Have 67-cent beers at Austin breweries during Barks for Beers fundraiser

Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman. Divine Canines’ annual fundraiser, Barks for Beers, is taking place at 30 local breweries throughout the month of May.

If you visit all 30 of the local brewpubs and breweries participating in this year’s Barks for Beers fundraiser, each of the beers you receive from the fundraiser will amount to a total of roughly 67 cents.

That’s quite a deal, and the organization behind Barks for Beers, the Austin-based pet therapy organization Divine Canines, is banking on it to reach its goal of raising $75,000 — the highest amount yet for the boozy benefit now in its fourth year.

Here’s how it works.

It’s pretty simple: Buy a Barks for Beers pint glass and an accompanying “pawsport” for $20, and you’ll be able to take them to any of the 30 participating breweries and receive a free pint of beer in return (but only one from each brewery). Participants include Barks for Beers veterans like Hops & Grain, Thirsty Planet and the ABGB and newcomers like Hi Sign Brewing, St. Elmo Brewing and Idle Vine Brewing.

Although the fundraiser officially kicks off at the beginning of May and runs the entire month, some breweries are getting started early and already have pint glasses available for purchase.

Barks for Beers organizer Mike Pizinger, whose two dogs, Shiner and Amstel, act as therapy dogs through Divine Canines, has been able to grow the event every year, increasing both the number of breweries participating and the number of people purchasing the pint glasses. It helps, of course, that Austin seems to add a new brewery to town on a near-monthly basis. But he thinks the success of Barks for Beers is a result of something else, too.

“It’s just this great way for people to check out the breweries,” he said, noting that he’s heard Barks for Beers used as a brewery-hopping experience during a family reunion, as a welcome-home gift from a father to his college-age daughter and as the first introduction to local breweries from locals who want to help out a good cause.

All proceeds from the sales of the pint glasses go directly toward Divine Canines. So far, Pizinger said, the fundraiser has proved invaluable in more ways than one.

“In addition to Barks for Beers being our primary fundraiser, it is also a community outreach program and how we gain new volunteers,” he said. “We have a waiting list of organization who would like our services, but we need more dogs and handlers to meet the demand. All of the breweries and retailers are dog-friendly, so even if your canine isn’t ‘divine’ yet, bring them out to learn more about the Divine Canines organization.”

You can get your free pint of Barks for Beers brew at any time the breweries are open, but many of them are also throwing specific Barks for Beers events. Here are some of the ones you don’t want to miss:

  • Craft Yoga + Barks for Beers at South Austin Brewery on April 29. You probably won’t see any dogs doing yoga, but you’ll be able to follow up your workout with your first drink in the 2017 Barks for Beers pint glass.
  • Hops & Grain’s Barks for Beers Kickoff Party on April 30. Hops & Grain is one of the breweries wanting to get the fundraiser started early. Visit the East Austin brewery from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and you’ll get to check out pet-friendly vendors on site, a photo booth, a food truck for the humans and YoDog Snackery for the pups, as well as meet Hops & Grain’s four-legged Divine Canines ambassador.
  • Barks for Beers & Baubles at Copeland Jewelers on May 4. Nope, it’s not a brewery, but the Westlake Hills jewelry store is a big supporter of the cause and is selling the pint glasses. There will be many cute Divine Canines running around, as well as free beer from Strange Land Brewery and free pizza from 360 Uno.
  • Barks for Beers at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling on May 7. Newly a brewery, Treaty Oak will just about have it all at this special event for dog and beer lovers. Meet some of the dogs involved with Divine Canines and enjoy live music, beer and cocktails, and brunch at the recently opened restaurant on-site at the ranch.
  • Bluebonnet Beer Co.’s Barks for Beer Party on May 13. Even Round Rock is getting a taste of the Barks for Beers fun thanks to Bluebonnet Beer, which became a participant for the first time this year. There will be cool doggy swag at the event, as well as a food truck.
  • Barks for Beers Pup Run on May 13. The first-ever pup run will start at Hops & Grain and will take you and your furry friends on a two-mile adventure to some of the other participating Barks for Beers breweries.

