Posts ByKatie Kalk, Author at PorchDrinking.com
In the madness of 2020, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Category 4 Hurricane Laura that decimated the Gulf Coast on August 27. The town of Lake Charles, LA was especially hard-hit, with at least 28 fatalities in the small city. The hurricane hit Lake Charles at a greater strength than Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. (And as of this writing, Hurricane Delta is making a bee-line for Lake Charles.) Almost a month has passed since Laura’s 150 miles-per-hour winds and 15-foot storm surge; yet, nearly 45,000 residents still do not have power. Between huge storms, historic wildfires, and the pandemic, many residents are worried that the world has forgotten about them.
It seems like it was a lifetime ago when I was writing a craft beer guide to the freshly canceled SXSW Festival. The weeks continued to roll on and, like the majority of urban apartment dwellers, my partner and I felt cooped up with nothing but canceled plans to keep us company. At the end of May, after hearing that my husband and I would both be working remotely at least until the end of the year, we packed up the pup and left Austin, TX.
It had been a long time since my last road trip and much had changed. We headed north to escape the Texas heat and barren landscape. On this trip, masks and hand sanitizer were our new road trip essentials; we stayed at AirBnBs whenever we could and restricted our indoor activities to buying groceries. And after two months on the road, our trip took us to Glacier National Park and Kalispell, MT, a little town with some sizeable beers, like at Sacred Waters Brewing Co.
As the days slowly blend together, it’s easy to forget about all of the events we’ve missed. Special occasions that have flowed by us without any pomp and circumstance. Its understandable to mourn these events, even in the midst of greater suffering. One of these events was South By Southwest, the two-week arts, culture and technology conference in Austin, Texas. Not only is SXSW a great party, but it is a crucial publicity moment for businesses big and small. One of the many new products that was set to debut during SXSW is the beer Dark Matter, a collaboration between Austin institution Jester King brewery and Chicago coffee shop Dark Matter.
So… you were going to attend the 10-day bacchanal of film, technology, music and gaming known to the world as South by Southwest (SXSW). My condolences: SXSW is the greatest weekend of the year in Austin and we are all still mourning its loss.
However, if you find yourself in a very expensive, nonrefundable hotel room with a purely ornamental platinum badge, I beg you to leave your room and pay for a beer. SXSW brought $355 million to the local economy and it goes without saying that local businesses will be feeling the hit. Many breweries around the convention center are still hosting live music and other events. Below is a list of great places to drown your sorrows over a pint. Don’t forget to tip!
For many of us beer aficionados, spending an afternoon at a brewery, brewpub or tap house is a common treat. A time to relax with friends and family while tasting the newest beers that may or may not be distributed. For people like this, myself included, it’s easy to forget that many breweries rely solely upon distribution.
Taprooms can be a cash cow for breweries. These direct to consumer sales increase profit margins by cutting out third-party distributors and retailers. Some breweries start and end their business model with a high-profit taproom, while others wait to use the taproom profits to launch distribution. Other breweries like Hedgehog Brewing in Cedar Park, Texas, save the taproom for last.
When was the last time you drank something completely new? Was it the first time you braved a beer with “milkshake” on the can? The first time you confused an IPA for a glass of juice? A beer-infused with CBD and smelling like a college dorm room? Vista Brewing in Driftwood, Texas, has achieved the rare privilege of making a beer that has a unique spin on an established method. The first-ever beer aged in sotol barrels.
Outside of Austin lies what many locals call the prettiest little part of Texas: Hill Country. Small rolling hills break up the endless blue sky and Texas scrub provides shade to white-tailed deer, armadillos, and the hordes of tubers leisurely floating down the San Marcos River. Many Austin based companies will provide tubes and transportation for easy access to San Marcos’ best-known attraction. Visitors shouldn’t stick to the water; getting out and exploring Hill Country charms is best done on dry land. Some of the best boozy attractions in the state are scattered around Hill Country from the elite Jester King Brewery to the only sotol distillery in the United States, Desert Door. With over twenty-five breweries in Hill Country, visitors will find plenty of delicious reasons to keep exploring the surrounding scrubland.
In a crowded craft beer market, breweries are working harder than ever to catch the eye of the consumer walking down their local beer aisle. Breweries are investing in slick graphic design, updated branding and wild flavors. If the outside of the can isn’t enough to make the beer stand out then perhaps what’s inside might intrigue the consumer into a purchase.
Sitting down at my local brewery the other day, I felt like something was missing. Something felt off about my presence in this crowd of trendy urban dwellers. As craft beer continues to move into the mainstream, drinkers no longer …
Defining what makes a person a millennial has been an object of journalistic contention for years now. Is it a strong memory of 9/11, barely remembering the world pre-internet, or growing up watching single-camera sitcoms? May I humbly suggest adding one more to the list: you can identify as a member of the millennial generation if you have ever been personally victimized by a toxic black can masquerading as men’s body spray. Even if you never directly sprayed this shower-substitute on your skin in middle school, you have breathed in its foul fumes at some point during your adolescence. With scents like Apollo, Kilo, Phoenix, Tsunami and Maniac, body spray was aimed at moldable millennial minds hoping they could spray their way to cool.
Depending on who you ask, South by Southwest (SXSW) is either an adult Disneyland full of freebies, quirky popup experiences and endless live music or a modern scene out of Mad Max with throngs of tourists swarming the streets of downtown Austin, TX. Do you live for the crowds and discovering secret shows or do you hope that your local bar hasn’t been discovered? Either way, Austin breweries have you covered. Keep reading for a roundup of craft beer events at SXSW.
The modern world of craft beer tends to glamorize the brewmaster as a lone wolf creative genius. One person working away in an underground lair fermenting magic. Of course, a brewmaster relies on a large team of professionals in every step of the process. The very first step is gathering quality ingredients. Yeast is beer’s most mysterious ingredient. A reproducing single-celled organism that consumes sugars to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. Without these invisible creatures, there would be no beer.
PorchDrinking is a firm supporter of the manta “drink local.” But there’s plenty of incredible craft beer that doesn’t come from your neck of the woods. I live in Austin, the capital of Texas and the city with the most craft breweries in the state. I could exclusively drink beers from my home town; however, I’d be making a mistake by ignoring my Texas beer brethren. The beer coming out of the Dallas Metroplex rivals its hipper southern city. It’s harder to find, but worth the effort to pick up.
Fall weekends in Austin, Texas can trick you into forgetting all about humid summer nights or surprise flash floods. Weather like that can convince someone that patio weather will never end, that you get an extra hour of sleep every night or that that the next beer might be the best beer — Hold Out Brewing is working to make at lease one of those dreams a reality.
An upcoming brewpub in central Austin, Hold Out is spearheaded by brewers Mark Stowe and Brent Sapstead. Brent is the former head brewer and production manager of Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, Texas. On Saturday, November 3, Hold Out Brewing threw a preview event hosted by their soon-to-be neighbors, Better Half Coffee and Cocktail Bar. Guests could sample four beers from Hold Out Brewing or purchase two different collaboration beers from Hold Out Brewing and Austin Beerworks.
I’m not sure what age I was when I started favoring breweries to bars. I distinctly remember frequenting the only brewery in my tiny college town more and more, while braving the sticky floors of the dive bars less and less. Not to say there isn’t a time and a place for a great dive bar; however, if you’re reading this it’s more likely that you’d rather drink something exciting, fresh and flavorful than pay for a bottom-shelf vodka soda. What hasn’t changed as I have gotten older is the desire to socialize over a drink.
Enter the neighborhood craft brewery. A far cry from the empty warehouses of my college days. Neighborhood breweries have become gathering places for the entire family, both two and four-legged, to come together to listen to music, play games and explore new styles of beer. However, occasionally these neighborhood breweries transcend beyond just a community hangout by producing extremely high-quality beers.