Author Archive

Tasting Texas’ Craft Brewing Culture

Posted in Beer Tasting, Features, Pubs on December 7, 2009 by James

Hi Austin Brew Readers. Over the past month I have been compiling interviews with Texas craft brewers. These interviews have taught me a lot about the past, present and future of brewing in the lone star state. I’ve created a small web-story to give beer lovers an idea of how Texas craft brewing operates, and it can be viewed by clicking on the photo below. This project has led me to consider putting together a full documentary about the subject and I encourage anyone who has any ideas on how to make this documentary successful to comment below.

Click to view


Thanksgiving beer selection

Posted in Beer Reviews, Beer Tasting, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2009 by James

Indians and Pilgrims enjoying craft beer with their feast

Happy Thanksgiving Austin Brew readers! It’s about 1:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day right now and I’m getting ready to head to the local Spec’s in search of some Thanksgiving beers. I’ve dwindled my choices down to five possible beers that I’m going in search of. Below I will list these beers and after dinner I will tell you which brews I was able to get a hold of and which one I thought was best.

Kerberos Tripel (Flying dog): According to serious eats dot com, this beer compliments ” the stuffing with its rich buttery flavor and hint of sweetness.” Also, check out beer dinners dot com’s post on pairing the Kerberos with turkey sandwiches.

Frambozen (New Belgium): Lunch dot com recommends this beer to go well with salads and other green dishes.  The beer is also said to be a combination of a fruit beer and a brown ale. I’m not very thrilled about fruity beers so it should be interesting to give this one a shot.

Mirror Pond Ale (Deschutes): The Deschutes website proclaims this beer, “The quintessential American pale ale, Mirror Pond elegantly blends the sweetness of malted barley with the bite of hops (which add bitterness and aroma).” For pairing purposes, grizzly growler dot com claims that the beer goes well with gravy dishes.

Prima Pills (Victory): I’ve tried this beer once and I really enjoyed its dry and clean flavor. This beer has been recommended by the dallas observer food blog to go well with potato dishes.

Levitation Ale (Stone Brewing): Stone is one of my all time favorite breweries and I’m really hoping to find this selection today. Serious eats dot com suggests this beer:

While we’re not sure we’d recommend it to non-beerdrinkers, we think the Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing also deserves a place at the Thanksgiving table. This intense brew has herbal, piney flavors and lingering toasted malt. A hint of cinnamon and peat make this earthy beer a good companion for turkey and stuffing.

And that’s the list folks, check back later to see which one tops the list, and in the meantime why not chime in on the comment section with your own “personal best Thanksgiving brew.” Until then, cheers!

Update: 10:08 p.m.

My search for the five Thanksgiving beers was partly unsuccessful. Spec’s was closed today and  by the time I was able to get to my local grocery store it had also closed. I didn’t give up though and luckily I was able to find the Victory Prima Pils and the Mirror Pond Ale at a well stocked local gas station. I liked both of these beers but I’m going to put the Prima Pils on top tonight with 4 out of 5 mugs, and the Mirror Pond in second place with 3.5 out of 5 mugs on the Austin Brew scale.


Thanksgiving photo:

Texas laws slowing the growth of craft breweries

Posted in News on November 23, 2009 by James

Texas Capitol: where state laws are born

I’ve talked to a number of craft brewers lately and one topic that continues to surface is alcohol distribution laws in Texas. Here in the lone star state craft brewers must choose between either a distribution licence for a brewery or a brewpub, they can’t choose both. Below I will explain the difference between the two to the best of my knowledge.

Brewpub License: This license entitles the holder to brew their own beer at their brewpub and sell it on location. However, this license prohibits the holder from distributing their beer anywhere outside of the brewpub. In other words, you will never see Texas brewpub beer (Billy’s, NXNX, Draught House, Love Joys) on any store shelves.

Brewery License (PDF): This license entitles the holder to brew beer at their brewery and distribute it throughout the state. However, the legal hurdle for breweries is the law that prohibits them from selling beer at their brewery. This means that say you go to a brewery tour and afterwards you want to buy a fresh 6-pack to enjoy at home. Well , according to Texas law this is illegal and you’re out of luck. Instead you’ll have to buy that same 6-pack at the nearest store that carries it. This law is especially strange when you consider that Texas wineries do not have to follow this rule. It is perfectly legal to go to a winery, sit down and enjoy a couple of glasses, and even take a bottle home if you choose.

During the last legislative session a number of brewery and brewpub owners actually went down to the capital to lobby for the rules to change. Unfortunately they were not heard and none of the distribution laws were changed. These laws have arguably hindered the creation of craft breweries in Texas because of the limitations they impose. For instance, in states like California and Colorado the beer laws are almost the same as the wine laws and these states have a great deal more craft breweries.

Related material:


Capitol Image:

Visting Real Ale Brewery

Posted in Beer Tasting, Events with tags , , on November 19, 2009 by James

Last Friday I set off to Blanco, TX to tour the Real Ale brewery. The town of Blanco is about 50 miles south-west of Austin, but seeing the brewery is well worth the hour drive in my opinion. When I first got there I was kind of surprised to see about 20 people already sampling beers and waiting for the first tour to begin. Below are some of the photos  I took while at the brewery, and for a review of some of these beers check out Bill’s Real Ale post.

This tank was the first sign that I had arrived.

These were the beers being sampled that day. My favorite was the Oktoberfest.

Special Delivery!

Head Brewer Erik Ogershok in tour mode.

The Real Ale brewery has recently expanded their operation. This is some of their new brewing equipment.

Erik demonstrating a mechanical arm used to move kegs after they have been filled.

These oak barrels are used to age beer and create unique flavors.

