Aside from a good thunderstorm in the midst of a drought, there's nothing better than beer or ice cream to cool off in the South Texas summer. Not so fast. What if you could have both in one delicious dish?Chef Gary Butler at Freetail Brewing Co. just handed me a cup of the brewpub's beer ice cream. Today's treat is a creamy, sweet concoction made richer and more flavorful with Freetail's own Raspberry Wit, a small batch variation on their year-round standard Rye Wit.At a strong beer dinner in the winter, the hit was an ice cream created with the seasonal Freetail La Muerta Imperial Stout. Now beer ice creams will become a regular part of the menu. Expect mostly recipes of various summer fruits and wit for the summer, but darker beer recipes with chocolate and coffee hints could come in the fall and winter. The batches are small for now because desserts are not the big draw at a beer and pizza place, but this is well worth saving room for.If you want to try this at home, a good place to start is with one of these recipes from beer cook extraordinaire Lucy Saunders at http://www.thenibble.com/REVIEWS/MAIN/desserts/beer-ice-cream.asp Let me know your experiences with beer and ice cream.Prosit!-- Travis E. Poling
Travis E. Poling's blog
While covering the Great American Beer Festival last year, I saw a t-shirt asking the question WWJD? Spelled out that was What Would Jesus Drink. I'm pretty sure they meant the over-21 Jesus and not the baby Jesus.
I hope it wasn't a deadly sin, but I laughed. But what is even more chuckle-worthy is the sound and fury over what beer or beers should be served when President Obama, Harvard prof Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. Crowley should have when they sip suds on the White House lawn.
According to the White House, Obama will be drinking a Bud Light, Crowley a Blue Moon and Gates and Red Stripe. This has the nation up in arms.
What could be better than tasting and learning about seven great beers and beer styles and snacks with a bunch of friends at Blue Star Brewing Co. this Friday? How about doing it for a good cause?
Beer Across Texas is presenting "Beer on a Mission" this Friday, July 17 at 7 p.m. in the private room at Blue Star, a fun-filled evening -- with snacks -- and to benefit the 10-country mission trip of a remarkable young woman trying to make a difference for the hungry, poor and oppressed of the world.
Marissa Villa, a journalist whom many of you may know from her byline in the San Antonio Express-News' Hispanic publication Conexion, has committed to helping people all over the world as part of The World Race mission group. Beginning in August, she will spend a total of 11 months in the poorest of conditions to help people in Ireland, Romania, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. She will be living on as little as $6 a day even as she helps others with so much less, but travel expenses are still a concern.
Marissa herself was a victim of this country's economic downturn when she was one of many talented journalists who lost their job at newspapers around the country earlier this year. The paycheck she was using to bankroll her mission went away, but her desire to serve her fellow humans did not. And now -- and I say this at the risk of sounding all Sally Struthers -- she needs our help. Even if you think you don't like beer, there's no way you can be against helping teenagers out of prostitution in Thailand or battling starvation in Uganda. Come hear from Marissa how this mission, which is the "Amazing Race" meets hardcore humanitarian work, will change lives. You also can read her blog entries leading up to her August departure here.
By coming out and having a good time drinking fine craft beers and learning more about them in a relaxed atmosphere this Friday, you can help Marissa attain her goal. There will be no ticket sales. Instead, we are relying on the caring and generosity of San Antonio to make this benefit a success. A donation of $20 a person is suggested to cover the parts of the event that are not already donated and still leave enough to make a difference for Marissa's mission. Cash and checks will be accepted at the door beginning at 6:30 p.m., but we need a hard count on how many will attend by Friday at noon so please RSVP to Travis@BeerAcrossTexas.com or call mobile number (210) 827-9643.
Marissa, a quiet and thoughtful person who is quick with a smile, earned the nickname "Awesome" from me when we sat three-feet apart as colleagues for more than a year. I think you'll see it too. Please pass this on to anybody you think might be interested (don't spam your friends in Arkansas because they're not coming) so that even with such a short notice, we can make this awesome mission a reality.
