Austin’s coolest theater chain is offering another limited film-inspired beer produced by a local brewery — this time, Real Ale Brewing.
Real Ale created Seoul Crusher, a saison brewed with rice, fresh ground ginger, lemon peel and just a hint of Korean red chilies, as a tribute to the upcoming oddball mash-up of monster movie and romantic comedy “Colossal,” starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. The beer is only on tap at Alamo Drafthouse locations and a few other places across Texas.
Without revealing too much about the movie, already getting favorable reviews from critics, we can say that Real Ale made the beer to nod at one of the main settings of “Colossal,” South Korea, where a Godzilla-like creature is wreaking havoc. (What might that have to do with Anne Hathaway’s Manhattan blogger Gloria? She might somehow be causing all that chaos.)
Seoul Crusher — a brilliant pun of a name — is “a traditional saison with a Korean twist,” Real Ale’s head brewer Schmitty Schmitterson said in a press release. “Colossal helpings of fresh ginger and lemon peel add additional layers of complexity to an already flavor-intense style rife with notes of herbal citrus and a spicy dryness.”
That sounds just about as delicious as watching Hathaway face off with Sudeikis’ bar owner character, Oscar. The brewery only made 60 barrels of the saison, so make sure you order some at your local Drafthouse while it’s still available.
Pinthouse Pizza’s 1st Annual Hootenanny, 11 a.m. In addition to a petting zoo, caricature artist, Jim Jim’s Water Ice and more, the South Lamar location will release a special IPA every two hours throughout the day.
Real Spirits Launch Party, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Real Ale Brewing is finally launching Real Spirits Distilling with three new products: a gin and two aged whiskeys. All three will be in bottles to go.
St. Elmo Brewing Crawfish Boil, 12 to 10 p.m. The afternoon will include beer and live music from Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces, in addition to a Vietnamese-style crawfish boil from Soursop.
Easy Sunday with Austin Beerworks, 2 to 6 p.m. Easy Tiger will have $1 cans of beers like Pearl-Snap Pilsner and Bloodwork Orange IPA, as well as other Austin Beerworks brews on draft.
Monday, April 10
The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m. This month’s beer pairing dinner at the Driskill’s 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature brews from the DFW area’s Community Beer Co.
Wednesday, April 12
Hops & Games at Hops & Grain, 6 to 10 p.m. It’s the monthly board game night at the brewery; you can either bring your own or play some of the games provided.
Real Ale’s 21st Birthday Kegger, 12 to 5 p.m. This old-school kegger is a nod to the days when beer was simpler, so for this year’s anniversary beer, simply being called 21, expect a pre-Prohibition lager. $20.
Geraldine’s On Deck, 5 to 8 p.m. Relax poolside at the Hotel Van Zandt, where you can sip cocktails made with Treaty Oak Distilling spirits and listen to hot tracks from Mixer Rogers.
Tuesday, April 25
Boston to Austin Tap Takeover at Whip In, 5 to 10 p.m. Infamous Brewing and Samuel Adams collaborated on a beer together, the BOSxAUS, a smoked oyster stout. It’s tapping along with other beers from Infamous and Samuel Adams.
Love Belgian Beer Fest, 1 to 8 p.m. Taste local Belgian-style brews and authentic imports, as well as enjoy live music and comedy, for a good cause. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. $53.74-$111.77.
The Brewers Association, the trade group that represents the country’s small and independent breweries, released the list yesterday with numbers based on beer sales volume: how much beer each of the producers sell each year.
Also representing Texas on the list is Gambrinus, the producer of Shiner beers, at number five. Oskar Blues Brewery, which has an Austin operation that opened last year in addition to breweries in Colorado and North Carolina, rounded out the top 10.
But Real Ale, remarkably, is only one of two breweries on the list that distributes only to its home state. That’s a purposeful decision for owner Brad Farbstein, who said in an American-Statesman article last year about the brewery’s 20th anniversary that Texas still provides “more opportunities for us to expand. It’s not the way every brewer does it, but we do it the way we feel is the right way.”
