Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where Everybody Knows Your Name



"Can I draw you a beer, Norm ?"

"No, I know what they look like. Just pour me one." 
-- Hilary Norm Peterson


Like many of you, I grew up watching the show Cheers. From a young age I longed for a place where I could go, relax on a barstool, and enjoy a cold beer “where everybody knows your name”. There have been a few times in my adult life when I thought I was close to finally having my own “Cheers” but more often than not the place either closed up shop or couldn’t ever put together all the pieces.

I needed a bartender that was knowledgeable about beer and that could carry on a conversation. I needed regulars who were there to listen to me when I had a bad day. I needed a place that felt like my home away from home; a place free from judgement and negativity. We have enough of that in our daily lives. A local pub is that safe place where for the short time you are there all is right in the world.

There was the one time I had a really unique bar a block down the street from my house in the historic Ginocchio hotel. No driving! A great happy hour! Housed in a beautiful historic building! But sadly it went out of business and my dreams of living next to my neighborhood pub were crushed.

Or how about the little East Texas sports bar that had $1 craft beer every day of the week? I’ll never forget the time three of us kept going back day after day until we almost drank an entire keg of Pineapple Sculpin ourselves. We rode that one hard while it lasted but from day one we knew that place was too good to be true. We enjoyed the free chips and salsa and the free pool on Wednesdays but alas the party came to an end eventually.

Over the past few years I’ve seen several promising craft beer friendly businesses open their doors in my town. I’d try and try to force it to feel right. I’d visit time and time again even though the previous visit was a total letdown. Horrible beer selections, pathetic food and terrible service were just a few of the things I would endure in the hope I might finally find my own Cheers.

A few months ago a promising new restaurant opened with 24 beers on tap. I was lucky enough to take my family to the soft opening and our server Kayden did a great job of taking care of us. I ordered a Karbach (pre sellout) F.U.N. Series 014: Roll in the Hay and it wasn’t long before one of the owners, Justin, walked over and introduced himself. Behind the bar was the familiar face of Ronnie who I had known from a couple of those other places I tried to make work over the years.

During that first week I returned 4 more times and each time had wonderful food, amazing service and fresh craft beer. With each visit I’d see new craft beers on tap and got to know the staff a little more than I did before. Over the past few months I’ve watched Rotolo’s become the premiere hangout of craft beer lovers in our area. Managers Felisha and Jess make sure we are treated as friends instead of just a customer. Dee is always there to make sure we are behaving ourselves.

Justin is one of the few businessmen around who works tirelessly to make sure his restaurant is one of the best in the area and that his craft beer selection is second to none. Do yourself a favor and check out their beer list right now. Instead of having to drive to Dallas or Austin for hard to find beers for the first time I am able to just go down to my local pub.

It is nice to walk in and not only have an whole staff that is glad to see you but also see an entire bar full of guests you see regularly. The Brew Krewe reward program has created a sort of Band of Brothers. For those making their way to 500 points there is a mutual respect that bonds us together.


Every Sunday you can find our trivia team, Talionic Justice, enjoying some friendly competition. Getting paid to have fun and drink great craft beer is something I’ll never get tired of! Even when we lose, which isn’t often, we enjoy the hell out of trivia night at Rotolo’s.





I don’t have the room to list them all but each member of the staff and all of the regulars know who you are. Thank you for welcoming me every time I walk through those doors. Thank you for always finding the perfect beer and for always bringing a smile to my face. It is because of you I have finally found my local pub. The place where I can go and all is right in the world. No one judges me when I drink a Blue Owl Professor Black for the millionth time. I only get moderately teased for all the times I order a side pasta salad with no cheese. I am accepted and made to feel as I am part of their Rotolo’s family. It is my hope that every person reading this has found or does find their own “Cheers”. It is so much fun when you are on this craft beer journey with others. The communal aspect of drinking beer is so important. The laughs I have shared at that bar are worth much more than the beers I have bought. Yes the food is great. Yes the beers are excellent. At the end of the day what brings me back (way more often than my wife probably would prefer) are the people. Without those smiling faces it would be just another restaurant with a great beer selection and while that would be a good place to visit it still wouldn’t be my “Cheers”. Between the crew and the regulars I have to say for me it really has become a place “where everybody knows your name.”

