The food and drink website The Daily Meal isn’t the first one to round up the best college bars in America.
Business Insider and Thrillist have previously undertaken the daunting task of naming the best places for American college students to drink cheaply, root for their team and have memorable — or not-so-memorable — nights.
West campus favorite Cain and Abel’s made it to all of the above lists, debuting most recently at No. 16 on The Daily Meal’s 2015 national round up.
The bar is home to Texas Tea (a riff on a Long Island), the H-Bomb as well as daily rotating food and drink specials.
Cain and Abel’s opened in 1991, but the space on the corner of Rio Grande and 24th Street has been feeding and quenching the thirst of Longhorns for much longer: Between 1980 and 1989, the bar was known as Abel Moses.
Today Cain and Abel’s sister locations include Abel’s on the Lake and Abel’s North — but neither have quite the same quintessential college vibe as the original.
Jester King & Salty Sow Beer Dinner, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1. This meaty feast paired with Jester King’s farmhouse ales – in the scenic outdoors of the Hill Country brewery – looks hard to resist. $100.
Whip In Oktoberfest, 4:20 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5. An Oktoberfest for the service industry folks who are often working when the rest of us are celebrating. It will feature tappings and bottle openings of seasonal pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers.
Arro’s First Mondays, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5. The Monday tradition returns with a five-course dinner featuring wines from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. $60; $100 with wine pairings.
416 Bar & Grille’s Whiskey Wednesday, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7. The Burnet Road eatery’s debut whiskey flight night (four ¾ oz. pours) will focus on Texas whiskeys this month. $30 for the flight; $40 with food pairings.
Garbo’s Jester King Pairing Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13. Six-course dinner of seafood and Jester King brews, including Snorkel, La Vie en Rose and Atrial Rubicite. Call 512-350-9814 for reservations. $80.
Banger’s 3rd Annual Oktoberfest Celebration, 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 through 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. Four days of German beers, Banger’s sausage and live music – plus traditional stein hoists, gun salutes and more.
Real Ale Oktoberfest, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. German beer, German music and German food – the essence of Oktoberfest. $20.
Brew & Brew is 2, 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. Plenty of special beers from the likes of Jolly Pumpkin, Prairie Artisan Ales and more, as well as a couple of fun beer shenanigans, including a resurrected Austin Beerworks 99-pack filled with Black Thunder.
Black Star Co-op’s 5th Anniversary Party, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. Four tasty tappings of rare releases – as well one, a session IPA, just for member-owners – plus the usual house beer list. To skip the line, you can purchase $20 drink tickets in advance.
La V’s Mayacamas Wine Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20. Andy Erickson, the new winemaker of Mayacamas, will be present for this winemaker’s dinner featuring four courses and wine. $215.
Gourdough’s Revolver Brewing Beer Dinner, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. You’ll be a very full but very happy camper after this 4-course feast featuring pairings of Revolver’s Sidewinder, Ironhead IPA and more.
512 Brewing’s 7th Anniversary Party, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Firkins, barrel-aged beers and beer on nitro dominate the tap list at this anniversary party. Is your mouth watering yet?
The Draught House’s 47th Anniversary Party, 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. An annual tradition that kicks off Austin Beer Week, the celebration this year will have the likes of Deschutes 2013 Abyss, Odell Russian Pirate and Austin Beerworks Lychee Sour (and many, many more) on tap – including the brewpub’s own beers.
UPDATE: Cuvee Coffee Bar has posted an official release about what founder Mike McKim aims to do in light of the TABC confiscating Cuvee’s crowler machine:
“Cuvee’s position has been, and continues to be, that the practice of filling and selling crowlers does not violate its TABC permit nor any provision of the alcoholic beverage code.
“Cuvee is a law abiding business, with good relations with TABC representatives. Our decision to continue using the crowler was driven by our desire to obtain a judicial ruling on our use of the crowler — a decision not uninvited by TABC representatives.
“As the press release acknowledges, we were simply exercising our right to petition the courts for a ruling. That can’t happen until a court obtains jurisdiction over this issue. The violation formally issued by TABC today begins that process. Importantly, it has always been our intention to cease use of the crowler once we received the notice of violation. Now that we have that, we’ll pursue a resolution of the matter with TABC, and the courts, as necessary.”
EARLIER: Well, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has come and taken it.
