Texas Beer

Welcome to Helles: Kudos to Robb Walsh for his very informative and entertaining article on the many aspects of the fascinating Texas beer scene ["We Want Beer," by Robb Walsh, October 16]. Walsh celebrates the social, cultural bonds of beer that bring people together, exposes the dark side of the political and legislative issues, and illuminates the entrepreneurial nature of the Texas craft brewing industry as it continues to survive and grow. In addition, his well-chosen list of top ten Texas beers is a solid, stylistically diverse collection of fine Texas ales and lagers.

My only quibble with Walsh's superlative article is his identification of Shiner 99 and Saint Arnold Summer Pils as "Czech-style pilsners." The Shiner 99 bottle label clearly identifies it as a Munich-style Helles (and it tastes like one as well), a style very different than a Czech-style pilsner. Saint Arnold Summer Pils, despite its name, recently won its third silver medal at the annual Great American Beer Festival, competing in the "Munich-style Helles" category. As Walsh correctly notes, Austin's Live Oak Brewing Company does make a superb Czech-style pilsner, available only on draft. Prosit!

Craig Stichtenoth
Katy

He knows Beer-fu: Long ago and not very far away, I earned my bock belt in Beer-fu from the early local masters: Precious and Birdwell. As a veteran Med Center area barkeep, I've told parts of your beer story to many of the denizens that descend from all over this sector of the galaxy in search of high-end knowledge and beer from Rice, UTMB, Baylor, et al. Most are dumbfounded by Texas's bizarre library of liquor laws, and start a line of questions that leads to the tale you have so brilliantly illuminated. Cheers! Prost! Salud!

Rich Hornbuckle
Houston

An online reader weighs in:

Brew your own: The TABC only serves to limit my access to a diverse selection of good beer. I still do not understand how a six-pack costs about the same amount in Texas as anywhere in the country, yet I am supposedly paying less tax on the beer here. Where does the extra money go? There's a reason why homebrewing is so popular in Texas, even if microbrewed beer isn't. If you can boil water, you can homebrew, and you can tell the TABC to stop screwing with your beer.

Comment by Erik from houston

Online readers comment on Robb Walsh's sidebar, "Texas Wants Beer!" October 16:

Excellent and thorough article: I am constantly frustrated by the handcuffs placed on Texas brewers in the false name of the "public good." Anyone even remotely involved with beer or brewing is aware of the ridiculously restrictive laws and predatory TABC practices. Neither actually serves the public interest, but so few are aware of either to seek change. Hiding what really goes on behind the scenes is one of the Booze Brothers' greatest successes, and the key to their continued domination. Many Texans have no idea just how little freedom they have in the marketplace. Thank you for bringing these issues to the greater attention.

Comment by Doak Procter from Bellaire

Great article: I've been writing for a long time about the sad state our local brewery scene is in, especially considering the beer market that is Texas. The breweries Texas does have make some incredible beers and are well supported by the locals (as you did, just go to Saint Arnold's on any Saturday, and even in the summer heat with no a/c, it's packed). Lately, I've had the opportunity to visit breweries in California and Colorado and been able to pick up some special brews to bring them back here. Imagine if one could do that on any Saturday at Saint Arnold's.

Comment by Ted from Houston

Change the laws: Hey, Mr. Walsh, great article as usual. I have some serious job envy. I always enjoy supporting local businesses and craftsmen. The question I have is, how do we change the law? I think the vast majority of Texans would support changing the law to support small businesses, as this kind of transcends the old hippie-vs.-conservative schism. So, is there an organization we can all get behind to support changing the laws?

Comment by Nate the Snake from
Pearland

Fan of Texas beer: Long live The Ginger Man! I was there every single night during my last trip to Austin, and for a Northwestern beer geek it was fantastic. You folks down there have some excellent local talent — Saint Arnold's, Live Oak, Real Ale and Shiner, among others. I hope you can get the regulatory regime loosened up to let these brewers flourish. Shiner is great, but I'd love to see some other quality Texas brews up my way as well. Thanks for the hospitality.

Comment by Geoff from Seattle

Star Turn

Online readers comment on "Bad Motor Scooter," Nightfly, by Shea Serrano, October 9.

No hipsters here: Big Star Bar — this is not a hipster bar. This is a bar where you can avoid the douchey Boondocks-going, pound-of-blow-snorting asshats who frequent the Montrose bars.

Comment by not a hipster

Funny, that: The only hipster I saw there that night appeared to be the writer of this article.

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