In a sign of how much Circle Brewing has grown in six years, the North Austin brewery is launching redesigned branding, a line of canned beers and a new spring seasonal during the anniversary party this weekend.
Circle co-founders Ben Sabel and Judson Mulherin decided last year that it was time to move on from bottles to cans and, while they were at it, to redesign their brand to a more sophisticated look. Now, they’re ready to showcase the big changes at the party from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, when the brewery will have live music, games, food trucks the Evil Wiener and Rebel Pizza Bar, and new merchandise to boot.
The six-year anniversary party will also offer a first taste of Circle Brewing’s M’Lady English IPA, a historical style that American breweries have made far more hoppy than had been traditional.
Like all of Circle’s beers, the English IPA is made with beer’s four main ingredients — malt, hops, yeast and water — and nothing else. It remains important to Sabel and Mulherin to continue their practice of following Reinheitsgebot, the ancient German Beer Purity Law dictating how beer could be made.
“We’re not changing who we are, just polishing the way we look,” Sabel said. “Working with those ingredients presents innumerable possibilities, and I think it’s shortsighted to think you can’t do enough with them. You don’t need to add orange and lemon into this beer to make it taste orange and lemony.”
M’Lady English IPA isn’t overly hoppy, although the East Kent Golding hops in the beer contribute a strong citrus characteristic. The beer is “emulating the original British style with English ale yeast, with dried fruit notes present, but mostly what you’re getting is a good malt base,” Sabel said. That might sound contrary to what an IPA typically tastes like, but Circle is drawing from Old World IPA recipes that offer more balance between the hops and malts.
The 2017 version of Archetype will also be at Circle’s six-year anniversary party this weekend. Although the brewery is transitioning its year-round brews — the Alibi Blond, Envy Amber and Blur Texas Hefe — from bottles to cans, the Archetype will remain in large-format bottles.
Circle Brewing, Sabel said, also plans to can one more of its beers, but he and Mulherin haven’t decided which one it will be. They do know it’s going to be “a battle royale” between the three IPAs: current fall seasonal Tuxedo T-Shirt Black IPA, M’Lady English IPA and an upcoming American IPA that will borrow qualities from both West and East Coast styles.
Once the American IPA is released, they’ll decide which IPA is going to be the biggest hit to put in cans based on their supporters’ reactions to each.
Sabel said that once the brewery chose to start canning, it only made sense to rebrand as well, something that they’d long wanted to do. Circle enlisted the design services of Trina Bentley of Make & Matter, which has been behind the sleek looks of companies like Hat Creek Burger Co. and Swift Single Malt Whiskey.
“When we made the decision to move into cans, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to polish the brand and make it more representative of us,” he said.
Each of the cans are decked out in bright colors and feature the geometric shape from which Circle Brewing took its name. Also present on the can are images of the four ingredients found exclusively in Circle beers, still important for the brewery to emphasize.
“We wanted the four ingredients to be represented,” Sabel said.
To attend the party Saturday at Circle Brewing, at 2340 W. Braker Ln., you’ll pay $15 at the door and receive a collectible 6th anniversary glass and three drink tickets.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Archetype Historical IPA was made with Burton White Malt.
Texas Independence Day with Yeti, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Buy a custom Yeti drinkware product and the new flagship store and bar will fill ‘em up on the house, with proceeds going to the Austin Music Foundation.
Bell’s Brewery Launch Party at Via 313, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Michigan pizza with Michigan beer, united at last: Via 313’s brick-and-mortar locations will bring back a pizza special for the occasion.
Circle Brewing’s 6th Anniversary Party, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11. This year’s celebration coincides with a big rebranding and Circle’s first-ever cans, as well as a new seasonal, M’Lady English IPA.
St. Patrick’s Day at North by Northwest, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 17. Special cask tappings, Irish stew and Irish music promise fun for the whole family (even a bouncy house and balloon artist for the kids.)
The Beer Train with the Bluebonnet Beer Co., 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The Austin Steam Train is hosting another boozy train ride, this time with beers from Round Rock’s only brewery. This event has been rescheduled to May 20 due to mechanical issues.
Sophia’s Bubble Brunch Launch, 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19. The supper club is debuting a monthly brunch with prosecco-based cocktails, champagne bottle service and brunch dishes with an Italian twist.
SXSW Recovery Party at Irene’s, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, March 20. Hair of the dog is sometimes the only way to recover from a week-long fest, so Irene’s will have drink specials on wine, beer and Tito’s Vodka.
Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21. Three out-of-this-world talks will be accompanied with pints of beer, astronomy-related art on display from local artists, and more at the North Door.
