Tag: rahr

Black, Light

My high school drama teacher loved Goethe (whose didn’t?) and so I avoided both of them. I didn’t know Young Werter was a beer snob. He got sick in law school and recovered, the story goes, with Schwarzbier. Tipsy and atrophied, he became a writer instead. Some bottles of Köstritzer have a picture of him on the label, pensive, opulently hatted, sudsy glass Photoshopped into his hand.

Follow his example: Drink black lager. I picked the best in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal.

Bock Story

Prohibition killed the bock. Bocks are rich, grainy, and worst of all, German. When breweries got running again 78 years ago today, they were making beer for drinkers used to Bevo, Vivo, and watery gin. The target market would not have appreciated a beer named after a goat.

A very few breweries resurrected it successfully. Shiner’s bock — brought to Texas by way of Cairo by a German brewer named Kosmos — is so popular today that Anheuser-Busch and Michelob are chasing its fame with their own versions. (Big fans of Rahr’s Bucking Bock, we were tricked into getting A-B’s ZiegenBock by a bartender bragging that it was “only available in Texas.” He didn’t tell us tourists that it’s brewed by Pabst.)

But for the most part, if a brewery made a bock — and most didn’t — they just poured a little caramel coloring in their regular amber ale. When craft breweries started bringing back forgotten styles like brown ales and wheat beers, they passed by the bock. Anchor’s Fritz Maytag vowed never to make one. “He said bocks were what breweries made when they cleaned off their floors once a year,” our friend and Anchor brewer Mark Carpenter said.

A hop grower friend of Fritz’s threw a bock party every spring in honor of his vines’ first sprouts. The beer he served was all imported — there were no American bocks worth drinking. When he died, Fritz brewed his first bock in his honor, and today it’s one of the best around.

Side note: That grower was John Segal. We met his son, John Segal, Jr., who took over the ranch, at Lagunitas a few weeks ago. He was wearing the family belt buckle: custom-made sterling silver emblazoned with two hop cones.

Big Beers, Small Barrels

Texan homebrewers don’t mess around. While we were there we heard about a homebrew made with bacon-infused Scotch, and tried a smoky barleywine that tasted like meat and leather and was so delicious we licked off our fingers when we accidentally spilled a drop. Fort Worth’s Cap and Hare homebrewing club is hosting the biggest homebrew competition in the country this month — Bluebonnet Brew-Off — and we’d be going, and entering, (and probably losing), if we didn’t have to run the Craft Brewers Conference gauntlet that same week.

Even Rahr shares the homebrew spirit. They host Cap and Hare meetings sometimes, and a homebrew contest called Iron Mash. We saw some little, 2- or 3-gallon barrels in their barrel room — just like the ones we have from Tuthilltown. One of Rahr’s brewers, Jason Lyon, told us the little barrels are good for experimenting because they have a better ratio of volume to surface area (less beer touching more wood), so they age beer faster than regular, 53-gallon barrels. Not everything’s bigger in Texas.

Rahr and Sons: The Really, Truly, Honestly Official Beer of Texas

North Texas was bleak from 40,000 feet up — dirt and space and trickling, blood-red rivers — but on the ground, the beer landscape seemed bleaker.

“We have Bud Lite, Coors Lite, Miller Lite, Corona Lite…”

Then we heard about local favorites Rahr and Sons Brewing, but we also heard about their roof. Last year, a freak storm dumped 12 inches of snow on the brewery, collapsed its roof, and shut them down for seven months. This is rough country for craft beer.
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