Think Drambuie and images of that liqueur in the back of the bar behind the whisky, gin and other spirits. Think Drambuie and images of that Rusty Nail you order once in a while pop into your head. Few other liqueurs or spirits have been around as long as Drambuie though and this sweet and spicy liqueur made of Scotch whisky, Heather honey with herbs and spices, is often underrated.
Over the last William Grant’s company has grown exponentially, with the Balvenie distillery born just five years after the Glennfidich distillery in 1887; Grant’s Blended Scotch Whisky joining the family; surviving a brief shutdown during World War I, as well as Prohibition; coining the term ‘Single Malt’ in 1964, many upgrades, as the well as the creation of a most curious Gin in Hendrick’s, Sailor jerry Spiced Rum and the inclusion of a historic liquor in Drambuie. William Grant and Sons remains family owned to this day, continuing William Grant’s quest to make the best dram of whiskey and adding to that dream with it’s other brands.
1978. That was the year that Charlie Papazian published the first issue of Zymurgy Magazine ,along with Charlie Matzen and announced the formation of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). That same year homebrewing became legal in the United States thanks to President Jimmy Carter. Charlie (he wouldn’t let me call him Mr. Papazian) had been teaching homebrewing classes for years prior to legalization.
He’s authored several books focusing on homebrewing, including the now classic 'The Complete Joy of Homebrewing’, which has been updated many times over the years. His original wooden brewing spoon now resides at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He’s taught thousands of students, many of whom went on to found commercial breweries including Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper, who founded the Wynkoop Brewing Company.
Not ones to give up, the State’s brewers continued with the campaign for education to show just how these archaic beer laws were and how much of a stranglehold they were placing on small business in Texas. They were joined by the grassroots consumer advocacy group Open The Taps, who formed in 2011 in response to the legislative defeat, and together with a few friendly distributors, were able to make some headway in 2013 having a few laws changed for the better.
Though some advancement was seen in 2013, a little was lost as well. When the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions rolled around, the states small and independent brewers saw more inaction. With Open The Taps fading and the distributor lobbies doubling down, it was difficult to see what could be done. With the launch of CraftPac, we have a combined group representing the State’s brewers and consumers giving both a legislative voice.
The Brewers Association, the trade organization which represents the majority of the small and independent craft brewers in the U.S and whose mission it is to promote these breweries, as well as advocate on their behalf, is at it again. The association is known for its efforts to educate beer aficionados about our favorite malted beverage, including how its pairs with food. Each year the association highlights this marriage of food and beer with events like Paired (held during the Great American Beer Festival) and SAVOR. Each event pairs different shelf with different breweries, highlighting this unique relationship.
The Brewers Association has taken this a step further by bringing this unique concept directly to the beer enthusiast. Dubbed the ‘Brewmasters Invitational’ dinner, which pairs five different breweries with five different chefs.
This year's Great American Beer Festival (otherwise known as GABF) competition saw a record 2,217 breweries from around the United States enter a staggering 7,923 brews. The competition saw another record with 276 judges from 13 countries brought together to evaluate the best of American ales, lagers, and specialty brews. Many Texas breweries have been recognized in for their efforts in past years, and 2017 was no different.
This year Texas brought in a record 21 total awards this year 9 gold, 6 silver, and 6 bronze medals with Large Brewpub and Mid-size Brewery winners.
Now in its seventh year, the Texas Craft Brewers Festival (TCBF) descended upon Austin on Saturday, September 30, 2017, with an expanded format and even more breweries represented. The TCBF is a product of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG), with some proceeds benefiting various charities each year.
This year's festival featured over almost 70 Texas craft brewers with more than 200 unique brews for attendees to enjoy. Whether a novice to craft beer or a seasoned vet, the festival certainly had something for everyone, with special tappings on the hour from many of the participating breweries.
Open almost 11 months now, Weathered Souls has been a brewpub in license only. Though Co-founder/owner Mike Holt, Co-founder/Head Brewer Marcus Baskerville, and Co-founder/Production manager Seth Parker have been open since last fall, they lacked a menu. A kitchen they had, it was a chef they lacked though that has now been solved. Enter Chef James Makuch. Hailing from Florida, Chef Makuch is a self-taught talent with a few culinary influences
Some styles fade away into the history books after a while, while others evolve into something new. In some cases, new styles emerge on their own. In an effort to continue to bring in customers and try to stay relevant, have we gone too far with some styles? India Pale Ales, or IPAs as they’re known, might be one such victim. For a style that began in England as early as the 1860’s, it is a far cry from its early beginnings, evolving into a piney hop bomb here in the United States, much to the delight of craft beer drinkers everywhere.
Today we see Mango, Pineapple, Grapefruit, White, Red, Black, even session IPAs and 2017 has seen the IPA continue to dominate beer sales, as well as retain its title as the most entered style in the industry. The variant IPA has almost taken over a straight up traditional American or English IPA, causing many to wonder if in our efforts to give consumers what they want, while at the same time distinguish ourselves from other breweries, have we run out of ways to keep the IPA party going?