Sláinte

Joel Patrick Heflin



Sunday, December 25, 2016

Beery Christmas from East Texas Brews: A few of our Favorite Christmas Brews


    
This time of year is for friends and family to get back together to catch up on life and to enjoy each others company.  It also happens to be the busiest time of the year for liquor/wine and bottle shops.  

Whether you are enjoying a glass of bubbly this Christmas or opening a special beer that was shipped to you from Uncle Joe in Connecticut, there is joy to be had by every one of us! 

So what exactly is a Christmas beer? Is it a beer full of pine tree extract and eggnog added to it?  Not exactly but it is typically a higher ABV festive beer that is a Belgium Style or a cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Basically whatever the three wiseman where bringing gifts of can be found in a Christmas beer!  Whether it's a IPA, a Imperial Stout, or a Strong Belgium, anything technically can be considered a Christmas beer for marketing purposes.  

Here is a list of a few of our Favorite Holiday beers to drink this time of year from Beeradvocate.com  


Sierra Nevada | Celebration Ale IPA














Shiner | Holiday Cheer














The Bruery | 9 Ladies Dancing
 















Great Raft Brewing | Awkward Uncle














St. Arnold Brewing | Christmas Ale















New Belgium Brewing | Accumulation 
















Rahr & Sons | Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
















Community | Snickerdoodle
















Prairie Artisan Ales | Christmas BOMB!















Mikkeller | Santa's Little Helper























Merry Christmas from all of us at East Texas Brews and have a Happy New Year!!!

       Cheers! -Joel, Jeff, Jonathan, and Allen



Thursday, November 24, 2016

13 Colorado Brews in Texas


The ski season is starting in Colorado but the weather in Texas still hasn't made up it's mind.

Texans are lucky enough to have a variety of Colorado born beers distributed at their local watering hole.

Even though Colorado may be a thousand miles away you can have a taste of it with the 13 Colorado breweries that are distributed to Texas.

To distribute in Texas is not the easiest task to accomplish because of the antiquated and archaic TABC laws. Due to the endless paperwork, and the $5-10k cost for application fees, it is impressive seeing a out of state brewery make it across the border.  

This is a list of independent Colorado craft breweries you can find in Texas. Some are regionally specific, such as DFW, but many of them are distributed across the entire state. 


1. Avery Brewing Company | Boulder, CO 
A photo posted by Avery Brewing Co. (@averybrewingco) on
     
     Avery Brewing was founded in 1993 by Adam Avery when the craft beer scene was just getting started. Due to capacity restraints, the brewery left 18 states in 2010-2011 but returned in 2015 when Avery expanded it's operations doubling the capacity and allowing their classic artisan style beers such as "The Reverend" to be distributed to Texas and many other states.


2. Backcountry Brewery | Frisco, CO 

A video posted by Backcountry Brewery (@backcountrybrew) on
      
         Backcountry opened operations in 1996 and branched out to Texas in August of 2015. The beers where so well received the owners looked into opening a satellite brewery/taproom in Texas. A former brewery that closed its door in Rowlette, Texas allowed Backcountry to take over operations and brew their beer. In January of 2016 Backcountry officially opened its door in Texas and became a satellite brewery.  

3. Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. | Edwards, CO
     
     Crazy Mountain Brewing's founder was a former brewer at Anchor Brewing in California before he returned to Vail Valley in Colorado to open his own brewery in 2010. Crazy Mountain ramped up production in 2012 and distributed to several different states along with Texas. If you like West Coast IPAs mixed with a Colorado style of rich maltiness, this is your beer.

***Update - Sadly Crazy Mountain is not currently distributed in Texas.

4. Epic Brewing Company- Denver, CO

     Epic Brewing is Utah's first brewery since prohibition to brew exclusively high ABV brews. After a larger demand for their award winning beers, they expanded operations to Denver in 2013 and distributing to Texas in 2014. For those that need soul cleansing, be on the look out for the Big Bad Baptist, the 12.7% Imperial Stout. 

5. Elevation Beer Company |  Pagosa Springs, CO
A photo posted by The Elevation Team (@elevationbeerco) on

      Elevation Beer Co. is an artisan microbrewery located in Poncha Springs, Colorado. Elevation teamed up with Favorite Brands in 2013 to distribute 750ml bottles to DFW, Houston, and Austin. Texas was Elevation's first out of state distribution and is known for award winning beer. A crowd favorite, the "Bourbon Stout Oil Man" is here to warm your spirits during this cold winter season.

