Wine Down at SXSW

Alex Andrawes chats up the crowd at Red Room

Alex Andrawes, owner of local wine bar and retail shop, hosted a series of “wine downs” in Austin during SXSW to relax between events. The events were co-hosted by wine social media guru, Rick Bakas, who is the founder and principal at Bakas Media. Bakas and Andrawes charmed the crowd of wine aficionados, writers and bloggers, while sommelier extraordinaire, Bill Elsey, poured wine.

Tasting great wine is one thing, but the wine downs also offered a chance at personalized bottles with your own label. You can get your personalized bottle by tweeting a photo with the hash tag #personalwine and have their photo immediately printed on the bottle label. Its a pretty cool way to commemorate SXSW.

What are you drinking?

Social drinking at SXSW

Beer drinking is a splendid social pastime. Conversations flow freely when beer flows. But, what does social media have to do with beer?

Each March about 20,000 software and online designer types descend on Austin, TX for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW). This year two companies used social media to feed me beer.

The brewers at Samuel Adams paired with social media guru, Guy Kawasaki, to crowd source a special beer recipe. More than 5,000 shared their beer preferences in various categories including color, clarity, mouth feel, malt (sweetness), hops (bitterness) and yeast (finish/complex flavors) using an app on the Sam Adams Facebook page. The result is an American red ale called B’Austin that debuted at Kawasaki’s Girl + Guy party on March 10 at SXSW.

Bert Boyce, Sam Adams Brewer

“The root of why we make beer is because we want to make people happy. We had this idea to get lots of feedback about the kind of beer people want to drink,” explains brewer Bert Boyce. “We’ve never had a tool like a social media app to get tons of feedback before. The result is a balanced, full-bodied and very drinkable beer. No surprise that the input of 5,000 people would make for a balanced beer.”

Here’s the result of the crowd-sourced recipe:

  • Color: Two-row Harrington Metcalfe and Copeland along with big dollops of caramel give B’Austin a red, amber hue.
  • Clarity: The brew is course filtered leaving it with a nice haze from the malt proteins.
  • Body: It’s a smooth, easy-drinking, Selma Hayek bodied beer with mildly fruity hops and caramely malt.
  • Hops: This is no hop bomb, but a blend of German, Czech and American, as well as additional dry hopping, gives it a spicy zip that is clean on the palate.
  • Malt: Sam Adams used fat mounds of malt to get give the beer nice roasted toffee flavors, and unroasted barley for a smooth body and creamy head.
  • Yeast: It’s brewed with Sam Adams’ own ale yeast to enhance to citrus and roasty flavors and scents, and for a zippy finish.

Sam Adams doesn’t intend to introduce this into its regular line up of 26 beers. They only brewed 30 barrels of it to sell at the brewery in Boston and at select bars and events during SXSW in Austin. Boyce explains, “This beer is intended to be a conversation starter. We put the category out there and people gave us the recipe. We make the beer, then put the beer and the recipe out there for people to enjoy. It comes full circle, allowing home-brewers to use the recipe to make the beer themselves.”

I’ll drink to that.


Everyone likes to buy a buddy a beer. Sometimes you’re not in the same bar, so what do you do? Tweet-a-Beer! The hot-shot designers at Portland-based creative agency, tenfour, created a Twitter app that lets you send a friend a beer online. These guys may not be good to look at, but they sure as hell have great ideas. They rolled out Tweet a Beer at SXSW at a bash that was crammed to the gills with social drinkers.

The app uses Chirpify, an ecommerce platform that links with PayPal to transfer money through Twitter. With the secure platform, you can send $5 to your friends for a pint on you. Now that puts the social in social drinking. Well done.

What are you drinking?