The brewery’s Firemans #4, a blonde ale, accounts for a good 60 percent of its total output, which last year was about 61,000 barrels of beer annually.
Real Ale Brewing has a new year-round beer that the brewers have named after a longstanding activity in the Texas Hill Country. The Pinsetter Amber Lager is a nod to old-fashioned 9-pin bowling, a hobby the Germans brought over to the U.S. but is now extinct everywhere but in Texas.
Only a few 9-pin bowling clubs — which rely on people, or pinsetters, to reset the pins, rather than the modern machines predominantly in use — remain in the state today, and they’re particularly vibrant in Real Ale’s Blanco home.
Nine-pin bowling in Texas goes back about 180 years, and the style of beer that Pinsetter Amber Lager is inspired by, a California Common, comes from just about the same time period: when our West Coast neighbor was newly a state but didn’t have the refrigeration capabilities to brew a lager, which ferments at colder temperatures.
“The really cool thing about this beer is that we’re using steam-style fermentation techniques,” Tim Schwartz, Real Ale’s Director of Brewing Operations, said in a press release. “We use lager yeast for fermentation, but bring it closer to 60 degrees, which is right between lager and ale fermentation temperatures. It’s kind of a hybrid, which gives us a unique twist and a lot more complexity to step this beer up a notch.”
According to the brewery, the Pinsetter Amber Lager has a medium body, a slight fruitiness and “a lager-clean malt character.”
Not sure what to get your picky friend or family member for Christmas? Chances are good that they’ll be happy to receive a bottle of booze — especially if it comes from an Austin-area producer.
Here are a handful of suggestions with a seasonal focus. With many of these, you won’t want to delay in grabbing a bottle.
Texas Keeper Cider’s Cider Noir:Apples are a key fall flavor, but the fruit hadn’t displayed its full potential so well this time of year until the trio behind the far South Austin cidery got a little inventive.
For Texas Keeper’s winter release, Cider Noir, they decided to age Baldwin and Idared apples on oak. That’s not all they’ve done to make the cider a seasonal stunner — the apples are first double-fermented with Belgian candi (which is typically used in dubbel and tripel ales) and then aged with toasted pecans and orange peel. As a result, it’ll pour as dark as a porter and as boozy as many a stout, at a robust 10.1 percent ABV.
Real Ale Benedictum: The Black Friday release of Tenebra Aeterna, the first Mysterium Verum beer to be bottled, seemed to indicate Christmas had come early for many fans of the Blanco brewery. Now, it really has, as Real Ale is releasing another in the series of sour and barrel-aged brews this week.
Benedictum, an award-winning sour brown ale with cherries, can now be found in stores across the state. Or, if you want to get it closer to the source, Real Ale is hosting a bottle release party on Saturday encouraging you to pick up Benedictum at one of two nearby stores and then driving to the brewery to get the bottle signed by the people who made it. That’s an extra special touch if you want to gift it to a lucky loved one.
Pedernales Cellars’ Stonewall Glögg: Mulled wine is a popular seasonal beverage that many people like to make themselves. But this year, let a wine expert do it: Texas Hill Country winery Pedernales has bottles of its glögg, a traditional Swedish dessert wine, on sale in the tasting room and at both locations of sister winery Armadillo’s Leap.
Adelbert’s Brewery’s Barrel of Love trio: The North Austin brewery clearly knows how great the gift of beer is because it’s offering a whole ready-made gift pack of one of its rarer offerings.
This branded gift box, available at the brewery at 2314 Rutland Dr., has a trio of beers inside of it — three different versions of the Barrel of Love, Adelbert’s whiskey barrel-aged quad.
First up is the 2015 Barrel of Love, which has had an extra year of bottle-conditioning to develop deeper, richer flavors. Then there’s the 2016 Barrel of Love, full of “complex fruity notes of figs, raisins and plums with a soft whiskey bite,” according to the brewery. Bottles of this beer are being separately shipped out to the Texas market; only this version is leaving the brewery.