6. Funkwerks | Ft. Collins CO 
A photo posted by Funkwerks (@funkwerks) on

      Distributed exclusively in the DFW area in 2015 with Andrews distribution and recently signed on with FLOOD distribution in 2016.  Many a Texan have mistaken Funkwerks to be "That Fort Worth Beer" because of the FW on the tap handle. Funkwerks is one of the premier Saison breweries in the nation and is a staple in Ft. Collins.
You can find limited Kegs and Bombers in DFW and Austin markets.  


7. Great Divide Brewing Company | Denver, CO


      Great Divide was born in 1993 in Denver when the craft beer scene did not exist as we know it today. Great Divide has won 17 GABF metals over the years and is rated one of the top breweries in America. Great Divide was originally brought to Texas through Ben E. Keith and you can request it at many bars in Texas.  You can find seasonals as well as their Expresso Oak Aged Yet in your local beer stores.


8. Left Hand Brewing | Longmont, CO

A photo posted by lefthandbrewing (@lefthandbrewing) on

      Left Hand Brewing is Colorado's 4th largest brewery and exploded on the craft beer scene with the Nitro Milk Stout. Known for their bold brews and creative artwork, Left Hand is well known and distributed in most states. Distributor Ben E. Keith originally brought Left Hand to Texas and 2016 marks a important year as they transition to a canning line.  

9. New Belgium Brewing | Ft. Collins, CO
A photo posted by New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgium) on

      When you think of Colorado beer many people think of New Belgium and Fat Tire.  The brewery was founded in 1991 after the founder came back to Ft. Collins from a trip to Belgium. Known for their creative culture and eco-friendly practices, New Belgium strives to be a model company that is dedicated to it's employees, environment, community, and craft beer fans. Today, New Belgium is the 4th largest American craft brewery and the largest Colorado craft brewery distributed to Texas.

 
10. Odell Brewing Co | Ft. Collins, CO


       It's not a coincidence that 3 of the 13 breweries are from Ft. Collins, CO which is also home to the Cache La Poudre River.  Known for it's excellent water quality, it was an easy decision for Doug Odell to move to the area from Seattle in 1989 and open up the brewery. Texas was a enormous undertaking for the brewery as they expanded operations in 2014. On a brewery tour they show their two storage coolers for distribution. Both of them are the same size, one is for Colorado and the other states/countries they distribute to, and the other is entirely for the state of Texas. 

11. Oskar Blues Brewery | Longmont, CO

      In 2012 Oskar Blues expanded operations to Brevard, NC and in 2016 they opened a brewery and taproom in Austin, TX. Following their success that started in a pub basement in 1999, the brewery has consistently raised the bar for other craft breweries by pioneering in canning (first for craft beers) and the Crowler. The owners have not forgotten their roots even though they are one of the largest craft breweries in America. Today you can go by and visit their original pub in Lyons, CO with 45 beers on tap.


12. Ska Brewing | Durango, CO

       Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 by two friends who had two similar interests- Good craft beer and Ska music. After much success with their award winning beer and they expanded operations to Texas in 2009 and signed on with Ben E. Keith distribution.  

13. Upslope Brewing Company | Boulder, CO

       Upslope Brewing was founded in 2008 and quickly rose to popularity. Along with many other Colorado breweries, they package their beers in aluminum cans to accommodate the active Colorado lifestyle. Upslope choose Texas as their first out of state distribution in 2013. You can find their beers in DFW, Houston, Austin, and East Texas markets.


* I left out the Macro Breweries and Corporate owned (ie. Coors, Blue Moon, and Breckenridge) that are easily distributed in most states. 



The Happy Chappy (Jeff)




Monday, November 14, 2016

Invading the Lone Star State: An Interview with Great Raft Co-Founder Lindsay Nations



Craft beer fans in East Texas are finally able to enjoy a fresh pint from Great Raft Brewing without leaving the Lone Star State. The Shreveport, Louisiana based craft brewery is making the leap over the state line after first making sure they took care of the growing demand in their home state. Reasonably Corrupt™ black lager, Southern Drawl™ pale lager and Commotion™ pale ale, Great Raft’s original, flagship beers, will be available on tap and in cans throughout the East Texas markets beginning today, November 14. In celebration of launch week the owners and sales team from Great Raft will host launch parties in Tyler, Longview and Marshall.