“We know this issue is important to craft beer retailers and their customers… However, we do not support the continued violation of the law just because a retailer disagrees with it,” Dexter K. Jones, the TABC’s assistant chief for audit and investigations, said in a press release. “Cuvee Coffee ignored our repeated warnings and discussions, and that conduct resulted in TABC seizing the illegal equipment and subjecting its permit to a civil penalty. Other retailers who engage in illegal canning risk similar consequences.”
According to the TABC, Cuvee Coffee Bar — and any other place that doesn’t produce its own beer — can’t fill up a crowler, which Texas law interprets as a canned product. (Many in the craft beer industry, however, have argued that crowlers are recyclable alternatives to growlers, which are permitted in this state). The TABC originally approached Cuvee about removing the crowler machine on June 25, giving the coffee bar 30 days.
Needless to say, Cuvee didn’t exactly follow the rules.
Cuvee owner Mike McKim quickly decided that the best solution was to fight back — keeping the crowler machine front and center at his coffee bar’s East Sixth Street location.
“Come and Take It,” a new set of Cuvee T-shirts proclaimed. They started being sold so that Cuvee customers, many of them craft beer fans who love using crowlers as a way to take home beer, could show their support.
The T-shirts have also been a clever Texas-centric reference to the strategy McKim aims to take. In a Houston Press story a few weeks ago, he said that he and the TABC would likely go to court after he and Cuvee refused to pay any fines TABC would give them. “He sees this as a necessary step in getting the law changed,” according to the story.
That’s looking like what will happen. Now that the TABC has removed the crowler machine and issued the bar “an administrative violation,” Cuvee has two options: to pay the fine and stop selling crowlers or to contest the violation (and the law it’s based on) before a state judge. If McKim brings a second crowler machine into the bar, according to the press release, Cuvee would face even stricter penalties that could lead to cancellation of its alcoholic beverage permit.
He wasn’t the only owner of a bar that installed a crowler system in Texas, but he may be the only one who kept it around for so long after the TABC’s mandate. Even when the news broke in June about their dust-up, he had made up his mind about the next step.
“I think if I don’t do anything about this, just remove my crowler and that’s it, I think it could be disastrous not just for Texas’ beer community, but there could be a ripple effect nationwide, who knows,” he said at the time. “I can’t do nothing; that would be wrong.”
Joining the rainbow of canned beers in Hops & Grain’s year-round lineup is another hoppy, easy-drinking delight. A Pale Mosaic, which released on draft earlier this year, is now available in six-packs at local bars and liquor stores.
The beer is an American-style IPA whose name pays homage to a fairly new hop variety called Mosaic, according to the brewery. But that’s not all you’ll find in it. A Pale Mosaic also has a base of German Pale Ale and Vienna malts and a bittering charge of Nugget hops, and it’s dry-hopped with primarily Mosaic hops, as well as more Nugget and some Cascade “to deliver a beer that is clean and complex with notes of pine resin, grapefruit pith and blueberries.”
With this addition to the year-round lineup, Hops & Grain has moved Pale Dog and Alt-eration into seasonal status, as founder Josh Hare explained a few months ago in this blog post. Alt-eration will be on shelves each October through January, whereas Pale Dog will return every February through May. The East Austin brewery is also planning to have a not-yet-announced summer seasonal join them, according to a press release.
In the meantime, get your hands on one of those blue mosaic-tiled six-packs of A Pale Mosaic cans. The Hops & Grain crew will be at a couple of launch events around town this week where you can talk to them and try their beer. Tomorrow, meet the brewers from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Sunrise Mini Mart, 1809 W. Anderson Ln.; on Friday, drink with them at Craft Pride, 61 Rainey St., starting at 6 p.m.
For Texas breweries, this year’s Great American Beer Festival, held annually in Denver, proved to be an event for the record books.
A total of 15 medals were given to breweries and brewpubs in the state yesterday at the festival’s big awards show, the centerpiece of the sudsy three-day affair. Although that’s one less medal than last year, an unprecedentedly high number of the medals were gold — a new record for Texas.
Nine gold medals adorned the proudly puffed chests of brewers from Austin, Houston, Fort Worth and beyond on Saturday, including those behind the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Saint Arnold and Rahr & Sons. That’s all the more impressive considering the sheer number of participants in the competition and overall festival, with 1,552 breweries hailing from around the country (423 of those as first-timers) and only 275 medals awarded.
