The last two legislative sessions in Texas have seen the introduction of bills that would have drastically changed the competition playing field for beer in Texas by allowing brewpubs in Texas to self-distribute their beer off-site and allow production breweries to sell on-site in the form of beer-to-go sales. Although a bill to allow beer-to-go sales at production breweries made it through the Senate and House committees, due to opposition, it was stuck in a broom closet somewhere at the capital and never saw the light of day.
Archive for the 'Here’s What’s Brewing' Category
Legal action on the part of one business toward another is as old as time itself. It’s human nature. Whether a perceived infringement of a similar name or logo or even a process, many businesses feel their only recourse is to take legal action. Sure, through mediations many businesses attempt to work out disagreements, but often a lawsuit or cease and desist happens. It’s no different with the craft beer industry.
Such is the case with soon to be open Branchline Brewing Company (Formerly known as Old Boxcar Brewing Company or OBBC) in San Antonio, Texas. The San Antonio based microbrewery was set to open its doors next month as Old Boxcar Brewing Company. Before they had a chance to brew batch number one on their newly installed system, Pennsylvania based Boxcar Brewing Company served OBBC with a cease and desist order. The order stated that Old Boxcar’s name was too close to Boxcar Brewing and would confuse consumers. They requested the name be changed . Bear in mind, Box Car Brewing Company is comparable in size to Branchline, is in a state on the East Coast and their product isn’t distributed in Texas. Nonetheless, Boxcar Brewing Company (who have been in business two years) felt that OBBC was infringing on their trademark.
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” writes award winning author Chuck Palahniuk in his novel ‘Invisible Monsters’. A slight overstatement perhaps, but well said nonetheless. Much of who we are is a compilation of all those who influence us. The same can be said for many successful companies in today’s world, and there is no better example of this than with today’s craft breweries.
The image of most American craft breweries is often perceived to be that of laid back, long-haired brewers with beards who are not afraid to brew what they want, styles be damned. While that image is not far off the mark in many cases, each brewery has its own unique personality that reflects all the individual personalies that make up the brewery. I had the opportunity to listen to several great representatives of the craft brewing community on this subject last month at the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, Ca.
The 2012 Craft Brewers Conference came to a close this past Saturday, May 5th and with it the announcements of the winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup competition. Breweries from all over the globe entered beers in the international competition sponsored by the Brewers Association. The competition has been running every two years since 1996 and sees entries in every style category imaginable.
This year saw the most entries in each category, with approximately 3,921 beers entered in 95 style categories. According to the Brewers Association, this was a 17.7 percent increase over 2010.
Yesterday the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas handed down its ruling on the joint lawsuit filed back in October of this year against the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) by Austin brewery Jester King, Zax Restaurant and Bar and Authentic Beverage.
Essentially the Federal court states that breweries in Texas can now: label a beer a ‘beer’ and an ale, an ‘ale’, regardless of the ABV; advertise where their beers are sold; as well as describe the alcohol content of their beers with words like ‘strong’. “In a remarkable (though logically dubious) demonstration of circular reasoning” Judge Sparks states in his ruling filed yesterday, the “TABC attempts to defend the constitutional legitimacy of the Code through an appeal to the statutory authority of the Code itself.” Referring to the required use of the terms “beer”, “ale”, and “malt liquor”, he writes “TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restrictions on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized to prohibit use of the word ‘milk’ by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual ‘Milk Festival’ on the Congress Avenue Bridge.’”
One of the best aspects of attending the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) each year is the education and updates on the craft beer industry that are available. This year, I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon put on by the Brewers Association (BA) on day 2 of the festival, which was held at the Denver Marriott City Center in Denver. All beers at the luncheon were from brewpubs, with the majority of the beers having been GABF medal winners the year before. Brewers Association Program Director, Julia Herz mc’d the luncheon, which discussed various industry topics. However the focus was on the influence of brewpubs within the industry.
While Herz kicked off the luncheon, attendees were treated to a wonderful Belgian white from Taps Fish House and Brewery in Brea, California. Soon after the first course arrived, Roasted Beet Salad with fennel, green apples, goat cheese and bacon with vinaigrette. Paired with this was a Vienna style lager from Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen in Bellingham, Washington, as well as a Belgian Saison from Mckenzie Brewhouse in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Formulating your own recipe to create what you hope is an unbelievable Homebrew is probably the most difficult part of brewing your own beer. However, it can be the most rewarding as well. Maybe you’ve gathered the equipment needed, books and even talked to veteran brewers. You might even have many partial mash or all-grain batches under your belt. Something is missing though. While you are enjoying the brewing process, getting to know your equipment and honing your techniques, however you want more control over the process, more of a challenge.
I confess, I probably brewed at least 4-5 all-grain batches before I finally felt ready to try my hand at creating my own recipes. I was scared to death. Trying someone else’s proven recipe is safe and if you make a mistake or two, it’s likely to be close enough. Working on your own recipe puts the added stress of not getting the recipe right. That can make or break your beer, even if your brew day is perfect.
There are dozens of books out there that will assist with recipe formulation and getting to know everything that needs to be considered, however there are a few in particular that I keep close at hand: Ray Daniel’s ‘Designing Great Beers’; Randy Mosher’s ‘Radical Brewing’; and the recently published ‘Brewing better Beer’ from Gordon Strong. I suggest looking at these and any others as your resources.
These days, you wouldn’t have enough fingers to count up all the production breweries in Texas. Although Texas is still very far from being what it has the potential to be, this is still a great problem to have. Even the smaller towns like New Braunfels, are getting in on the action. However, one city in Texas seems to be rising above all others in its numbers of brewpubs and production breweries to the point that comparisions to Denver, Colorado and San Diego, California have been mentioned. Austin, Texas has become a hot spot for craft beer these days, but is there too much?
I recently paid a visit to a known, and yet little known, brewpub in Boerne, Texas. Here’s a link my review of them orignally posted on UpTake.com.
Let’s face it. When you think of craft beer, your first thought is not South America. Think South America and your mind is filled with images of the Amazon River, Rio De Janeiro and Carnival. But beer? Never! I confess, craft beer and South America were not my first thoughts when I walked into the offices of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado last summer. I was there to meet homebrewing legend, founder of the American Homebrewers Association, and current Brewers Association President, Charlie Papazian.
A few minutes after my arrival, Charlie came out to the lobby with yes, a beer in his hand and two glasses. We sat down and began what was a great conversation. Ok, so what beer were we sharing? A coffee porter called Demoiselle from the Colorado Brewery in Riberaõ Preto Brazil. Yes, Brazil. Charlie had gone down to Brazil in early 2010 and the porter we were enjoying was one of the fruits of that trip.