It’s a great time to be a beer lover with hundreds of new craft brews popping up this past year. Yay beer! Now not-exactly-craft-brew-brewer, Spoetzl Brewery, is introducing Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale to the Shiner family on February 3, 2012. Breaking from its tradition of brewing German style lagers, Shiner Wild Hare is the first ever pale ale made by the brewery.
Best known for its wildly popular Texas staple, Shiner Bock, Spoetzl has a hefty line-up of beers with seven in its active roster and five brews in its seasonal line up. Each year the Texas brewery introduces a new beer to its anniversary series. Shiner Wild Hare celebrates the 103rd anniversary following Pilsner, Munich Helles, and Shwarzbier styles from past years. Like the other anniversary brews, Shiner Wild Hare has its anniversary year printed on the neck band.
True to the Shiner style, this Pale Ale has a slight sweetness derived from Munich and Caramel malts blended with two-row barley. US Golding and Bravo hops give it floral fragrance and zippy bitterness. Shiner says they load Wild Hare up with more than a pound of hops in each barrel, but it certainly is no hop monster. It’s light and approachable and not as bold as American pale ale from brewers like Sierra Nevada or Stone.
Ruddy copper with elegantly streaming bubbles billowing into a creamy bone white head that persisted for several minutes.
It has an attractive scent of dried pine needles and toast that makes me hoppy.
The Wild Hare has a smooth, caramely taste followed by perky hops, banana peel and cedar sap (not that I go around sucking on tree branches).
Shiner is releasing Wild Hare just in time for the Super Bowl. If you are a fan of Shiner’s other beers or normally drink one of the big domestic beers, pick up a six-pack of Wild Hare to kick it up a notch at your Super Bowl party.
What is it about tequila that says party? Is it the earthy aroma and complex taste? Is it the fiery burn in the back of your throat that reminds you that you are teetering on the razors edge that separates euphoria from delirium? Or is it the reputation for its mythical ability to dissolve all worldly worries and forge bonds of brotherhood among those who drink it together?
Judging by the arms thrown around shoulders, broad grins and belly laughs ricocheting around the patio of Jack Allen’s Kitchen during the Second Annual Tequila Bash, I’d say Jack Allen tapped into tequila’s ability to bend strangers into friends.
“I could have done an event with beer, or with vodka. But I chose tequila to go after the guys who are willing to spend $200 a person to go to a fund raising event,” says Jack Gilmore, chef and proprietor, Jack Allen’s Kitchen.
Gilmore has been an ardent supporter of the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation for eight years. When he opened Jack Allen’s Kitchen, he made it standard operating procedure to give back to community and made the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation the primary beneficiary. This is one of the charities Gilmore knows that really works. He relishes the moments when he sees previously wheel-chair bound people who are able to walk again.
Gilmore is a regular supporter of the Foundation’s annual gala and raises money throughout the year by donating $1 for every order of Carl Miller’s Layered Chunky Queso sold at the restaurant. In 2011, the restaurant was able to donate more than $9,000 and presented a check for more than $3,600 to foundation executive director, Mike Haynes, and president, Doug English, at the Tequila bash for the past quarter’s sales.
The first Tequila Bash raised more than $15,000 and this year’s event is expected to net around $18,000. Between the queso sales, the gala auction and the Tequila Bash, Jack Allen’s Kitchen raises about $40,000 to $50,000 a year for the Foundation.
Proceeds will be used to advance the foundations mission of curing “spinal cord paralysis through funding research, advanced recovery and community outreach.” With the funding, the foundation will be able to continue to offer recovery programs that use therapies and equipment for spinal recovery.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen has a serious bent on featuring fresh Texas ingredients straight on its menu. Gilmore gathered like-minded chef’s to pair locally-sourced dishes with locally owned tequila for the Bash. “All of the tequila distillers are locally owned except Don Julio, and they are five of the finest tequilas out there,” he says. Beyond a local focus, there weren’t many rules for the food and tequila pairing: “Make it great is the only directive.”
It was obvious that the chef’s adopted the same easy-going attitude of the bash, relishing the tail-gate-like atmosphere. The food selections were scrumptious bite-sized nibbles and completely unpretentious.
Albert Benitez, chef at Cover 3, served Black and Blue Crostinis, made with rare beef tenderloin slices, blue cheese and onion marmalade served on toasted bread slices. The substantial, yet bite-sized nibble is a mainstay on the restaurant’s party menu and paired well with the cocktail from Dulce Vida Organic Tequila.
Bryce Gilmore, chef at Barley Swine, prepared farm fresh deviled eggs with eggs from Milagro Farms. He topped them with nutty, crispy kale. The rich, creamy eggs and bitter greens were a good match with the cocktail made with Ambhar Tequila.
Marcelo Nascimento, award winning mixologist from Ambhar Tequila, prepared a classic concoction.
2 ounces of Ambhar Añejo
.5 ounces St. Germaine
Orange peel set ablaze
Chris TenEyck, sous chef at Jack Allen’s Kitchen, prepared grilled and braised pork ribs with Texas orange and sweet chili barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw. Ridiculously good. He selected this to pair well with the citrus flavors in the cocktail from Z Tequila.
