Saturday November 5th
The day had finally arrived after about 2 months of anticipation. The list of beer was enticing enough for all of us Beer Junkies, however the cause was even better! As I posted on here before, the Beer for Brains Foundation is a great cause http://thebeerforbrainsfoundation.org/about.html.
At 4:30 the volunteers started showing up to sign in and man their posts at pouring stations, registration areas, silent auction, merchandise booths, and others. I considered myself lucky to be a part of the pouring team as my passion for beer helped me help others around me as well as our guests. Before the event started “King James” a local beer expert stopped by our booth and gave us his description of Sonoran’s Pumpkin Spice ale, which consisted of cinnamon, nutmeg, and of course pumpkin. He also described this beer as a real beer, and not a pumpkin pie that over throws the hop character, “A very well balanced beer” he says to my friend and I running the booth. I fully agree with him to, by the end of that night, it proved to be a very popular item with the guests. My friend and I were pouring “Hoperation Ivy” by Ska Brewing, “A Raisin To Live” by San Tan Brewery in Chandler AZ, the Sonoran “Pumpkin Spice” in Scottsdale AZ, and a Scotch Ale made by Sun Up brewing.
After a few hours of pouring these four beers and helping others around us pour their beers when a rush of people came we were relieved by other volunteers and were given the opportunity to try all the beers that were available. Of course I had one beer in mind that I had always wanted to try and that was the 120 minute IPA by Dogfish Head , but it was unfortunately empty by the time I got to the keg. So if you’re one of the lucky guests that were able to sample this beer, please write about it on here! After I discovered that beer was empty I moved on to trying many of the beers on the list I linked to above, and I was continued to be impressed. The breweries that donated the beer for this event really out did themselves, and their support was appreciated a lot! After the band had stopped playing and many people got on stage had thanked everyone for showing up, there were tears and smiles in the crowd.
I just want to thank the Beer for Brains Foundation for putting on such a great event, and I hope that next year the event doubles in size again and even more support for this great organization is raised.
Rahr Brewing is located in Fort Worth, Texas. Founded by Fritz and Erin Rahr in 2004, the brewery has more than doubled its brewing capacity since then. During our visit, we tasted several year round beers including Blonde Lager (Munich Helles), Texas Red (amber lager), Ugly Pug (black lager), and Stormcloud (IPA). LaGrange, a farmhouse ale was available for tasting from bottles. We were able to taste the seasonal, Winter Warmer at a local bar. Other than Stormcloud, LaGrange and Winter Warmer, all beers are less than 5% ABV. Even though many of the beers could be considered session beers because of the low ABV, all have good flavor.
The brewery is located in an industrial area of Fort Worth and opens for tours on Wednesdays from 5 – 7:30pm and Saturdays from 1 – 3pm. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and found a long line of Rahr faithful waiting to enter the brewery. The large number of people at the brewery may have been related to the limited Halloween glass that came with the $7 entry fee for the tour and 3 pints of beer, or it could have been for the Movember fundraiser for prostate cancer held that day.
Rahr has the longhorn on their logo, so we had to share a picture of the real thing. This steer was seen at the Fort Worth Stockyards and has horns with a six foot span and as they say, ‘everything is bigger in Texas’!
If you are in the Dallas Fort Worth area, plan a visit to Rahr Brewing. Odds are pretty good that you’ll get to see Erin and Fritz Rahr at the brewery, and you’ll definitely get to try some good beers.
A recent trip to Texas provided an opportunity to visit St. Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas. This is the oldest craft brewery in Texas, started 17 years ago by Brock Wagner and named for the patron saint of breweries. The story is that St. Arnold encouraged people to drink beer instead of water to avoid becoming sick. You can read more about St. Arnold and the history of the brewery on the St. Arnold Brewing Company website.
The brewery is open for tours and tastings Monday through Friday from 3 – 4:15pm and Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Tours and tastings are $7 which gives you a souvenir St. Arnold tasting glass and four tasters of the beers on tap. The tasting room is located above the brewery and has the feel of a beer hall with its wooden tables and benches. Windows in the tasting room show a view of the fermenters and brewhouse.
Year round St. Arnold beers available during our visit included the Amber ale, Brown ale, Elissa IPA, Weedwacker (Bavarian hefeweizen), Fancy Lawnmower (German-style Kölsch), and Santo (black Kölsch). The seasonal beer on tap was Saint Arnold Christmas Ale. Beers are brewed with the traditional four ingredients, hops, water, malt and yeast without any additional ingredients. The only exception is the seasonal Pumpkinator. We were disappointed to miss tasting one of the seasonal stouts, but that will have to wait for another visit.
We were lucky to have St. Arnold’s founder and owner, Brock Wagner as our brewery tour guide. He proudly showed the brewhouse and talked abut their beers which are found only in Texas and Louisiana with no plans to expand distribution beyond those states. The brewhouse is a 120 bbl system. One of the pictures above shows Christmas ale brewing with the yeast actively at work producing carbon dioxide.
Besides the beer, two tie dyed cars are found at the brewery, a VW bug parked outside the brewery and a tie dyed 1957 Bentley inside. The Bentley is frequently seen at local car shows. Visiting the brewery was a lot of fun even though it was a short one, but one worth a return visit!
Union Station was the site for the finale of LA Beer Week. One of the best things about this festival is you can take the train to Union Station. No problems finding parking and plenty of time to relax and visit with friends on the train.
The festival showcased breweries from the Los Angeles area, across the US, and around the world. More than 70 breweries poured unlimited 4 ounce pours of their beers, some of which are hard to find. Enjoying a sunny day with friends and great beer made the event an enjoyable day.
Many of the beers and local breweries provided highlights for the afternoon. Unity was the official LA Beer Week collaboration beer brewed by Eagle Rock Brewery and Craftsman Brewing. This beer, a tamarind saison at 6.7% ABV was easy to drink with a hint of sour. Ladyface Alehouse poured Hot for Teacher, an IPA brewed with habenero peppers. This one was surprisingly good, with just enough heat from the peppers and not a lot of bitterness usually found in an IPA. Ohana Brewing, a new LA brewery poured Black Dahlia, their black IPA and two unnamed sours. Smog City Brewing had a great coffee porter that brought many back for a second pour.
Festival goers waited in long lines for some harder to find beers like Kern River Citra, Bootlegger’s Imperial Black Phoenix, and Firestone Walker 14. All in all it was an enjoyable day and it is good to know that LA is making great strides in supporting and promoting craft beer and local breweries.