Oddwood Ales debuts new beer, plans barrel house in East Austin

Brewed at Adelbert's, the sour Taming of the Savage Heart is the latest Oddwood Ales beer to be produced.
Brewed at Adelbert’s, the sour Taming of the Savage Heart is the latest Oddwood Ales beer to be produced.

Although Oddwood Ales started as a side project of Adelbert’s brewer Taylor Ziebarth, it’s taken on a life of its own — much like the wild yeast strains that ferment and age each of the Oddwood beers in old wine barrels.

Oddwood Ales, a barrel-fermented beer project brewed at the wood-loving Adelbert’s Brewery, is expanding to become the Oddwood Barrel House later this summer in a different part of town. Ziebarth and his artist brother, Brett, are opening Oddwood as a brewpub at 3701 Airport Blvd., off Manor Road.

In the meantime, the latest brew releasing from Oddwood Ales is Taming of the Savage Heart, a “sour table beer” with notes of “damp oak, balanced acidity and a nice earthy funk,” according to Ziebarth. Debuting on Monday, it’s the second Oddwood beer after its highly lauded saison, which has been charming Austin’s fans of wild ales since late 2014.

Taming of the Savage Heart “is more sour than the saison, we feel,” Ziebarth said. “It’s kind of like our nod to a lambic. We fermented it in wine barrels, added some aged hops and unmalted wheat, and used quite a few more microorganisms than we did for the saison. It was also aged for six months longer.”

These are just two of the beers you’ll enjoy one day at the barrel house, where a lot more wood-fermented ales are going to be made.

“We’re expanding on the ideas we started at Adelbert’s,” Ziebarth said. “We’re going to buy large oak tanks and barrels and do a lot of different things with oak and barrels and wild yeast to make a good sour beer. We’re also going to throw a hat into the hoppy beer ring as well. Sour and hoppy beers will be the chief focus of what we’re doing here.”

At Oddwood Barrel House’s 2,500 sq. ft. tasting room — located in a 1950s-era building with some funky characteristics of its own — visitors might see “two to three fruited sours, an imperial IPA, a barrel-aged saison” on the tap wall once it’s opened. But Ziebarth can’t say which of those, if any, would be the flagship brews; the program will be relaxed and experimental, allowing the Oddwood brewers “to brew what we feel like.”

“We want to go all out on every beer,” he said.

Oddwood’s incoming 7-barrel brewhouse will be less than half the size of Adelbert’s, keeping the supply of each Oddwood brew down to a far more limited number. And most likely, Ziebarth said, only the hop-forward beers will be exposed to the stainless steel tanks that most breweries use for fermentation and other steps in the brewing process. “Most of the beers here will spend their entire life in oak,” he said.

The “here” he was referring to is the standalone building at Airport Boulevard and Manor Road where Oddwood Barrel House is slowly coming together. Before it ever became the site of an upcoming brewpub, he said, it had witnessed myriad change in East Austin.

“It was once a Tejano nightclub, once a restaurant, once a movie set for ‘Machete 2,’ a bunch of different things,” Ziebarth said. “We purchased the building from an (advertising) firm that had remodeled it before they moved. It’s a real funky building, but we’re happy with it. It had everything we were looking for when we found it.”

For a look at other breweries and bars opening this year, check out this look-ahead on mystatesman.com.

The Dogwood, Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub now opening at Domain’s Rock Rose

Jack & Ginger's Irish Pub is the first of four new bars coming to the Rose Rose entertainment district in North Austin's Domain.
Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub is the first of four new bars coming to the Rose Rose entertainment district in North Austin’s Domain.

The Domain’s entertainment district known as the Rock Rose is officially beginning to boom.

Joining already opened Tarka Indian Kitchen and Two Hands Coffee are a pair of bars that open today and tomorrow: the Dogwood starting at 6 p.m. this evening and Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub tomorrow morning.

The Dogwood

The two-level space is the third location of this bar from Carmack Concepts, which also owns other Austin hot spots like the Chuggin’ Monkey and the Dizzy Rooster. It’ll stay true to the spirit of the other Dogwood locations with a focus on Southern hospitality, live music and drinks, according to a press release. Drinks include Dogwood specialty cocktails like the Winter Warmer, the Dogwood Flower and the Violet Rose.

The Dogwood Rock Rose is located at 11420 Rock Rose Ave., Ste. 130, and it’ll be opened 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays to Sundays. For more information, visit www.thedogwoodrockrose.com.

Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub

This Irish-style tavern is the first of four original bar concepts from the Union Venture Group to open in the Rock Rose District. And of the four — including 77 Degrees, a rooftop cocktail bar focused on rum drinks, and the Rose Room, a three-story nightclub — this one is going to be the favorite of beer lovers. Jack & Ginger’s has 82 brews to offer on tap, from IPAs to stouts to bright fruit beers, as well as a pub menu of Irish and American comfort food to pair them with.

Thursday night will be the time to enjoy Texas beers, when four of them will be $4 from 7 p.m. to close, whereas Tuesday night will draw the whiskey fans for $5 Jameson and Bushmills. The bar also has a variety of original cocktails, including a few on tap.

“We know the pub will make the perfect spot to watch soccer, hang out, and start or end your night on Rock Rose,” Jeff Van Delden, the co-owner of Union Venture Group, said in a press release.

Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub is located at 11500 Rock Rose Ave., and it’ll be opened 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with even earlier hours for watch parties of British Premier League soccer games. For more information, visit jackandgingers.pub.

Austin named one of the best beer cities in America

Photo by Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman. Adelbert's Brewery's Tripel Treat is in stores now, so grab a bottle before they're all gone.
Photo by Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman. Adelbert’s Brewery was mentioned in a Wine Enthusiast list naming the top beer cities in the U.S.

Well, it’s official: Austin’s many breweries have now made the city one of the top destinations in the U.S. for grabbing a freshly made brew.

Wine Enthusiast magazine recently listed the seven “great American beer cities” — and our beloved Texas town took a bow at number five, alongside Portland, Maine at #1; Milwaukee, Wisconsin at #2; and Asheville, North Carolina at #3. (Strikingly, two well-known beer states, Oregon and Colorado, weren’t in the top three; Washington, another big beer spot, didn’t even place.)

Here’s what Wine Enthusiast had to say about Austin:

Hops & Grain opens daily at 8:00 a.m. for coffee, but if you politely ask, staff will pour beer samples. Visit Adelbert’s Brewery for Belgian-inspired brews, Black Star Co-Op Pub and Brewery for dinner and Austin Beerworks, the largest craft brewer in the city. Jester King Brewery, on a sprawling ranch along the city line, serves some of the country’s finest farmhouse and wild ales.”

There are a couple local beer makers that should’ve been mentioned in a list like this one — Blue Owl Brewing in East Austin, for one, which has the distinction of being the only brewery in the country to focus solely on sour-mashed brews. And where’s Live Oak Brewing? One of Austin’s oldest breweries is back in the local spotlight after releasing its beers in cans and preparing to open a brand-new brewery across the street from the Austin airport. (Live Oak’s updates are probably too new to get it on the list, in all honesty. Next year, OK?)

Wine Enthusiast still got one thing right. Austin’s becoming a destination for beer, in addition to all the other reasons it’s so loved.

Lost Pines Yaupon Tea launched as Texas-grown tea product

Three Austinites are producing Texas-grown tea — and, in the process, helping Bastrop residents and the pine forest there recover from the devastating 2011 wildfires.

Their Lost Pines Yaupon Tea, now available via online order and in a few local stores, is a big part of my Statesman story coming out in print tomorrow (and available to read now on mystatesman.com). The story discusses how to incorporate tea into cocktails, a trend I’ve noticed in bars lately and decided to explore further.

Photo from Lost Pines Yaupon Instagram. Yaupon tea is made from a caffeinated holly plant (but the Lost Pines Yaupon Tea founders don't do use its bright red berries for the tea).
Photo from Lost Pines Yaupon Instagram. Yaupon tea is made from the caffeinated holly plant pictured here, but the Lost Pines Yaupon Tea founders don’t do use its bright red berries for the tea.

But the story of Lost Pines Yaupon Tea is worth an article all of its own.

