Isla, the sister bar to Peche, has now closed in Austin’s Warehouse District

Laura Skelding / American-Statesman. Isla, once home to Caribbean-style cocktails, is closing down.

Once a rum bar and restaurant serving up Caribbean-style food to patrons, Isla made the switch late last year to Peruvian cuisine and cocktails but couldn’t seem to find its groove. The sister spot to French-focused Peche announced this morning on social media that Isla has closed.

The announcement came through Chef Julio-Cesar Flórez, a Peruvian native who helped the restaurant redirect its culinary program to the flavors of South America.

“Isla closed,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was then re-posted on Isla’s Facebook and Instagram. “It was my pleasure and honor to bring Peruvian food of this quality to this city. I hope to do it again soon, it has always been my mission, and I know I won a lot of hearts during this short period.”

Owner Rob Pate, who opened the city’s first absinthe bar with Peche, took over the short-lived Pleasant Storage Room next door to Peche in late 2014, when the rum bar styled after a popular Cuban watering hole abruptly closed. He decided not to change the focus of Isla from its former incarnation, creating a menu of tropical drinks and food.

Isla became the place to go for almost exclusively tiki-style cocktails paired with island fare. It then transitioned to more of a Caribbean cantina until Flórez’ Peruvian influence. And for Pate, through all of his project’s changes, Isla remained a special place because of the people who worked there to make it what it needed to be.

“It is never an easy thing to close something that so many people have put a great deal of effort into,” he said in an emailed statement. “We were blessed at Isla to have a great core of employees, and I think that is what hurts the most. We will take a couple of weeks to figure out our next step and go from there.”

Isla’s last day was Sunday, when it hosted a final brunch.

The Austin Winery celebrates move to South Austin with grand opening party

Contributed by the Austin Winery. The Austin Winery’s new location is finally open and will celebrate with an all-day party this weekend.

The Austin Winery will continue to be an urban destination with its move south to the mixed-use industrial complex called the Yard, where St. Elmo Brewing, Spokesman Coffee and others like a forthcoming whiskey distillery are also situated.

Founded by three young entrepreneurs — CEO Ross McLauchlan, VP and winemaker Cooper Anderson, and chief of operations Matthew Smith — the winery is officially open in its new location and wants to celebrate with you tomorrow at a grand opening party.

There, the small food menu with light bites like meats and cheeses is debuting for the first time, as well as new releases of some of the winery’s staple wines: Euphoria, Work Horse, Quarter Horse and Rosé. Bottles will be 15 percent off all day.

McLauchlan is excited to expose more locals to the Austin Winery with a more central location and has made sure that visitors have plenty to explore. The Austin Winery has a barrel room, a tasting room, a mezzanine and even an on-site kitchen that will allow the winery to play host to guest chefs and supper clubs.

“There will be much more room, so it’ll be nice to have an expanded presence and options for people to relax, engage and enjoy the space,” he said last year, when the winery was still in the process of constructing the new facility. “Wine is great on its own, but it’s always better when paired with other things, whether that’s food, music or shopping.”

The bigger space has big benefits in other ways, too: being able to produce up to 20,000 cases per year of wine.

Tomorrow’s celebration will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Regular tasting room hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 12 to 7 p.m. Sundays, during which there will often be live music, DJ sets, food trucks on weekends, trivia nights and trunk shows. The Austin Winery also has plans for a set of wine classes for both novices and professionals.

The Austin Winery is located at 440A E. St. Elmo Rd. For more information, visit theaustinwinery.com.

Flock of flamingos to help launch Strange Land Brewery’s new IPA

Strange Land Brewery wanted to make its mark in Austin’s budding brewing industry a couple of years ago with a focus on esoteric styles, like altbiers and hops-less beers called gruits. But now that the Westlake-area brewery has proven its knack for those rarer brews, it’s making one beloved among U.S. beer lovers: an IPA.

That’s one hoppy step up from last year’s Austinite Pilz, which debuted in cans to near-unanimous support and a clamoring from locals for more.

Strange Land Brewery’s newest beer is available on draft and in flamingo-themed cans, to be unveiled at Saturday’s release party.

The Flamingo IPA launches this weekend with a seafood boil, limited release beers, a branded IPA pint glass and the chance to take a photo with the flamingos from which the hoppy brew took its name and design.

“Our IPA cans pay homage to the storied history of our location and its beloved flocks of pink flamingos,” Strange Land co-founders Tim Klatt and Adam Blumenshein said. “In that same rebel spirit, we are proud to create one of the only naturally carbonated cans of IPA on the market.”

Like all Strange Land brews, the IPA is conditioned in its container rather than force-carbonated in a tank, a process most breweries choose for introducing carbon dioxide into their beers. Naturally conditioning the beer, Klatt and Blumenshein believe, imbues it with more flavor that wouldn’t otherwise be present.

And boy, is the IPA flavorful — and done in true Strange Land fashion.

