Camerata Brings Beer/Wine Hybrid Drink to Houston

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Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
Pictured is the Equilibrista, along with the bottles in which the as yet unnamed concoction is served.
There isn't a name for it, David Keck, head wine guy at Camerata, tells me. At least not yet.

Beer produced by spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast is a lambic. Wine with quite a bit of carbon dioxide caused by fermentation is sparkling. This wine/beer hybrid is a bit new to have a name, perhaps. The different varieties, produced by Italian brewer Birra de Borgo, have names like Caos and Equilibrista, but unlike Champagne, saison beer, hefeweizen or rosé, the product itself doesn't have a name. It's too innovative, too new.

"It's really like a rosé sparkling wine mixed with a saison beer," Keck says by way of explanation. "It has that earthy, spicy quality of a saison. I think they're not for everyone, though. They've got a certain flavor profile that's different from what people are expecting."

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Want a Pint While Shopping for Groceries on Kirby? Welcome to Kirbside Bar

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Kirbside Bar was packed during the entire launch party.
A new bar has opened in the Kirby neighborhood, and it's inside a grocery store. On Friday, January 3, Whole Foods on Kirby celebrated the grand opening of the Kirbside Bar, and now you have a place to sit down and grab a drink while out shopping for groceries.

Kirbside Bar is similar to the one inside the Montrose Whole Foods, but Kirbside -- Whole Foods' 95th beer and wine bar -- appears to be larger, has more chairs and tables and is located at the front of the store rather than in the back.

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Warm Up With the Best Spots for Tea in Town

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Photo courtesy Serenitea
Ditch those high-calorie coffee drinks and booze for some healthy tea in the new year.
Though winter officially began a while back, from now until February, the weather is just going to keep getting colder. There's a hard freeze in the forecast for Thursday night, and since the week isn't quite over, I don't recommend you warm yourself with a few too many hot toddies just yet. The solution: Tea.

If you're not a regular tea-drinker, you may not be aware that Houston has a wonderful selection of teahouses and tea purveyors, from the fancy British style (finger sandwiches included) to the hippie-dippy (complete with vegan pastries) and everything in between.

So next time you're feeling chilly, head to one of these eight places for a cup of something warm and soothing and, as always, calorie-free!

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Brewmasters' Panel Gives Inside Look Into Houston's Colorful Craft Brew Scene

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

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Photo by Carla Soriano
From left; Dave Fougeron, president of Southern Star Brewing; Rassul Zarinfar, founder of Buffalo Brewing Co.; Brian Royo, head brewer and co-founder at No Label Brewing; Brock Wagner, founder of Saint Arnold Brewing Company; Jake Schiffer, president of Leprechaun Cider Company.

"With wine you've got a very narrow palette of colors to work, with but beer can be anything from Monet to Van Gogh to Salvador Dali to Pollock. We can do incredible things, paint with so many different colors" proclaimed Rassul Zarinfar, founder of Buffalo Brewing Co.

"There's no 's' is in St. Arnold," shouted Brock Wagner playfully.

"Recently we threw out a batch because the guys forgot to add the yeast," No Label's Brian Royo recounts, laughing.

These are just a couple of the sound bites that came out at the Brewmaster Panel held at Whole Foods Sugarland recently, a special Houston Beer Week event that's now in its third year. This year's panel was led by Ryan Lewis, Whole Foods Houston's first cicerone, and was made up of some of the crème de la crème of Houston's craft brewing scene. The panel participants began by introducing themselves and their brewery's philosophy.

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Craft Brews, Music and Education: Houston Beer Week Is Here, and Here's the Scoop

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Photos by Carla Soriano
Houston, you have a Beer Week that launches on November 9.

If you're a beer lover in Houston, you're in luck. Saturday, November 9, marks the kickoff of Houston Beer Week -- a "holiday" that "encourages bars, restaurants, retail establishments, distributors and breweries to create unique craft beer-related events throughout the Houston metro [area]," according to the event's Web site. Best of all? We the people get to benefit from all these happenings, hopping around (no pun intended) from bars to restaurants tasting and talking about Houston's local brews.

