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lessons for real ale’s 19th anniversary party

By Daniel Reifsnider

Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the oak trees decide to go all The Happening on us and only get as far as causing massive allergies. It’s also the time of the year when beer seasons start changing to embrace the warm Texas sun and patio drinking becomes a temp job.

Most importantly, however, is that it’s the time of the year the grand folks out at Real Ale decide to celebrate their brewery birthday, and invite the masses to celebrate with them. And with that in mind, we here at Stay Hoppy decided to do things a little differently and instead of recapping the event, we’re sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned from past years.

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rant of the day – nipped in the bud

By Tyler Malone

The Corporation

At AB-InBev, we know you and your simple tastes. After all, we’ve created them—the only thing we’ve crafted in decades. Hell, generations. But still, don’t go. That’s all we’re asking. Please. We make you feel manly because real men don’t drink highfalutin fruit beers. Real men don’t even need a glass. Look, we know you’ve been drinking us since high school, and we even know that this—you and me, us—that’s a high school relationship, one built on convenience and a lack of options. Still, don’t go. We were all you wanted the whole you grew up, and now that you have, we’re all you want. That doesn’t need to change, we don’t need to change. Remember when there was nothing past us? We were adulthood. We gave you football games, fast races, commercials so close to soft-core porno that you thought your boyish fantasies were bleeding into reality. Now, though, we’re going to ask you one thing. Just this one thing. Are you listening? Good. Shut up. No, listen! Just shut up. Really. Drink our beer and like it, okay? Good. Now here’s your life: hard, manly work and chilled beer. All of that lived on repeat. We will continue to sell you the smallest experience possible and market it as a triumph, a truly manly achievement. Drink Responsibly.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Budweiser stuck in a human face—forever.

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brewpub vs gastropub

By Matt Abendschein

For some reason I feel inclined to write a post about this. Countless times over the past few years I’ve heard references to both brewpub and gastropub being used interchangeably. And, countless times I’ve tried to explain the difference only to have the explanation go in one ear and out the other. Maybe words coming out of my mouth are confusing. I do admit, I’m a technical person and am at times unable to speak out loud in generalities and the point gets lost, even putting people to sleep at times. Hopefully writing about it is more clear and concise and can clear up some confusion (for those that may be confused that is).

Note: I know I’ll probably miss intricate details in the TABC codes and licenses but that’s not the point of this article. This article is to give a clear and concise, yet general, definition of both brewpub and gastropub so people know the difference.

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follow up: triple ipa

Can someone explain to me what a Double IPA is?

I wanted follow up on Daniel’s post about Triple IPAs. Most of us have heard of them, some of us have tried them. I agree that giving that style of beer that type of name is a bit silly, even gimmicky.

What I’m concerned about, though, is the confusion about Double IPAs. I’d say that 99% of you have at least tried a DIPA, but what does that name truly mean? I thought I was pretty darn certain until I found myself stuck in Denver for an extra day last February. Secretly excited that I had to spend another day in Colorado, I wandered into one of my favorite joints in the city, Falling Rock Taphouse. I sat down and ordered whatever Funkwerks was on at the time and started perusing their beer menu. Something caught my eye while I was sipping my beverage. Some sort of beer styles definition list on the back of their beer menu…

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Brandon Ade Blacklands Malt

for the love of craft beer – brandon ades of blacklands malt

You’ve all heard of craft beer, but have you heard of craft malt? It’s easy to forget about malted barley with all of the hop craze in America right now. Yet, without malted barley, there would be no beer. It’s the backbone of almost every beer you drink, and one man is bringing malt to the forefront of the ‘support local’ revolution right here in the great state of Texas. His name is Brandon Ade and he’s the brains and operations behind Blacklands Malt right outside of Austin,TX in Leander.

Brandon’s goal is to bring even more local flare into the world of craft beer here in Texas by providing high quality malt to brewers. But it’s not just brewers he’s providing to, it’s bakers, brewers, homebrewers, distilleries, anyone who wants it as he says. ‘You want some? Come and get it.’ Some have already taken notice of his drive for quality malt, like Pinthouse Pizza, creating a Single Malt and Single Hop (SMASH) pale ale using the Pale Moon American Two Row malt. Joe Mohrfeld, head brewer of Pinthouse Pizza, used the classic German decoction method during brewing to really bring out more complexities from the Blacklands Malt. Others that will be using their malt are Jester King, Twisted X and Black Star Co-op. Something tells me you will be seeing his malt being used more and more in the future, bringing a little more terroir into Texas craft beer.

In a nutshell, what is the process of malting? (i.e What would you say, ya do here?, little Office Space humor)

Well our website www.blacklandsmalt.com/malting101 goes in to pretty good detail about the process of malting, but in very simple terms, I grow enzymes. The job of a maltster is not to grow a plant, but to develop natural enzymes within the grain that will later be taken advantage of by brewers to convert starches to sugar. It is in fact a constant struggle in malting to limit the vegetative growth of the plant as too much leads to waste and undesirable by-products.

What is unique about what we do is that we are the only malthouse in Texas “growing” these enzymes. Our vision has always been to bring the production of malt back to a local level and give the brewing, distilling, and baking industries a quality malt Texans can be proud to use. That includes not just the local production of malt but the sourcing of barley and wheat from Texas. In order to get a true ground to glass experience you have to start with the regional growth of barley, which is the life blood of the business. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, “No barley, no beer”.

The 3 major steps of malting are steeping (soak the grain in water), germination (allow time to grow), and kilning (stop growth by drying). But what do I really do most of the time? Clean grain, Clean equipment, shovel 1000s of pounds of malt by hand, clean the production area, and constantly obsess over temperature, humidity, and moisture levels. Occasionally I’ll actually bag some malt and sell it too. Did I mention cleaning?

Do you think malt ever gets jealous of all the hop hype? Do you think people will ever go gaga over SRM like they did with IBU?

Hops can keep the sex appeal, malt is confident in the background. In all seriousness, the malting business has been such a faceless industry for so long I think it is taken for granted the challenges involved with sourcing barley and producing a quality malt. Part of that veil is due to the industrialization of malt over the last century where barley is grown in only a handful of regions in the world and malted in a few giant malthouses. In short, it is not very accessible. When was the last time you visited a farm to go strolling through a field of barley?

One of the reasons hops has taken the spotlight is in part due to the production of hops in new regions of the world, namely the Americas. As new varieties were developed in the United States, coupled with reinvigorated enthusiasm in homebrewing and craft brewing, hops became accessible to the general public in a way barley and malt has yet to do. People understand more of hops, where they are grown, how they are grown, and how to use them. Hops are traditionally and largely classified by where they are grown, and that is a very key point. They have locality to them and that drives interest and engagement because people like to talk about where something comes from. But how many people know where the barley used to make their malt was grown?

While I don’t think malt will ever need that level of rock star attention hops is receiving right now, I do believe as small malthouses begin to crop up across the country and drive the local growth of barley in non-traditional areas more and more attention will be given to where malt comes from.  Education and visibility into malting will naturally drive a focus on the local sourcing of ingredients. And that is important for all ingredients in beer, not just malt. What I care about more than stealing the spotlight from hops is shining a brighter light on the sourcing of all ingredients and where they are grown. It can only enhance our experience and enjoyment of beer to have locally sourced ingredients and I believe that is the next great leap forward in brewing and distilling.

  1. What do you hope to achieve with being a local maltster?

Simple. I want to grow barley in Texas and make a variety of great malts. And I want that malt to be available to anyone looking for a sustainable, locally produced malt. I’d also like to feed my family and keep the lights on as well.

Are you primarily a maltster for breweries? Do you anticipate expanding to sell to distilleries as well?

I’m a maltster for everyone. I’ve already sold to homebrewers, commercial breweries, and distilleries. You want some? Come and get it.

And last, but definitely not least, what does craft beer mean to you?

Community. Beer is what I enjoy with my friends and family and what often brings us together. And now that my livelihood is connected with the beer industry it means profoundly more to me. One of my goals of starting this business has been to use it as a vehicle to bring my community of friends and family together and support the growth of the people around me.

I live and breathe malt every day and can talk about it for hours. But you know what really excites me right now? We are in the early planning phases of establishing the first community garden in Leander right next to the malthouse, fed by the waste water we produce. Instead of just flushing perfectly usable water down the drain we can use it to fuel fruit and vegetable plots. Sounds funny that of all things a garden is what gets me jazzed, but giveback and the cohesion of community are just some of the things a community garden will help foster. Beer has made all of that possible, in the most indirect of ways, but in the end if I can give something back to the people I love then I owe it to the community building power of beer.

rant of the day – bud light straw-ber-rita

OMG! Have you heard the big news y’all? Those crazy folks over at AB-InBev have done it again and outdid themselves with this one. Seriously, this might be the best news I’ve heard since JT started going on tour again.

Bud Light Straw-ber-rita.

Yes, you heard correctly, strawberry flavored margarita beer stemming from one of the best beers on the planet, Bud Light.

Bud Light description:

Introduced nationally in 1982, Bud Light is brewed with a malt and hops ratio different from Budweiser for a distinctively crisp taste with fewer calories.


What’s that ratio? I must know! Whatever it is, it’s even more perfect with the addition of refined sugar, food dyes and flavor additives. And it’s made with natural flavors, so you KNOW they’re supporting local farmers and using thousands of pounds of pureed strawberries.

“The response to Lime-A-Rita, especially among non-beer drinkers, was tremendous, and we knew we’d tapped into a winning insight we could build on,” said Rob McCarthy , vice president, Bud Light. “Strawberries and margaritas have long gone hand-in-hand. Straw-Ber-Rita is a unique twist on a familiar flavor that only Bud Light Lime can deliver.”

You are so right Rob McCarthy, strawberries and pale lagers have always gone hand-in-hand too so mixing in the margarita aspect is just pure genius. And everybody knows nothing can deliver on that crisp sweet strawberry flavor quite like Bud Light

And look at what those good ol’ boys down in the marketing group did. The name. It’s just so dang cute. Straw-ber-rita. See what they did? They mixed strawberry and margarita to make one word. I think I just peed a little.

I can’t wait to be sipping on this little concoction. In fact, I might get a little crazy and do 50/50 mixes of the lime-a-rita AND straw-ber-rita. Don’t say I won’t!

Local brewers, you better do something to keep up with these crazy brewers at AB-InBev.

http://www.youstayhoppyaustin.com/2012/04/perfect-margarita-nice-try-bud-light.html

NTX Firkin Fest Firkins

casks, firkins and real ale. an opinion on additional ingredients.

By Matt Abendschein

What the firk is a firkin anyway? Many of my friends over the years have asked me this and to be honest, they have asked me several times still trying to grasp what it is exactly. Simply put, a firkin is a vessel (9 gallons) that looks like a small keg which contains real ale, also known as cask ale. By real ale (a term coined by CAMRA) I mean unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that has been allowed to naturally re-ferment inside the firkin with the addition of a little more live yeast and fermentable sugar. Because of this, that additional yeast and sugar ‘get it on’ and the beer is naturally carbonated since one of the main by-products of fermentation is CO2. The beer is then served directly from the firkin via gravity (picture above) or via a beer engine (picture below). Many people revel in the nuances of cask ale and its gentle, sometimes creamy mouth feel. Authentic cask ale is a truly wonderful experience, one that every beer fanatic should have.

Craft Pride Beer Engines

Craft Pride Beer Engines

I won’t bore you with a long history lesson but historically speaking, all beer used to be real ale. Beer was always directly drawn from wooden barrels in public houses. It wasn’t until the 1800’s and the industrial revolution when brewing practices changed, new beer styles were introduced and forced carbonation via CO2 in kegs become the new norm. Cask ale, after this, became a bit of a legend. Luckily cask ales are becoming more and more popular throughout the world, including the US. With the help of the American craft beer movement, real ale has gained proper respect in America. Many beer bars now offer cask ale on a regular basis via beer engines or weekly firkin tapping events.

This is when things get interesting though. The vessel can be filled with anything along with the beer. Imperial stout going in? Okay, let’s put some cocoa nibs, coffee beans and vanilla bean inside with it. IPA? Let’s put some grapefruit peel inside with it, or maybe some fresh hops. Witbier? Orange peel and coriander. You get the picture. The idea behind doing this is to enhance and carry the flavors of the beer all while having some fun via experimentation. It’s a big craze right now in the US and it seems to have helped with getting more people aware of cask ale. However, this hasn’t gone without blow back from purists.

Purists of cask ale feel that the ale should be unadulterated. Like I stated above, purists are amazed by the nuances of flavors and aromas from traditional cask ale. Another issue with these popular firkin tappings is that the ale is usually all drunk within one night because of its popularity. Many people love to see what happens to the ale two to three days after tapping, just to see how it has ‘aged.’ Oxygen (one of beer’s arch enemies) comes into contact with the ale so it does not last long, but the aromas and flavors can change and many love to witness that day-to-day change.

Stuart a.k.a x.Alesmith of the Zymurology blog is one of these purists. When asked why he likes cask ale, he responded:

I enjoy real cask ale because it is a very specific style of beer that has as much to do with how the beer is treated after it leaves the brewery as it does the brewing of said beer. Great cask beer should be brilliantly clear,  slightly effervescent and never flat with a good foamy head. Flavor development in real cask beer lends itself to subtle styles like bitters and pale ales, although I have had great casks of porter and stouts at the GBBF. Beers with huge flavor profiles are not nearly as good in many instances because the heavy flavors dominate and overshadow what makes cask special.


His thoughts on additional ingredients in the vessel containing cask ale:

I object to the use of the term cask when referring to what many in the US do and call “cask”. I have no objection whatsoever in adding all kinds of things to a stainless serving vessel and using it as a long term randall of sorts, which is what most “cask” in the US is, I just wish they could think of another term such as “kegging experiment” to describe it.  If brewers wish to add fruit, vegetables or umbilical chords to their 10% imperial stouts then so be it, and sure I might taste it to see how it turned out. However, having seen the promised land my paradigm is skewed as I know what real cask beer tastes like and how much work and effort backed by hundreds of years of tradition is involved when making true “cask”. I also object to a common practice I have seen with some brewers calling anything that looks like a cask a “firkin” (which is a size designation) when they are using smaller “pins” – I guess this is just another instance of using wrong terminology. Anyway, in conclusion when I see “casks” popping up all over town I quietly repeat to myself “cask, cask everywhere but not a drop to drink”.


Some, however, enjoy the idea of adding additional ingredients as long as it doesn’t detract from the core beer. I asked a couple of other beer fans around town what their thoughts were on this subject and here’s what they had to say.

Adan De La Torre of Cask Austin (@caskaustin) on why he likes cask ale:

I once read that cask ale is the pinnacle of a brewers art, and that’s what i think everytime I drink a cask ale. Sure draft beer is good, its great! But when a beer naturally conditions inside of a firkin instead of being forced into a keg with Co2, it brings out so much more in the beer. It has a softer mouthfeel so you can taste alot of more because your tongue isn’t being bombarded with cold fizzy bubbles. The temperature is warmer (usually) so more flavors come out from the malt and hops instead of being numbed by a crazy cold cooler and/or glycol system.


Adan also likes the idea of additional ingredients with the cask ale.

I love when brewers put additional ingredients into casks. It’s something that they can’t necessarily experiment with in an entire batch without potentially ruining 30BBL’s of beer.. this way if it doesn’t go well they’re only out 10 gallons. If it went really well, then some one lucky bar out there just got something super special that only a handful of people got to try.

Now sometimes it can go too far. Sure some mango in an IPA sounds stupid and over the top, but its not! It’s awesome, and sometimes you can barely even taste it, just a hint. What I don’t like is when someone tries to put a wheat beer in a firkins and add hibuscus to it. What you have then is pink beer flavored tea coming out of some weird metal barrel. Dry hopping and adding fruits that will accent the flavor of the beer is one of my favorite things, but some people can do it very wrong while others nail it almost every time.


Chris Troutman of Austin Beer Guide also likes the idea of additional ingredients.

Although not classically created casks, per say, they do give brewers a chance to flex their creative muscle and take some of their traditional brands into new and interesting directions. Sure, they can often end up over the top (anyone remember Mad Beetz?) and even undrinkable, but that’s part of the fun. A good cask/firkin/pin event should have an element of surprise to it- especially if it’s a new experiment. Some could argue that it’s not fair to use paying customers as lab rats like this, but I think for the most part, people know what they’re getting into. It’s a fun trend, and the more often brewers do them and folks come out to drink them, the better they’ll be. 


What do I think? I think there is a time and place for traditional and nontraditional casks. As I stated above, every person should experience the subtlety and greatness that is traditional cask ale. Its subtleties and creamy body is what dreams are made of. However, I also love what American brewers are doing, especially when adding fresh hops with pales or IPAs. For me, additional ingredients are like finishing sauces on a plate of food. The goal is to enhance and lift up the flavors, not to overpower. The whole American craft beer revolution has taken off because of breaking traditions and experimentation, and this is just another example of that.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree or disagree with the idea of adding additional ingredients with the cask ale?

Places in Austin with cask ale:

Black Star Co-op
Draught House
Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden
The Chicago House
Craft Pride

Recommendation: Jester King Commerical Suicide (if you can find it). You can buy bottles of this at stores, and this is a traditional English mild ale which has been naturally re-fermented in the bottle, meaning the bottle contains real ale.

rant of the day – how to open a wax sealed bottle

As cool as the bottle may look with that pretty wax dripping down the side, it is just so damn annoying to open. However, I’ve compiled an easy 10-step solution to opening these bottles. You can thank me later.

1. Open a normal beer. Drink. This will put your body at ease for the entire session.

2. Make a preliminary call to 911. There will be blood.

3. Slap the bottle to show it who’s boss

4. Take a serrated knife or hacksaw to the bottle.

– Warning: Do not use a butter knife, it doesn’t do jack shit.

5. Hack away at the wax all the way around the bottle.

– If you knick yourself, just keep going, it adds to the enjoyment at the end.

6. Oh, don’t hack away near your glass as there will be plenty of shrapnel.

7. Once you have completed a 360 degree cutting ring at least 1/8″ thick around the bottle, you are now 25% complete (almost there).

8. Open another normal beer and drink.

9. Throw the bottle against a wall.

10. Lick beer off said wall.

Update: Recently I was told the wine opener knife works well. I tried it with the opener our electric one came with. It actually worked fairly well, so I recommend that if you have one. But if you want a challenge, do the above steps and remember, have fun.

bats & beers – adelbert’s and noble pig

Last night marked another successful Bats & Beers event featuring Adelbert’s Brewery and Noble Pig Sandwiches. Thanks to everyone that came out, we hope you had a great time as well.

On Tap:
Naked Nun
Dancin’ Monks
Tripel B

Food Pairings:
Bratwurst w/ beer braised onions – Dancin’ Monks
Beer braised short ribs on crostini – Tripel B

The braised short ribs were absolutely divine and paired perfectly with the Tripel B.

There were around 130 people on the boat, which made for a really lively boat ride. People responded very well to the Naked Nun (the keg floated within 30 minutes), which was perfect for the summer heat. We even got to the see the bats up close and personal on this boat ride.

We hope to see you at the next event, whenever that may be. Cheers!

rant of the day – the perfect margarita, nice try bud light

I don’t normally dive into the spirits category, but when it involves beer, it’s my territory. The Bud Light Lime-a-Rita is an obvious attempt (and a lame one at that) from the ‘innovative’ brewers at Anheuser-Busch to gain back some market share from the growing craft beer and spirits categories. Good luck with that, you’re doing a great job right now……..

Here’s my question to you A-B: Why the hell would you combine two already perfect beverages? You have beer, which is perfect on its own already. You have the margarita, a killer cocktail when done right. Combined, that just sounds nasty. Then again, I suppose combining anything, including gasoline, gym sweat, and rat poison, would make Bud Light taste better than it does right now.

Don’t worry consumers, there is a solution to this problem. The perfect margarita can be made right at home, and it is about the easiest and tastiest cocktail you will drink.

Ingredients

3 oz silver tequila (Quality tequila, 100% agave)

3 oz homemade simple syrup

2 oz fresh lime juice

 – I use bottled lime juice, it’s easier for the home user. Make sure it’s 100% lime juice though (not from concentrate). If there are other ingredients besides lime juice, it’s not lime juice!

Splash of orange juice

Combine the tequila (I add a splash more, why not?), simple syrup and lime juice in a shaker full of ice. Shake vigorously until combined. Pour into a glass full of ice and add a splash of orange juice on top. Garnish with lime. You can rim the glass with salt too if you want, that’s just a preference.

Simple Syrup Recipe

This is always good to have on hand in the fridge, you never know when you’ll need it.

1 cup water

1 cup organic pure cane sugar

Bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Cool in the fridge.

And voila, the perfect margarita. It’s honestly on par with any margarita I’ve had at upscale restaurants, and you can make it right at home. So ditch the Bud Light Lime-a-Rita and grab a craft beer, or make your own restaurant quality margarita. Cheers!