The tea company launched a few months ago after one of the founders, Jason Ellis, decided to turn his longtime love of tea made from the yaupon plant into something more. Yaupon is North America’s only caffeinated plant, a relative to South America’s more well-known yerba maté, and it grows prolifically in Texas and in the other Gulf Coast states. Ellis sat down his girlfriend, Heidi Wachter, and good friend John Seibold one day and asked them if they thought the tea could make a good business.

So far, it has proven to be a success. That’s in part thanks to the yaupon plant itself, which produces a naturally sweetened tea with none of the tannins that can give other teas a slight bite of astringency.

“People in Bastrop who find out we’re harvesting yaupon are always shocked at how good the tea is,” Wachter said. “They don’t know that you can make a caffeinated tea out of (the plant), but they’re always very glad we’re there to take it off their hands. We’re not really worried about not having enough supply.”

One of the reasons it’s so easy for her, Ellis and Seibold to find as much of the yaupon as they need is that it’s actually a nuisance for many of the Bastrop ranchers who are trying to reclaim their land from the hardy, drought-resistant plant, which has a tendency to take over.

“It hampered the efforts to stop the Bastrop wildfires in 2011,” Wachter said. “The fire got so big because the yaupon acted as ladder fuel, carrying the fire into the tree canopy. Now it’s choking out the growth of the baby pines and threatening to turn the forest into a yaupon thicket.”

Thankfully, the yaupon holly makes a tasty tea that Lost Pines Yaupon Tea offers in two roasts, a light and dark. When you drink it, you might find yourself feeling pretty good afterward, as the effects of a phytochemical within the tea takes hold. Yaupon, Ellis said, doesn’t have as much caffeine as other teas; instead, it has a lot of theobromine, which is also found in high quantities in dark chocolate. And it’ll leave you feeling ready to tackle your day.

“It’s not as strong of a stimulant as caffeine, but it lasts longer,” Wachter said. “We like to say it’s a more balanced, sustained, focused energy.”

Right now, Lost Pines Yaupon Tea is sold as a loose-leaf tea in biodegradable, environmentally-friendly bags, although one day the trio hopes to offer bottles of ready-made tea as well. On each bag is an image of the endangered Houston toad, an amphibian whose home was the Lost Pines Forest largely wiped out in the deadly Bastrop fires. By harvesting the yaupon, Ellis, Wachter and Seibold are also giving the toad a chance at recovering its habitat and numbers.

“We feel like we’re doing a good thing with this,” Wachter said.

Find the tea in retail spots like Monarch Food Mart at East 38th 1/2 Street and the Herb Bar at West Mary Street off South Congress Avenue. For more information, visit lostpinesyaupontea.com.

Two Hands Coffee newest space to open in Domain’s Rock Rose

The Rock Rose development at North Austin’s Domain is finally rockin’, now that businesses like Tarka Indian Kitchen have finally opened — and the latest is a coffee shop primed to become a hangout for locals living north of downtown.

Photo from Two Hands Coffee's Facebook page. The newest Rock Rose shop, Two Hands Coffee, is now opened in the Domain.
Photo from Two Hands Coffee’s Facebook page. The newest Rock Rose shop, Two Hands Coffee, is now opened in the Domain.

Two Hands Coffee joins the Dogwood, the Kung Fu Saloon, Jack and Ginger’s Irish Pub and other bars, eateries and shopping spots slowly coming to life along the Rock Rose district. Some, like Two Hands Coffee and Jack and Ginger’s, are first-time businesses, while others like the Dogwood and Kung Fu Saloon are one of multiple locations already opened. Most of them are still in various stages of construction.

Owned by entrepreneur Aamil Sarfani, Two Hands Coffee plans to offer juices, local craft beer and wine in addition to coffee options. Plus, the coffee shop will host weekly events, including trivia, open mic nights, live music shows, and meet-ups and other activities “centered on the coffee industry,” according to a press release.

An integral part of the coffee shop is Sarfani’s participation in the Farmers to 40 program, which is two-fold: Two Hands Coffee sources its beans from Nicaraguan farmers, paying close attention to how the coffee is produced, and also pays those farmers a portion of all coffee sales.

We have visited the farms and seen the time, commitment and skill that go into growing delicious coffee,” according to the Two Hands Coffee website. “The farmers do the hard work; paying them equitably is the easy part.”

