Raison D’Etre and Woodchuck Draft Pear Cider

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , on November 29, 2009 by Tim

Hello again, everyone. I trust you all had a great Thanksgiving week and did plenty of beer research over the holidays. And since we have this here blog, I thought I would go ahead and share some of the “research” that I did over this past week.

First off, I tried the Raison D’Etre from the Dogfish Head Brewery.

As I said in the video, the Dogfish company describes the Raison D’Etre as “A deep, mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins, and Belgian-style yeast.” And, in spite of my claims that it did not require food, the website recommends a pairing with “Steak, duck…blue cheese, goat cheese, (and) ham.” What I neglected to mention about this beer became evident as I continued drinking it.

The Raison D’Etre has an ABV of 8% and also packs quite a punch at the end. Drinking one bottle feels like two bottles of a typical beer. Towards the end, this beer was giving me a serious whiskey face. Not that I’m not a fan of whiskey or other hard liquors, but the unexpectedness of it was a little jarring.

For the next tasting, I decided to go with something a little smoother, the Woodchuck Draft Pear Cider from the Green Mountain Cidery in Springfield, Vermont.

Compared to my previous cider post, I definitely prefer the Woodchuck family of ciders over the Samuel Smith. In addition to the Pear cider, the Woodchuck brand also has multiple flavors of cider including Granny Smith, Amber, 802, and Raspberry depending on your preference. The website is also very helpful by providing food recipes that use their cider for added flavor in cooking. Another informative feature is the number of “drink mixables” that they offer to combine cider with hard liquor.

Once again, I hope everyone’s holiday was spectacular, and I will hopefully have another post for you very soon.


The atoms of beer: What brewers use as a base

Posted in 1 on November 27, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

Hey Beer Lovers,

I hope that you are all enjoying the leftovers from our nation’s annual stuff yourself meal. The other day my dad called me asking what exactly a Hefeweizen was made of. I was shocked to hear this question, especially from someone who knows his way around beers. So, as finals approach for all of us college students, I thought I would provide an educational post for you beer enthusiasts

The Common base ingredients of beer are water, malt, hops, and yeast (According to Birmingham Beverage Company). You can read more about these ingredients on that website. In addition to these ingredients, brewers will add various ingredients from fruit to  spice in order to give beers different, more exotic flavoring. 512 brewing company has even used pecans in the brewing process in order to produce their Pecan Porter.

With all of these ingredients, some of you may wonder how exactly the beer stays fresh for such an extended period of time. In addition to the containment bottles, cans, and kegs provide (read about the debate between them here), the hops, are added to act as a preservative (and provide much of the flavoring).

For anyone looking for a Gluten-free beer, check out this website for a list of a few options. Also, many bars have gluten-free options including The Flying Saucer.


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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/3063466292/sizes/m/

On the Road Again: The Aggie Ring Dunk

Posted in Events, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by Adam Aldrete

"Home of the Aggie Ring Dunk"

Hey beer lovers,

Beer culture in Austin can sometimes find roots in other places. Although I do not know if the Ring Dunk has spread, I do know that many Aggies eventually find their way to Austin (and hopefully follow this blog!) As such,Today I am posting from College Station, TX, where my Longhorns will face in-state rival Texas A&M tomorrow in the annual Lone Star Showdown.

Although I don’t have much of a palette for the Aggies’ storied traditions, I am intrigued by one carried on by the students called the Aggie Ring Dunk. Although the University doesn’t recognize this tradition on its website, students at A&M have kept the tradition alive and well. The tradition is mentioned on the University’s traditions wiki, explained in The Battalion (A&M’s student newspaper), found on videos like this on YouTube, and on various blogs including this one, which is number 16 of 22 things to do in College Station according to the blogger.

Many Aggies have dunked there rings here, a North Gate and College Station staple.

This Aggie tradition began at a place in North Gate (A&M’s 6th street equivalent) according to this article in the Battalion. The article says that an Aggie would drink 60 oz of beer from a pitcher in order to fish out their ring from the bottom. In order to give you an idea of how much beer that is, check out my video below:

Although some may be concerned that such a tradition encourages binge drinking, I would say that if you do decide to participate in this tradition, do as my Aggie friend says and “DON’T BE STUPID.” Its a simple rule, you should always know your limit and don’t be afraid to call a cab if you don’t have a DD.

Like all things, the Aggie Ring Dunk isn’t completed by everyone with a ring. Some students in the University chose to not dunk their rings, or dunk them in other liquids. From soda to Holy Water, Were I an Aggie, I’d likely opt for a double dunk, one in a nice light beer and another in the Holy Water. This is the beauty of this Aggie tradition, it has flexibility so that the student can make it there own.

Texas Tailgating Fun

Posted in Events with tags , , , on November 24, 2009 by Bill Bowman

This past weekend was Senior Day for Texas. It was the last home game for Jordan Shipley, Colt McCoy and many other Longhorns. I went out tailgating hard. I got to my tailgate at around noon and participated in all the typical tailgating activities – drinking beer, throwing the pig skin and eating great food. Then I headed to the stadium to see the Horns beat Kansas. Here is a look at the fun:

I also asked my friends what their favorite tailgate beer was. The best, most in-depth response came from my friend, Steven.

Well, see on tailgating day, it’s all about tradition. You’re not supposed to be fancy — it’s barbeque. Burgers and hot dogs, possibly sausages. You don’t want to be the guy who brings the super fancy, like delicatessen (sic) beer. For tailgating, I feel Miller Lite is the best beer. If I was going out, maybe I would try a new hefeweizen or some new dark ale. But for tailgating Miller Lite is the best.


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:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/wili/239650420/

The Draught House Pub & Brewery

Posted in Pubs with tags , , , on November 22, 2009 by Tim

Due to my unfortunate inability to properly read, I was hoping that I would be able to cover the Draught House’s 41st anniversary this Saturday, but it turns out that it was November 7th, not November 21st. But being the intrepid reporter that I am, I decided to go ahead and slog through another grueling beer tasting for the benefit of you, the reader. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Anyway, sarcasm aside, the Draught House is one of Austin’s premier breweries with over 6o beers on tap. The Draught House also has a decent selection of house beers to keep any beer aficionado satisfied, regardless of personal preference.

The first one that I tried was their in-house brewed Double IPA, which they described as having “4 pounds per barrel of American hops. Big and floral with aromas of pine, citrus, mango, pineapple. Huge resinous flavor of hops.” I thought this beer was excellent for pairing with food, and I also really enjoyed the overall citrus aroma and flavor. I would give it 4 mugs out of 5 on the Austin Brew Scale.

For my next tasting, I decided to forego trying another in-house brew and instead went with the Green Flash IPA. I mostly based this decision on the fact that the Green Flash was their featured beer that day.

Although it wasn’t bad, I felt that the Green Flash had a much more bitter flavor, and I was not quite as keen on the aftertaste. It definitely had a more “hoppy” flavor to it, and although there was a slight citrus essence to it, it wasn’t as pleasing a taste as the Double IPA. I would give this one a 3.25 out of 5 mugs.

I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere they have at the Draught House; although they have a TV inside, it doesn’t feel like a sports bar, with a decidedly more intimate atmosphere. And like I said before, free pizza on Wednesdays! Hopefully, we will be trying all of the in-house options at the Draught House, so be on the lookout for that in the future.