     Since 2012 Co-founders Andrew and Lindsay Nations have worked tirelessly to make Great Raft Brewing the nationally recognized brewery it is today. Chief brewer Harvey Kenney has supplied the brewery with a seemingly endless string of hit brews. Great Raft sold the first locally brewed beer in Shreveport on October 15, 2013 and on December 20th of that year they gave us the perfect Christmas gift by opening Shreveport’s first local brewery taproom to the public.

     Over the past few years Great Raft has continually impressed craft beer lovers across the country with their excellent seasonals and keeps fans coming back with special events at the taproom. Great Raft has shown no signs of slowing down as they recently launched their Belgian program. In 2015 Paste Magazine named Great Raft one of the “8 Best Breweries of 2015” and earlier this year Southern Living proclaimed Great Raft to be one of the “South’s Best Breweries.”


Lindsay was gracious enough to allow us to ask a few questions in anticipation of their Texas launch.



ETBREWS: What most excites you about distributing in Texas?

LINDSAY: We’re excited to have the opportunity to share our beer with more people. We hear from so many Texans who drive over to visit us at the tasting room, and they have been asking for Great Raft beer for years. It makes us happy to finally be able to send beer next door and hopefully turn more people onto craft beer in general.

ETBREWS: What stores/chains will you be focusing on distributing to?


LINDSAY: Initially, our distribution will target the shops already supporting craft. We won’t be able to fully saturate all target accounts from day one, but we’ll be working to fill in the gaps over time. Above all, the focus is on getting to accounts who support craft beer and keep fresh product on the shelf.

ETBREWS: We know R&K is distributing Great Raft in East Texas but do you have distributors lined up for other parts of the state?


LINDSAY: Not yet. We’re focused on East Texas for now, but hope that interest in our product grows, eventually spilling over into nearby markets like Dallas.

ETBREWS: Can we expect seasonal beers as well as your flagship beers during the early launch period?


LINDSAY: To start, only flagships will be available. We will be able to sell Dry-Hopped versions of flagships and other variants, but right now those three brands are the only to be approved by TABC. We’ll work on approval for the others over time.

ETBREWS: Should we expect to see your seasonal and small-batch beers available regularly in East Texas?


LINDSAY: We hope that in early 2017 we can introduce a few additional brands to the market.

ETBREWS: What does the East Texas beer market look like to you? Is there a lot of potential? Is it a market that will need more developing?


LINDSAY: We see a lot of potential in East Texas. It’s not too different from Shreveport – a similar percentage of the market is made up of craft beer sales. The South in general is the last frontier for craft beer. Education is key. We will continue to present approachable, but refined, beers to folks and hopefully over time, we’ll create new craft beer consumers.

ETBREWS: Do you have any ideas on ways to get more people to drink your beer/craft beer and get away from Big beer?


LINDSAY: Don’t be pretentious. We take what we do very seriously, but at the end of the day, you aren’t going to make a new craft consumer by acting like you know everything and throwing intense Double IPA or barrel-aged barleywine at them. Listen to the consumer. Understand what they like and know about beer. Present them with something that is similar to what they like, but made by a quality regional company. Help them understand the story of why this beer is important to you, and why they spend an extra dollar to buy craft. Because at the end of the day, even if someone loves Great Raft beer, it’s likely going to cost a little more than their go-to “big beer.” Net-net is be nice, make a high-quality and consistent product and listen.

ETBREWS: How hard has it been to get into the Texas market? What challenges have you faced from TABC?


LINDSAY: It was a time-consuming process. There are a lot of particular nuances that we didn’t get right on our first application. The turn-around time is a little long, but likely due to the high number of people interested in selling beer in Texas. Once we submitted the right info, in the right level of detail and got connected with the right people, we were in good shape.

ETBREWS: What benefits will the new centrifuge have in the quality of Great Raft beer? 