So which of our favorite Texas breweries earned one of those elusive gold, silver and bronze medals last weekend? Here’s a sampling of some of the winning brews.
(512) Wild Bear, gold medal for brett beer: (512) Brewing’s first foray into wild fermentation has clearly been a successful one. The brewers there — who earned their first medal after nearly 7 years in business — apply a funky twist to the brewery’s fall seasonal, Bruin, by adding Brettanomyces yeast and Pediococcus bacteria cultures after the primary fermentation. They then age the resulting blend in oak barrels for more than 10 months. According to (512), “this combination of wild bugs and barrel-aging gives (512) Wild Bear a complex and enticing aroma of tart cherries, oak, and a touch of barnyard funkiness,” plus a crisp tartness that will only strengthen with age.
Adelbert’s Vintage Monks, gold medal for Belgian- and French-style ale: One of the Belgian-focused brewery’s strengths is its experimental barrel program, which takes many of the mainstay styles and ages them for wood’s complex influence. The 9 percent barrel-aged dubbel that earned the North Austin brewery a shiny gold medal is particularly a knockout. Matured for up to two years in oak wine barrels — which impart, according to the brewery, bold flavors of “red wine, tart fruits and lovely funk” — Vintage Monks is beautifully complex, far from the austerity you’d think a well-aged monk would have.
Black Star Co-op’s Recalcitrant Dockhand, gold medal for robust porter: This cooperatively owned brewpub lost its original head brewer last year, but in newcomer Andy Martinec’s capable hands, Black Star is doing just fine. His Recalcitrant Dockhand (long a beer in the brewpub’s Rational Beers series) is big and boozy, with notes of molasses, vanilla and roasted coffee drawing you into a malty complexity that finishes with a slight hop bitterness. The name of the beer might suggest a certain difficult attitude, but your tongue will be very happy with its headstrong flavor.
Rahr & Sons’ the Regulator, gold medal for German-style doppelbock or eisbock: Named for a deputized posse in America’s Wild West, this rich, dark lager is every bit as resilient as they were. The Fort Worth brewery won bronze for the beer last year and has now taken gold for it, and one sip of it will tell you why it’s done so well two years in a row. The Regulator is “a brawnier version of the traditional bock,” according to the brewery, with a creamy head and “intense malty flavors at the finish.” Rahr & Sons’ Oktoberfest also got gold, in the German-style märzen category, this year.
Saint Arnold Weedwacker, gold medal for German-style wheat ale: As they say, third time’s a charm. Texas’ oldest craft brewery, located in the heart of Houston, has traditionally had a good showing at the festival, and for the past three years, that’s been all thanks to the Weedwacker, a beer styled after a Bavarian hefeweizen. Although Saint Arnold took home a bronze at GABF for the Weedwacker in 2013 and 2014, this year saw the refreshing session beer get a gold medal upgrade. It’s an intriguing showcase of yeast’s important contribution to a beer’s flavor; Weedwacker, nearly the same as the brewery’s Fancy Lawnmower except fermented with Bavarian hefeweizen yeast, is its own easy-drinking beast.
The ABGB’s Rocket 100, gold medal for American-style or international-style pilsner: Although Austin already knew the veteran brewing duo of Amos Lowe and Brian “Swifty” Peters was a winning combination, GABF judges finally figured it out, too, by discovering liquid gold in the Rocket 100. Lowe and Peters, integral in laying down the roots of the local brewery scene at Live Oak Brewing, Uncle Billy’s and the now-defunct Bitter End, have always specialized in easy-drinking lagers and hoppy ales like their mainstays Hell Yes Helles and Day Trip Pale Ale. The Rocket 100, their interpretation of a pre-Prohibition pilsner, is no exception. It’s not one of the brewpub’s “always” beers, but this medal could change that.
The full list of Texas’ GABF medal winners:
(512) Brewing’s Wild Bear — gold in brett beer
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch 2014 — silver in aged beer
Adelbert’s Vintage Monks — gold in French- and Belgian-style ale
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery’s Lighthouse Lager (located in Temple) — gold for session ale
Black Star Co-op’s Recalcitrant Dockhand — gold in robust porter
Karbach’s Karbachtoberfest — silver in American-style amber
Panther Island’s Allergeez — silver in herb and spice beer
Perdernales’ Lobo Negro — gold in German-style schwarzbier
Rabbit Hole’s Rapture Fusion Brown Ale — silver in American-style brown
Rahr & Sons’ Oktoberfest — gold in German-style marzen
Rahr & Sons’ The Regulator — gold in German-style dopplebock
Real Ale’s Real Heavy — bronze in Scotch Ale
St. Arnold’s Weedwacker — gold in German-style wheat
The ABGB’s Rocket 100 — gold in American or international-style pilsner
Twin Peaks’ Barrel-Aged Brown Ale (located in Irving) — bronze in wood and barrel-aged beer
A big Colorado brewery, after expanding a few years ago to North Carolina, is now coming to Austin, too — with plans to open a brewery, taproom and live music venue in the north side of town.
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew plans to open a new location at 10420 Metric Blvd. in April 2016, aiming to brew the full lineup of cans and draft beer, according to a press release.
“North Carolina and Colorado are filled with amazing communities and experiences mingled with live music and… great craft beer scenes,” Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis said in the press release. “The passion and rebellious nature of Austin locals, along with the food, craft beer and live music scenes create a vibe that already feels like home.”
The massive 50,000 sq. ft. space will start with an initial capacity of 30,000 bbls per year — but can potentially reach a 100,000 bbl capacity. That’s going to be a lot of beer.
Oskar Blues opened a little under 18 years ago in a small Colorado town and expanded east to North Carolina in 2012. It’ll be the first craft brewery to build additional locations in Austin. (Atwater Brewery, based in Detroit, has had plans for the past couple years to expand here, too, but that’s taking awhile to get underway.)
For more information, visit @OskarBluesATX on Twitter.
Spirit Animal in particular might give you pause. Breweries these days release plenty of pale ales and increasing numbers of sour beers, but a combination of both is far less common. That’s exactly why Jeff Young, co-founder and sour mash visionary, wanted to brew exclusively using the sour mash process.
It’s much faster (and more consistent) than the traditional method of souring beers through barrel-aging. Plus, it produces tart versions of approachable styles, making the somewhat polarizing flavor profile of tartness much easier to swallow for sour beer newcomers. If Blue Owl Brewing can convert them to die-hard sour beer fans, that’ll be all the better for Young and the three other Austinites who have worked hard to make the brewery happen.
He and co-founder Suzy Shaffer thought, during brainstorming for the brewery they wanted to open, that a brewery centered on sour mash beers isn’t just a tantalizing hook for beer lovers — it’s almost a necessary addition to today’s thriving beer scene.
“Sour mashing makes sour beers accessible and more common styles like pale ales more complex,” Young said Saturday at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival during one of the brewers’ talks I moderated at the Whole Foods tent.
To produce the Blue Owl beers, Young changes up key parts of the brewing process — mainly to harness the innate ability of lactobacillus bacteria to convert sugars into lactic acid. That might not sound so tasty; lactic acid, however, is key to producing clean, bright beers with a subtle complexity and an appealing level of sourness.
During the sour mashing process, lactobacilli is introduced into the sour tun where the wort is and held there for up to 72 hours before the wort gets boiled, hopped and moved into another tank for fermentation. These final steps are normal in the brewing process.
Shortly after Sunday’s launch party at Craft Pride, Blue Owl Brewing plans to open on the east side, at East Cesar Chavez and Pedernales streets, in early October. The brewery plans to release Spirit Animal, Van Dayum! and Professor Black in colorful cans in addition to kegs.
The Austin institution the Paramount Theatre is getting a new sign that will be lit for the first time tomorrow — and to commemorate the occasion, the Townsend bar right across the street has made a special cocktail available only through Sunday this week.
Try the Blade Reviver #2, made with Tito’s Vodka, Combier Pamplemousse liqueur, lime juice, Salers Gentiane Aperitif liqueur and Underberg starting today at 4 p.m., when the Townsend opens. The bar’s food and beverage wrangler, Justin Elliott, created the vodka-based drink with the Paramount’s long Austin history in mind.
“The Blade Reviver #2 is refreshing, but with an spicy earthiness and an old-world funk that I think really beautifully connects this drink to a mythical Austin of generations past,” Elliott said in a press release.
Not convinced that a new sign — the Paramount blade, as it’s being called — on an old theater is worthy of so much attention?
The Paramount Theatre folks will have to disagree with you. They’ve decided to adorn the 100-year-old theater with a blade that looks as close to the original one as possible. According to the press release, the new blade “was constructed to be an exact replica” of the one first installed on the theater’s “façade in 1930, quickly becoming a beacon of light on Congress. It was taken down for restoration in the 1960s and never seen again.”
To commemorate the theater’s 100-year anniversary (it officially opened its doors in 1915 as the Majestic), “the Paramount staff has taken great care to recreate the new blade with historic accuracy, reviewing numerous historic photos, newspaper clippings, videos, and documents, and with the help of Wagner Sign Company the new blade will light up the Avenue for the first time in over 50 years,” according to the press release.
That will happen tomorrow with both public and private parties, including a street celebration on Congress Avenue in front of the Paramount. After the towering vertical sign and its 1,386 energy-efficient bulbs are lit, the party will continue inside the Paramount with a special Patty Griffin CD release show. For more information, visit www.austintheatre.org.
Although the Townsend is one of the venues hosting a private Paramount party tomorrow, you’ll still be able to sip on the Blade Reviver #2 throughout the rest of the week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
You may have your pumpkin beers; I shall have my märzens.
Fall has arrived, which means that breweries are alternating between releasing their aforementioned pumpkin ales and the full-bodied, malty lagers of Bavarian origin that have come to define Oktoberfest celebrations. One of the first Oktoberfest events this year is at Easy Tiger this Saturday.
Easy Tiger is going to have a variety of different Oktoberfest beers on tap, including a few from local breweries. Real Ale currently has one, the brewery’s first lager made using the traditional Bavarian brewing methods. So does Live Oak, an Oaktoberfest that’s also crafted in keeping with Old World tradition: a full-bodied malt backbone supporting a clean, dry finish and bitter hops. These beers will both come in casks at Easy Tiger’s Oktoberfest celebration, but they aren’t the stars of the show.
The Easy Tiger and Austin Beerworks crew also brewed up Montecore last year, albeit on a far more limited basis. If you can’t make the Easy Tiger Oktoberfest party from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, chances are you’ll be able to find it later. Austin Beerworks’ taproom will have it, as will all other restaurants owned by the ELM Restaurant Group, including Arro, 24 Diner and Italic, and a handful of other places.
Here’s the list of Easy Tiger’s Oktoberfest beer offerings:
Austin Beerworks Montecore, $5
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen, $5 (half pint)
Avery The Kaiser, $6 (half pint)
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $5
Victory Festbier: Märzen, $5
Live Oak Oaktoberfest, $3 for half pint
Real Ale Oktoberfest, $3 for half pint
“I can’t do nothing; that would be wrong,” McKim said at the time the story about the TABC’s decision on crowlers first broke.
According to the Houston Press, a “likely consequence is that TABC will start fining the bar $300 a day and, when it refuses to pay,” the two sides will go to court. McKim “sees this as a necessary step in getting the law changed.”
And now, Dallas’ Deep Ellum Brewing is also suing the alcoholic beverage commission in the hopes of changing a current Texas law that prohibits breweries from selling beer in bottles or cans to-go from their taprooms.
“Texas allows every other alcoholic beverage manufacturer to do just that — wineries, distilleries and even brewpubs are allowed to sell their products directly to the end consumer for off-premise consumption,” according to Deep Ellum’s website, which launched with “Operation Six Pack To Go” earlier today. “Microbreweries cannot… How is this prohibition against microbreweries protecting the welfare, health, peace, temperance or safety of the people of Texas? Long story short, it isn’t.”
If you agree that being able to purchase a six-pack of beer to take home from the brewery is a state constitutional right you’re not getting, Deep Ellum has set up an Indiegogo campaign for donations to the cause of suing TABC.
In seven hours, the campaign has already raised about $12,700, approximately 13 percent of the total goal; with 51 days left until the campaign ends, chances are good Deep Ellum may well receive far more funding than the brewery aimed for. To donate, go here.
Being able to sell packaged beer to-go has been a goal of many breweries for awhile; they’ve teamed with craft beer lobbying organizations like Open the Taps to try and change the law. Deep Ellum has clearly deciding waiting until the next legislative session just won’t do.
“We have retained two law firms and several expert witnesses, including the former general counsel for TABC,” according to Deep Ellum. “Lawsuits are expensive, but with your support, we can see this across the finish line.”