Dana Wakley of Pepe Zevada’s Z Tequila mixed the Spaniard for the crowd. This Jack Allen’s Kitchen menu staple was a sweet accompaniment with the ribs.
1.5 ounces Z Tequila Añejo
.5 ounces Orange Sherry
Splash of fresh-squeezed Texas orange juice
Dash of agave nectar
Squeeze of lime
The man himself, Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, made ancho crusted crispy tacos filled with local lamb braised with garlic and Republic Tequila Anejo.
Brittany Meador and Chanze Hoover Republic Tequila served a Jack Allen’s staple, the refreshing Agave Cocktail.
2 ounce of Republic Tequila Reposado
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounce Agave nectar
Shaken over ice
Don Julio Tequila, the only non-locally owned tequila, brought a twist to the pairings. Roxanne Santos mixed the 70th Anniversary Anejo Blanco with Grand Marnier, orange juice and a squeeze of lime for a distinctive margarita. This Jalisco Highlands tequila is filtered after aging to remove the signature caramel coloring of añejo. The taste is silky smooth and smoky and was served with Beef Street Tacos by John Zamora to pair with the margaritas.
Rebecca Rather, pastry chef and cookbook author, made a variation of her Good Luck chocolate truffles with a ganache made with Patron XO — a heavenly dessert accompaniment.
Stephanie Vasquez prepared a simple dessert drink with Patrón XO shaken with ice. The silver tequila blended with coffee liquor was smooth, sweet and sexy.
Texas grown ingredients, Texas owned tequila and Texas-sized hospitality made for a warm, jovial fundraiser that never lost sight of the cause; Jack Gilmore is certainly onto something in using tequila to open wallets for a good cause. I’ll venture to bet they raise even more money for the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation next year.
I met her about a year ago. There she was, with geisha eyes, platinum hair, porcelain skin, wrapped in a vintage dress and stepping out of a vintage hearse to be engulfed by a crowd of the most prominent social media people in Texas. This fashionable vampiress was one of the winners of the 2011 Texas Social Media Awards. Social media is just one of her talents and writing is another.
Gabrielle is known for her vampire series ETERNAL VIGILANCE, so I was expecting that REVENGE might also be in the same genre. When I asked her what it’s about she described it as “Lord of the Rings meets Dante’s Inferno.” So the main character, this guy Marcus Glenfield, commits suicide and through some dark turns becomes the Demon of Regret. As if that’s not a bad enough day, he ends up in a fight between heaven and hell over the rights to govern purgatory. So it’s not really a children’s story? “Angles and demons, horror, strangled love and an epic quest,” says Gabrielle with a casual smile.
Gabrielle asked What Are You Drinking? to be one of the sponsors for her book release party. Having this blog involved with a horror book might seem like a stretch, but reportedly lots of authors appreciate a fine drink.
How do you celebrate the release of a book like that? With an Angles and Demons costume party — with great prices — at a relaxed bar, listening to the author and friends playing live music while nibbling on hors d’oeuvre provided by caterer HipHarpy. The bash is also sponsored by Lucid Absinthe, Dripping Springs Vodka and Lerin Wines, so wine and specialty drinks concocted just for the party will be offered for only two bucks. Add to that, the first 30 people get an additional $1 off any drink.
I was fortunate enough to provide input to the selection of the themed cocktails developed by the skilled bartenders at Dive Bar. Here’s what we came up with.
“Angel Tears” In a rocks glass, or a shot glass with one rock (depends on the price, I like the shot glass version as it need to be sipped and it’s a powerful punch)
Lucid Absinthe with splash of water
In the shot glass I do a 1/2 oz pour of each (so 2 oz. plus the splash of water). In the rocks glass I would do 3/4 oz of each.
Pour Sambuca into a martini glass, swirl to line the glass and dump it out
In a shaker with ice, 2 oz. Dripping Springs vodka (infused) and 1/2 oz simple syrup
Shake and strain into a martini glass
“Sink” 1/2 oz. Patron XO (coffee-infused) over a spoon
Garnish with coffee beans
“Heaven & Hell”
Chill martini glass with ice
In a shaker with ice pour 2 oz. Dripping Springs vodka, 1 oz. Pineapple, dash of agave, shake VIGORIOUSLY (so pineapple foams), pour into martini glass
“Sink” 1/2 oz of Chambord
Gabrielle will bring copies of the book and will sign autographs. REVENGE was co-written with poet Solomon Schneider and published by Barking Rain Press. This is the first book in the series and she is already mapping out the sequel. She got started writing as a kid, inspired by her poets and playwright grandparents. She became a full time writer six years ago and discovered it’s her greatest passion and can’t see herself doing anything else.
She gets her inspiration for her books from humanity. Gabrielle likes to analyze human nature and break it down. She looks at religion, and government and why we do the things we do. Through fictional characters she explores the philosophical ideas she has. I asked if she was a demon or angle? “A little of both,” with a wry smile.
Which will you be at the party? A demon or an angel?
Nothing represents the archetypal spirit of Texas better than a cowboy; rugged, hard-driven, dependable and connected with the land. Rodeo Austin has brought some of the nation’s best cowboys to town to compete for 75 years. Now for the second year they are gathering another group of daring adventurous rebels steadfastly working the land in harsh conditions; Texas winemakers. On Thursday, January 12, 2012, Rodeo Austin hosted the second annual Off the Vine wine and food tasting, mixing the attitude of the Texas cowboy with the harvest of the Texas winemaker.
The event was inspired by the strong tie between the wine industry and agriculture. The wine industry has grown significantly since its humble start in the 1970s and has really come on strong in the past decade. Jennifer Paladino, marketing coordinator for Rodeo Austin, describes the event as “a great way to help promote one of Texas’ finest agricultural assets. Also, we pride ourselves on providing unique events to the diverse community we live in and a wine event seemed like the perfect fit for Austin.”
The wine tasting event, along with other Rodeo Austin events, raises money for its scholarship fund. In 2011, Rodeo Austin awarded 46 students $442,000 in college scholarships, and a total of $1.9 million to the youth of Texas through scholarships and the Youth Auction. This year’s Off the Vine is expected to net several thousand dollars — a fat sack more than last year — through ticket sales and a silent auction.
Event vice chairman, Drew DeBerry, who is also the Texas Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, says, “Rodeo Austin is one of the top five economic drivers in Austin, contributing north of $68 million annually, drawing more than 300,000 visitors.” DeBerry is thrilled to be a part of generating revenue to provide educational opportunities for kids in Texas. He also sees Off the Vine as one more way that the Rodeo connects people with the agricultural sources of food and drink. Texas wine makers are passionate about taking their crop all the way from the field to the bottle in one of the harsher climates for growing grapes. It was clear that people at the event were really glad they go to the trouble to do it.
Rodeo Austin executive committee member Hap Feuerbacher says, they started Off the Vine “to reach people that the rodeo might not ordinarily reach.” He’s probably right. The event attracted an enthusiastic, eye-catching crowd of people wearing a mix of evening wear and cowboy hats who are really interested in wine.
The eager and engaged crowd enticed many of the participating wineries to come back again this year. The event featured 31 wineries, 24 of which were from Texas. It’s a unique event with iconic California wineries like Silver Oak and Caymus Vineyards standing shoulder-to-shoulder with small up-and-coming Texas wineries like William Chris Vineyards and Torre di Pietra. It was a great way to try new wines from small wineries that don’t have broad distribution, and take home a few bottles of the new discoveries.
Stand-out wines from small Texas wineries included:
Perissos Vineyard 2009 Tempranillo Blend This wine had luscious flavors of raspberry, and chocolate with a silky texture. It sells for $25 a bottle and can be found at the winery and at Specs. Proprietor, grower and winemaker, Seth Martin, started the winery in 2006 with the first bottling in 2007. They now produce 3,200 cases a year using 100 percent Texas grown grapes and practicing organic methods.
William Chris Vineyards 2011 Blanc du Bois Crisp, floral with a hint of honeysuckle, this wine would pair well with Texas BBQ on a hot summer day. Jack Gilmore selected it as one of the wines he will serve in the James Beard Award dinner in New York. Bottles sell for $28 online and at select restaurants in the Austin area. Winemaker, grower and owner William (Bill) Blackmon has been making wine for two years, but growing grapes since 1983. The winery makes about 1,800 cases with all Texas grapes and will make about 4,000 cases of the 2011 vintage.
Dotson-Cervantes 2010 Gotas de Oro
A blend of 61% Muscat Canelli and 39% Chardonnay, this wine had a smoky nose and flavors of lychee fruit and tangerine. Its big, smooth and slightly sweet; a perfect wine for desert. It goes for $28 a bottle at Austin Wine Merchant and Specs. Former NFL star, Alphonse Dotson, father of NFL star Santana Dotson, and his wife, Martha Cervantes, made about 1,000 cases of this wine in its second bottling. They made 800 cases of the 2009 vintage.
Sandstone Cellars 2009 VII
This wine is made of 100 percent Touriga, the primary grape in Port. It has bold flavors of blueberries, sassafras tea and black bark. It’s available at Specs on Brodie Lane for $30. Master Sommelier, Drew Hendricks, has selected Sandstone Cellars VII for his wine list at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston. Winemaker, Don Pullum, was the first person to plant grapes in Mason County, TX ten years ago. He now makes about 500 cases of wine with fruit grown in the county.
It wasn’t just wine. Eleven local restaurants served scrumptious nibbles including the award winning Steiner Ranch Steakhouse lobster mac and cheese. Dzintra Dzenis (pronounced like Sentra, but with a Z), owner of Plate by Dzintra and a contestant on Season 6 of Food Network Star, served Kobe beef sausage in blankets. Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen wowed the crowd with his farm to table magic.
Guests at the event were able to vote for their favorite red wines, white wines and restaurants. Fan favorites taking home the coveted trophy are: