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Haul Out the Sausage. Wurstfest Begins.


If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then everyone must be German during Wurstfest.

So, get out your lederhosen and your Tyrolean mountain climber’s hat, because the fun begins this evening. For 10 days, the party goes on with sausage and other snacks as well as polka bands and fun for the whole family. Oh, yeah, and a beer or two will be poured. You can count on that.

This is the 51st year of the festival, which has drawn hundreds of thousands to New Braunfels’ Landa Park through the years.

The kickoff is at 5 p.m. this evening with a brief ceremony that includes the biting of the first sausage and the tapping of the keg. Wunderbar.

On the menu will be Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), potato soup, bratwurst, wurst tacos, chicken-on-a-stick and sausage sampler plates. Desserts include strudel, of course, as well as funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

According to a history of the event from the planners’ website, it began as a one-day affair called Sausage Festival and was designed to showcase the work of the local sausage makers. It was such a hit that it quickly evolved into Wurst Week before being christened Wurstfest.

Soon, tens of thousands of pounds of sausage were being consumed, while the bands played on. The year 1968 brought the first celebrity musician:  Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk show put in appearance. Floren put in another appearance during the 25th anniversary celebration.

This year’s music lineup includes the famous Jimmy Sturr Orchestra as well as Alex Meixner, die Schlauberger, Master Yodeler Kerry Christensen and The Squeezebox. Die Bayrische 7 (The Bavarian 7), an all-girl group, will be traveling from Munich to perform.

Other events in town during Wurstfest include the Wurst Tour de Gruene, Wurstfest Regatta at Canyon Lake, the Wurstfest 10K Walk and the Wurstfest Skat Tournament at Landa Haus. A Veterans Day ceremony is also planned for Nov. 11, the closing day.

Admission at the gate is $8 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. Call (800) 221-4369 for information or click here.

 

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Cabbage-Beer Soup


Cabbage-Beer Soup

When I was in Prague more than 15 years ago, I had a soup made of cabbage and beer that has haunted me ever since. Of course, it helped that there was plenty of country-style sausage in it to add to the flavor.

Several times I’ve attempted to recreate its rustic beauty. Most of the time I used pilsner, which originated in the Czech Republic, with cabbage in various forms, including sauerkraut.

I thought of that soup recently when a friend gave me a ham bone with plenty of meat on it. So, I used what I had on hand in a pantry to whip up the simplest version I’ve made yet. It wasn’t  quite what I had all those years ago, but it was perhaps the closest version I’ve made yet.

I really was limited with what I had on hand, which did not include the onion I thought I had picked up at the market. Don’t you hate it when you think you have something like an onion in your pantry and can’t find it? Still, here is a simple yet flavorful soup that filled the house with the sweet smell of cooked cabbage and the wheat in the beer. Serve this with a thick slab of sourdough rye covered with a bit of butter.

Cabbage-Beer Soup

1 medium onion, minced (optional)
Olive oil (optional)
1 ham bone
3-4 bottles Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale or other pale ale, pilsner or IPA (see note)
1 head green cabbage, shredded
Cooked ham, diced, to taste
Water
Salt, to taste
Crushed red pepper or smoked paprika (optional)

Cabbage-Beer Soup

If using onion, soften it in a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a 1-gallon stockpan. When the onion is translucent,  add ham bone and beer and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add cabbage and ham. Fill the pot to the desired level with water. Bring just to a boil and lower immediately to a simmer. In 30 minutes, taste to see if the soup needs any salt. (I also added a dash of crushed red pepper to give it a slight kick of heat.) Let cook for another hour. Remove bone and remove any meat still stuck to it. Separate the meat from the fat, and return the meat to the soup. Serve.

Note: Boiling the beer will cook out the alcohol, but the flavor will still be strong. The addition of water tempers the beer flavor somewhat, so use as much or as little as you like.

Makes up to 1 gallon soup.

From John Griffin

 

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Beer of the Week: Heineken Lager Beer


The folks in England brew some mighty fine beer. Taste any in the lineups from the likes of St. Peter’s, Newcastle, Boddington’s, Sam Smith’s, Fuller’s (from the fine Griffin Brewery) and Bass for further reference. In fact, have two or three for extra proof. (Just remember to drive responsibly.)

Even the least of the brews would be great to tip back while watching the summer Olympics in London. But, guess what? In case you hadn’t heard, none of the fine brews of Britain has been chosen as the official beer of the Olympics. Instead, Heineken has.

You read that right. Heineken. The Dutch beer that was once a global sensation but has settled into being merely a step or two above the laughing stock stage. When was the last time you had a Heineken? When the other options were Bud Light Lime or Pabst Blue Ribbon probably.

I hadn’t had one in ages, so I decided it was time to give it another try. The nose was dreadful, something fetid that made the wheat seem on the verge of going bad, too. It poured a nice pale yellow with a decent foam. It tasted OK, nothing out of place, but nothing memorable. Even the finish seemed to fade before I even noticed.

