Austin brewpub Pinthouse Pizza to open third location in Round Rock

After finding a niche in Austin as a family-friendly brewpub selling beer and pizza, Pinthouse Pizza is moving a little north of the city for its newest location in Round Rock. Construction will start this summer at a plot of land at Old Settlers and Interstate 35.

It might take longer to get this third brewpub up and running because Pinthouse is starting from the ground up, erecting an entirely new building rather than simply retrofitting an existing one, as with the first two on Burnet Road and South Lamar Boulevard. The team behind Pinthouse, which includes Director of Brewing Operations Joe Morhfeld, is excited to put their stamp on the project from the start.

“We’ll have more space to do what we want,” he said.

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Pinthouse Pizza will be making many more beers at an upcoming Round Rock location.

And why Round Rock? The town is appealing because it’s become an outpost of other Austin chains like Hopdoddy and the site of new restaurants from established Austin chefs like Jack Gilmore, who opened Salt Traders Coastal Cooking there last year to strong reviews.

“It just kind of made sense for us to move there, looking at the other restaurants around there and how they’re doing and the demographic,” Mohrfeld said. “With the population shift and everything, it seemed like a natural fit for us. And there’s still open land that we were able to grab.”

For his part, Mohrfeld plans to approach the brewing program there in the same way he has the other two: offering new and different beers at it with Pinthouse’s indelible balanced style.

“You’ll never find Man O’ War (Pinthouse Burnet’s flagship beer) at the south location, just like you won’t find Electric Jellyfish (Pinthouse Lamar’s flagship beer) at the north location,” Jacob Passey, head brewer at the South Lamar brewpub, said. “We might make similar beers with some crossover recipes, but for the most part, if you always go south and you want to go north, we want you to be able to try new beers. Or vice versa.”

That will be the case at Round Rock: Morhfeld is considering making Training Bines, another Pinthouse IPA, the flagship at Round Rock. People at the Burnet pub have already gotten to try it, as he and the brewers work to perfect it.

“It’s same thing we did with Lamar,” the second Pinthouse location to open, he said. “We had been working on a lot of the beers for Lamar for a year plus leading up to it. We just took the stuff that worked and took it down there. So it’s not like we’re starting completely fresh. We’re able to incubate the beers at the two locations and see what works.”

One thing you can count on at the Round Rock spot: lots more exciting IPAs, Pinthouse’s specialty style. The brewpub was founded in 2012 and quickly established itself as the place to go for fresh takes on the beloved beer.

For more information about Pinthouse Pizza, visit pinthousepizza.com.

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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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.

Real Ale Brewing’s new Axis IPA goes big and bold

The IPA — short for India Pale Ale, the style of beer that calls for lots of hops for bitter, floral or citrusy flavors — remains the most popular and asked-for beer at bars and stores around the country. Noticing that the trend for IPAs hasn’t gone away, the Austin area’s oldest brewery, Real Ale, recently released an IPA, called Axis, that will satisfy fans of brash beers.

With notes of tropical fruit, citrus and peach on the nose and palate, the Axis IPA isn’t intended to mimic the intense hop bitterness characteristic in the West Coast IPAs that have dominated the market. It’s also not meant to be just like the East Coast IPAs that have arrived as a legitimate style: the similarly hoppy but incredibly hazy beers that brewers on the opposite end of the country have been making.

Contributed by Real Ale Brewing. Both the Real Ale Brewing Axis IPA tap handle and the beer itself have been designed to stand out on tap walls crowded with hoppy options.
Contributed by Real Ale Brewing. Both the Real Ale Brewing Axis IPA tap handle and the beer itself have been designed to stand out on tap walls crowded with hoppy options.

Instead, Real Ale’s new IPA is more of a “third-coast” response to both of these styles.

Real Ale’s head brewer, Schmitty, said he and the rest of the Blanco-based brewing team spent a lot of time refining an IPA recipe after noticing how prevalent the IPA had become.

“We were looking at the market and seeing how things were trending, and we saw a lot of growth in the IPA category,” Schmitty said. “We have hoppy beers, like our Lost Gold, but not a big, in-your-face IPA. The Lost Gold is more of an introductory IPA. Once we noticed palates were shifting to bigger and bolder IPAs, we wanted to make something different, put our toe in the water, and see how it goes.”

Finding just the right recipe was a team effort — and the Real Ale brewers didn’t come up with it the way they normally do.

“We started from square one with the recipe,” Schmitty said. “Our beers are designed in a similar manner, especially with the hops that we use, but this one, we blew that all up and started from scratch. Just so we could see how that would change the final product.”

Real Ale’s Axis recipe calls for dry-hopping the draft-only IPA with a combination of Eureka, Simcoe and Mosaic hops, and the brewery calls the fruity result “an offering so exotic” that it’s intended for “tap walls overrun with the white noise of West Coast IPAs.”

That’s not to say that Axis is quite unlike those beers, however. With Axis, Schmitty said, “We were shooting more for the West Coast style, but we weren’t trying to mimic anything. We wanted to maintain balance like we do with all our beers in the portfolio. We wanted hop intensity without going overboard, as some IPAs do.”

Hence the name. Axis is a species of deer, originally from India, that arrived in Texas in the 1930s and has now become a common animal to hunt in the state. The deer’s long, elegant antlers adorn the top of the IPA’s tap handle, but the deer also serves as a larger metaphor for Real Ale’s new brew. Just like the animal that invaded Texas in the last century, the Axis IPA is supposed to disrupt the category of IPAs on today’s tap walls.

“We were trying to play off the idea of West Coast versus East Coast IPAs,” Schmitty said. “If you split the country down the middle, the axis goes right through Texas.”

So far, the Axis IPA is available only on draft — with a tap handle that Real Ale designed to stand out on a wall of other alluring choices — but that might change if the beer catches on with Texas drinkers. It’s already appearing to be a hit, too.

“Reception has been really great,” Schmitty said. “We’ve already hit our initial goals for the launch. We actually were almost ahead of pace on that from the get-go. People were excited to see a new beer from Real Ale and a new big, bold IPA coming out. I’ve had people say this is their new go-to now.”