PLUNDERING THE BEER RICHES
There was a time that intrepid beer explorers in Texas had to leave the state to find something new on the shelves or the tap regularly. Thankfully, those days are gone and there is an embarrassment of riches right now.
Definitely worth a taste from the taps at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium are the Samuel Adams Revolutionary Rye Ale, a rich treat in Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence from New York, a powerful and pleasing Green Flash Double Stout from San Diego, and Great Divide’s Espresso Yeti Imperial Stout.
Keep an eye on the shelves for six-packs and pricier large format bottles of limited-release brews like New Belgium Brewing Co.’s sour and dry-hopped Le Terroir from Colorado, BridgePort Brewing Co.’s highly drinkable Kingpin Double Red Ale from Oregon, and Victory Headwaters Pale Ale from Pennsylvania.
Big Sky Brewing Co. beers from Missoula, Mont., have finally made the trek down to Texas. Included are the Big Sky IPA and Moose Drool, the one travelers always remember thanks to the slobbery moniker.
Also notable are the rich Belgian-style brew White Label White Ale from Utah’s Wasatch Brew Pub & Brewery and the similarly inspired Dogfish Head beer Namaste with coriander, orange, and lemongrass.
RANGER CREEK EXPANDING
After only three months of selling its beer, San Antonio microbrewery Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling is readying its first expansion. Demand has been high for the Oatmeal Pale Ale, Mesquite Smoked Porter, La Bestia Aimable, and the newly released South Texas Lager.
A new 30-barrel fermentation tank, that for some reason is named Gregory, has been installed to increase capacity by 33 percent. The brewery sells its beers in bars and restaurants in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin.
Also, 100 small barrels of bourbon have been filled and the first batches should be ready for bottling by fall (you can reserve your own barrel at drinkrangercreek.com). Larger barrels of bourbon, which will take years to age, are the next step for long-range production for the only brewery/distillery in the state.
IN THE WEEDS
Brock Wagner at Saint Arnold Brewing Co. is making Weedwacker a year-round offering and replacing the Texas Wheat. Weedwacker, a variation of the Fancy Lawnmower kölsch, was the first of a series of special beers begun last year to showcase how much difference a change in yeast can make in the flavor of a beer.
Wagner also says there are no plans to bring back the highly-regarded Divine Reserve No. 5 Russian Imperial Stout as a regular, but another imperial stout developed in-house could be in the offing. The DR 5 was created by Houston homebrewer Mike Hennif.
Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can reach him at [email protected]