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.”


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  

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