Had I missed anything? I decided to check out what other beer lovers had to say. On BeerAdvocate.com, the average of the various ratings of the beer was a 69, or poor, with most commenting on that off-putting nose. One of the nicer comments was: “… a decidedly average beer. Sure there are plenty of better beers that I would rather drink. However, between this and a cheap American Lager – I would drink this any day. Ultimately it is better than Bud.”

More were along  the lines of the following: “Good news, everyone! The aroma is pure skunked maltiness and sulfur that reminds me of Corona. Wait a minute, that’s not good news at all …”

It certainly wasn’t good news to the British, where the issue has become somewhat political.

Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, offered his two pence worth in a statement quoted on Yahoo.com. “Beer is the UK’s national drink and the country has a strong and ancient tradition of brewing; by choosing a mass produced bland foreign lager, the committee has ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest cheque book. The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer, the opportunity has been lost. The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics.”

I can actually see the need for having Heineken at the summer games. A beer there is said to be priced at a little more than $11. At that price, you either have to offer variety or limit yourself to something that is the brewery equivalent of fast food, something that appeals to the lowest common denominator because of the complaints that will inevitably arise if it’s slightly exotic: “I don’t like dark beer.” “This beer is too bitter.” “That doesn’t look like any beer I know.” “Where’s the lime?”

I won’t be in London for the games. And I won’t be drinking Heineken either. Join me in raising a toast to the world’s finest athletes with one of the world’s finest beers, a real British treasure of your choice. I’ve had a hankering lately for a Fuller’s 1845, which is almost like a fruitcake-infused beer, or St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter, another heavy brew with a tremendous balance of sweet and bitter. Somehow watching other people exert themselves can tire me out and leave me needing great fortification. And that’s what a good beer is for.

 

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Two Bros. BBQ: Beer and Bands Coming Up


It’s undeniably summer: time to ice down the beer and head out for live music. Two Bros. BBQ Market has both on tap this month, with live music most Fridays and Saturdays and buckets of beer on special. Two Bros. BBQ is at 12656 West Avenue. Telephone for more information at 210-422-0222.

Live Music Schedule

Friday, July 6 – Tony Wilson
Saturday, July 7 – Randy Clark

Friday, July 13  - Tony Wilson
Saturday, July 14 – Texas Groove

Friday, July 20 – Sunset

Friday, July 27- Ben Moats
Saturday, July 28 - Texas Groove

 

 

 

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Beer of the Week: Stocking Stuffers


 

 

Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.

 

 

 

Beer makes a great stocking stuffer because a bottle or can will fit perfectly in most any sock you’ve got hanging on the mantel. But what should you get for the beer lovers on your list? Think about what you usually see these people drink and then upgrade from there.

If they like Bud or Corona, try a bottle or two of Harp’s from Ireland. Or, if it’s a dark beer they’re after, give them Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.

Here are five recommendations of beers that will please even the pickiest of drinkers:

Smithwick’s Superior Irish Ale is true example of color-coordinating a beer with the season. The label on this wonderful brew is green, while the ale itself is an attractive red. But it’s the smooth nature of this beer, with a light touch of caramel sweetness and malt, that people remember, making this a perennial favorite.

Go Texan and drink one of the local brews. Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye Ale manages a robust balancing act of orange and coriander flavors with wheat, malt and rye for a

If you know of a beer drinker who is also a coffee fanatic, then try the St. Peter’s Cream Stout. Not only is the bottle beautiful, making each one seem like a more extravagant present, but the flavors inside are bold and brilliant as well, with swirls of chocolate and coffee in your mouth.

For those who turn their nose up at beer, try a Lindemans Framboise Lambic. The art nouveau-style label on the bottle, the festive red foil over the cap and the amazing raspberry aroma will lead them to think that this is not a beer at all. But the beauty of beer is how many styles there are, so that there really is a brew for every taste.

Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer is perfect for anyone on your list dealing with celiac. This gluten-free brew is also lower in carbohydrates than other beers, but the real draw here is the twin draw that it tastes good and it tastes like beer.

And if still don’t trust your judgment, a Lion and Rose gift card will let the beer lovers in your life explore on their own.

 

 

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Freetail Brewing Co. to Release Annual Stout, La Muerta, in Time for Día de los Muertos


La Muerta returns to Freetail Brewing Co.

Freetail Brewing Co., 405 N. Loop 1604 W., will release its annual imperial stout, La Muerta, soon. The draft will appear on Día de los Muertos, Nov. 2, while the the bottle release (dubbed Día de La Muerta) will be Nov. 5.

The annual bottle release of La Muerta has become popular among beer lovers, as it attracts long lines wanting one of the limited 22-ounce bottles.

“We constantly receive questions about La Muerta’s return, and Día de La Muerta has become a much-anticipated celebration,” said Freetail founder and CEO Scott Metzger.  “In just a few years it has transformed into an event where fans get here hours before we open and hang out on the patio making new friends. It’s a really fun atmosphere that we don’t see much in Texas, but is thankfully becoming more common.”

The Nov. 1 release of La Muerta will be draft only at the brewpub with no growler fills allowed, but the 22 oz. bottles will be available at 11:30 a.m. on the 5th.  Bottles will be priced at $11 each with a three-bottle-per-person limit.  Freetail will also tap a number of rare beers, including the 2010 La Muerta and the debut of Pickly RealTail.