Plus, don’t forget to tag #barksforbeers on Instagram during your Barks for Beers adventures next month to be entered into a weekly contest. One photo will be chosen each week, with the winner getting a cool prize.

For more information, visit divinecanines.org/barksforbeers.

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.

Hey, Longhorns: the Austinite Pilz now comes in burnt-orange cans

Contributed by Strange Land Brewery. Here's your new tailgating beer: the Austinite Pilz is now in burnt-orange cans.
Contributed by Strange Land Brewery. Here’s your new tailgating beer: the Austinite Pilz is now in burnt-orange cans.

Strange Land Brewery’s Austinite Pilz debuted in cans this summer as a tribute to the people of this town who love good beer.

The cans, with gold lettering and a fire-engine red background, were hard to miss on shelves, and the easy-drinking pilsner — a much more recognizable style than some of Strange Land’s more esoteric brews — quickly became Strange Land’s bestselling beer, allowing the Westlake Hills brewery to plan a big expansion.

Now that UT football is in full swing, Strange Land is releasing the Austinite Pilz in burnt-orange cans.

That’s in keeping with why the brewery’s co-founders, Adam Blumenshein and Tim Klatt, named it the Austinite Pilz in the first place: because what is Austin without our beloved Longhorns?

“We named it ‘the Austinite’ because it pairs so well with all things Austin: food trucks, tailgating, hiking-and-biking, etc,” Blumenshein said in a release. “It was a perfect fit. We love and are inspired by Austin, so we wanted to craft the perfect beer for Austinites.”

For the pilsner, Klatt and Blumenshein had cracked open history books and discovered “a rich tradition of pilsner brewing that pre-dated the modern approach of low-temperature lagered beers,” Blumenshein said in the release. The result was instantaneous, Klatt said this summer: “We’ve gotten a tremendous response in the taproom where people come in and say, ‘Oh, I hate pilsners, but I love this.’”

The color change is supposed to be temporary, just as a fall release, but don’t those cans look nice? Find 12-packs of the burnt-orange Austinite Pilz exclusively at HEB stores.

Strange Land Brewery expands with help of easy-drinking pilsner

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Strange Land Brewery's Austinite Pilz is available on draft in the taproom and in cans around Austin.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Strange Land Brewery’s Austinite Pilz is available on draft in the taproom and in cans around Austin.

When Strange Land Brewery’s Austinite Pilz debuted in a bright red can just in time for summer this year, the reaction was immediate — make more of it. Make lots more.

But anyone familiar with Strange Land, a Westlake-area brewery that launched in late 2014, might find the 5 percent ABV pilsner an odd addition to the portfolio, which also includes more esoteric styles like the dry Ploughshare Saison and the full-flavored Alemannia Alt. From the start, Strange Land intended to stay away from the common hop-forward beers that many breweries prefer to make.

“It’s the beer we’ve been missing,” co-founder Tim Klatt said. “We thought the Ploughshare and the alt would be our flagships, but what did we know?”

He and co-founder Adam Blumenshein decided to “listen to the market,” which was clamoring for a beer like the pilsner that could lead new Strange Land fans into the brewery’s more unusual beers, still the favorites of the founding duo. But they’re doing it their way — the pilsner isn’t exactly a typical one. Normally, pilsners, as lagers, are made with bottom-fermenting yeast that make the style one of the trickiest and most diverse in the beer world.

The Austinite, however, is technically a style that doesn’t exist, Klatt said. He and Blumenshein are taking a historical approach with it: All pilsners began to ferment with lager yeast starting in 1842 thanks to the ground-breaking introduction of Pilsner Urquell, an Old World beer still made today. Before that, pilsners came about a little differently.

“In 1842, there was a big shift toward lager yeast and cold-temperature fermentation,” he said. “Our approach takes a hybrid ale-lager yeast and ferments it in the middle of ale temperatures, 70 degrees, and lager temperatures, 55 degrees. We’ve gotten a tremendous response in the taproom where people come in and say, ‘Oh, I hate pilsners, but I love this.'”

Neither Klatt nor Blumenshein are big fans of pilsners, either, which was partly why they struggled for so long with the idea of making one: “How can we make a beer that we think the market needs, but still have a beer that we can stand behind?”

