Vigilante is, too. The bar, which has CEO Preston Swincher and president Philip “Flip” Kromer at the helm, is raising between $75,000 and $150,000 “to help build the empty retail space into the quality full-service bar & restaurant our patrons demand,” according to the NextSeed campaign. The bar has gotten a little less than half of the $75,000 minimum so far but is banking on the intriguing concept to draw interest.
“Vigilante is the latest evolution of the mainstreaming of nerd culture,” the Vigilante team writes on NextSeed. “Formerly niche hobbies are becoming major profit centers: comic books are now movie blockbusters, video games outperform those blockbusters, gadgets are ubiquitous, geek chic is fashionable and (most pertinently) we are in the golden era of the board game. Board game cafes have proliferated nationally as hybrid game retailers/coffee shops.”
To help bring Vigilante’s vision to life in the remaining 20 days the NextSeed campaign runs, contribute at least $100 and consider yourself an investor who will receive a return with 18 percent interest. Invest $500 or more and you’ll start getting perks that go beyond financial, including a “Secret Society Membership.”
In the end, Swincher, Kromer and marketing director Zack Daschofsky hope to offer an “excellence-driven bar especially designed for the modern, grown-up nerd (we think that’s a compliment),” according to the Vigilante website.
Expect the 3,800 sq. ft. Vigilante to open at the end of this year, with hours from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. For more information, visit vigilantebar.com.
You’ll also get a special Beerlympics cup, and beverages come included.
To participate, either form a team of six or note when you sign up that you’re an individual, so the Paramount can add you to a team.
And if you and your teammates prove to be the best at beer-soaked fun, you’ll get a shiny gold medal for your efforts, of course — as well as something rather appropriate for games like these: a free brewery tour and beer tasting at East Austin’s Blue Owl Brewing. The top three teams, in addition to their medals, will also receive a free drink at the Beerlympics after-party at Aussie’s Grill down the street.
The Beerlympics, which begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 4, is the first event of Paramount Social Presents, a new type of programming aiming to “target the next generation of arts patrons and supporters,” according to the Paramount. Other upcoming events of Paramount Social Presents include a comedy show from Bridget Everett and a musical performance from the Skivvies.
But there’s about to be another one in a prime location in the Hill Country — opening along U.S. 290, the road to Fredericksburg where many of Texas’ best-known wineries are located. Incubator owner Jeff Williams is now seeking four interested tenants who want to take advantage of the winery incubator concept: the business model that allows multiple small wineries to operate in one space, with equipment provided by the owner, as a way of keeping costs low until they can grow and move into their own much bigger building.
Williams and his wife, both investors in Stonewall’s Kuhlman Cellars, saw a need to offer room for smaller wineries along the 290 wine road, an expensive piece of real estate. And already, he said, he is getting interest from people aspiring to have their own winery or grow their current one.
“I’ve gotten one call from a winery that does about 1,000 cases a year but has run out of space and wants to be on 290,” he said. “I’ve gotten another call from a winemaker interested in venturing out and doing his own label. I heard from another guy who has an interest in winemaking. He doesn’t do it now, and he doesn’t want to mortgage his home to get into it. Those are exactly the kind of people we are trying to reach.”
Although Williams hasn’t settled on any of the four possible wineries that will eventually occupy the more than 4,600 sq. ft. building he’s about to start renovating, he’s figured out what it’s going to take to get them there. He’s wading through the permitting process with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau. And he’s decided that each of the wineries will choose for themselves where to source their grapes — the incubator doesn’t come with a vineyard.
“That’s up to their business plan and what they want to be in the future,” he said. “If they want to be true Texas wine, they can work toward using all-Texas grapes.”
The incubator building is located in Stonewall, the same small Texas town where Kuhlman Cellars and other well-established Hill Country wineries, like Pedernales Cellars, have set up shop. The location — at 14725 U.S. 290, it’s the former headquarters of the Stonewall Volunteer Fire Department — is one of the biggest advantages of Williams’ winery incubator.