The only downfall to the Beer Week? Its eight days are so jam-packed with exciting events, it'll be difficult to choose where to go. Enter Eating...Our Words. We've created a guide organized by event type:

• Beer and Food Pairing Dinners
• Special Tappings
• Pint Nights
• Ongoing Events and Deals
• Top 5 Houston Beer Week Events

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Mixologist, Bartender and a Hop Shot

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

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Photos by John Kiely
The Bitter End

Sure, I got as vexed as anybody when I first heard the term mixologist a few years back. Why attach an academic title to a service that doesn't need one? To be a bartender -- at least a good one -- requires quick wits, charm, speed, people skills, drunk-people skills and the ability to measure on the fly, in the manner that French cooks forgo measuring cups.

It was not until reading Wayne Curtis's And a Bottle of Rum that I learned mixologist first appeared in print in 1856, at a time when hard-drinking Americans were fueled by raggedy rum, coarse whiskey, brandy and a series of flips, cobblers and shrubs.

Mixology is literally "the study of mixes," and it took a lot of study to come up with today's collection of cocktails. So, unless you exclusively drink sherry flips, hats off (even fedoras) to the decades of learned bartenders.


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Top 8 Seasonal Texas Brews to Get You in the Fall Spirit

Categories: Brew Blog

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Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
There's a great variety of fall beer out there, so go get you some!
Many small brewing companies love any excuse to come out with a special beer to stir up excitement among fans. The idea is that if it's available for only a short period of time each year people will want it that much more. In my case, it totally works.

Every year I look forward to fall beers because: A. It's the perfect time to switch over from refreshing summer brews to something with a little more body, and B. PUMPKIN. If ever there were a perfect pairing, I'm convinced it's hoppy wheat and pumpkin.

It's still a little early in the season for some fall beers to make their debut (I'm counting down the days until October 15, Saint Arnold), but there are some pretty stellar Oktoberfests and lagers available already.

And the best part? You don't even need to look past our bountiful home state to find some great bottles (or cans). We've got some of the best made right here in Texas, baby.

Note: The following beers were all found at either The Hay Merchant, Spec's or D&Q Mini Mart. Except for Saint Arnold Pumpkinator, which, for the time being, is found only in my dreams.

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Rudyard's Partners With Shmaltz for September Beer Dinner

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Photo from voiceplaces
Rudyard's has decided to pair its food with some chosen beer.
Just before the month of September leaves us, Rudyard's British Pub is hosting its monthly beer dinner with a special brewery located outside of Texas.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. is an American craft-brewing company and founded "Jewish celebration craft beer," the He'Brew Beer. Recently, Shmaltz opened a New York brewing facility, and has been ranked as the 85th best brewer in the world on Ratebeer.com's 2013 list of the "Top 100 Brewers in the World."

On September 26, 40 guests will enjoy five He'Brew beers, selected by Shmaltz's Zak Davis, paired with a five-course dinner from Rudyard's chef, Joe Apa. The menu is still being created, but John Dunivan, Rudyard's general manager, says it will be quasi-Kosher: no shellfish, but there will be meat and cheese.

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Celebrate Oktoberfest With This Beer & Cheese Soup

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Photo by tavallai
In case you've been living under a rock, we have some amazing news for y'all. As of this past Saturday, Oktoberfest has begun.

The 16 day festival -- held in Munich, Germany, but celebrated everywhere -- is the world's largest fair. It was first held in 1810, when all of Munich was invited to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

Celebrate we will! And what better way to honor Bavarian culture than with great beer and even greater cheese? For your Oktoberfest delight, we're sharing a recipe for rich, velvety Beer & Cheese Soup.

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Beer and Cheese Pairing Class at the "Brewniversity" of Central Market

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Attending a class at the Central Market Cooking School has been on my "To Do" list since I moved to Texas. Seven years later, I finally made good on this promise by attending a beer and cheese pairing class, one of a series of events comprising Central Market's "Brewniversity" festival. I won't say, however, that I crossed this item off the list completely, because I so enjoyed the class that I can't imagine not attending another one in the near future.

Readers of this blog know that cocktails are more my spirits beat. Despite being married to a homebrewer, I know little about beer, and my palate for them is fairly unsophisticated. "This is too hoppy," is probably the most nuanced critique I've uttered about a beer.

Lately, however, I've started to enjoy beer more and even notice small differences between various IPAs, stouts, and lagers, so I welcomed the opportunity for a little more education. And since fromage and I are already very intimately acquainted, a beer and cheese class sounded perfect.

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