Strange Land’s new beer comes at a good time for the brewery, which recently installed six new tanks — “We’re just collecting steel,” Klatt joked — that will significantly increase production to 10,000 barrels. That’s a far cry from the starting number of just under 2,000 barrels. The brewery also released newly designed cans, with the Ploughshare, Alemannia and the Entire Porter all joining the Austinite in their own striking colors. And Strange Land has a new set of investors “to help the business mirror the growth we now have with the tanks,” he said.

One of the core values of Strange Land, despite all this change, remains steadfast.

The brewery first released all of its beers on draft, letting each one become naturally conditioned in the keg rather than force-carbonated in a tank, a process most breweries choose for introducing carbon dioxide into their beers. Strange Land’s move into cans, after several bomber releases, didn’t change Klatt and Blumenshein’s stance on natural conditioning: It had to be done.

Never mind that hardly anyone else is doing can-conditioning, a process with shaky, sometimes even dangerous, results.

“What you’re seeing right now is that they’re packaging a still product,” he said, motioning toward Armadillo Mobile Canning’s temporary set-up in the middle of the brewery. “We dose it with sugar and a little yeast, and it comes alive in the can over the next couple of weeks, creating all the carbonation inside the can. Of course there are no manuals on how to do that. There’s a high likelihood these things are going to blow up.”

And blow up they did — Klatt said Strange Land had a number of product recalls and emails from consumers about cans exploding on them. That’s why the original Strange Land cans just had stickers on them, rather than full-on label design. But he, Blumenshein and their two employees, Brandon Vernon and Brandon Williams, figured out the can-conditioning process (soothing ruffled feathers with care packages of beer in the meantime) and decided that proper cans were now in order.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. A gruit is a style of beer made without hops that Strange Land perfected with an herbal backbone.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. A gruit is a style of beer made without hops that Strange Land perfected by giving it an herbal backbone.

“We fully stood by everything we were doing, even though it might have seemed insane,” he said. “What happens when you condition a beer is it changes the flavor of the beer, makes it so much more flavorful, than if you strip out the yeast and add bubbles to it. That doesn’t condition a beer; that just carbonates it.”

In addition to the four cans, Strange Land Brewery has a handful of bottle-conditioned bombers out on bar and store shelves, as well as at the brewery taproom opened on weekends.

One of the newest ones is the Apothecary Saison Gruit, a beer without hops that Strange Land originally made on a much smaller scale last summer. Instead of hops, it’s got wild rosemary, sweet gale, yarrow and mesquite honey, all of which contribute a lovely floral backbone to this old-fangled beer. Strange Land is also gearing up to produce the Headless Gentleman Imperial Bourbon Pumpkin Porter again for the fall.

These more experimental brews are all possible because of the Austinite Pilz, which Strange Land can’t make enough of at the moment. “It’s been really well-received,” Klatt said.

But don’t expect a Strange Land IPA anytime soon — that’s still not a direction that oddball Strange Land wants to go.

For more information, visit strangelandbrewery.com. Strange Land Brewery is opened 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays.

A beer for Austin: Strange Land Brewery’s new canned pilsner, the Austinite

Photo contributed by Tim Klatt. The Austinite is a pilsner meant to be enjoyed in a hot Central Texas summer.
Photo contributed by Tim Klatt. The Austinite is a pilsner meant to be enjoyed in a hot Central Texas summer.

Strange Land Brewery has strayed from its tradition of brewing unconventional styles to make a pilsner — with a name that’s hard to forget for anyone who lives in and loves Central Texas: the Austinite.

The brewery’s two co-founders, Tim Klatt and Adam Blumenshein, “developed the Austinite Pilz in order to add to our portfolio a light, clean and easy-drinking brew (that) doesn’t compromise our high-craft approach to beer,” Klatt said via email. The duo is calling it “an honest beer for true Austinites.”

At 5 percent ABV and coming in a bright red and gold can, the pilsner may well become many locals’ go-to beer this summer.