LINDSAY: The centrifuge, simply put, is the biggest investment in quality that we could make. As a young brewery in an ever-changing industry, it is critical that we do everything we can to produce the best beer we possibly can, consistently. We work tirelessly to ensure the quality of our beer, but there are many variables we can’t control. By putting our beer through the centrifuge, we reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the beer and vastly improve shelf life. As our beers begin to travel further from home, it’s important that the beer be durable for a life on the road. The centrifuge helps to ensure the quality you have come to expect from enjoying our beer on tap in the tasting room is the same on the shelf.

ETBREWS: How much did you have to ramp up production to meet the demands of distributing to Texas? How much longer before you outgrow your current brewhouse?


LINDSAY: We’ve been gradually adding capacity to account for growth in Louisiana, and also prepare ourselves for new out-of-state markets. It’s been a slow, but steady growth model for us. Our brewhouse is a 20 bbl, and we’ve in good shape with our output there. Our cellar capacity is currently around 8,000. In 2016 we expect to do between 6000-6500 bbls, so we have room to grow. Drink up, y’all.

ETBREWS: Were there any unforeseen challenges to expanding into these markets?


LINDSAY: Nothing unforeseen just yet. We are pretty well aware of the challenge of selling beer in a market that you don’t call home. The further away from home you get, the harder it is to be relevant. We’re lucky to be so close to East Texas geographically, but time will tell if we will be embraced as a “local” brand.

ETBREWS: Any future collaborations planned with an East Texas Brewery? (True Vine, Oil Horse, Athens Brewing, Cedar Creek, Big Thicket, Pecan Point, ETX Brewing, Tyler Brewing, or Fredonia Brewing)

LINDSAY: We have met folks from a few of those companies, but look forward to building relationships with our fellow craft brewers in the coming months.

ETBREWS: What does it mean to you, being a local Louisianian, to have Great Raft join the 3 other Louisiana breweries distributing to Texas?

LINDSAY: We’re extremely proud to bring a little bit of Louisiana to Texas. I think we’ll be joining some other awesome brands (from Louisiana and otherwise) who are selling in Texas, who have been laying the craft beer groundwork for years before us. We’re neighbors and are excited to be sharing our products with y’all.




The East Texas Brews team will be in attendance at several of the launch parties and we are looking forward to purchasing Great Raft at our local bars, restaurants and bottle shops. Make sure to request Great Raft at your local craft beer retailers. Our new favorite coffee shop, Silver Grizzly Espresso, is serving craft beer and is the first place in Texas to offer growler fills of Great Raft’s flagship brews. Spread the word about the launch parties and make sure you give a big Texas-sized welcome to Great Raft Brewing!


Tyler

11/17 - Razzoo's @ 7:00

11/18 - Old Chicago @ 7:00

11/19 - Jul's @ 6:00

11/19 - Rose City Draft House @ 7:00

Longview

11/17 - Rotolo's @ 6:30

11/19 - Bootlegger's @ 5:30

11/19 - Lone Star Icehouse @ 7:30

Marshall

11/18 - Charlie's Backyard @ 7:00

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Growler Fills Come to Longview, Texas

Silver Grizzly Espresso is the first place in Texas where you can get your growler filled with Oil Horse Brewing Company and Great Raft Brewing beer! They are also the only place to fill growlers of  True Vine Brewing Company brews so head over and grab some fresh beer to go!




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Brew of The Week! Giant Slayer by True Vine Brewing Company


Brewery | True Vine Brewing Company

Name | Giant Slayer
Style | Russian Imperial Stout
ABV | 8.5%
IBU | 55

Giant slayer is a winter seasonal that was first introduced by True Vine in Tyler last year just in time for a early Christmas present.  I was able to sit down at Rotolo's in Longview and try out this years batch.  

"Chocolate, dark cherry and roasted malt flavors from this smooth stout make it perfect for slaying giants and staying warm in the longest winter months." 

True Vines 4th beer to be canned and will be made in limited batches.  For this reason there will be a few kegs floating around (at the brewery) while most of the batch will be canned and shipped in 200 cases that you can purchase at your local grocery/beer store and craft beer restaurants in East Texas.   

The Imperial Stout was created in the 1800's by brewers that where trying to win over the Russian Czar.  The king of stouts, the Imperial style is known for its high alcohol by volumes (ABV) and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavors.

A stout should be enjoyed anywhere from 45-50 degrees and I recommend giving it time to let the ice melt off the can before popping the tab to allow the roasted flavors to be enjoyed more.