Yes Chef Beer Release at Black Star Co-op, 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, March 23. The brewpub’s beer team collaborated with its kitchen staff to come up with a beer perfect for the end of a long, hot kitchen shift: an adjunct cream ale.
Fourth Saturday at Real Ale Brewing, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25. In honor of the brewery’s 21st birthday, Real Ale is debuting two more beers in the Mysterium Verum series: Magnum Trux and Rex Indomitus.
Red Line Brewery Tour, Spring 2017, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Train-hop to check out three local breweries near the Capital MetroRail Red Line: Zilker Brewing, Black Star Co-op and Circle Brewing.
Tiki! A Hye Rum Event, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25. A new rum distillery from the makers of Calais Winery in the Hill Country is hosting a whole hog roast buffet-style dinner. $65-$595.
That second class on Nov. 20 is already sold out. So is the one that Circle added on Friday for Nov. 27. Clearly, the brewery has found a magical way to put together beer and yoga, a combination that other local breweries, like Zilker Brewing and Hops & Grain, have been doing as well.
As Entertainment Weekly reported over the weekend, yoga instructor Isabel Beltran, who offers yoga at the brewery every Sunday, has found a way to make the Harry Potter-themed hatha yoga classes truly infused with details from the wizarding world. Every person who stretches out on a mat receives a wand to do poses with, and these poses get renamed to terms any Harry Potter fan will recognize: the “Whomping Willow” for the tree pose, for instance, and the three-legged pose as “Fluffy.”
The Nov. 20 class is on the same weekend that “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the Harry Potter spin-off prequel film, debuts in theaters across the country. Beltran plans to have themed poses for that film as well, noting in the EW article that “we’re going to use different quotes from the book and incorporate the different magical creatures into poses.”
But don’t forget about the beer.
Part of the $20 admission fee gets you a pint of Harry Potter-inspired beer as well. (“Not Your Favorite Wizard’s Butterbeer,” amiright?) On Oct. 30, Circle Brewing had a couple of special casks on hand for the inaugural wizard yoga class, including one called “Pumpkin Juice” — a pumpkin-spiced Blur Texas Hefe.
Future classes aren’t abandoning the Harry Potter brews. On Nov. 20, the brewery has two additional casks planned that will have any Potter fan thirsting to try them.
Goblet of Fire: the Tuxedo Tshirt Black IPA with habanero and cinnamon
Phoenix Feather: the Pacific Jade Dry-Hopped Saison with pomegranate
It’s not hard to imagine that there’s lots of crossover between beer lovers and Harry Potter addicts, but “most outlets barely mention (the beer),” brewery representative Alexa Gonzalez Wagner said via email.
The $75 VIP ticket price might seem a little steep, but it’s a good deal for serious beer fans. They’ll get access to Fiesta Gardens, the location of the fest, two hours early, with “quality mingle time” with some of the brewers in store during that time. VIP tickets also come with a commemorative T-shirt and souvenir glassware.
Both VIP and general admission ticket holders will get 8 beer sample tickets — and plenty of time to roam the grounds, discovering new beers and breweries that might not be available in their city.
“Once again, we are excited to bring Texas craft brewers and Texas craft beer fans together in Austin for our unique celebration,” Charles Vallhonrat, the executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the organization in charge of the festival, said in a press release. “The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is one of a kind because it really is the brewers’ festival. With nearly 200 operating and in-planning brewery members, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild is the leading advocate for Texas craft beer.”
For the second year running, part of the proceeds from festival sales are going toward a good cause. The House That Beer Built, a collaboration between local breweries and the Austin branch of Habitat for Humanity, “aims to raise $85,000 to build a new home for a deserving Austin family,” according to the release.
Throughout this week, bars and breweries around the country are celebrating a big occasion in beer: American Craft Beer Week. Austin is no different, with multiple events each day through Sunday this week that will offer lots of good brews and good times.
Here’s a round-up of some of the ones you won’t want to miss, starting with a couple of events today.
Avery Sour Flight at Easy Tiger: Sample a flight of four tart brews from Avery Brewing in Colorado for $8: the Avery Lunctis Viribus; the Avery Fortuna; the Avery Dihos Dactylion; and the Avery Oud Floris, a Flanders Oud Bruin. The fun starts at 4:30 p.m.
Bishop’s Barrel Beer Dinner at the Dig Pub: This five-course feast features rare beers from Saint Arnold — Bishop’s Barrel brews 7, 8, 10, 11 and 13. The lucky diners will also be able to purchase Bishop’s Barrel 9 (Pumpkinator in bourbon barrels) and 12 (Christmas Ale in sauvignon blanc barrels with cherries and brettanomyces) to take home with them.
