The 6th Annual Pink Mahal, a celebration of rosé wine, returns this weekend with the largest selection of rosé in the city: about 100 available for tasting (although tickets will only supply you three glasses, so choose well).
Arguably, the wine and beer bar, Indian restaurant, live music venue and bottle shop in South Austin knew how good rosé is a couple of years before it became such a sought-after style of wine. (The Whip In did the same with craft beer, too, in the Budweiser-dominant 1980s and ’90s.) The wine, previously scorned as pink wine or blush wine, has achieved its near-universal popularity only in the last few years.
Rosé wine — a style that gets more color from grape skin contact than white wine but not enough to be considered red wine — is in the midst of a heyday, especially in Texas, where the wine is a refreshing complement to our hot, hot summers. It’s not hard to guess why we want rosé all day.
In addition to coming in shades in between red and white wine, the diverse rosé is a perfect middle ground between them: able to be made with a variety of red wine grapes but resulting in a lighter body and brighter flavors more similar to white wine.
From 1 to 5 p.m. on May 20, both Whip In’s patio and wine bar will have rosé exclusively, having both large-format bottles and even some of the wine on tap. The $35 tickets get you three glasses of any of the rosé and access to an appetizer bar with “plenty of pink-friendly pairings,” according to Whip In. Additional glasses can be purchased for $5.
Don’t miss the Dandy Rosé from Rae Wilson of Wine for the People, which is helping to produce the event. Made with all Texas-grown grapes, the wine is a dry French-style rosé — an example of the delicious locally grown and produced wines that Texas excels at making.
Despite the name, Oktoberfest is traditionally celebrated in September — and many local places that host similar German-themed parties have caught on and offer them throughout this month. Here’s a round-up of the Oktoberfest events in Austin that you don’t want to miss.
In addition to Montecore, Easy Tiger’s event will also have several other Oktoberfest beers, including the Live Oak Oaktoberfest, Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, the Spaten Oktoberfest and Avery the Kaiser. Expect German food specials to pair with these as well. The menu of the day’s offerings is on the Easy Tiger Facebook page.
The Whip In will have all the elements of a proper Oktoberfest celebration: märzen-style brews from the likes of Brooklyn Brewery, Karbach Brewing, Saint Arnold Brewing and more, as well as German food and games. The food specials include house-made German brats in pumpernickel rolls, curry wurst sausage and pretzels with Berliner Weisse beer cheese. And if you’re interested in those games, prepare your arm muscles: Whip In is hosting a mug-holding competition and a hammershlagen nail-pounding competition.
Oktoberfest at Black Star Co-op
5 p.m. Sept 21-22, Sept. 24 and Sept. 28, 7020 Easy Wind Dr.
Sept 21: Southern Star Brewing’s German-style Festbier is getting tapped, as well as its Bavarian Hefeweizen, for this mid-week celebration.
Sept. 22: Black Star is bringing in Save the World Brewing’s biere de garde as a rustic French alternative to Oktoberfest. Free glassware will be available.
Sept. 24: Get a stein filled with beer from one of the world’s oldest monastic breweries: Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei. That’s going to be a treat.
Sept. 28: Left Hand Brewing’s Oktoberfest is the focus this time, with more branded glassware free for the taking.
Oktoberfest at Infamous Brewing
6 p.m. Sept. 30, 4602 Weletka Dr.
Prepare for an Oktoberfest family-style dinner from Hudson Bend chefs who are collaborating with the Lake Travis-area Infamous Brewing, which will have a couple of its beers to choose from for a dessert of ice cream floats. The $50 dinner benefits Austin Habitat for Humanity’s the House That Beer Built project. Secure your seat on eventbrite.
And looking ahead, there are also a couple of Oktoberfest events in the actual month of October.
Flying Saucer’s Oktoberfest Beer Games Day
12 p.m. Oct. 1, 815 W. 47th St.
The beer bar is offering German beer and food specials throughout the day and throwing a little competition in for good measure: a stein hoist, keg race and dachshund races.
A weekend of beer and brats is in order. Mean Eyed Cat will have both seasonal and local favorites on tap, and Stubb’s BBQ will be serving up the carnivore-friendly menu. Festivities kick off Friday evening with a Sam Adams beer hoisting competition.
AustOberfest at Scholz Garten
5 p.m. Oct. 22, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd.