“One of the benefits of this arrangement is that they’ll learn from the experiences of people up and down the road,” he said. “The winemakers, the winery owners, they are amazingly cooperative when it comes to sharing information. They love to talk about their experiences, how they started, who they talked to, how they grew. That’s one of the keys to the winery incubator being successful, having access to these people.”
When the as-yet-unnamed space is up and running, each of the four wineries will be able to produce up to 1,500 cases per year.
“It’s a pretty simple concept — it amounts to being a co-working space,” he said. “If we provide the opportunity, the location, equipment, etc., for someone to make wine for a monthly rate, we’d win and they’d win. Wedding Oak has done one and it’s worked out very well.”
No doubt many “Harry Potter” fans who remember the days of anxiously waiting for the next installment to come out at midnight, like me, are feverishly rereading each of the previous seven novels until another midnight release party at our favorite local bookstore. We’ve then got a lot more reading to do to finish “Cursed Child” as soon as possible and post our opinions all over social media. To keep our thirst at bay during all this page-turning, I offer up this sweet, nonalcoholic solution that Harry himself would approve of — Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer.
American-Statesman food writer Addie Broyles and I tried out this butterscotch brew, as well as another Reed’s soda, a couple of years ago for one of our Austin360 Taste Test videos and concluded that it was rather sweet — but would we expect anything less of a butterscotch soda?
According to Reed’s, which clearly had a little fun marketing the Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer, “this delicious beverage is the first wizarding drink to have widespread crossover consumption in the non-wizarding world.”
Reed’s also notes on its website that “consuming this product has been known to accelerate wizarding abilities in borderline wizard cases.”
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.
“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.
The beer-focused site listed three U.S. cities that are coming into their own in the beer industry. (There are others, but this trio is the most exciting of the bunch.) Besides Austin, American Craft Beer also listed Asheville in North Carolina and Minneapolis in Minnesota.
And of these, Asheville is the most well-known “of all the emerging ‘new craft beer cities’… (boasting) 15 breweries within its city limits alone — with cutting edge breweries like Wicked Weed, Twin Leaf and Hi-Wire generating lots of buzz — and dozens more spotted throughout the region.”
About Austin, American Craft Beer noted that “for a city long known as a music, film, and tech capital — and as home to SXSW — Austin is fast becoming an important craft beer destination.”
The article, in addition to giving a shout-out to Jester King, also mentioned Hops & Grain, (512) Brewing and Austin Beerworks, but those, of course, are just a small number of the talented beer makers that Austin now boasts.
Now more than ever, breweries are making the move to cans. Selling their beers in aluminum cans, versus glass bottles, preserves the quality of the beer and means that people can drink it in more places — crucial for summertime imbibing.
So two local beverage producers, after offering their products primarily in bottles, are jumping on the aluminum bandwagon. Argus Cidery and Adelbert’s Brewery have both recently released two of their ciders and beers, respectively, in 12 oz. cans. Here’s what you can expect to find in local bars and stores now carrying them.
These are available, in addition to Austin, in cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as a few other states like Illinois and Colorado.
Ciderkin: Dry on the palate, this cider might not have the sweet burst of apple most of us expect from a typical American cider, but Argus likes to show off its wild side with all of its offerings. This one’s no different and offers a tart bite of fruit before finishing clean and bright.
Ginger Perry: This ginger ale doesn’t have any apple in it but is so good that you won’t miss it. It’s got the spicy snap of ginger without going overboard, with a dry pear palate that keeps it balanced. Like the Ciderkin, the Ginger Perry previously came in six-pack bottles.
The North Austin brewery announced a move to cans earlier this year, when it acquired a brewpub license to allow visitors to the taproom to take Adelbert’s beers home with them. These are two more — previously released on draft and in bombers — they’ll be able to grab and go. The cans are also appearing all over town.
Naked Nun Wit:Naked Nun has been a staple of Adelbert’s since it opened with a focus on Belgian-styles ales. Its easy-drinking nature, with “balanced hints of bitter orange peel and coriander,” makes it well-suited for cans, according to the brewery.