The Domain location is just the first of what Sarfani hopes will be more than one Two Hands Coffee shops. It’s at 11501 Rock Rose Ave. Ste. 118 and opened 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/twohandscoffee.

Austin Bacon and Beer Festival postponed

The Austin Bacon and Beer Festival, which had sold out last year, has been postponed until this summer.

Photo by Emma Janzen. You'll have to get beers elsewhere this weekend, as the Austin Bacon and Beer Fest has been postponed.
Photo by Emma Janzen. You’ll have to get beers elsewhere this weekend, as the Austin Bacon and Beer Fest has been postponed.

The festival’s event organizers, Edible Austin and Eat Boston, have decided to reschedule it “due to circumstances beyond our control,” according to an announcement on the Austin Bacon and Beer Festival Facebook page. The event would have been on Sunday.

All ticket holders are going to be refunded in full, and they’ll also get the chance to purchase tickets to the rescheduled festival before they go on sale to the public. (Right now, the Facebook event page has “June 5” as the very tentative new date.)

“Now in its third year, the Austin Bacon and Beer Festival is a vibrant community and culinary experience that raises much needed funds for the Central Texas nonprofit Capital Area Food Bank,” according to the Facebook announcement. Restaurants providing the bacon included Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, Salty Sow and Salt & Time, while breweries offering up the beer included (512) Brewing, Karbach Brewing and South Austin Brewery.

Bummed that you can’t enjoy those meaty treats this weekend? Not to worry, festival organizers said: “Many of our amazing participants will be featuring specials on their weekend menus utilizing pork generously donated by Niman Ranch and Lone Star Foodservice. We will be announcing where you can find these tasty, bacon-centric treats and dishes via social media @edibleaustin in hopes that ticket holders can get their bacon and beer fix this weekend.”

For more information, visit www.edibleaustin.com.

The Barber Shop heads into fifth year as cozy Dripping Springs bar

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Barber Shop is a brewpub in downtown Dripping Springs that's about to celebrate a big milestone.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Barber Shop is a brewpub in downtown Dripping Springs that’s about to celebrate a big milestone.

Although there are plenty of boozy places on the road to Dripping Springs — including Jester King Brewery, Treaty Oak Distilling and more — far fewer of them fall within the city limits of this Hill Country town. But for their beer fix, Dripping Springs locals who don’t want to drive far have a very good bar to turn to: the Barber Shop on Mercer Street.

This weekend, the brewpub (which can call itself that because of the tiny brewing system that whips up one Barber Shop beer at a time for the tap wall) is celebrating its 5th anniversary with beers from Austin Beerworks, Jester King and other area breweries that are regularly featured there. Commemorate the milestone starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, when the party will also have live music, food and branded souvenirs like pint glasses and shirts, in addition to all the special beers.

The party seems like a good time to visit the Barber Shop, which you’ll find is a homey little spot with beer signs and memorabilia all over the walls (such as the small sign next to an inner door that reads, “Beer is the answer, but I can’t remember the question.” Huzzah to that). I checked out the place for the first time last week and became enchanted with how comfortable and lived-in it already looks.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Barber Shop has a sneaky sense of humor about its name.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Barber Shop has a sneaky sense of humor about its name.

That’s partly thanks to the old building the bar is housed in. The Barber Shop gets its name from one of the previous tenants that occupied the historic space, which was erected in the early 1920s in the heart of Dripping Springs.

According to the Barber Shop website, “Old-timers chuckle at calling this building ‘the old barber shop,’ but that’s what it was for the past quarter century. Our building started its life around November 1924 as a wooden and tin garage. In 1938, when it was owned by D.W. Crenshaw, it was given its rock exterior. The building served as a garage and gas station until around 1960. After that, it was not used commercially for most of the next 25 years when it was then remodeled and turned into a barber shop.”

And now it’s a brewpub. The current house beer is the Station 7 Pale Ale, but there are a bunch of other brews available on draft and in bottles, including local options like the Circle Nightlight Irish Stout, Real Ale Phoenixx Winter Ale and Twisted X Cow Creek Vienna Lager.

The Barber Shop is located at 207 Mercer Street, just off Ranch Road 12. It’s opened 3 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 2 to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 2 to 8 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit barbershopbar.com.