According to Klatt, “the Austinite Pilz, our postmodern take on the pilsner, transcends the simple boundaries of ‘ale’ and ‘lager.’ Harking back to the brewing tradition prior to the mid-1800s, before the predominance of light and flavorless beers fermented with lager yeast, the Austinite is top-fermented at low temperature and lightly lagered to produce a light-to-medium body and clean finish.”

And why did he and Blumenshein decide to call it the Austinite, clearly the quickest way to all local beer lovers’ hearts?

“Adam and I have lived in Austin now for a combined almost 40 years; we love Austin, we are inspired by Austin, and we wanted to craft the perfect brew for Austinites — a beer that compliments the eight months of summer we have here,” Klatt said. “Once you experience it, I’m sure you’ll agree that the beer essentially named itself.”

It launched at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden yesterday, but people will be able to find it in bars and stores across the city. For more information, visit strangelandbrewery.com.

Celebrate National Beer Day in Austin

You don’t really need a fake national holiday to enjoy a good beer, but local bars and restaurants are taking advantage of the excuse and offering specials today, which has been designated as National Beer Day.

For what it’s worth, National Beer Day is not as arbitrary as some of the other dubious national holidays out there: April 7 is the day the sale of beer became legal again in the U.S. in 1933, several months before the official repeal of Prohibition.

Cool, huh? Toast to American history at one of these places recognizing National Beer Day. (You could’ve also started celebrating yesterday, which is apparently considered New Beer’s Eve. These holiday things can’t go overboard enough, really.)

Black Sheep Lodge, 2108 S. Lamar Blvd. It’s hard to think of a better beer to enjoy on this day than (512) Brewing’s SMaSH (which means it’s been brewed with a single malt and hops, in this case Cashmere hops). Buy the beer and keep the glass.

Crown and Anchor Pub, 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. Uncle Billy’s (which is just about to start celebrating a big day of their own) will be at the campus-area bar pouring Lazy Day Lager at post-Prohibition prices from 7 until 7:33 p.m.

The new Growler USA is opening in the campus area with 100 taps, primarily of local and Texas beers.
The new Growler USA is celebrating National Beer Day with an all-day happy hour.

Growler USA, 609 W. 29th St. This fairly new beer bar in the campus area is going all out for National Beer Day, with an all-day happy hour that includes 10 percent off growler fills, $2 off all Texas beers, $3 off kombucha and a free plastic growler per person.

Hat Creek Burgers, 5902 Bee Cave Rd. and 5400 Burnet Rd. All locations of this burger joint (including two additional ones in Round Rock and Georgetown) are offering $1 beer throughout the day, which is also when the restaurant is launching Strange Land Brewery’s newest beer, a pilsner called the Austinite.

Haymaker, 2310 Manor Rd. Stop in for a pint night from 7 to 9 p.m. with Hops & Grain, which will have A Pale Mosaic and the Dispensary IPA on tap.

Independence Brewing, 3913 Todd Ln. Ste. 607. Anyone can stop in for a pint of Bootlegger Brown Ale infused with Third Coast Coffee, but teachers have it especially lucky — Independence is letting them show their school ID for $3 beers.

Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub, 11500 Rock Rose Ave. The new beer bar at the Domain, with more than 80 beers on tap, is offering a deal hard to pass up: $7 beer flights from 3 to 7 p.m. and $4 specials on Texas brews from 7 p.m. to close.

North by Northwest, 10010 Capital of Texas Hwy. N. One of Austin’s oldest brewpubs is celebrating with a playful beer: Framboyz in the Hood, a raspberry lambic, is being tapped just for the occasion.

Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing, 13010 W. Parmer Ln. Ste. 800, Cedar Park. Although Red Horn wants to make clear every day is a good one for beer, the brewpub will play along and offer beers from Deep Ellum Brewing starting at 7:30 p.m., when a brewery rep will have swag to give away.

Trace at the W, 200 Lavaca St. The hotel restaurant is hoping to draw in locals and tourists alike with $4 Circle Brewing beers, like the Hop Overboard Session IPA.

This is just a starting list; keep an eye on it throughout the day for additional bars and restaurants wanting to toast to our beer-drinking independence.