Real Ale Brewing successfully stops Fireman’s Brew’s use of name in Texas

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman.  Real Ale’s Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery’s most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of other suds.
Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Real Ale’s Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery’s most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of other suds.

After filing a lawsuit against California brewery Fireman’s Brew, which had been intending to bring its beers to Texas, Real Ale Brewing has gotten the outcome it sought.

Both beer makers agreed on a settlement in Texas federal court last week that prevents “Fireman’s Brew Inc. (from) using the Fireman’s mark to sell beer in Texas,” according to legal news site Law360. Fireman’s Brew also can’t use any “confusing similar variations of the mark” in the state.

Real Ale felt the lawsuit was necessary because of Firemans #4, the Blanco brewery’s biggest seller and one of Texas’ most well-known craft beers. In addition to having a similar name, Fireman’s Brew has a red logo, the same color as Firemans #4’s packaging. Those two elements, Real Ale believed, could cause consumer confusion while at bars and stores selling both products.

When reached, Real Ale declined to comment on the outcome of the settlement. Fireman’s Brew is also staying silent.

“The terms of the settlement are confidential, and we have no comment,” David Johnson, chief operating officer at Fireman’s Brew, told Law360 last week.

They are just the latest breweries to become ensnared in legal battles over similar-sounding names and branding. Trademark disputes have become a major problem of late in the industry because of the skyrocketing growth of craft beer and the more than 4,000 U.S. breweries clamoring for shelf space and drinkers’ attentions. Differentiating themselves through distinctive branding is one crucial way that breweries can get noticed.

Another Austin-area brewery to battle in court over trademark rights was Oasis, Texas Brewing, defending its use of the name Slow Ride Pale Ale against Colorado brewery New Belgium.

Austin restaurants create cocktails full of fall & winter flavors

Contributed by Punch Bowl Social. The Pumpkin Spice Libation at Punch Bowl Social incorporates juiced pumpkin, rather than artificial pumpkin spice.
Contributed by Punch Bowl Social. The Pumpkin Spice Libation at Punch Bowl Social incorporates juiced pumpkin, rather than artificial pumpkin spice.

A Texas winter might not be much colder than a Texas summer, but area bars are still getting in the spirit of the season by offering cocktails full of the ingredients so desired this time of year, from whiskey and aged rum to food flavors like apple, pumpkin and even sweet potato.

Here are a handful of cocktails from six Austin bars that will get you in the mood for our coming cold front.

Punch Bowl Social: Pumpkin Spice Libation

Pumpkin might seem like a tired ingredient in seasonal dishes and drinks, but the chef at Punch Bowl Social in the Domain has revived the fall treat by juicing real pumpkins for this bourbon punch, rather than by having the bartenders add pumpkin spice. The result is that pumpkin has returned to its roots, imbuing the punch with a vegetal flavor, surprisingly low on sweetness, that pairs easily with the remaining ingredients of apple and lemon juices, citrus syrup and allspice dram.

Contributed by Jacoby's. The Sweet & Toasty is reminiscent of Thanksgiving in the moutains of the Pacific Northwest for one creative bartender.
Contributed by Jacoby’s. The Sweet & Toasty is reminiscent of Thanksgiving in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest for one creative bartender.

Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile: Sweet & Toasty

Jacoby’s head bartender Mike Paulus was able to relive his childhood Thanksgivings growing up in the mountains of Washington State with this bourbon drink featuring Cognac, sweet potato, molasses, smoke and toasted marshmallow.

“My sister always cooked up this dish with sweet potatoes, molasses, and toasted marshmallows, a flavor that will always remind me of home,” he said. “With help from chefs Austin Ewald and Albert Gonzalez, we were able to recreate a truly reminiscent experience.”

Vox Table: Bear Rug Cuddles by the Fire

The restaurant that likes evocative cocktail names — Tom Selleck’s Mustache, with rye whiskey, might be my favorite — keeps the creative christening coming with this riff on the sherry cobbler, a classic cocktail made with the Spanish sherry, muddled citrus, sugar and lots of crushed ice. Head bartender J.R. Mocanu, like Paulus, was able to play around in the kitchen and came up with an autumnal version: apple brandy, cherry-spiced Pinot Noir and Bittercube Trinity bitters. Taste it and it’ll feel as cozy and comforting as bear rug cuddles by the fire.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Hightower recently added a couple of seasonal cocktails to the menu, including the Gold Coast.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Hightower recently added a couple of seasonal cocktails to the menu, including the Gold Coast.

The Hightower: Gold Coast

Although it might not have felt like fall, the technical change of the season marked a big spike in bourbon cocktail sales at the East Seventh Street restaurant. The obvious result? A couple of additional whiskey drinks were added to the menu, including this one, to answer the demand. The Gold Coast has bourbon, Hoodoo chicory liqueur, curaçao and house cocoa bitters — a winningly boozy combination for lovers of chocolate and coffee. Let the stirred potion sit for a bit and those flavors, particularly the dark roasted notes of chicory, shine through.

Barley Swine: Apples to Ashes

Another Austin bartender has crafted a drink based off her memories of somewhere else: living in Boston, where she and her friends in the bar industry would treat a clarified milk punch as “a welcoming aperitif.” But Barley Swine’s Kasey Pierce used to adapting to the seasons at the venerated farm-to-table restaurant brought “a whole new dimension to the experience. The Apples to Ashes begins with smoked apples infused in El Dorado 12-year rum, a black tea concentrate, baking spice syrup and lemon juice. Then, boiling milk is added to clarify the cocktail as a whole.” Drinking it, she says, promises a unique experience.

Freedmen’s: Black Manhattan

The recent addition of barrel-aged cocktails to the bar menu at the barbecue spot turned out to be timely. Though the drinks will be available for ordering year-round, the Black Manhattan in particular will feel suited for this time of year. The warming blend of Angel’s Envy Rye, Nonino Italian grappa and fresh orange is full of citrus and spice and serves as the perfect accompaniment to brisket and the cold blast of winter we’re still hopeful will come.

Freedmen's, in the campus area, has a few barrel-aged cocktails on the menu, including the Black Manhattan, the Flight Path and the Vieux Carre.
Freedmen’s, in the campus area, has a few barrel-aged cocktails on the menu, including the Black Manhattan, the Flight Path and the Vieux Carre.

Hops & Grain secures location in San Marcos with projected 2017 opening

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hops & Grain is opening a second location of the brewery near Texas State University.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hops & Grain is opening a second location of the brewery near Texas State University.

Hops & Grain became the first small business to secure $1 million in crowdfunded investment this summer, seeking money to open a new brewery in San Marcos. Now, the East Austin brewery has also found a location in the college town for the big expansion.

The 10,796-sq. ft. space is located at the Crossroads Center, 110 East MLK Dr., a mixed-use redevelopment of a former grocery store not far from Texas State University. There, Hops & Grain will house a second production facility and tasting room, according to a press release.

“Our goal is to start brewing test batches on our new system in San Marcos by July 2017, and if all goes well, release our first beer from the new facility in October 2017,” Josh Hare, the founder of Hops & Grain, said in the release. “With our new state-of the-art facility and large, on-site tasting room with outdoor beer garden, we look forward to opening our doors to San Marcos next year.”

Many of the same people who designed the Hops & Grain taproom off East Sixth Street are also creating the look and feel of the second space, including Phillip Edgerton of Edgework Designs for metal work, Austin Evers of Woodwork at 17 for wood elements and Lilianne Steckel Interior Design.

For more information about the brewery, visit facebook.com/hopsandgrain/.

San Marcos’ first production brewery, Altmeyer & Lewis, officially opens Saturday

Former homebrewers Stewart Altmeyer and Byron Lewis are proud to say they own the first production brewery in San Marcos.

So far, the college town to the south of Austin has a handful of brewpubs, but Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing Co. is the first one — within city limits but outside the county — to operate with a production brewery license. The brewery will be officially up and running Saturday with a grand opening celebration that will serve as many locals’ first chance to try the four beers that the founding duo is offering.

Contributed by Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing. San Marcos is officially get a new brewery with the grand opening of Altmeyer & Lewis this weekend.
Contributed by Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing. San Marcos is officially get a new brewery with the grand opening of Altmeyer & Lewis this weekend.

The brothers-in-law who met because they married a pair of sisters, they’ve been avid homebrewers for many years and finally decided to make their hobby a business a few years ago. Although getting the proper permitting took longer than expected and required a move a little outside of town, they are “looking forward to officially opening, but we’re terrified at the same time,” Lewis said.