Tiny Barrel Release at Blue Owl Brewing: The East Austin brewery is releasing a tasting-room exclusive: a blend of pre-raspberry Dapper Devil, Blue Owl’s Belgian Strong Ale, with the new Saíson Puede, that’s been barrel- aged with the addition of Meyer lemon and pink peppercorn. The beer taps at 3 p.m.
The Hops & Grain Experience: The brewery is hosting a first-ever cold brew and brew event, featuring a panel with Hops & Grain founder Josh Hare and three top Austin baristas, as well as six beer styles with added cold brew. The $32.46 ticket gets you a commemorative gold-rimmed tulip glass with the brewery’s new coffee logo.
Kamala Gardens at Waller Creek Pub House: Miss the Whip In’s house beers? The Whip In’s Dipak Topiwala has started a new brewery, Kamala Gardens, and is offering an early taste on Friday evening. Try the Bitterama — a new incarnation of an old Whip In brew.
The ABGB’s Ruby Bottle Release: Tour the brewpub while securing your bottle of Ruby, an American sour that is part of the ABGB’s You’ll See, Baby series of sour beers. Reserve your spot for $6; only a limited number of spots are available for the tour, so you’ll want to do it early.
Barrel-Aged Beer Party at Craft Pride. The Rainey Street bar is tapping more than a dozen barrel-aged offerings and releasing bottles from the cellar. Some of the beers not-to-miss at this event include Community Barrel-Aged Legion, Real Ale Lux Aeterna and Buffalo Bayou Red Wine Barrel-Aged Red Velvet. The tapping starts at 1 p.m.; live music starts at 1:30 p.m.
Brewery District Bike Tour. Round out your American Craft Beer Week with this event postponed from the previous week because of rain. You’ll ride to Adelbert’s Brewery before heading to 4th Tap Brewing Co-op and finishing up at Circle Brewing.
Austin Steam Train Beer Flyer with Red Horn. The Cedar Park brewpub is pairing up its beers with a dinner from Greenhouse Craft Food in an unusual venue: aboard a train pulled by a diesel locomotive. It’s a three-hour round trip with limited seating and plenty of fun.
Seven Texas breweries won big at the World Beer Cup this weekend in Philadelphia — and three of them were from Austin. Circle Brewing, Independence Brewing and the ABGB won gold medals and a bronze medal, respectively.
And if a brewery takes home a medal from the World Beer Cup, they must be doing something right: 96 categories and more than 6,500 entered beers means there’s a lot of competition and no guarantee that a brewery will come back with a win. That’s why Circle Brewing, Independence Brewing and the ABGB getting medals is all the more remarkable.
Circle Brewing earned a gold medal in the historical beer category for the recently launched Archetype Historical IPA, which the brewers created to taste exactly as an IPA would have tasted hundreds of years ago. The brewery got its start in Austin five years ago by making beers using only the four traditional ingredients of hops, malts, yeast and water, also a historical practice.
The final Austin brewery to win was brewpub the ABGB, whose pilsner called the Rocket 100 grabbed a bronze medal in the American-style lager category. The Rocket 100 has already been a medal winner, having gotten a gold at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. (That’s another notable beer competition in the U.S.)
Texas’ four other World Beer Cup are Houston’s Karbach Brewing, Dallas’ Deep Ellum Brewing, Dallas’ Oak Highlands Brewery and Addison’s Bitter Sisters Brewing.
White Rabbit Pub Crawl on Rainey Street, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3. Chase the white rabbit – a.k.a. a pint of Independence Brewing’s white ale – through various bars, including Craft Pride, Banger’s and Bungalow.
Uncle Billy’s First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. Friday, March 4. Kick off your weekend with a refreshing version of the popular Lazy Day Lager made with prickly pear, sour orange, and lemon zest.
Twisted X 5K Beer Run, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 5. When you’ve finished up this easy street run through Dripping Springs, you can return to the brewery for a post-race party with beers, food trucks and music.
Wurstfest’s Craft Beer Festival, 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5. Pours of more than 80 craft beers are available at this New Braunfels festival. $35 in advance, $50 at the door; $100 VIP tickets.
BeerYoga at Hops & Grain, 10 a.m. Sunday, March 6. A one-hour, all-levels yoga class will relax you just in time for a pint of beer. $19.44.