Take six different American hops, mix in Texas honey from Uvalde and creativity of brewers Jason Davis and John Lee and you have a premise for tasty beer at Freetail Brewing Co.The Freetail Hopothesis will be tapped this Saturday after a little more than a month. Expect smaller snifters of this creation instead of a pint thanks to the 12 percent plus alcohol content.
NEW BRAUNFELS -- The historic Faust Hotel and its accompanying brewpub will get a new lease on life in downtown New Braunfels under new ownership.
The deal closed Tuesday evening to take ownership from the family that has owned it since the late 1980s. Vance and Priscilla Hinton bought the main street fixture and plan to make the brewpub a bigger beer destination and revive a full-service restaurant that has been absent for more than a decade.
While the hotel does well during tourist season and live entertainment brings in a good Saturday night crowd, the beer side of the brewpub has been a touch and go prospect since it opened with numerous periods where the taps for locally brewed beer had run dry.
But Vance Hinton is a beer lover and successful manufacturing executive in Katy. Priscilla Hinton is co-owner of Kork wine bar in downtown New Braunfels and loves a good beer on occasion. That focus could mean good things for the brewpub and the addition of a menu will help bring more people in the door to discover beer. My wedding reception was here nearly 20 years ago and the place has never lost its elegance.
The brewing system at The Faust in notoriously difficult to work with, according to numerous brewers I've interviewed over the years. It may need some professional revamping, but good beer can come out of the copper clad showpiece tanks when handled by a patient pro and when there is no skimping on ingredients. At last check, only one handmade beer was on tap and it wasn't the better of the two on tap a month earlier.
New Braunfels was the cradle of Texas brewing beginning in the late 1840s and tourists come there for the heritage. Let's hope the new owners of The Faust are able to capture that legacy.
-- Travis E. Poling
PHILADELPHIA -- Recreating historical sites with the look and the feel of something old, established and important is a difficult task. Keeping existing historic places alive is even harder. But in pockets of central Philadelphia, there are havens that make it easy to forget that we are nation still at war, that our modern economy is in shambles and that technology rules every waking moment.
Such a place is McGillin's Olde Ale House in an unassuming one-block alley near Philadelphia City Hall and the site of the nation's first department store. It's so olde in fact, that the official name appears as "old" and "olde" with careless abandon. But who needs consistent branding when 149 years of consistency in great beer and service are in play? The tavern has been on Drury Street since 1860, is the oldest continuously run pub in Philadelphia and frequented by local politicians, sports figures and stars and literary figures such as W.C. Fields, Tennessee Williams, Vincent Price, Robin Williams and Will Ferrell.
To say that the taste of Shiner Smokehaus is bold goes too far. What is bold is making it in the first place. The Spoetzl Brewery of The Gambrinus Co. introduced a mesquite-smoked helles lager in the last week that will have some people going back for more and leave others scratching their heads.
That’s because smoked beer is uncommon in the United States and, with the exception of a few brewpubs and hyper-local microbreweries, almost nonexistent in Texas. But it is a German tradition dating back at least 500 years in the Bamberg region of the country. Rauchbiers are traditionally darker and taste like smoked meat after being well smoked with beechwood.
While that flavor is one I embrace in beer as much as meats, even some of the biggest fans of diversity in beer have a tough time with this one.
What the brewers at Shiner have done is taken a light Munich style helles and added just enough mesquite smoke to it right on the grounds of the brewery to give it a distinctive flavor. The malt in a helles is by nature very light and toasted only to the color of a Saltine cracker, so the mesquite flavor is present without too deep a penetration.
This beer was built for some barbecue and it succeeds. It didn’t overpower an oak smoked brisket or Granzin’s Meat Market’s smoked bratwurst and melded rather well. I consumed a few bottles on their own without food and still found it thirst quenching as thermometer inched toward 98 degrees.
Give it a try and tell me what you think.