“The Strange Land Flamingo IPA blends Old and New World flavors (through) classic malts and bittering hops with excessive amounts of floral and citrus dry-hopping,” the founders said.

They dry-hopped the beer using TripelPearl, Simcoe and Citra hops. The resulting brew “balances malt body with hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with a striking nose of citrus, pineapple and floral notes, plus flavors of melon and hop resin,” according to the brewery.

Strange Land decided to pay homage to the previous tenant at Bee Caves Road and Highway 360, the Pots & Plants Garden Center that closed in 2010 after 25 years in business. The store would frequently cover the lawn nearby in pink flamingo statues visible from the highway. Occasionally, Hat Creek Burger Co., in front of Strange Land at that corner, brings out the flamingos, and now it’s the brewery’s turn.

The flock will fly again (or at least look perfectly pink) at the IPA release party on Saturday, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m. and costs $25-$1,000. Buy a ticket in advance to guarantee entry to the party. Additional beers include IPA Watermelon — which will be served in an actual watermelon — and Peach Pilz, Hibiscus Honey Saison and Sour Wit.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the eventbrite link.

Flying Man Brewing set to soar in old Rogness building this summer

Flying Man Brewing is opening in Rogness Brewing’s old space, which the new owners are in the process of renovating to make their own.

The two co-founders behind an upcoming Pflugerville brewery seemed to have an easy start to their project.

They purchased the building that formerly housed Rogness Brewing, as well as all of the brewing equipment left behind, in August. They expected Flying Man Brewing, because of that, would be open in no time — but are now anticipating a summertime debut of the brewery and taproom, with an Indiegogo campaign up now to raise last-minute funds.

Adam Caudill and Matt Barker, who met through their mutual loves of flying and homebrewing, decided they didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the former tenants, Rogness, which closed up shop in mid-July with the promise that another brewery, in another space, was on the way. The building also needed plumbing and electrical updates to satisfy the City of Austin, which annexed that part of town after Rogness had already opened in 2012.

Now, Caudill and Barker are neck-deep in sawdust, pipes and the construction tools that will bring their smartly designed vision to life.

“It’s been a much bigger project than we originally thought,” Barker said. “We could have just left it exactly the way that it was, but we wanted to make it our own. That was really important to us because the ante’s going up every single day. You go into a brewery and you want a certain wow factor. For us, we want people to come in and leave and tell their friends, ‘Dude, you really need to check that place out. It looks amazing.'”

But Flying Man Brewing won’t just awe with a cool taproom. The two owners have hired Dan Wheeler, a former brewer at Rogness — and, most recently, at Solid Rock Brewing — who knows the ins and outs of the building and brewing system and how to update both to make them better.

As a result of his influence, the quality of the beer and the overall taproom experience for customers will also be better than it would have been, the Flying Man founders said.

“Dan’s become a pretty key part with what we’re doing now,” Caudill said. “He’s been able to help us future-proof the brewery. We’re going to be able to grow without any really big steps changing what we have to do. I think once we’re up and running that we’ll have room for a canning line. We have allocated space for that now.”

Wheeler, for his part, is excited to take the lessons he learned at Rogness and apply them to Flying Man. Caudill and Barker already knew they wanted to add insulation and install a large 18-foot fan on the ceiling to make the space more welcoming to taproom visitors, but Wheeler is able to share with them brewing-related ideas that he wishes could have been implemented at Rogness if the finances had been available.

“Now that we’re part of the city, everything has to be kind of brought to a different level, and it’s been fun going through there and making those changes and making them in a way that’s going to benefit the brewery,” he said. “It’s going to be easier to work in and hopefully make us more productive. Get more beer out there.”

He’ll be in charge of the brewing operations, for the most part, but each of them plan to contribute their recipes. Barker, for example, makes an orange-chocolate porter beloved among his friends and family that will now be made on a larger scale.

Flying Man Brewing will also release a blonde, a seasonal wheat, a saison, a red ale, an IPA, a double IPA and a stout, in addition to constantly rotating experimental brews. Because it’s licensed as a brewpub, Flying Man will offer bottles and crowlers of all of these beers to go. But before any customers visit the space, there will be a couple of beers already on the market to introduce locals ahead of time to what Flying Man can do.

“One of the first couple of beers we do is going to be a honey wheat with a little bit of molasses in it. It’s a pre-Prohibition German-style ale that I’ve done for several years and everyone seems to love,” Wheeler said.

Caudill and Barker are still brainstorming beer names, but they’re hoping to have an aviation theme with each of them. Barker is a competition hang glider pilot; Caudill, on the other hand, prefers paragliding. (Those might seem like similar windswept activities — think again.)

As a result of this other shared passion, both want to make sure their brewery becomes a hangout for people in the aviation industry. It was fellow pilots, often drinking their homebrew after flights and swapping “I thought I was going to die up there” stories, Barker said, who first encouraged them to open a brewery.

The Indiegogo campaign hopes to raise $25,000 toward that goal. Whether Flying Man Brewing is able to open by the end of summer isn’t dependent on the money, Caudill said, although it’ll certainly help.