Craftsman Monthly Crawfish Boil, 1 p.m. Sunday, March 6. $5 per pound of crawfish, along with $5 Tito’s Handmade Vodka and $10 Tecate 6-packs (or $2 Tecate singles).
Wine Slushies at the Infinite Monkey Theorem, 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 through 10 p.m. Monday, March 21. Slurp your wine throughout SXSW, when the urban winery is offering a very fun alternative to the normal way of drinking wine.
Books & Beers at Blue Owl Brewing, 5 p.m. Thursday, March 10. Librarians will be at this happy hour, pairing their favorite books with Blue Owl brews. Plus, bring in gently used books for donations and sign up for your very own library card.
Irish Whiskey at Twin Liquors Round Rock, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10. Prep yourself in advance of St. Patrick’s Day with this guided tasting of Beam Suntory whiskeys, including Kilbeggan and Connemara. RSVP in advance to secure a seat.
Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing’s Unoversary, 7 a.m. Friday, March 11 through 11 p.m. Saturday, March 12. Two days of celebrations, including special beer releases: Unoversary Smash, You Be Forty Barrel-Aged Belgian Red, Vanilla Whiskey Barrel Suburban Ninja and more.
Circle Brewing 5th Anniversary Party, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 12. Celebrate five years of Circle with the brewery’s new Archetype Historical IPA. There will also be food trucks, live music, fun games and firkin tappings.
Kooper Family Rye Tasting Room Opening, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 12. The Dripping Springs tasting room and barrel house will have whiskey samples and Old Fashioneds to enjoy Saturdays starting this weekend. $5.
St. Patrick’s Day at Opal Divine’s, 12 p.m. Thursday, March 17. Two Opal locations – Penn Field and Marina – are offering live music all day, as well as the usual pints of beer (that won’t be dyed green).
Black Star Co-op Crawfish Boil, 1 p.m. Saturday, March 19. A whole boatload of Gulf Coast crawfish awaits for a boil on the patio, where you can chow down on a 2 lb. plate for $12.
Infamous Is Turning Three, 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Ten Infamous Brewing beers – including Sweep the Leg, Party Juice and a third anniversary brew – will be the highlights of this special day.
Fixe’s Halter Ranch Vineyard Happy Hour, 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23. Enjoy a complimentary wine tasting with small bites on the patio with the Paso Robles winemakers. RSVP through Facebook to attend.
Banger’s Smoke Out Saturday, 12 p.m. Saturday, March 26. You know the drill. Enjoy a feast (a seafood boil this month) with live music and one of Banger’s many beers.
Craftsman’s Grand Opening Party, 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3. This new East Cesar Chavez Street bar is celebrating with good drinks and a live performance by Roxy Roca.
Arro’s First Mondays Pairing, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Monday, May 4. This month’s features regional French cuisine paired with a fantastic selection of rosé wines. $60 for five courses; $100 with wine.
Arro’s Producer on the Patio series, 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 5. An intimate happy-hour tasting with French wine importer Jon-David Headrick. Sample four wines with light bites.
Cafe Josie’s Wine Me Dine Me Dinner, 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 5. This five-course feast focusing on the cuisine and wines of Spain will feature Dan Redman of Mosaic Wines discussing each of the wines. $85.
Uncle Billy’s 8th Anniversary Party, 12 p.m. Thursday, May 7 through 10 p.m. Sunday, May 10. Limited release beers, cask beers and special tappings including Billy’s Bock, The Elegast Belgian Red, UB Trippin Tripel, and the Crazy Day Maibock. Plus, a crawfish boil on Saturday.
Firkin Tappings at Banger’s, 6 p.m. every Thursday in May. The month’s firkins include (512) Violet Beauregard on May 7, Lone Pint Gentleman’s Relish with Vanilla on May 14 and Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #15 on May 21.
Meridian Hive’s Grand Opening Party, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Austin’s only meadery is finally throwing a big party to celebrate. $15 for three session meads or three still meads or a combination of the two.
Wurstfest’s Craft Beer Festival, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 9. 40 craft beers on tap, plus a variety of food trucks, because Wurstfest’s November festival just isn’t enough.
Bitch Beer’s Blog-a-thon, 1 p.m. Sunday, May 10. Help the Bitch Beer writers raise money for their trip to Belgium with this afternoon of special beer tappings, raffle prizes and more.
La V’s Boutique Spirits Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 14. The restaurant doesn’t just have an extensive wine list. To show off its well-crafted spirits options, La V is throwing a 5-course dinner with spirits pairings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
The Austin Winery’s 1 Year Celebration, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 15. 15% off all bottles and pours during the party at the urban winery. Plus, if you buy a bottle, you’ll be entered to win a wine club membership for one year.