First smell is roasty and chocolatey with a hint of 
smokiness.  The body is full and has a appearance of a thick molasses like motor oil.  The flavor is surprisingly smooth for a Imperial Stout without the overally booziness notes of a typical Imperial.  I enjoyed the Giant Slayer and I highly recommend finding one to enjoy for yourself!

The Happy Chappy (Jeff)












Monday, October 24, 2016

From Cliffs To Craft beers: My Unbelievable Story

Monarch Pass, Colorado 2011
It was a cold brisk Friday evening in Colorado the night my life flashed before my eyes. I was on a frozen tundra two-lane road in the mountains headed back to Texas after a work assignment. Little did I know this near death experience of mine would form a inseparable bond with craft beer and the thrill of adventure.

It was March 4th, 2011 I was in a hurry to drive back to East Texas to attend my dad’s wedding that weekend and pack up my belongings to move to Colorado. The route from Grand Junction, CO to Longview, TX is 1,300 miles. Approximately 400 or so miles can be dangerous and shouldn't be taken lightly. I've been this way twice before so I knew what to expect. Many locals have warned me about the driving conditions even to the point of recommending that I take off my seat belt when going down a treacherous mountain pass. I've heard all the stories and shrugged it off as just an old folk tale.

Monarch pass is a popular spot for avid skiers in the area, not for rookie snow drivers like myself. Many people choose not to go this route because of the conditions of the road. It could be 40 degrees on the bottom and -10 degrees on top. I thought off all the warnings and decided to proceed anyways. After all, I had been this way already. This time was different. It was around 5:30 a.m. when I approached the summit of Monarch. The road gradually turned from a dry road to snowy and icy conditions. I assumed I was okay since I was following traffic in front of me. Usually it's wise to drive slower than the posted speed limit. I don't remember how fast or slow I was going, but obviously since I lost control, it was too fast. I was only a quarter of a mile from the top of the summit (11,120 ft) when out of nowhere... it happened.

I started to slide to the right, I panicked and made the horrible mistake of slamming on the breaks, the one thing that you never want to do on a mountain pass. As I started to turn even more, I realized that there weren't any guard rails, snow banks, or even any trees to slow me down. It was "straight off the edge". I clearly remember my white knuckle grip on the steering wheel and trying turn the vehicle the best that I could. I knew that if I went over sideways, it would cause the truck to flip and roll several times. Like something I've seen out of the movies, I went air borne over the edge only to be welcomed by a "runway" of snow. The truck dug in the snow and drifted for about 200 ft before coming to a stop.

I typically like being comfortable when driving long distances. Certainly a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops is comfortable, but not so much for this experience. I reached over the seat to find socks, waterproof work boots, and my insulated coveralls. I couldn't open the door because the snow was so deep that it was up to my windows. I rolled the window down to escape the disabled truck and climb back into the truck bed to put on my clothing. I grabbed my wallet, proof of insurance, and cell phone and headed out of the window to start my self-rescue.

The truck couldn't be seen from the road, local’s going home from skiing that day wouldn't be able to see me. This was a big problem since it was nearing night fall. Somehow I had to be a man and get to the top. I knew I couldn't get to the top without sliding and creating an avalanche on top of my truck. My hands were already numb and bleeding from clawing in the snow to get a grip. After several minutes of attempting to reach my highest point I did what is foreign to me, I gave up. My hands where on fire and felt like a frozen fish. Not nearly defeated yet, I was at least high enough to wave at cars going by.


After a few minutes I heard breaks squeal to a stop. A vehicle had seen me waving and stopped 50 feet above me. A skinny hiking looking guy approached and asked if everyone was okay. I said "Yes, I'm the only one, do you have a rope? I can't get up." He returned a few moments later with a 10 foot rope and tossed it down to me. He crawled down as far as he could go, held onto the end of the rope and stretched his arm out for me climb up his body as if it was a rock wall. Although, I still was about 10 ft from him. I dug into the snow, found some rocks sticking out, and prayed that my dead fingers could grip enough for me to make my way up the vertical incline. Finally I was making progress and he reached his hand out and I maneuvered around him to the rope and climbed my way to the top. It was such a relief to be out of the misery that I was in.

