddy’s new distillery will include a 5,000 square foot tasting area.

Along with the manufacturing and production areas, the distillery will include a 5,000 square foot public space with a large tasting bar where people can try all of the Deep Eddy Vodka varieties in both cocktails and flights showcasing the four vodkas. Deep Eddy Vodka bottles and merchandise will also be on hand to purchase.

Such a big expansion is possible because of a nearly 500 percent growth since 2012, two years after the company was originally founded, Deep Eddy Vodka CEO Eric Dopkins said. “Our new distillery will support our future demand as well as our one-on-one connection with our consumer,” he said in a press release.

Deep Eddy Vodka first released Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka in 2010, the first flavored vodka produced in Texas, followed by Deep Eddy Straight in 2011. But it was Deep Eddy Ruby Red, grapefruit-infused vodka, that catapulted Deep Eddy into such a high rate of growth.

“(When we released Ruby Red) we surpassed our goals by 700 percent over our forecast,” co-founder Chad Auler said. “That’s a great problem to have. We had to turn to our distillery guys and say, ‘Time to work double shifts.’”

To create a space "both inviting and contemporary," Deep Eddy Vodka consulted with Gary Payne of the Austin-based Environplan Architects Planners and Larry McGuire and Claire Zinneker from the  McGuire Moorman Hospitality restaurant group (Jeffrey's, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Josephine House) on interior design.
To create a space “both inviting and contemporary,” Deep Eddy Vodka consulted with Gary Payne of the Austin-based Environplan Architects Planners and Larry McGuire and Claire Zinneker from the McGuire Moorman Hospitality restaurant group (Jeffrey’s, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Josephine House) on interior design.

Deep Eddy Cranberry came out earlier this year and has also done well. By the end of this year, Dopkins expects that Deep Eddy “will be heading toward (producing) 400,00 nine-liter cases” of the four vodkas.

Visitors to the distillery, in addition to stopping by the tasting room, can see how each of the vodkas are produced. But they’ll certainly want to spend some time in the tasting area. There, cocktails will be $7, drinks in Deep Eddy mason jars will be $9 and a vodka flight will be $10.

The distillery, located at 2250 E. U.S. Highway 290, will be open to the public 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 12 to p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays; tours and tastings for private groups (as well as private events) are available throughout the week by appointment.

For more information, visit www.deepeddyvodka.com.

October drinking events calendar

Great Austin Beer Folks Appreciation Week at Hi Hat Public House, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30-Friday, Oct. 3. Not going to Denver’s Great American Beer Festival? No problem – Hi Hat’s hosting a week of beer festivities, including another round of Fermentation Cycle and a night of pumpkin beers.

Photo by Emma Janzen East Austin bar Hi Hat Public House is one of the many spots around town participating in this year's Austin Beer Week, going from Oct. 24 through Nov. 2.
Photo by Emma Janzen
East Austin bar Hi Hat Public House is one of the many spots around town participating in this year’s Austin Beer Week, going from Oct. 24 through Nov. 2.

Local Brewers Summit at Flying Saucer, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6. Author of “Pocket Beer Guide 2015,” Stephen Beaumont is promoting his new book with a tasting of local brews such as Real Ale.

Jeffrey’s Château Palmer Wine Dinner, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8. Four-course menu paired with the Bordeaux region of France’s Château Palmer’s wines. $300.

Houndstooth Coffee Brewing Class, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8. Learn how to brew cafe-quality coffee using the Kalita Wave, a popular hand-drip pour over tool. $20.

#MerlotMe Day at Red Room Lounge, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9. A complementary Merlot tasting with samples from some of the best vineyards in the Merlot-making business.

Independence’s 10th Anniversary Party, 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Big milestone means a big beer – a 10th anniversary dry-hopped barleywine – plus rare beers on tap and in casks. $15 at the door.

Hops & Grain’s 3rd Anniversary Party, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12. Celebrate with 20 different mainstays and Greenhouse beers that Hops & Grain has been experimenting with, including Concentrated Dark Matter, O-Fest Lager and a rum barrel-aged barleywine. $25.

The ABGB’s Brewer’s Dinner, 7 to 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13. Benefiting Austin Habitat for Humanity and the project the House That Beer Built, ABGB’s first-ever brewing dinner features five courses all paired with ABGB beers. $85.

Easy Tiger’s Whiskey Flight No. 5, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13 and Tuesday, Oct. 14. The fifth installment of Easy Tiger’s regular whiskey flight series focuses on American whiskeys such as Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye. You’ll get 3 /4 oz. tastings of 4 whiskeys and a small baguette. $30.

Austin Food and Wine Alliance’s Meet the Brewer Night, 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15. At this Thunderbird Cafe event, 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the alliance’s grants program. Live Oak, Jester King and Hops and Grain will be pouring, Frank will be serving food, and DJ Harrison Fjord will provide the live music.

Carmelo’s Wine & Food Pairing, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. Held in celebration of National Pasta Month, the event includes a reception and four-course dinner pairing Carmelo’s cuisine with some of Italy’s finest wines from Banfi Vintners. $90.

Cinebrew at Violet Crown Cinema, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. The series that pairs a retrospective film with craft beers will play 1971’s “Billy Jack” and offer Firestone Walker beers, in particular the Velvet Merkin, a decadent oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels.

Epicerie’s Italian Cheese and Wine Pairing Class, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. Join Epicerie’s cheesemonger Dan Largess and Pioneer Wines’ Shadd Scott to learn how to pair wine and cheese. Tickets include five pairings. $40.

Wine Workshop: Premium Wines at Central Market North Lamar, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20. Learn about the most popular varieties of grapes that provide the world with some highly sought-after wines and sample some examples. $25.

Apothecary’s Chocolate Wine Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21. Sweet meets savory in Apothecary’s five-course chocolate dinner paired with wines. $75.

Austin Beer Week, various times Friday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Nov. 2. Variety of events at breweries, beer bars and more, all celebrating local beer. Look for a more thorough list of recommended events on the Liquid Austin blog once they are released.

North by Northwest’s 13th Annual Oktoberfest, 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26. A special Oktoberfest beer will have been brewed onsite to complement the bratwurst, sauerkraut and other Oktoberfest-inspired foods. Plus, enjoy a polka band and other family-friendly activities.

Flying Saucer’s 7th Annual BeerFeast, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. 60 craft beers from more than 40 breweries, including rare and limited-release options. $35.

Draught House’s 46th Anniversary Party, 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. East Side King’s pig roast and beer pairing with New Belgium, DJ set by bartender DJ JBL and, of course, a killer beer list, including the just-released Jester King/Live collaboration beer, Epic Big Bad Baptist and Black Star Waterloo.

Hops & Grain’s 2nd Annual Halloween Party, 7 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. $20 tickets for a special mug with four pours (additional fills available) and music pumping all night. Plus, the fun of drinking beside an astronaut, a dinosaur or any number of other wacky costumes.