“These projects are expensive, more than we budgeted for,” he said. “And to do it right, to finish it, we’ve got to raise some capital. We’re going to make it happen either way, but we think it’s an opportunity to reach out to the local market and offer them something and get a boost out there: who we are, what we’re about. We’ll offer them something, but in return we can finish the plumbing, the electrical, the backyard.”

Right now, Flying Man has about $3,500, with a little more than two weeks left until the campaign ends. To donate, check out the progress of the construction, or learn more about the brewery, visit facebook.com/FlyingManBeer.

One of the changes that Flying Man Brewing is making to the former Rogness space is placing the taproom bar directly across from the brewing equipment.

“De-hazed” New England IPA, 8 other beers to celebrate release of new Austin Beer Guide

I’ll be blunt: You might have other ideas about how to spend the night of April 20. But just in case you’re not all about cannabis culture, Austin Beer Guide is throwing its spring/summer release party at the Draught House.

For beer lovers, that’s the place to be on Thursday, when the Austin Beer Guide authors will celebrate the debut of another free issue exploring local beers and the beer community. Several special brews from Austin producers are going on draft, including a collaboration between the Draught House and Austin Beer Guide called Don’t Haze Me Bro. The clarified IPA, done in the juicy style of a New England IPA, will come with free glassware if you order it.

An Chih Cheng / American-Statesman. The Draught House is once again the site of the Austin Beer Guide release party.

Another beer to watch for is Friends & Allies’ new Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee. That will also be on tap on Saturday during the East Austin’s brewery’s grand opening celebration, but you might want to relish the unusual style early. In it, notes of berry, apple and pear mingle with hints of dark chocolate.

Plus, North by Northwest and Last Stand Brewing have collaborated on Mr. Rogers, an imperial pale lager with Citra and Mosaic hops that the two breweries created for Dripping Springs’ Founders Day this weekend.

Here’s the full list of beers to enjoy starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

  • Draught House/Austin Beer Guide: Don’t Haze Me Bro
  • Blue Owl Brewing: Saison Puede Farmhouse Ale
  • Hops & Grain: Dispensary IPA
  • Jester King: Super Ultramega Hyperforce
  • Friends & Allies: Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee
  • North by Northwest: Mr. Rogers Imperial Pale Lager
  • Last Stand Brewing: Oatmeal IPA, double dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe hops
  • Zilker Brewing: Hellsner, a step-mashed summer lager
  • Independence Brewing: Illustrated Man Dark Sour

For more information about Austin Beer Guide, visit austinbeerguide.com.

Want a tequila shot with your tarot card reading? Irene’s has you covered on Tuesday

Irene’s, the buzzy downtown restaurant at 506 West Ave., is hosting a tequila night special in April and May, but there’s a twist: You can also get your tarot cards read for free while you’re there.

The restaurant’s Tarot & Tequila Tuesday starts on April 4 and continues on May 2. They’ll have specials on tequila and tequila drinks all night, and Kristin of Senders Receive will be offering free tarot card readings from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Kristin Marie Bramblett is a tarot card reader (@sendersreceive on Instagram), who will be reading tarot cards at Irene’s in April and May. Contributed by @sendersreceive.

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Eastciders goes citrus with newest flavor

The cider boom is bringing lots of activity to the Central Texas distillery scene, and one of the fastest growing brands has just added its fifth flavor to the line, as well as a new variety pack.

Blood orange is the latest flavor from Austin Eastciders.
MORE: Want to explore the dozens of breweries, distilleries and cideries through Central Texas? Check out our Austin360 Boozery guide.
Blood orange is the latest flavor from Austin Eastciders, the cidery that started in East Austin in 2013 and now has 56 employees working out of an expanded facility they opened in Southeast Austin last year.

(Orange seems to be the flavor of the season for our local brewers. Deep Eddy just announced its new orange vodka.)

The orange flavor is the fifth in a line that also includes pineapple, Texas honey, original and a slightly hopped version. Starting next month, Austin Eastciders will sell a variety 12-pack with the first four flavors.

Austin Eastciders is now selling a variety pack with four of its five flavors. Contributed by Austin Eastciders

The cider is sold in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, as well as at Costco, H-E-B and Whole Foods Markets in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Virginia.

From a release:
Blood Orange is a zesty, dry cider crafted with bright red Sicilian blood oranges, heirloom bittersweet apples and American dessert apples. The Sicilian blood orange has a distinct, sweet flavor with light flavors of raspberry and grapefruit, which results in the cider being medium bodied and crisp with a hint of tangy citrus. The mouth-watering blood orange flavor is slightly more pronounced than a standard orange, but not so intense as to overwhelm the apple-forward flavor profile. The tangy citrus adds a unique complexity to the effervescent cider and will delight cider drinkers, beer fans and wine enthusiasts alike.
 The new cider has a 5 percent ABV, and they are also selling it as a good base for cocktails where you need something sweet and bubbly but not as boozy as a sparkling wine.