The six-pack bottles of Thirsty Planet’s Buckethead IPA and Yellow Armadillo Wheat that are currently hitting store shelves are an alluring taste of what’s to come: many, many more Thirsty Planet beers.
Thirsty Planet is currently moving into the former Central Texas Food Bank building on South Congress Avenue, a little north of Slaughter Lane, that will nearly quadruple production from 11,000 barrels to 40,000, with considerable room to grow from there. The brewery will start brewing and bottling in the new space before opening an accompanying taproom to the public this fall.
In the meantime, Austinites who miss the old tasting room — it shut down in early March to keep brewery staff completely focused on the transition — can at least console themselves with the new bottles of Buckethead and Yellow Armadillo that now join their behemoth brother Thirsty Goat Amber, previously the only Thirsty Planet brew that was packaged for retail sales.
Plus, in a nod to the brewery’s approaching seven-year anniversary, Thirsty Planet is also releasing a limited number of “Damn-7 Packs”: a special 7-pack of Buckethead beer in a bucket-shaped container.
“Why not seven?” Thirsty Planet owner Brian Smittle said about the limited release that will start going into stores later this week, on May 12. “We’re turning seven this year, and that many beers can fit into the bucket. Nice proportions. And then you can stick it on your head.”
You might be able to get your hands on a Damn-7 Pack early with Thirsty Planet’s Buckethead Launch Party tomorrow at Black Sheep Lodge, where the brewery will take over the taps and offer free bites of food, a photo booth, Thirsty Planet swag and even free branded tattoos. Or look for it at the many HEB locations that are already selling six-packs of Buckethead IPA and Yellow Armadillo Wheat.
Buckethead IPA is no ordinary American-style IPA — at 8.9 percent ABV, it’s “beer you can feel,” as Thirsty Planet phrases it.
Smittle and the brewing team are still making all of the Thirsty Planet beers at the old location on Circle Drive, on the way to Dripping Springs, but are hoping to make the total transition this summer to the new space, six times larger at 60,000 sq. ft.
The South Congress building, because it was formerly the food bank, comes already equipped with a packaging hall with the necessary high ceilings as well as a very large freezer. Thirsty Planet will additionally have a lab for quality control, a 60-barrel brewhouse and a connected 10-barrel system that will be used for experimental beers, and a handful of towering 22-foot-tall fermenters. Smittle is excited in particular to have an entirely automated system.
“It’s definitely been a change in mentality to think how to scale up to the 40,000 barrels we’ll be able to immediately do,” he said. But the brewery’s ultimate goal is much bigger: “Eventually, we think this building could do 100,000 barrels.”
That’s a lot of Thirsty Goat.
The amber is already the top-selling draft beer in Central Texas, according to data from Thirsty Planet’s distributor Capitol Wright, and it’s not hard to imagine the number of tap handles pouring it will only go up with Thirsty Planet’s expansion. The brewery has spent the past nearly seven years in only the three main Central Texas counties of Hays, Travis and Williamson but recently signed an agreement to distribute into 11 more counties.
Depending on the progress of the new brewery, Thirsty Planet may hold early tours of the space, at 8201 S. Congress Ave., in the summer. Keep connected on the progress at thirstyplanet.beer.
If you visit all 30 of the local brewpubs and breweries participating in this year’s Barks for Beers fundraiser, each of the beers you receive from the fundraiser will amount to a total of roughly 67 cents.
That’s quite a deal, and the organization behind Barks for Beers, the Austin-based pet therapy organization Divine Canines, is banking on it to reach its goal of raising $75,000 — the highest amount yet for the boozy benefit now in its fourth year.
Here’s how it works.
It’s pretty simple: Buy a Barks for Beers pint glass and an accompanying “pawsport” for $20, and you’ll be able to take them to any of the 30 participating breweries and receive a free pint of beer in return (but only one from each brewery). Participants include Barks for Beers veterans like Hops & Grain, Thirsty Planet and the ABGB and newcomers like Hi Sign Brewing, St. Elmo Brewing and Idle Vine Brewing.
