Freetail Brewing Co., which celebrates its third anniversary the day after Thanksgiving, is expanding at the end of the year with the addition of a bottling line capable of turning out up to 1,800 bottles of the 22-ounce variety every hour.
This is major step for the brewery, where staffers recently took 10 hours to hand-fill 750 bottles of its annual La Muerta imperial stout. Not only will it cut down on labor, but the bottling line will allow the brewpub to act more like a store by having bottles available year round and of greater variety than just a handful of special releases each year.
If the state laws change to allow brewpubs to sell their beers through other retailers (despite a money-soaked opposition lobby), Freetail will be ready. Freetail owner Scott Metzger led the charge for passage of just such as bill this year, though it died in committee.
“Eventually, the laws unfairly restricting Texas businesses in favor of out-of-state brewpubs will change and Freetail’s creations will be available at grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. In the meantime, we can really expand on our current bottling operations which have proven to be extremely popular,” Metzger said. “Of the five bottle releases we’ve done in 2011, every single has one sold out almost instantly. That tells us people want more.”
All that aside, there’s a third-anniversary party to think about Thursday through Saturday with 28 taps of Freetail beers, including some special releases from the cellar such as 2010 editions of La Muerta and Old Bat Rastard. The day also marks the release of the anniversary beer Three. This year’s celebratory ale is an imperial oatmeal porter.
Faust Brewing Co. in New Braunfels is tapping a small batch of ESB the day before Thanksgiving, and a pilsner hits the tap as soon as the Oktoberfest lager runs out, head brewer Ray Mitteldorf said.
Saint Arnold Brewing’s Sailing Santa, a blend of Christmas Ale and Elissa IPA in 22-ounce bottles, has hit the shelves statewide. The mix was popularized in bars as a draft blend request.
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling Co. of San Antonio has been putting out some great beers for the last year, but the other half is finally here with the release of its bourbon dubbed .36. To celebrate, there will be a special food and bourbon event November 26 at Ranger Creek in conjunction with Lüke San Antonio. See the Bottle & Tap blog at sacurrent.com for details.
Texas’ Spoetzl Brewery won medals with three German-style beers in the European Beer Star Awards. The Shiner Oktoberfest took silver in German märzen-style category while Shiner Bohemian Black Lager won bronze in the Schwarzbier competition. Shiner Old Time Alt (only available in the Shiner family six pack) garnered a bronze in the Dusseldorf-style Altbier category.
Travis E. Poling is beer writer for the Current, conducts tutored tastings, beer knowledge training, and is author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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