Thanks to Altmeyer’s German heritage and his science background, Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing has crafted a brewing program centered on the traditional practice of Reinheitsgebot — making beer, as German brewers did 500 years ago, with only four ingredients: hops, barley, water and yeast.

“It only takes one bad batch of beer to turn people off craft beer and drink whatever it was they drank prior,” Lewis said. “To do our part, we make sure we’re 100 percent Reinheitsgebot-compliant. We have nothing in our beer but the four basic ingredients. Stewart is very passionate about technique and making sure the beer is clean and crisp and the way it used to be.”

Both founders have brought skills and preferences to the job that balance each other. While Altmeyer tends to prefer lagers, Lewis is all about ales. Altmeyer brings his science background to the forefront for brewing, while Lewis, previously in the military and now a part-time firefighter, knows “how to make things work with limited tools. We complement each other pretty well.”

They have two lagers and two ales — as per their personal tastes — in their core lineup, with each one intended to pair with the Texas heat.

These include a German lager, “brewed using the same techniques practiced by the Altmeyer family over 100 years ago,” according to the Altmeyer & Lewis website, and a bock, which Lewis said won’t taste like the most ubiquitous beer in Texas (Shiner Bock) and will remind people what the style traditionally is supposed to be like. The brewers also make a red ale, which is proving to be their most popular, and a double IPA at a whopping 9 1/2 ABV.

The brewhouse is capable of producing 3,000 to 3,500 barrels a year, and with that capacity, Altmeyer and Lewis have plans for a rotating series of SMaSh beers in addition to the core four brews. (SMaSH beers have one type of hops and one type of malt to emphasize the individual flavors of each ingredient.)

On Saturday for the grand opening party, starting at noon, Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing will have the Maine-iac Seafood truck (offering “amazing lobster anything,” Lewis said) parked outside, as well as live music from three acts including a local band called Spilt Milk. There will also be T-shirt screenprinting, games for kids and “plenty of beer flowing.” In the future, the brewery will be looking for more food trucks during weekend taproom hours.

“We probably could have done a brewpub license, but there’s an allure to being first to something,” Lewis said.

Real Ale’s Mysterium Verum series finally going into bottles

Contributed by Real Ale Brewing. The first Mysterium Verum beer to be bottled is being released on Black Friday next week, followed by a party at the brewery.
Contributed by Real Ale Brewing. The first Mysterium Verum beer to be bottled is being released on Black Friday next week, followed by a party at the brewery.

Christmas has come early: Real Ale Brewing’s elusive series of barrel-aged and sour beers, known under the Mysterium Verum label, are going to be more easily available starting on Black Friday.

That’s when the Blanco brewery will be releasing about 1,600 bottles of Tenebra Aeterna — a barrel-aged sour porter — throughout Texas. Though the initial bottle launch is staying small and may mean a bit of a hunt is in store, Real Ale is offering fans a little closer to home the chance to get bottles on Nov. 26, the day after Black Friday.

Two Blanco-area stores will each have more than 100 bottles once they open that morning, 10 a.m. for Hill Country Liquor and 10:30 a.m. for Redbud Cafe. They’re selling the beers first come, first serve, so you’ll want to get there early. Each customer is also limited to one bottle only.

Bottle in hand, you’ll then want to head over to Real Ale for the Bottle Release Party, which starts early — 10:30 a.m. — with a special Barrel Room Open House featuring Head Brewer Schmitty and Director of Brewing Operations Tim Schwartz. They’ll be in the Barrel Room through 1 p.m. “signing bottles and answering all your beer questions about Mysterium Verum, Real Ale and life,” according to the brewery.

Plus, Real Ale will have Tenebra Aeterna and the Barrel-Aged 20th Anniversary Ale on tap, along with 12 other beers and the cask engine. Need to start stocking up on stocking stuffers? Look for Mysterium Verum glassware, new Mysterium Verum shirts and 20th Anniversary Bottle Cap Maps.

It’s certainly been an exciting 2016 for Real Ale and its many fans. Real Ale Brewing turned 20 in April and has been releasing all sorts of surprises throughout the year, including a new beer, the draft-only Axis IPA.