“It’s just this great way for people to check out the breweries,” he said, noting that he’s heard Barks for Beers used as a brewery-hopping experience during a family reunion, as a welcome-home gift from a father to his college-age daughter and as the first introduction to local breweries from locals who want to help out a good cause.
All proceeds from the sales of the pint glasses go directly toward Divine Canines. So far, Pizinger said, the fundraiser has proved invaluable in more ways than one.
“In addition to Barks for Beers being our primary fundraiser, it is also a community outreach program and how we gain new volunteers,” he said. “We have a waiting list of organization who would like our services, but we need more dogs and handlers to meet the demand. All of the breweries and retailers are dog-friendly, so even if your canine isn’t ‘divine’ yet, bring them out to learn more about the Divine Canines organization.”
You can get your free pint of Barks for Beers brew at any time the breweries are open, but many of them are also throwing specific Barks for Beers events. Here are some of the ones you don’t want to miss:
Hops & Grain’s Barks for Beers Kickoff Party on April 30. Hops & Grain is one of the breweries wanting to get the fundraiser started early. Visit the East Austin brewery from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and you’ll get to check out pet-friendly vendors on site, a photo booth, a food truck for the humans and YoDog Snackery for the pups, as well as meet Hops & Grain’s four-legged Divine Canines ambassador.
Barks for Beers & Baubles at Copeland Jewelers on May 4. Nope, it’s not a brewery, but the Westlake Hills jewelry store is a big supporter of the cause and is selling the pint glasses. There will be many cute Divine Canines running around, as well as free beer from Strange Land Brewery and free pizza from 360 Uno.
Barks for Beers at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling on May 7. Newly a brewery, Treaty Oak will just about have it all at this special event for dog and beer lovers. Meet some of the dogs involved with Divine Canines and enjoy live music, beer and cocktails, and brunch at the recently opened restaurant on-site at the ranch.
Bluebonnet Beer Co.’s Barks for Beer Party on May 13. Even Round Rock is getting a taste of the Barks for Beers fun thanks to Bluebonnet Beer, which became a participant for the first time this year. There will be cool doggy swag at the event, as well as a food truck.
Barks for Beers Pup Run on May 13. The first-ever pup run will start at Hops & Grain and will take you and your furry friends on a two-mile adventure to some of the other participating Barks for Beers breweries.
Plus, don’t forget to tag #barksforbeers on Instagram during your Barks for Beers adventures next month to be entered into a weekly contest. One photo will be chosen each week, with the winner getting a cool prize.
Bubbles & Barbecue Brunch at Freedmen’s, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1. The usual barbecue menu is being joined by items like biscuits & gravy, plus bubbly cocktails like mimosas, poinsettias and pomelos.
Pints for Pups at Texas Beer Company, 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. Take a drive to Taylor, east of Round Rock, for a night supporting the Taylor Animal Shelter. $1 per pint will go toward the shelter.
Trivia Night at the Hive, 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. Win prizes at Meridian Hive Meadery’s trivia night featuring teams of 3 to 6 people powered by mead.
Greater Good Coffee Roasting’s Open House, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7. Celebrate the roastery’s new tasting room with live music, brunch goodies from local vendors, and coffee from the big-hearted company.
Coffee, Beer & Birthdays at Banger’s, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. Celebrate Shiner Beer’s 108th birthday with a new release: the Cold-Brew Coffee Ale, made in collaboration with Chameleon Cold- Brew.
Viva Texas Vino, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. The Bullock Museum is hosting a talk by certified sommelier Jessica Dupuy and a tasting featuring Texas Fine Wine.
Lazarus Brewing’s Grand Opening, 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14. Welcome East Austin’s newest brewery by enjoying coffee, tacos, live music and beer, including the much-anticipated 40 Days & 40 Nights American IPA.
Ruggedman Brewing Grand Opening Weekend, 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 through 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22. Taste the mainstay and small-batch brews of this newly opened New Braunfels brewpub owned by three Marine veterans.
Vigilante Gaming Bar’s Grand Opening, 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. Game rentals will be free at the opening weekend of the craft beer-focused gaming bar. (Grand opening has been moved to weekend of Feb. 17.)