By late 1918, Federal Prohibition was in effect and with it a change in the San Antonio Brewing Association, now known as Alamo Industries. Emma Koehler and company were intent on riding out the storm, as many did not feel that the national ban on alcohol would last more than a few years...
" Period Three. Prohibition 1918 - 1933
In the two years leading up to the start of Prohibition, San Antonio and Texas in general, was in its prime. San Antonio boasted six breweries: the San Antonio Brewing Association; Peter Bros Brewery; Degen’s Brewery; the Lone Star Brewing Association, Schober’s; and the Och’s and Aschbacer’s Brewery. 1916 saw these San Antonio breweries realize a combined annual income of $8,000,000 that was a ridiculously high sum that amounted to around a fourth of the city’s overall income. With 1,200 employees and a total payroll of a million, San Antonio’s brewing Industry was three times larger than any other industry in the Alamo City. In 1917, with Prohibition on the horizon, the San Antonio Brewing Association introduced ‘La Perla – A Near Beer’ while still brewing XXX Pearl Beer.
By 1887 Otto Koehler and company had taken over City Brewery and rechartered as the San Antonio Brewing Association. From there it gets wild and crazy through Pearl's second period which runs through 1918 and the start of Prohibition. Welcome to part two of a preview into Pearl; A History of San Antonio's Historic Beer due out December 2017.
" Chapter Four
Though the San Antonio Brewing Association’s beginning is set in 1886, Koehler did not actually leave the Lone Star Brewing Association until 1887. It was during that year that Koehler made his now we'll know trip from San Antonio to Bremen, Germany and to the Kaiser-Beck Brewery to acquire what would become the recipe and trademark for San Antonio Brewing Association’s XXX Pearl Beer.
An alternative theory on how Otto Koehler came upon the name Pearl and possibly the recipe lies with recently discovered match safe bearing the name ‘A. Griesedieck Brewery Co’ with dates stamped on it ranging from 1879-1886, the very year the San Antonio Brewing Association debut its XXX Pearl beer. Coincidence? Perhaps, but consider again that Otto Koehler worked for Anton. Griesedieck. “Kaiser-Beck did not have a Pearl beer and Anton, as well as his future sons, did not continue to call their beer Pearl,” says Charlie Staats a local historian and collector of Texas brewing memorabilia and who discovered the match safe. “It is possible that Otto struck a deal with Anton to purchase the recipe and Pearl name from him, making one wonder what Otto Koehler was actually doing in Germany if he was not at Kaiser-Beck.”
In December of 2015, my first book “San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint” was released. Co-written with my friend, and fellow beer writer, Travis Polling, it chronicled the history of brewing in San Antonio from the early 1850's to the present. Two of the chapters alone were just the Pearl. It was through this research I realized that the full scope of Pearl's story could be contained in such a small number of words. Thus my second book "Pearl: A History of San Antonio's Iconic Beer" was born. Though the book will be released in December of this year, I wanted to release a series of 'teaser' posts. Below is the first of six previews.
The early 1880’s were an interesting time for San Antonio. The population had 225,000 by 1880; the city’s second railroad, the International-Great Northern, had arrived and an industrial revolution had gripped the city. Modernization was in full swing, paralleling that of the country’s growth at the time. Having dropped slightly from being the largest city in Texas, San Antonio’s infrastructure boomed as well, with hospitals, paved roads, telephones and the like bringing San Antonio into the modern era and once again the State’s largest city.
This wasn't exactly a surprise, although it wasn't exactly something I expected either.
Many have cried in outrage. However, I don't feel it is our place to tell somebody how to run their business. If they wish to sell, more power to them and I wish all employees who choose to stay, the very best.
As a fellow beer writer Lew Bryson put it, consumers have a decision to make. Fish or cut bait. Do you buy an ownership or a beer? Will you no longer buy Wicked Weed beers because of their new ownership? Or will you continue to buy them despite their new ownership?
If the support of small and independent breweries is important to you, as it is to me, then one must wonder if AB-InBev realizes this could backfire on them greatly or it could be genius. Though it is a crowded market at the moment for the breweries themselves, it is a great time for consumers. There are so many choices out there for all of us. We have the luxury of choosing to support an independent brewery or not.
When Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling opened in 2010, an easy drinking lager was always supposed to be a part of the “Brewstillery’s” regular year around lineup. Over the years this came in the form of ‘South Texas Lager’, ‘Red Headed Stranger’ and ‘Love Struck Hefe’ and while Red Headed and Love Struck are still around as seasonal brews, Ranger Creek was still without a year around lager.