Here’s what to expect from your bottle of Tenebra Aeterna:

“Latin for ‘eternal darkness,’ Tenebra Aeterna means more than just the absence of light; it brings a shadow of dark malt into the realm of sour beers,” according to the brewery. “A robust porter brewed with chocolate and black malts is interred in oak with nothing but our MV House Culture to keep it company. After many moons the ale emerges, and we meet a sour beer unlike any that has heretofore been seen. Tenebra Aeterna is marked by notes of dark, sour fruit and a tantalizing character of subtle roast and cocoa. Come out of the light, and embrace the darkness.”

Why, yes, let’s do that.

For more information about the release, visit facebook.com/RealAleBrewing/.

Thousand Oaks Brewing replaces short-lived IronSight in Cedar Park

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Thousand Oaks Brewing's Dave Heath, left, and Grady Reynolds work at the brewery with Reynolds' dogs, including Whiskey, keeping them company.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Thousand Oaks Brewing’s Dave Heath, left, and Grady Reynolds work at the brewery with Reynolds’ dogs, including Whiskey, keeping them company.

Sometimes, dreams just don’t work out the way we imagine them — but that hasn’t stopped one local entrepreneur from opening his second attempt at a brewery.

Thousand Oaks Brewing is now operating in the former Twisted X Brewing space in Cedar Park, which had only last year been occupied by IronSight Brewers. That brewery had been the collaboration of Grady Reynolds and Robert Chaney, brothers-in-law who shared the vision of opening a brewery.

Although the pair ultimately parted ways after not agreeing on the direction they wanted to take IronSight, Reynolds held onto the warehouse and transformed it into Thousand Oaks Brewing with the help of brewer Dave Heath, formerly of Rogness Brewing. He’s created four new beer recipes that are giving the new brewery, opened on weekends for tastings, a promising start in the Austin marketplace.

The closing of IronSight “wasn’t what I wanted to happen, but I’m glad it did because of where we’re at now. Kind of bittersweet, if you will,” Reynolds said.

It has become the best possible outcome for both him and Heath: Thousand Oaks provides a second chance at a dream job for both. Heath, who worked at Live Kombucha just before this position, had been looking for a way to get back into brewing beer and responded immediately to Reynolds’ job posting earlier this summer. They got to work within weeks on construction and opened the brewery about three months ago.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Thousand Oaks Brewing makes a light rye blonde full of spice that is proving to be an easy seller.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Thousand Oaks Brewing makes a light rye blonde full of spice that is proving to be an easy seller.

The beers have been launched on draft at area bars and eateries — including Cover 2 on Research Boulevard and the Growler Room on Burnet Road — within the past month. Already, reception has been positive, especially with Thousand Oaks’ flagship, the Rye Blonde.

Don’t let the style of the beer fool you. Though it’s a blonde ale, it’s got a striking amount of character thanks to the rye and embodies the type of beer that the duo wants to make: simple and straightforward, albeit with “a lot of in-depth flavors,” Reynolds said.

“During running the tasting room at Rogness, I’d get a lot of those ‘I don’t drink that dark beer’ kind of guys, and what they mean is, ‘I don’t drink anything that isn’t Bud, Miller or Coors,'” Heath said. “This is kind of my response to those guys. If you don’t want a big, heavy beer, that’s fine, but you can have a craft beer that’s light and enjoyable and that you can drink a lot of if you wanted to, but it also has flavor and it’s interesting.”

In fact, these sturdy, well-made brews that lack flashy ingredients are good examples of the direction he thinks craft beer as a whole is headed: not toward the extremes where it’s already been, he said, but back to the center, to the heart of why small breweries got started in the first place as a response to macro beer.

Eventually, Thousand Oaks Brewing — which also makes an amber ale, a pale ale and a porter — will have more exotic offerings like a barleywine or a double IPA. But for now, Heath said, the goal is to make “solid, approachable craft beer.”

“I think people into craft are getting worn out with the hoppiest beer ever, the most alcoholic beer ever, all those different ways of brewing,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with them, but now that we’re done with the extremes, we’re just concentrating on really good examples of what we’re trying to brew. Like a rye blonde. How do you make a blonde interesting? Everyone makes a blonde… I think the craft beer scene is getting through its crazy teenager years and getting to this point of, ‘Let’s just make some good examples of regular beers that you can sit and enjoy on any old day.'”

His attitude seems to match those of Thousand Oaks’ visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, who come simply because they want to have a good time. On Fridays, Reynolds said, the brewery attracts regulars from the surrounding neighborhood in Cedar Park, while Saturdays tend to have farther-flung “beer travelers” from Austin.