Idle Vine Brewing’s Grand Opening, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. Food trucks, 12 beers on tap, eight brewery-exclusive beers and a special bottle release mean a drive to Pflugerville will be well worth it.
Austin Bacon & Beer Festival, 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. Bacon-centric food prepared by local chefs with Texas craft beers – what could be better than that?
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.
Six Pack Stories, 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. The final installment of this speaker series about beer focuses on why we love it so much – the taste. Prepare for beer pairings with food, coffee and spirits. $35.
The Brass Tap Domain’s Grand Opening, 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 2 to 2 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. It’s a full weekend of festivities, with live music, rare beer releases (including Goose Island Bourbon County Rare) and more.
St. Elmo Brewing’s Grand Opening Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Celebrate the opening of the new South Austin brewery with more than six beers on draft, live music and Southeast Asian bites from on-site food truck Soursop.
Hot Drinks Menu Party at Craftsman, 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. A new menu of hot cocktails is debuting, with s’mores also available for $5. Part of the proceeds benefit the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign.
Champagne Class at Backbeat, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. This primer on champagne will get you all prepared for New Year’s Eve festivities – you’ll embark on a guided tasting to learn how the bubbly wine is made, why it’s so special and more. $50.
Christmas Flight Nights at Easy Tiger, 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 6. Get into the holiday spirit by sipping four winter brews, including the Ballast Point Peppermint Victory at Sea. $10.
Jacoby’s Festivus, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6. Enjoy hot chocolate and holiday cookies while gathering on Jacoby’s bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Then, Sip & Shop in Jacoby’s Mercantile.
2nd Annual Odell Brewing Ugly Sweater Party, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8. Come decked out appropriately for this party at Pinthouse Pizza, which will have rare and seasonal Odell beers on tap. Odell is donating $10 to the Central Texas Food Bank for every ugly sweater present.
12 Bars of Charity, 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Sign up for this bar crawl that will help raise money for specific local charities. Just donate $10 and you’ll be able to enjoy half-priced drink specials at participating bars.
Austin Beerworks Sputnik Launch, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. The beloved Sputnik Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout is making its return. The launch opens to the public at 1 p.m., but come early for $30-$45.
Beer & Brunch at Blue Owl Brewing, 12 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. Pair Blue Owl’s sour-mashed suds with kolaches from the upcoming Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches eatery.
Juniper’s 1st Annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party, 4 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. A ticket gets you two cocktails, some of the chef’s most popular treats, live music and dancing, and a chance to win door prizes. $30 in advance, $40 at the door.
Mega Mutt Monday at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12. At this holiday edition of the pet-friendly event, Santa will be at the bar to pose with your furry friends, along with the usual pet vendors.
Austin Beer Guide 2016 Awards Party, 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15. Find out who the winners of this year’s awards are while sipping on special beers. Craft Santa will even be on hand to hand out the awards.
Holiday Pop-Up Market at Circle Brewing, 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. Finish up your holiday shopping with local vendors. Plus, enjoy holiday cask beers, cheery tunes, food truck grub and more.
2016 FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships, 1 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. This unofficial sport’s final race dashes into Austin, featuring some of the world’s best beer milers who know how to run with a belly full of beer.
Howliday Market at the ABGB, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. The ABGB’s latest release in the APA!APA series, which raises funds for Austin Pets Alive, is debuting with a market of holiday goodies for your pup.
“Home Alone” at Live Oak Brewing, 6:30 p.m. doors Dec. 17. Bring your fold-out chairs and blankets for this outdoor screening of the Macaulay Culkin classic. Beer and food will be available for purchase. $10.
Sundayfundaymas at the ABGB, 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18. On this last Sunday before Christmas, enjoy reindeer games, a holiday market and song swap, and beer from the ABGB.
More Than a Tip at the Dig Pub, 4 to 11 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19. Bartender Ben Kazda is once again donating all tips of the night to the Salvation Army’s Austin Shelter for Women and Children.
Idle Vine Brewery Debut Party, 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. Get a first taste of the beers from the new Pflugerville brewery, which will have its four core beers on draft at the Dig Pub.
Tun Tun Tun Fest 4.0, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. The Brew & Brew’s blowout beer celebration returns with beers from Jester King, the Bruery, Dogfish Head, Cascade and more.
St. Elmo Sing-a-Long, 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. St. Elmo Brewing is hosting musicians Craig Calvert and Mike Jackson, as well as their guitars, for this evening of merriment, beer and hot cocoa.
Hopfields’ Rat Pack New Years Eve, 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31. Dress in your best Sinatra, Havana nights, Mad Men, Rat Pack wear and join the beer bar for a party complete with champagne toasts and a photo booth.
The ABGB’s 3rd Anniversary Party, 12 to 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. It’s been another year of live music, beer and pizza at this brewpub, so celebrate with all of those things and more, including Austin Pets Alive puppies.
Burgundy Wine Tasting at Red Room Lounge, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6. The wine bar has brought French wine lovers a special treat: Jeanne-Marie de Champs is a Burgundy wine distributor who will have wines from that region, as well from the Loire Valley and Champagne. $25.
Whiskey Wednesday at Easy Tiger, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers will lead a free seminar on Texas bourbon; a Garrison bourbon flight will also be available for $20.
National Beer Lover’s Day at Hopdoddy, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. Saint Arnold beer specials, like Divine Reserve #16, will be available to pair irresistibly with a poutine burger.
Smittlefest Release at Thirsty Planet, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. It’s time for the brewery’s annual Oktoberfest beer. You might even catch some of the brewers in lederhosen.
Real Ale Oktoberfest, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. Day trip to Blanco for this party that will have live polka music, Best Wurst sausages and Oktoberfest beer. Real Ale’s also offering a first taste of something special. $25.
Oktoberfest at Last Stand Brewing, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. The Hill Country brewery will have a new Oktoberfest beer to share, as well as a $10 branded mug that includes a fill in the purchase.
Off-Flavor Tasting at B.B. Rover’s, 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. $20 will get you a guided tour through the main six off-flavors of beer, plus a control sample. You don’t have to be studying for a cicerone exam to find this lesson intriguing.
NXNW’s 17th Anniversary Party, 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. Celebrate with live music, birthday cake, a bounce house and, of course, with an anniversary ale cask and keg tapping.
Six Pack Stories at the Highball, 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Listen to the designers who make a beer brand come to life at this panel that will have free snacks as well as beer before, during and after.
Easy Tiger’s Oktoberfest, 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 to 2 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19. This annual party will have another release of Montecore, the bar’s märzen-style collaboration beer with Austin Beerworks.
The Bloody Good Beer Fest at Craftsman, 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. This fundraiser for the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas will have beers from Austin Beerworks, Thirsty Planet, Deschutes and more. $10.
Oskar Blues Brewery’s Can’d Opening, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. The grand opening of the Austin location of Oskar Blues will have a commemorative glass, beer pours (including a Texas-only beer) and live music throughout the day. $5-$15.
Beer Flyer with Circle Brewing, 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Hop aboard the Austin Steam Train for a night of Circle brews paired with bites from Greenhouse Craft Food. $50-$55.
Bourbon Heritage Month Dinner at Juliet, 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. Five course dinner paired with some extremely rare whiskeys hosted by Aaron Beavers, the luxury spirits specialist for Beam Suntory. $100; reservations required.
Ballast Point 20 for 20 at Banger’s, 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. It’s the 20th anniversary of California’s Ballast Point Brewing, so Banger’s has rounded up 20 of their beers to put on tap, including the fruited variations on Sculpin IPA.
Whiskies of the World, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. As one of the largest whisky tastings in the U.S., this event will have more than 200 spirits from around the globe. $140.
Oktoberfest at Infamous Brewing, 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30. This family-style dinner, paired with polka music and Infamous brews, benefits Austin’s Habitat for Humanity: the House that Beer Built project. $50.
Thirsty Planet Brewing is bringing its location farther into Austin, a move that will triple the amount of beer being produced.
On the road to Dripping Springs, the almost 6-year-old brewery has been limited to a maximum of 10,000 barrels per year — but the new space on South Congress Avenue, just north of Slaughter Lane, gives Thirsty Planet a significant increase of 30,000 barrels per year, with room to grow. Its anticipated opening is late fall this year.
“The overwhelming local demand for our beer is very humbling, and we’re thrilled to keep contributing to the increasing enthusiasm for craft brewing here in Austin,” Brian Smittle, owner and founder of Thirsty Planet, said in a press release. “We are deeply invested in the unique culture of this community and want to continue bringing people together over quality beer.”
With the 60,000 sq. ft. facility, Thirsty Planet will be able “to meet current product demand and expand its bottle offerings to include its Buckethead IPA and Yellow Armadillo Wheat,” according to the release. So far, only its beloved Thirsty Goat Amber is bottled.
Additionally, Thirsty Planet can start offering a bigger variety of seasonal and specialty brews in the tasting room and increase the distribution of its mainstay options, including Thirsty Goat, Buckethead and Yellow Armadillo, out of Austin to Waco and San Antonio.
The architectural firm of V Three Studios, based in Missouri, is designing the brewery and tasting room, and the firm already has a clear vision of what the new space will look like.
Once it’s finished, V Three’s principal and founder Kurt Kerns said in the press release, the tasting room will allow “people to appreciate really great beer while getting a sense of Thirsty Planet’s unique style and sense of humor, which will be on full display with beer pallets used as ceiling elements, open views of the brewing process and wall-mounted papier–mâché heads representing the brewery’s best-selling beers.”
Untapped, a beer and music festival that’s previously been held in Houston, Dallas and other Texas locations, is debuting in Austin in April at Carson Creek Ranch, and presale tickets are available now through Feb 2 starting at $25.
The beer list will include more than 200 craft beers from more than 65 breweries, while the live music lineup includes Manchester Orchestra, Phosphorescent, Black Joe Lewis, Jean Grae and more. Look for the full list of participating breweries — and, after that, the list of beers — to be coming soon.
“We have looked to bring Untapped to Austin for several years now, so we are thrilled that the circumstances finally aligned to make this possible,” festival organizer Matthew Harber, of Spune Productions, said in a press release. “We believe Untapped is uniquely tailored to fit the Austin scene in a way that genuinely speaks to both the city’s music and beer culture. We are very, very excited.”
The location of this eighth edition of Untapped, the 20-acre Carson Creek Ranch, is set to have a busy spring, with other events such as the Austin Psych Fest also taking place there.
Tickets are on sale now at the Spune Productions website, where you can purchase them presale for $25 to $60 until next week, when they go up to $32 to $65.
Thirsty Planet fans now have a new way they can drink the brewery’s flagship amber, Thirsty Goat: straight from the bottle.
Last week, Thirsty Planet started rolling out six-packs (with the iconic goat front and center on the packaging) to area stores and bottle shops, including multiple HEB and Whole Foods locations, Spec’s, the Whip In and WhichCraft Beer Store.
It’s been a long time coming for brewery founder Brian Smittle, who said that although Thirsty Goat will be the only Thirsty Planet beer available in bottles for the first few months, the two other mainstays, Yellow Armadillo and Buckethead, will also go into bottles.
“I wish we would have been in bottles sooner, but I’m pleased it’s finally happening,” he said, noting that a bottling line had been one of the first pieces of equipment Thirsty Planet purchased, but it was old “and took more time to rebuild than I anticipated.”
In addition to debuting Thirsty Goat in bottles, the local brewery has also been involved with getting the 5th Annual Austin Gorilla Run underway. Each year leading up to the 5K, Thirsty Planet has released the Silverback Pale Ale and participates in a pub crawl and other events that raise awareness for the run, which benefits the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund. The run is on Jan. 31; a week before that, this Saturday, is the 3rd Annual Silverback Pub Crawl. And all the planning that goes into them has been keeping the Thirsty Planet crew busy.
“I feel that we’re almost reopening the brewery with all the things going on,” Smittle said.
For more information about the bottles or the pub crawl and run, visit thirstyplanet.net.
Texas craft breweries took home a record-shattering number of medals from the Great American Beer Festival’s competition Saturday, with a total of 16 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to breweries and brewpubs from Austin, Dallas, Houston and beyond — the fourth most decorated state behind California, Colorado and Oregon, traditional craft beer bastions. It’s just one more sign that the state is becoming a craft beer powerhouse in its own right.
(The most medals Texas has won up to this point is 18 in 2002, but because many of those went to macro breweries located in Texas at the time, let’s say that this year at the festival has been the most successful thus far for small, independently owned Texas craft brewers.)
Among the Austin winners were previous GABF victors Austin Beerworks, Real Ale and Pinthouse Pizza. Thirsty Planet and Oasis, Texas Brewing, which only started brewing earlier this year, became first-time winners this year — a distinction that Oasis founder and head brewer Spencer Tielkemeier is still “over the moon” about.
“We’d have been happy with any medal, but it makes it so much sweeter that it’s gold,” he said. “By the time they’ve announced the bronze and silver, you’ve already talked yourself out of it. I honestly don’t remember the ten seconds following the syllable “Lond-“”
He added that the fact “there are so many great beers out there” makes the win all the more gratifying. “You may not always love the beers they pick, but you can be sure they don’t suck,” he said.
Oasis’ London Homesick Ale earned the top prize in the ordinary or special bitter category. Tielkemeier said he had honestly thought Oasis’ lagers (he also submitted Slow Ride, Luchesa, Oktoberfest and Lake Monster for the competition) were the Lake Travis brewery’s strongest contenders.
Austin Beerworks, Real Ale and Pinthouse had all gotten medals last year, when Texas breweries brought back 10 GABF awards. But previous wins certainly don’t make new ones any less sweeter, as Austin Beerworks’ Will Golden noted.
“Winning a silver in the strong pale ale category (for Fire Eagle) was like Big Wave surfing on a great white shark,” he said. “It also is a reassurance we are doing the right thing at the brewery.”
Others who joined the winners’ circle this year include Dallas’ Community Beer Co. (one of two Texas breweries to receive two awards), Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewing and Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works.
Texas’ impressive showing at GABF is “establishing the state as a leading craft beer destination,” Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, said. “Texas craft brewers clearly demonstrated that while craft beer is growing quickly in our state, quality does not take a back seat.”
How the competition component of the festival works: Breweries around the country submit their beers to any one of 90 different beer style categories for professionals in the brewing industry to judge in a blind tasting. The winners are then announced on the final day of GABF in a special ceremony. And make no mistake — breweries faced stiff competition. More than 1,300 breweries from around the U.S. submitted more than 5,500 different beers.
Oasis, Texas, helmed by Live Oak and Uncle Billy’s veteran Tielkemeier, wasn’t the only first-time brewery to take part in the festival and competition. According to the Brewers Association, the organization in charge of putting GABF together every year, 35 percent of GABF participants were newcomers.
Here’s the full list of Texas winners.
Armadillo Ale Works for Quakertown Stout in the imperial stout category
Community Beer Co. for Public Ale in the extra special bitter category
Grapevine Craft Brewery for Sir William’s English Brown Ale in the English-style brown ale category
Oasis, Texas Brewing for London Homesick Ale in the ordinary or special bitter category
Peticolas Brewing for 2012 Great Scot! in the aged beer category
Real Ale Brewing for Benedictum in the Belgian-style lambic or sour ale category
Austin Beerworks for Fire Eagle in the American-style strong pale ale
Pedernales Brewing for Lobo Negro in the German-style schwarzbier category
Saint Arnold for Summer Pils in the Munich-style Helles category
Thirsty Planet for Yellow Armadillo in the American-style wheat beer category
5 Stones for Aloha Pina in the herb and spice category
Community Beer Co. for Ascension in the coffee beer category
Pinthouse Pizza for Jaguar Shark in the wood-and-barrel-aged strong stout category
Rahr & Sons for the Regulator in the German-style doppelbock category
Saint Arnold for Weedwhacker in the German-style wheat ale category
Spoetzl Brewery for Shiner Bock in the American-style dark lager category
This post has been corrected with the year Texas had the most wins at GABF.