Spec’s Fest, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 16. Enjoy a huge selection of gourmet food offerings, live music, storewide specials and amazing prizes, plus gain insider tips on wine and food parings from the Spec’s experts. The fest is going on at two locations, Arbor Walk and Brodie Lane.
Sullivan’s Steakhouse Patron Dinner, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. Four-course dinner featuring pork belly tacos, tamales, braised beef shortribs and tres leches cake, all paired with a Patrón drink. $79.
Pre-Release Gose Tapping at Real Ale Brewing, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 23. The beer from last year’s anniversary party is returning this year as a canned summer seasonal. Get a special early taste of the salty treat at the Blanco brewery’s taproom.
Brews for Better Lives at Hops & Grain, 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 24. $25 ticket includes live music, beer, 1 meal ticket, games and more, and all proceeds benefit the Whole Planet Foundation.
The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ Toast & Roast, 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Taste the 20 Texas wines that made Texas Monthly’s list of Best Texas Wines 2014 – the only opportunity you’ll have to try them all together. Plus, Chef John Bates of Noble Sandwiches is roasting up a pig, goat and lamb. $100.
Texas Independence Day at Oasis, Texas Brewing, 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 2. Toast to Texas independence with OTXBC’s core beers and a special sneak tasting of the upcoming Metamodern Session IPA. WhichCraft Beer Store is also hosting a free OTXBC tasting from 6 to 8 p.m.
Arro’s First Mondays Pairing, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Monday, March 2. An exploration of wines and cuisine from the Languedoc/Roussillon region of France. $60; additional $40 with wine pairings.
Live Oak Beer Dinner at Odd Duck, 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 2. The five-course meal will include Live Oak’s Liberator and Primus. Make reservations by emailing email@example.com. $101.
Odell Brewing Tap Takeover at Banger’s, 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 4. A mix of 10 firkins and draft beers from Odell, including Wolf Picker, Barrel Thief, Loose Leaf, Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout and more.
Hops & Grain Party at Barley Swine, 6 p.m. Sunday, March 8. Mingle with the chefs and brewers and enjoy special food and drink options, in particular a limited-edition beer served only at the dinner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations. $85.
Libations 101: History of Gin at School House Pub, 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 9. This monthly how-to about cocktails focuses on gin this time. You’ll learn how to make tonic, the difference between gin styles through a tasting of Aviation, Waterloo and Beefeater gins, and the step-by-step process of infusing spirits.
Circle’s 4th Anniversary Party, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14. $15 gets you a pint glass and three drink tickets. Better put one of those toward a taste of the new Devil’s Envy Whiskey Barrel-Aged Amber.
#Austin360Drinks Koozie Party, 1 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Celebrate the koozie with Austin360 at Bar 2211, which has only canned beer, and bring your favorite koozie to the party.
Craft Pride’s 2nd Annual Hot Pepper Beer Party, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Several pepper beers will be on draft and in casks; plus, the Craft Pride crew will run a couple of other beers through Hop Rockets stuffed full of peppers to create their own spicy offerings. Come ready to burn.
Relishing in the new flavors you can find in your old favorite brews, tapped from a firkin, is just one of the many benefits of the small casks. These vessels are used for conditioning and serving beer that is typically unfiltered, unpasteurized and served without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure, making it less carbonated and smoother than beer poured from a draft system.
Another plus to using a firkin for serving beer is that it’s kept at a warmer temperature, augmenting the flavor profile and aroma.
In other words, firkins can pull out fresh nuances of the beer your tongue hadn’t detected before. Brewers use the firkins to experiment with their beer recipes, sometimes adding new ingredients to the beer, such as a different type of hops or something more unusual like toasted coconut. And since the beer in them is thus very limited (the cask holds about 41 liters of liquid), beer lovers often scramble to get their hands on a glass of some before it’s all gone.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden on Rainey Street is making the scramble a little easier with a firkin tapping every Thursday at 6 p.m. Each of the beers will have been “infused with unexpected additions such as fruits, herbs and spices,” according to a press release.
Here’s the full list of February firkin tappings.
Thursday: Jester King Le Petit Prince, dry hopped with Mosaic hops
Feb. 12: a double tapping of (512) Bruin with French oak tips and (512) Cascabel Cream Stout Mexican Hot Chocolate
Feb. 19: Circle Night Light with Guatemalan coffee
Feb. 26: Ballast Point Victory at Sea with Devil’s Share Whiskey-soaked oak chips