“I would love for (this part of town off) 1431 to be the Jester King, Thirsty Planet, Twisted X kind of area where people spend a couple hours at each place in an afternoon,” he said, noting how close Whitestone Brewery and Red Horn Coffee House and Brewpub are.

Thousand Oaks’ brewery is tiny, with only a single picnic bench inside for seating, but there’s plenty of space outside for people — and their kids and dogs — to hang out. Kids often ride their bikes up and down the drive separating each of the other warehouses around Thousand Oaks and doodle “hearts and rainbows about two feet wide on everything,” Heath said. “Friday nights and Saturdays are pretty fun. It’s nice to have my family be around for my professional life.”

Pets are also welcome. When Reynolds is around — he still works half the year in the oil fields — his dogs are, too.

“Piper and Whiskey are the brewery dogs,” he said. “They either wrestle with each other or sun bathe.”

One day, he and Heath hope to have a larger brewery, akin to Whitestone, while still keeping it small enough that fans will always know who the brewers are. Canned beers, to reach the people who won’t make a visit, are also a goal.

Thousand Oaks Brewing is located at 3200 Woodall Dr. #C-1, Cedar Park, with hours of 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit thousandoaksbrewing.com or facebook.com/thousandoaksbrewery.

This post has been corrected to reflect that Thousand Oaks is available at the Growler Room.

$130 bottles of Goose Island beer up for raffle at Banger’s event

Photo by Tyler Malone. Banger's is offering a Goose Island tap takeover the day before Thanksgiving, featuring beers like the Bourbon County Brand Stout.
Photo by Tyler Malone. Banger’s is offering a Goose Island tap takeover the day before Thanksgiving, featuring beers like the Bourbon County Brand Stout.

On Rainey Street, Banger’s has become known as one of the best bars in town to find rare, experimental and small-batch brews. These beers generally remain affordable, if sometimes priced a little higher than their easier-to-get counterparts.

But once a year, during the launch of a new round of Goose Island beers, Banger’s sells one of them in bottles for more than $100 — an exorbitant price that ardent fans of the Chicago brewery will nonetheless pay.

The 2nd annual Black Wednesday event featuring Goose Island, the maker of the coveted Bourbon County Brand Stout that releases around Thanksgiving each year with a host of other difficult-to-find, often barrel-aged Goose Island beers, returns on Nov. 23.

Like last year, one of the brews that people have the chance to get is the Rare, an imperial stout aged for two years in 35-year-old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. There’s a catch, of course.

Banger’s only has 24 bottles of the Rare to sell. If you’re one of the lucky ones to win a bottle in the Black Wednesday raffle, then you have to fork over $130 to get it. That price tag seems outrageous even if you consider that Goose Island beers send people into the sort of Black Friday frenzy that ends up as the headline of Saturday’s news, but that’s exactly what people have paid previously at Banger’s for the Rare bottles.

Banger’s first Black Wednesday event last year debuted the 2015 batch of Bourbon County and its barrel-aged variants — a batch that turned out to be contaminated with unwanted bacteria, resulting in off-flavors in four of the six releases. In response to the recalled beers, Goose Island is now pasteurizing each beer, something that other larger breweries like Deschutes and New Belgium also partially do.

Despite the contamination, Goose Island — one of the country’s craft breweries owned by Anheuser-Busch — is still in good standing with many beer drinkers who look forward to the barrel-aged brews every year.

Here are the other Goose Island beers that will be showcased at Banger’s Black Wednesday — all of them on draft, versus in bottles. Even if you don’t want to bust your Black Friday shopping budget on the Rare, you probably won’t want to miss these.

  • 2016 Bourbon County Brand Stout
  • 2015 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout: featuring Intelligentsia Los Delirios coffee from Nicaragua
  • 2015 Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye: a unique blend of Bourbon County Brand Stout aged in rye whiskey barrels with blackberries, Luxardo candied cherries, fresh sour cherries and sea salt.
  • 2016 Bourbon County Brand Barley Wine: aged in third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout to impart intricacies of flavor.
  • 2016 Gillian: a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, inspired by an amuse bouche, that was partially aged in wine barrels
  • 2016 Halia: a farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with whole peaches

The Goose Island Black Wednesday event kicks off 5 p.m. Nov. 23, when the beers are tapped; raffle tickets will be handed out from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit bangersaustin.com.