Rounding out the pack is the Blackberry Barrel of Love, the first taproom-only bottle release since Adelbert’s switched to a brewpub license early this year. Yes, it’s got lots of blackberries and tastes as such.
Revolution Spirits’ Chocolate Cafecito Liqueur: Although this distillery on the road to Dripping Springs has become recognized for its Austin Reserve Gin, Revolution also makes a variety of experimental products — chief among them the Cafecito Coffee Liqueur, liquid gold for any coffee fan out there.
The most recent release is even sweeter. For the Chocolate Cafecito Liqueur, a new seasonal bottling available from December through February each year, the distillers have macerated fair-trade OKO Caribe cacao nibs from SRSLY Chocolate, adding them to the coffee beans Revolution receives from local Cuvee Coffee.
There’s a lot more coffee than chocolate in the mix, but the chocolate is present enough to satisfy any sweet tooth over the holidays. Pick up a bottle at the distillery during open Saturday hours.
Last Stand Brewing’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout: Located just yards from Revolution Spirits, the small-batch Last Stand doesn’t bottle many of its beers, which makes the special release Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout extra special.
The brewers have had this project in the works for awhile. They “filled two freshly emptied Donner-Peltier LA1 Whiskey barrels one year ago with our first batch of Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout,” according to the brewery, and debuted the results of it last weekend at the taproom at 12345 Pauls Valley Rd. Bldg. I.
Only 200 bottles are available, so if this one looks like the winning stocking stuffer you’ve been looking for, stop by Last Stand during weekend taproom hours to grab one.
Austin Beerworks Sputnik: The seasonal necessity is only on draft for now, as it has been in winters past, but any day now — pending TABC approval — local stores will also receive six-pack cans of the Russian imperial oatmeal stout. Austin Beerworks has been in the midst of a large expansion that has allowed the North Austin brewery to start canning some of its seasonal beers, including Sputnik.
At 7010 Easy Wind Dr. — in the same multi-use complex as Black Star Co-Op, off North Lamar Boulevard — Vigilante is officially opening its doors at 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 next year. The bar’s CEO Preston Swincher and president Philip “Flip” Kromer promise that game lovers will finally have a place to go to both play their favorite games and enjoy good food and beer to boot.
Already, Vigilante has stocked up on the more than 150 games that are going to be offered: everything from the classic chess to Cards Against Humanity to Magic: the Gathering, and far more obscure titles. Participants will get seated based on the size of their group and on what type of table their chosen games require, and they won’t even have to get up to order food and drink — they’ll simply have to press the “Accio Server” button on the custom Vigilante tables.
“Seeing as we are fortunate to operate in a craft brew hub, we are focusing exclusively on local Austin breweries,” marketing director Zack Daschofsky said via email. “Our vendors include Friends & Allies, Real Ale, Thirsty Planet, Hops & Grain and Austin Beerworks.”
He noted that the Vigilante team, which includes Swincher and Kromer, have developed a digital game menu that will be “accessible via tablets in the space and on the web,” he said. “This tool lets us add custom reviews, categories, mood and a number of other variables to help connect our customers to a game they would love to play.”
It’s still in beta for now, but the late January opening will give Vigilante time to perfect it and other key elements to the bar. Chief among them are the custom private rooms, like the first one called the Wizard’s Office, that will transform the gaming experience.
“Our goal (with these rooms) is for our patrons to feel like they are stepping into a completely new space/world,” he said.
Before the Jan. 27 official opening is Sneak-Peek Week, available to anyone who backed Vigilante in the NextSeed campaign or the Kickstarter before that.
Once Vigilante Gaming Bar is up and running, it’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and offer a full kitchen; a drinks list of beer, wine and sake; and the digital game menu with a variety of different games to choose from.
Both beer makers agreed on a settlement in Texas federal court last week that prevents “Fireman’s Brew Inc. (from) using the Fireman’s mark to sell beer in Texas,” according to legal news site Law360. Fireman’s Brew also can’t use any “confusing similar variations of the mark” in the state.