This year’s big Austin Oktoberfest bash doubles as Scholz Garten’s 150th anniversary celebration — no small feat. Enjoy this day of Central Texas German heritage appreciation with sausage, beers, bowling and live music, with food vendors including Freedmen’s, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Frank and more. (The drink purveyors haven’t been announced yet.) The $50 tickets get you special 150th anniversary glassware, drink tickets, unlimted sausage tastings and a hat pin.
Even though the event seems far off, don’t delay in getting tickets — this time, only 900 are being sold. To grab one, visit austoberfest.com.
Just looking at the live music lineup performing at the Whip In’s 30th anniversary bash tomorrow gives you a sense of how special this gas station-turned-craft beer bar has become for Austin.
Among the acts playing, once the event kicks off at 1 p.m., are Money Chicha, Star Parks, the Sour Notes, Los Coast, Elijah Ford and Hello Nomad. It’s a lineup Whip In staffers are quite proud of.
“We’ve got lots of big acts coming in for the party that we really have no business having here because we’re tiny, but we asked them and they said, ‘Oh my god, we love the Whip In!’” MJ Smith, Whip In’s general manager, said.
That’s a sentiment shared across a wide swath of the city, no matter how long you’ve lived here, what part of Austin you hang your hat or whether you’re even much of a beer drinker. The Whip In, which was purchased in 1986 by Indian immigrants Amrit and Chandan Topiwala, has become many things over the years: a mom-and-pop Indian food restaurant, wine bar, beer bar and, at one point, a brewpub that sold small amounts of beer made in-house.
A big reason for its success — thriving in an old building off Interstate 35 in South Austin — is the sense of community the Topiwalas, along with their son Dipak, have carefully built around it. They treat staff like family, Smith said, and pay employees a higher-than-average wage that turns the Whip In into a career, not just a job. In turn, employees host regular events that draw in Austinites, offering everything from open mic nights to poetry readings to beer can chicken contests.
Then, of course, there’s the beer.
In addition to a tap wall capable of pouring more than 70 beers, the Whip In also has a bottle shop in the back with a variety of cans, bottles and bombers. Keeping both the draft and packaged options stocked is a never-ending task, Smith said.
“Courtney, our beer buyer, is doing what Mr. Topiwala used to do,” Smith said. “He’s meeting with distributors constantly and always changing out our bottle selection. That’s a full-time job just in itself. Bottled and draft, our beers are always whatever is new, although we do have staples, too. Like Live Oak Brewing, we can’t keep that on the shelf.”
The Whip In started out as a convenience store and gas station in a rough part of town. But the business wasn’t enough: A 1980s recession meant the Topiwalas, who were constantly working while raising a family, had to get creative. Getting into beer, Amrit Topiwala said, developed as a necessity.
“The real reason I chose to have lots of beer was the recession. ‘How am I going to survive in the recession?'” he said at a recent interview.
“People drink no matter what,” Smith put in.
“But I had to teach them,” Topiwala said. “I had Budwesier, Miller and Coors, but I would have them try a six-pack variety of other beers and see what they thought.”
He was bringing beers — many of them, like Spaten or Chimay, from European breweries — into Central Texas “20 years before craft beer was really here,” he said. And people took notice of this quirky bottle shop at the edge of town and began ordering from it, driving in from as far away as the big cities of Dallas and Houston and sometimes leaving with whole cases of beer. In the 1990s, Topiwala was also the beer supplier of many a Friday office party.
The Whip In shifted again in the 2000s, serving beer in addition to offering it to-go and becoming an Indian restaurant serving up Chandan Topiwala’s recipes. The current chef, ShaunVerespej, has revamped the menu, and although the prices are a little higher now, it’s for good reason.
“We were all organic and tried to source all local foods, and we lost that,” he said about the Whip In’s original menu. “We’ve been trying to bring that back.”
Saturday’s party will have a roasted goat taco on special starting at 3 p.m. (with the option of substituting the goat for falafel for the vegetarians out there). Order it early: Whip In specials tend to go fast, especially when there’s a celebration.
Both Smith and Verespej see the party as a bright spot in the history of the Whip In, with many more good years to come. One day, maybe, the Topiwalas will find an additional location. Or maybe, god forbid, they’ll finally retire and leave their beloved shop in the hands of people who want it to continue on. No matter what, Amrit Topiwala knows the Whip In will continue transforming, just as it always has. Its evolution just might be why the Whip In has made it to 30.
“Success is always taking the opportunity to change things,” Topiwala said.
The Whip In is located at 1950 S. Interstate 35. For more information, visit whipin.com.