Salida, CO
I met Scott officially when I was warming up in his vehicle. Scott was traveling with his wife and two friends. They lived just over the pass in Salida, CO where they both where part owners in a local pizza place and brewery called "Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub". I was so relieved to be alive I was indebted to them. I wasn't into craft beer at the time, but I made a vow that I would always stop by Salida and pay my respects, eat some pizza, chat with Scott and drink some craft beer.


Many times, I have stopped by over the years and each time Scott has remembered me and that fate of a night that merged our lives together. Our stories have changed some since that night and I started a new life in Colorado surrounded by some of the best craft beer in the entire world. Moonlight Pizza expanded into a brewpub and has become one of the must see restaurants spots in the Colorado high country. 


                                                         
Scott and his wife are on the right


Looking back at my time in Colorado, much of my crazy adventures can be attributed to knowing that I truly have lived life to the fullest and have never settled for the mundane life. I attribute that to my pursuit of craft beer and the never ending journey of discovering the next hand made craft beer from local people just like Scott.

 Putting a face with a beer not only what makes it personal, but it also allows you to see the other stories behind the pint. I'm thankful for Scott and his friends coming back from Vegas that night, if it wasn't for their generosity I don't know if id be around to discover the art of craft beer. So next time you are in Salida, stop in and say hello to my friends and get one of my favorite beers there- the Moonlite Cream Ale!

The Happy Chappy (Jeff)  
















"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing"

Thursday, October 13, 2016

15 Restaurants for Craft Beer in East Texas

Craft beer from a local restaurant is a joy that can be experienced by all! If you don’t know which restaurants to go to, we got you covered fam. 

But all restaurants have craft beer right? Wrong! There are restaurants in East Texas that are happy to serve the average beers that are often preferred by the distributors.  

Okay, so what constitutes as a craft beer restaurant?  It is a restaurant that is owned by people that care about both supporting smaller breweries and rewarding loyal customers with fresh rotating craft beer!

Try a craft beer at one of these area restaurants and enjoy a great meal to! (in no particular order)

1. Rotolo's | Longview and Tyler





With two different locations in East Texas, Rotolo's has committed to bringing the freshest craft beer by focusing on local breweries and the taps are constantly changing. The newest store in Longview has a rewards loyalty program known as "Brew Crewe".  You can go to Longviews Untapped page for an updated list of their beers.  Rotolo's in Tyler has Trivia night on Wed, and will often host events supporting local breweries.

2. BJ's Restaurants | Longview and Tyler



BJ's is a corporate restaurant that does several things very well.  Bringing craft beer to the masses!  Each state has its own brewery that produces the brews for their restaurants across the state.  BJ's hosts several beer pairing dinners through the year that we highly recommend going to.  They also recently won 2 awards at the Great American Brew Fest in Denver for their quality beers.  Oh and did we mention the delcious pizza? 

3. Rose City Draft House | Tyler 


 
Cleverly named, Rose City Draft House was a breath of fresh air when it came upon the Craft beer scene a few years ago.  With 57 craft beers on tap, this draft house is the craft beer oasis in the area.  From Trivia nights, pint nights, brewery nights, and BYOP (pizzas) nights, Rose City has set a golden standard for a place of community and fellowship among a pint of beer.  Cheers!

5. Fosters Place | Pickton



Fosters Place is a hidden gem that is truly worth seeing.  It is known for the BEST craft beer selection in the entire area!  Art Foster is able to get many beers that the East Texas markets cannot get by personally driving to Dallas himself and bringing back hard to find brews.  Fosters is also open on Sundays for those traveling back from DFW to East Texas.   It is well worth the detour if you don't mind seeing the country side!  You will rewarded with the best beer around and excellent pub style food.

6. Pint and Barrel Draft House | Palestine 






Located in the Old Palestine area, Pint and Barrel is a family run restaurant that was opened by an employee of Saint Arnold Brewing Co. The Pub has a great selection of craft beer to choose from and the food selection is priced just right.  When passing by Palestine, stop in for a pint and enjoy the friendly atmosphere!

7. Charlies Backyard Bar and Grill | Marshall


 




 Located in a historic 1850's New Orleans Style Plantation home, Charlie's is the pride of Marshall.  Known primarily as an outside concert venue, Charlie's is also known for their craft beer selection on tap.  All 10 taps are craft beer, with 8 being from Texas!  We are excited to celebrate with them in welcoming Great Raft Brewing into East Texas markets! Charlie's will be one of the first places to get the Shreveport brewery.