Independence Brewery (2 of 2)

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , on November 16, 2009 by James

Hello Beer aficionados! In this post I continue my two-part series on Independence brewery located in Austin, TX. In the last post I described a talk that my friend Kris and I had with Independence owners Rob and Amy Cartwritght. Below you will find a video that we put together which highlights some of the interview, and afterwards check out my continuation of the Independence beer review.

Austin Amber — This amber is the perfect beer to have on a hot summer day. Light, smooth, and clean, this brew has flavors of malts with a slight hit of hops at the end. Rob and Amy told me that people were having trouble identifying their beers with Austin, so they decided to put it right in the name: Austin Amber. Independence describes this one:

“A special blend of malted barley – lightly to darkly roasted – creates layers of toasty sweetness, balanced by the citrusy notes of Vanguard hops. Burnt orange with a laid back finish, this is the beer of Austin.”

I give Austin Amber: 3.5 out of 5 mugs

Freestyle: Wheat Beer — Here is another one that goes great with the hot summer days of Texas. This brew is crisp with light malt flavors that make it very easy to drink. If you’re a fan of wheat beers then you should definatley give the Freestyle a go. Independence has more:

“Brewed with the finest two-row pale malt and American white wheat, Freestyle has a crisp, dry flavor followed by a slightly sweet malt finish. It’s light and refreshing, like a pilsner brewed as an ale. This could also be called a blonde ale, but since it plays fast and loose with classic beer categories, we call it Freestyle.”

I give Freestyle: Wheat beer: 3.5 out of 5 mugs

Jasperilla Old Ale — In the last post I said that Independence Pale Ale was my favorite 6-pack sold by the company, but of all the beers available, Jasperilla is my favorite. The beer is available only in 22 oz bottles and it is brewed just once a year, after which it is aged for 6 months prior to release, hence the “Old” in the brew’s title. What’s even more interesting is that due to the aging process, each yearly batch comes out with a slightly unique flavor. Rob showed me where the current batch is resting and said he expects to unleash it in the coming new year.Independence describes more:

“Brilliantly golden, Jasperilla is a unique take on an old ale. Biscuity malt flavors meld with subtle plum and berry notes, produced by a special blend of English Old Ale and Chico yeasts. Brewed once a year, and aged for six months prior to release, the Jasperilla is smooth despite its 9% abv.”

I give Jasperilla Old Ale: 4.25 out of 5 mugs

Independence Brewery (1 of 2)

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on November 12, 2009 by James

Last night I had the pleasure of visiting the owners of Austin’s Independence Brewery, Rob and Amy Cartwright. The married couple talked to me about the four-year-old brewery’s history, their brewing process, and some of their future plans. A friend of mine and myself shot over an hour of video during our conversation and I expect to have two videos for Austin brew viewers in my Monday post. Rob told me that he got the idea to start the Independence brewery while he was working as a brewer at the now extinct Coppertank brewpub. Rob said that after he met his wife Amy, the two decided to take a risk and begin creating what is today Independence brewery.

Amy told me that Independence began with three brews: Independence Pale Ale, Bootlegger Brown Ale, and Freestyle. I just went to the HEB by my apartment in an attempt to mix and match these three brews for a tasting review. Unfortunately the “build your own 6-pack” section did not include the Independence brews, so I instead grabbed my favorite 6-pack, Independence Pale Ale, and swapped one of brews with a Bootlegger. I’ll start the Independence review with these two beers and pick up with the others in the next blog post.

a match made in heaven

a match made in heaven


notice the brown color and thin head

Bootlegger Brown Ale – For a brown ale with a 6% alcohol content, this guy is really smooth. Rob actually told me that he had to tone down the alcohol content in the brew because it was dangerously easy to drink. Independence describes the brew:

“Smooth, chocolaty, and easy-drinking…. Brewed with the finest two-row barley and Belgian chocolate malt, Bootlegger has a distinctive, chocolaty flavor. Bootlegger is medium-bodied and filtered for a clean, laid-back finish.”

I give Bootlegger: 3.5 out of 5 mugs.


I can hear the hops screaming to be freed from their bottle


...and they're free!

Independence Pale AleI think that I am becoming a hophead. This is a term that craft beer lovers have come up with to describe people that enjoy really hoppy brews like this pale ale. The combination of hops, citrus, and malt makes this beer shine. Independence describes this one:

“Bright, bold, and hoppy…Independence Pale Ale is a true Texas Pale Ale. Brewed with the finest two-row barley and Pacific Northwest hops, and then dry-hopped with generous quantities of Cascade and Saaz hops, Independence Pale Ale has a distinctive citrus aroma and clean, hoppy finish.”

I give Independence Pale Ale: 4 out of 5 mugs.

Picapp brew photos

Posted in Misc. with tags , , on November 9, 2009 by James

Hello again friends. Today I am going to deviate a bit from my past posts and instead share a useful tool I found while searching for images of craft beer. The tool is called picapp and it allows you to embed duty-free images on your blog. What is really cool is that when clicked, each image will display information about what is shown. Also, below each image is displayed a list of other relatable content.

After reading their about page I found that picapp is able to offer this service because of  partnerships with Getty Images, Pacific Coast News, Corbis, Newscom, Image Source and more. All of the images available are free for anyone to use.

Perhaps the best piece of news for this blog is that the code used by picapp is compatible with Unlike most embeddable information on the web, picapp has a separately constructed code that is designed to work on So, below you will find an example of a photo search I did for “craft beer.” Enjoy!

[picapp src=”4/a/5/d/Microbrewery_Sales_Surge_41b8.jpg?adImageId=7281894&imageId=1036298″ width=”380″ height=”251″ /]