Real Ale felt the lawsuit was necessary because of Firemans #4, the Blanco brewery’s biggest seller and one of Texas’ most well-known craft beers. In addition to having a similar name, Fireman’s Brew has a red logo, the same color as Firemans #4’s packaging. Those two elements, Real Ale believed, could cause consumer confusion while at bars and stores selling both products.
When reached, Real Ale declined to comment on the outcome of the settlement. Fireman’s Brew is also staying silent.
“The terms of the settlement are confidential, and we have no comment,” David Johnson, chief operating officer at Fireman’s Brew, told Law360 last week.
That’s when the Blanco brewery will be releasing about 1,600 bottles of Tenebra Aeterna — a barrel-aged sour porter — throughout Texas. Though the initial bottle launch is staying small and may mean a bit of a hunt is in store, Real Ale is offering fans a little closer to home the chance to get bottles on Nov. 26, the day after Black Friday.
Two Blanco-area stores will each have more than 100 bottles once they open that morning, 10 a.m. for Hill Country Liquor and 10:30 a.m. for Redbud Cafe. They’re selling the beers first come, first serve, so you’ll want to get there early. Each customer is also limited to one bottle only.
Bottle in hand, you’ll then want to head over to Real Ale for the Bottle Release Party, which starts early — 10:30 a.m. — with a special Barrel Room Open House featuring Head Brewer Schmitty and Director of Brewing Operations Tim Schwartz. They’ll be in the Barrel Room through 1 p.m. “signing bottles and answering all your beer questions about Mysterium Verum, Real Ale and life,” according to the brewery.
Plus, Real Ale will have Tenebra Aeterna and the Barrel-Aged 20th Anniversary Ale on tap, along with 12 other beers and the cask engine. Need to start stocking up on stocking stuffers? Look for Mysterium Verum glassware, new Mysterium Verum shirts and 20th Anniversary Bottle Cap Maps.
Here’s what to expect from your bottle of Tenebra Aeterna:
“Latin for ‘eternal darkness,’ Tenebra Aeterna means more than just the absence of light; it brings a shadow of dark malt into the realm of sour beers,” according to the brewery. “A robust porter brewed with chocolate and black malts is interred in oak with nothing but our MV House Culture to keep it company. After many moons the ale emerges, and we meet a sour beer unlike any that has heretofore been seen. Tenebra Aeterna is marked by notes of dark, sour fruit and a tantalizing character of subtle roast and cocoa. Come out of the light, and embrace the darkness.”
The glorious 10 days of beer-soaked fun known as Austin Beer Week have returned with the usual frenzy of events at local bars, breweries and restaurants, all to celebrate Austin’s close-knit beer industry. The Austin Beer Week website lists all of the things to do around town — and there are a lot — so consider this post your guide to what to choose throughout the next several days.
Official Kick-Off Party at Craft Pride: Welcome the week ahead with a beer list that will surely make your mouth water. Is that nearly a whole lineup of Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel brews we spot on there?
ATX Brewpub Collusion: The first of the pale ales being released for this collaboration running the duration of Austin Beer Week is being tapped at Black Star Co-op. It’s one of six local brewpubs that has brewed the same recipe, but thanks to each brewpub’s own personal touches, the beers will all result in different flavors and aromas. Try ’em all throughout the week.
Saturday, Oct. 29
The Draught House’s 48th Anniversary Party: Thank the beer gods for another year of this beloved local brewpub with another irresistible beer list, as well as craft ice cream, a live show from the Dead Music Capital Band and an event called the Beer Olympics.
(512) Brewing’s 8th Anniversary Party: Yes, it’s another year of having to choose between this brewery’s bash and the Draught House’s. But (512) makes a good argument for its own — namely, a roster of (512) brews you can’t get anywhere else. If only we could be in two places at once.
Real Ale 20th Anniversary Collaboration at Pinthouse Pizza: Real Ale and Pinthouse have collaborated on making a pilsner together to celebrate Real Ale’s big milestone. Did you know Tim Schwartz, director of brewing at Real Ale, and Joe Mohrfeld, director of brewing at Pinthouse, met at brewing school eight years ago? The beer they’ve made together will showcase elements of what both breweries do so well.
Sunday, Oct. 30
Hans’ Fest at Yard Bar: The pooch-friendly bar couldn’t be a more perfect place to host a celebration of Real Ale’s Hans’ Pils, a beer named after the owner’s beloved dog. Other Real Ale brews will be on tap as well.
Monday, Oct. 31
Hops & Grain’s 4th Annual Halloween Party: The only time the brewery is 21 and up, this boisterous Halloween bash is worth the headache you might wake up with Tuesday morning. Expect a costume contest, extra beers on tap and a DJ for your dancing pleasure.
Tuesday, Nov. 1
Blue Owl Brewing Flight & Seminar:Stop into Easy Tiger from 6 to 7 p.m. for a talk by Blue Owl’s Jeff Young and taste a flight of four sour Blue Owl beers, including the new Wee Beastie, a Wee Heavy with peated malt.
Wednesday, Nov. 2
Everything East at Hi Hat Public House: Love all of the beers made in East Austin? Hops & Grain, Zilker Brewing, Friends & Allies, Blue Owl and more will all be represented at this tap takeover celebrating neighborly love.
Jester King and Jolly Pumpkin Beer Dinner at Hopfields: Sure, it’s $120 per person, but the 8-course dinner is well worth it for the food and the beers (Jester King Cru-55! Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura! and many more!) that you’ll feast on, with rare bottles available for purchase afterward.
Austin Beer Week Discussion: What Is Hoppy?: The week couldn’t be all fun and games. Get serious with hop wizards Will Golden of Austin Beerworks, Joe Mohrfeld of Pinthouse Pizza and Josh Hare of Hops & Grain, who will focus on hops — how to source them, how hopping techniques work and what the future looks like for hoppy beers. Come early for a flight of hoppy offerings from the participating breweries.
Jester King Flight & Seminar:Grab your $25 tickets to listen to Jester King founder Jeff Stuffings discuss his popular farmhouse brewery while you sip on your flight of four Jester King beers, which include Fen Tao and Atrial Rubicite.
Gluten-Free Oktoberfest at Texas Keeper Cider: Take a break from beer (as if you’re sick of it) with this $65 three-course dinner featuring food from Anjore and three ciders, including Texas Keeper’s new Honey Thief Cyser.
Antonelli’s Cheese Pairing Class: Circle Brewing and Antonelli’s have teamed up to demonstrate all the ways that beer and cheese are a perfect match. Not that we ever doubted it, of course. Reserve your $25 ticket ahead of time.
Friday, Nov. 4
Austin Homebrew Festival: You never know — one of the featured homebrewers might one day own your favorite neighborhood brewery. Try their beers at this special fest that raises money for the AHB Community School. The $15 tickets get you access to the event, where you can vote on your favorite homebrew or bid in the silent auction.
Big Mama Red’s Magic & Mayhem: The ABGB is celebrating its biggest beer with a bodacious show featuring burlesque and vaudeville acts. If you purchase a $25 VIP ticket, you’ll be front and center for all the red-hot action.
Craft Pride Collaboration at Pinthouse Lamar: That’s right: Craft Pride made a beer with lots of help from Pinthouse Lamar, where the Alpha Beta IPA will be tapping. It was brewed using new-age hop techniques and dry-hopped with experimental hops. Sounds like a good one.
Saturday, Nov. 5
Contemplating Waterloo at Adelbert’s: The limited-release gin barrel-aged saison has returned, so get it on tap or take it in bottles to go from Adelbert’s, where you can also enjoy free games like giant jenga, corn hole and hula hoops.
Pints & Poses at Circle Brewing: Close out the week with a detoxifying hatha yoga class that will help you recover. You can also grab a pint of Circle beer if you’re up for it. And don’t forget your mat! The class and beer are $10.
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.”