8. Juls | Tyler




The "Pride of Tyler" is commonly referred to as the place for "anyone at anytime".  Jul's opened in 2014 with the vision of a "multi dimensional" restaurant with fine and casual dining while providing an "Austin influenced" atmosphere for their customers.  It is the only restaurant that boasts only Texas craft breweries on tap (20).  They were the first restaurant to get True Vine on tap, and are often the first ones to get rare rotating beers.  Stop in and enjoy fine food, fresh beer and good folks!

9. Auntie Skinner's  | Jefferson



Along the banks of the Caddo Lake you can find the old port town of Jefferson which is home to some of the most historical buildings in Texas.  Auntie Skinner's was opened in 1983 in the old international building that was built in 1866.  The owners have kept the building true to it's character and  carry some of the better craft beers in the area long before it was trendy to do so.  Auntie Skinners is a staple in East Texas, and if you haven't been before you may want to visit Jefferson during Mardi Gras. As the cajuns say, "LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER!" 

10. Maklemores Ale House | Nacogdoches 







Located deep in the heart of the "Piney Woods", Maklemore's was opened in 2014 to offer a relaxing hangout spot for patrons of all ages seeking the newest artisan craft ale.  The extensive craft beer selection and bottle cooler is enough to make any grown man weep.  You can find the list of the regular bottles on their Beer Menu List.  Stop by on Thur. or Sun for Pint night or even catch a few college kids playing guitar.  All around, Maklemore's is the place to go!

11. Stanleys BBQ | Tyler



Do you enjoy the smells of BBQ wafting through the air?  What about enjoying a Texas craft beer while watching a band play on a patio in the summer night?  Good beer and even better BBQ, Stanley's has been in East Texas staple since 1960 and has been serving up delicious pork and ribs. The owners have recently added a full stock bar with a wide variety of craft beers to go along with 70 different whiskeys to warm you up in the winter months.  Come out to Stanley's, order the famous "Mother Clucker" and wash it down with a good 'ol fashioned Texas Craft Beer!

12. Duke's Burgers & Sports Co. | Canton






Van Zandt County might be considered the edge of the East Texas Pine Curtain, but it's also the crossroads for good burgers and craft beer.  Duke's is one of the last places to stop on I-20 before you drive into DFW and they certainly get our attention with their fantastic craft beer selection!  Dukes focuses on making burgers with fresh meat from local farmers and getting the latest craft brews.  This is the closest you can get to getting some of the harder to get craft beers without having to drive into DFW.  Stop by next time you need a pit stop and enjoy your fav. sporting event while drinking some craft!

13. Pecan Point Brewing  | Texarkana 






Pecan Point Gastropub & Brewery is the best of two worlds.  You can go in for a in-house made craft beer and also gaze at their menu of guest beers on tap as well.  From the house made infused spirits to the gastropub style food, this place certainly does mean it when they say, "Eat Local, Drink Local".  Stop by the next time your passing through Texarkana to view the beautiful historical building downtown and grab a Peachweizen brew to enjoy!

14. Lone Star Ice House | Longview







This honky tonk sports bar is connected to the Electric Cowboy dance hall, where you can catch a show or two of some authentic Texas Red Dirt music while enjoying a Texas craft beer.  There are 24 beers taps as well as several other craft beers in bottles. The next night out on the town, grab your cowboy hat and boots and stop in for a cold one! (ps: Frosted mugs are for light beer drinkers!)

15. Roast Social Kitchen | Tyler





After a successful venture with Stanley's BBQ, the owners wanted to open a "farm to table" restaurant that focuses on fresh local food, house made infused spirits (barrel aged), fine wines (on tap... a first in East Texas!), and of course, craft beer! From the fresh pizza to the good folks behind the counter, you don't want miss out on this experience. It truly is a "social kitchen" with delectable pizza and even better beer!

 -The Honorable Mentions- 
Longview |  Bootlegger GrillLil Thai HouseFuzzy's Taco
Tyler | Old Chicago'sTorchy'sTwisted RootRepublic Icehouse
Nacogdoches | The Liberty Bell  Greenville | Ashen Rose
Marshall | OS2Pazzeria  Jefferson | McGarity's Saloon





The Happy Chappy (Jeff)

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing"