Monday, February 24, 2014

Austin's Craft Beer Scene Goes from Boom, to Bust, to Boom!

In the past few years, Austin's craft beer scene has grown tremendously, but it hasn't always been that way.

Currently, there are nearly 20 breweries/brewpubs in the Austin-area with more coming online every year.

 {there was a time when Craft Pride's business model wouldn't have worked. But now a bar serving nothing but Texas beers can actually make it!}

In a new documentary, Brewed In Austin, The Zymergence Of Craft Beer In Central Texas, created by Chris Erlon and Larry McIntosh, the filmmakers look at Austin's burgeoning craft beer scene and how it got to where it is now.

The story is told through brewers ranging from Christine Celis of Celis Brewery, Chip McElroy of Live Oak Brewing and Davis Tucker, owner of NxNW Brewery

On Sunday, Micah and I went to a showing of the film at Flix Brewhouse. While it wasn't a packed showing, there were definitely a lot of beer nerds in the crowd. 

I really enjoyed the insight on the breweries that started in the late 80s: Waterloo Brewing, Copper Tank and the Bitter End, to name a few. None of those breweries exist today. 

I thought the film was interesting and provided good information on the ebb and flow of breweries and the whole legislative battle Texas brewers have been fighting for decades. I know it wasn't a fancy movie, but I thought the interviews could've been shot and framed a little better. 

If you get a chance to see it, do so! 

After the showing, there was a Q&A with most of the brewers featured in the film. 

Here are some nuggets that might be new to you!
  • Celis said she hopes to start brewing her dad's famous Belgian White by the beginning of  next year. It sounds like Celis will pull a Mikeller and brew at various host facilities. 
  • Jeff Young, Black Star Co-Op's head brewer (but not for long), said beer lovers in South Austin won't have to drive all the way up to their North location to get their drink on. Not sure what the timeline is for their south location.
  • Live Oak's new location along the Colorado River in East Austin is still in the works as well. I can't wait to have a brewery right on the water! That'll be nice! McElroy mentioned they had an issue with the Texas bill that passed this summer that made it illegal for breweries to sell their distribution rights. Since Live Oak has been self-distributing for more than 15 years, they've built up a sizable distribution network. During the Q&A McElroy said he's been offered upwards to $3 million for those rights, but now with the new laws, he won't be able to sell those rights. That lost of potential capital is playing into their timeline on the new brewery. 
  • Jester King Brewery started carrying a couple of La Cruz de Comal wines on tap. This wasn't mentioned during the Q&A but I thought I'd mention it since a moviegoer asked whether or not breweries were working with wineries. Micah and I visited La Cruz de Comal a few weeks ago and it is absolutely wonderful. If you like Jester King, you'll definitely like Comal.
  • NxNW is opening a Circle C location. Impact News had a full write-up on here.   
  • While the beer bills passed this summer allowed breweries to sell their beers for consumption on-site, most breweries in Austin still can't do that due to zoning laws. I wrote about that a few weeks ago, here.
Some folks ask if Austin is already saturated with craft breweries, but most people don't believe that's the case. If you compare us to Portland, Denver, or San Diego, Austin still has room for growth. If it's good beer that's being made, we all benefit! 

Cheers to that!

Micah at Independence Brewing while wearing Funkwerks Brewery shirt. Beer overload.

Drink local! But it's ok if you like other beers too. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pho For a Crowd: Dinner Party For Two Dozen People

Over the past few months, we've had half-a-dozen winter storms" in Austin. What city am I living in? I only like one ice storm every five years, please. When it's cold, it's only appropriate to warm up with a hot bowl of pho!

I had my annual pho party a few weeks ago and the only proof of said party is this one picture that a friend took of me!

In the midst of prepping noodles for my guests, I completely forgot to take pictures of the appetizers.

I made three dozen banh pate chaud and rolled nearly 60 tofu spring rolls! To give myself some time, I premade the pate chauds the week before, froze them and baked them the night of the party.

Banh pate chaud is basically puff pastry stuffed with a ground meat mixture. I'll post the recipe soon!

I'm still using the same electric fryer to make my broth. For this 5 gallon container, I used 13 pounds of beef bones and another 3 pounds of short rib bone. I got the short ribs from the Korean grocery store and it definitely made the broth richer and sweeter. I started the broth at 10 a.m. and dinner was served around 7 p.m.

My original pho recipe (on a smaller scale) can be found here.

What was my biggest hiccup of the night? Hungry people waiting for their bowl of pho! Even though I had plenty of appetizers and there were plenty of drinks to go around, most of the two dozen guests descended around the same time. I left the invite dinner time open-ended so I was hoping for staggered guests but hungry bellies prevailed.

I started an assembly line to cook the noodles and then the guests chose their cuts of meat and filled their own bowls with the broth. We had two tables set-up with pho accoutrements, chopsticks and soup spoons.

Even though it was a busy night, it all worked out great in the end and Micah and I had a fabulous time chatting, dining and drinking with friends.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sharing is Caring: Valentine's Day Cookies

I've said it before, but I'm not a big Valentine's Day person. But, who doesn't like heart-shaped cookies?
Since I haven't baked any goodies for work since my Christmas baking marathon, I figured today was a good day as any to bring some goodies into work. 

I know today is all about love and shiz but I do have a bone to pick. 

Have you noticed at your work that there are givers and takers? Like there is always a few people who always bring goodies (stuff they made or bought) and there are obvious takers (people who never bring anything, not even candy! to share). 

So, the people who usually bring stuff are then expected to bring stuff all.the.time. It drives me insane. Granted, I do enjoy cooking and baking but baking ingredients are not cheap. Sharing is caring, right? That's why I do it. 

Who are you at work? Giver or a taker? 

Back to hearts! These shortbread cookies are easy and delicious. Not too sweet and with a great texture. 

Oddly enough, I went looking for a recipe in one of my childhood cookie books and it had the same exact recipe as this one from the Land O Lakes website so that's the one I used for these cookies.

To finish the cookies I dipped them in some melted chocolate.

Happy Valentine's Day everybody!