It's a tale of two cities. It's a strange tale. It's a tale of two breweries. It's StrangeTail VI. StrangeTail is collaboration between Denver’s Strange Craft Brewing and our own Freetail Brewing here in San Antonio, now in its sixth year. It's collaboration not just between two brewers but between two friends.
Strange Craft’s Tim Myers and Freetail’s Jason Davis first met in 2010 during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. “His (Tim Myers) small, then nano-brewery lying in the shadow of Mile High Field, was in its first year of production and appeared on the front page of the Denver Post. Our small crew hiked down there to taste their wares and we’ve been friends ever since.”says Davis describing their first meeting.
Since then, Myers and Davis have had collaborations in both Denver and San Antonio each year. Although the IPA style has dominated their collaborations, the two brewers have also released a hoppy Saison brewed with Piloncillo and a couple of versions of Berliner-Weisse that have included hibiscus, cherry, and ancho chiles. This will be the first time the collaboration will be brewed at Freetail’s production facility on S. Presa St in San Antonio.
This year’s collaboration comes in the form of a hoppy lager, or Texas Lager as the guys refer to it. “We wanted to brew something reminiscent of both cities, yet was easy drinking for the upcoming summer” said Myers. Colorado grown Chinook hops were used in addition to lemondrop hops, Weyermann Pilsner, Vienna and Carafa malts. Expect a very hop forward lager due to late hop editions. The brew should come in around 5-6% ABV, perfect for both Colorado and Texas summers.
As with the last three years, StrangeTail will be entered in the Colorado Collaboration Festival, now in its fourth year and highlights brewery collaborations, giving brewers a way to “brew a unique beer with another brewery.” “The festival will feature 75 projects and 100 breweries,” said Alexandra Weissner of Alexa PR. This year’s festival will be held March 25th in Denver. The festival was created by Two Parts, a Denver based ticketing co, and the Colorado Brewers Guild.
StrangeTail VI will be available in the Alamo City at Freetail’s South Presa location, as well as the usual bars around San Antonio, with a few kegs making their way to Colorado for the festival. As to when it will be available? “When it's ready” said Davis. You're quite the comedian Mr. Davis.
Photo Credit: BeerPulse
Now rated as “one of the top three cocktail conferences in the country” by Fodor’s, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference returned for its sixth year last week for five days of seminars and events for cocktail enthusiasts and professional mixologists. Over the five days, attendees were treated to seminars on a wide variety of topics that catered to all levels of experience.
The conference started in 2012 and was headed up by Bohanan’s Prime steaks as a way to highlight San Antonio’s fast growing cocktail culture and benefits Houston Street Charities. It has grown with the guidance of cocktail guru Sasha Petraske, the conference has become a powerhouse that takes over most downtown San Antonio with pairings, dinners, tastings and bar crawls. Such the ever popular the ever popular ‘Waldorf of the Prairie”, a social event featuring dozens of cocktails and culinary combinations held at the historic St. Anthony Hotel, once referred to as the Waldorf of the Prairie because of its East Coast style opulence.
Brewery Productuon Avery Swanson has been promoted to Head Brewer, after the departure of Garret Crowell who leaves Jester King to start his own brewing venture.
Great job and congratulations to Avery! She's going to do a fantastic job! Full press release below:
David Bowie. Merle Haggard. Prince. All gone, along with many more. Big changes in 2016 for all of us. These changes were not limited to movie and rockstars though, the craft beer industry was affected as well. Though not all inclusive, the following are some of the upheavals with craft beer that surprised many in 2016 and surprised none at the same time.
n a year that has seen some crazy changes within the craft beer industry, 2016 sees yet another move. In the last eight months, we've already seen former Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele leave to start his own brewery, as well as the departure of Todd Haug from Surly Brewing and multiple AB-InBev buyouts. Now craft beer industry sales veteran Jason Armstrong, former National Direct of Sales for Stone Brewing and most recently of Buffalo Bayou Brewing in Houston, has joined Colorado based Ska Brewing as its Texas sales rep.
Ska is best known for its hop forward ‘Modus Hoperandi’; the Vienna style Lager ‘Mexican Logger’, Euphoria Pale Ale and Pinstripe Red Ale.
The wait is finally over. On November 19, Weathered Souls Brewing Co celebrated their grand opening in a very grand fashion. With doors opening at noon, the guys at Weathered Souls (located at 606 Embassy Oaks, suite 500) celebrated long and hard until around midnight with eight hundred of their closest friends. Attendees began lining up around 11:00am awaiting the formal ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30am and to be first to get a crack at the brew they have been eagerly waiting try.
The décor inside the restaurant side of the brewpub is simple. Sleek concrete floors that are stained a glossy brown hat matches the marble style counter tops, tables and chairs. Comforting earth tones adorn the walls with a tile back splash accenting the sixteen taps available. Next to the restaurant side, is a rolling garage door separating the brewhouse that features a twenty barrel brewing system and several forty barrel fermenters, as well as the cold room and future barrel program.