“We have increased production each year, yet every year it has sold out faster than ever – both on draft and in bottles,” added Metzger.  “This year’s edition is the largest bottling run we’ve ever undertaken, all hand bottled by our brewers who work tirelessly to make these kinds of events possible.”

For more information, call 210-395-4974 or click here.

 

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Beer of the Week: St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter


St. Peter's Old-Style Porter

Editors’ note: We’re inaugurating a new feature, Beer of the Week, which is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we’ll introduce you to a new brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out. 

St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

Porter may be a winter warmer, but once you get lost in an air-conditioned oasis from the heat, you’ll welcome this robust, complex beauty from Great Britain.

The packaging is prime, a green 500 milliliter in a shape that takes you back to an earlier era, perhaps not as far back as the brewery site’s history, as recounted on the label, but it is definitely not modern. It seems the the buildings go back to the time of Henry VIII while the well from which the water used is said to be sourced is even older.

None of that matters once you get the first whiff of the dark beer’s bold aromas that are both woodsy and filled with cocoa powder. The St. Peter’s website claims it is made from a mixture of “a mature old ale with a younger light beer,”  but that offers no picture of the great range of flavors to be had, from fruit to coffee, before leading to a seductive vanilla finish. It also has a great mouthfeel that is neither too sticky heavy, which you might think given its almost impenetrable darkness, nor too watery.

This is a beer that bartender Kelly Vinton of the Lion & Rose at 700 E. Sonterra Blvd. likes to recommend to beer lovers looking for something definitely different. And by beer lovers, she isn’t referring to the Corona set. This is not a beer to be chugged. It’s to be sipped and shared with friends (remember, that bottle is 500 milliliters).

Try this porter with seafood, a steak or even dessert. Try it and you’ll want to try the rest of the St. Peter’s lineup, which we will be introducing you to in the coming weeks. At the Lion & Rose, the pint plus-sized bottle is priced at $10.

 

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The Lion & Rose Caters to Customers’ Requests


Limerick Fries, battered green beans, are new on the menu at the Lion & Rose.

Belgian mussels simmered in a white wine sauce with crusty garlic bread on the side. A Greek salad with a healthy handful of feta cheese crumbles and black olives sprinkled on top. A Portsmouth Po’boy loaded with breaded clam strips and a zippy rémoulade sauce. An open-faced turkey sandwich topped with mashed potatoes and gravy, for those who can’t wait for Thanksgiving to roll around again. Cauliflower baked in Guinness Stout and bubbling cheese. And last but certainly not least, Créme Brûlée Cheesecake on a shortbread crust with a caramelized sugar shell and fresh strawberries.

Are you hungry yet?

That’s what the folks at the Lion & Rose are hoping. The local chain, with four San Antonio pubs and one in Austin, has recently introduced a wealth of new menu items to keep its regular customers happy while attracting new people into the doors.

Revamping a menu is nothing new in the restaurant business. But at the Lion & Rose, the new menu items were the direct result of management listening to its customers.

The King's Bread Pudding is made with dried cranberries and a vanilla brandy sauce.

Some people asked for more steaks on the menu. So, now there’s an 8-ounce Duke’s Sirloin and a 12-ounce Yorktown Strip, both of which are Angus beef.

Others wanted seafood. That lead to Parmesan-crusted Tilapia and pan-seared tilapia topped with langostino lobster and a delicate sauce made with butter and white wine.

A call for more vegetarian items was also heard. As a result, diners can sample the portobello burger with melted provolone and a basil aïoli on top. Begger’s Pouches are pasta pockets filled with pear and a blend of four cheeses: Grana Padano, ricotta, Tallegio and Robiola while caramelized onions and mushrooms finish off that plate in style.

The kitchen staff didn’t stop there. They took one of the most sacred items in any pub, the fish and chips, and gave it a makeover. Atlantic white fish is still used, but the hand-breaded fillets are crispier than ever and more British in style, says Katie Thompson, director of marketing and special events for the growing chain, which founder Allen Tharp created more than six years ago.

“We really gave people what they were asking for,” she says. “We take everybody to heart.”

A pint or some wine with those bangers and mash?

The kitchen staff does plenty of research to ensure the dishes are just right. “We definitely do a lot of tasting,” says Thompson. “That’s because we really invest in the food.”

Perhaps that’s why the Lion & Rose has grown to four San Antonio locations in its relatively short history, which other pub attempts here have come and gone. A fifth store at the Rim is in the dream stage, which means it is likely to be a couple of years away.

Of course, it has helped that the Lion & Rose features a stout beer selection, both in the bottle and on tap. Old British favorites, such as Newcastle and Boddington’s, can be found alongside Young’s Chocolate Stout, while the Irish are represented with Harp’s, Smithwick’s and, of course, Guinness.

Plus, its many TVs are geared to soccer from around the world.”Sports is a big, big part of it,” Thompson says of the chain’s success. “And soccer is definitely getting a lot bigger” in terms of popularity.

The new fish and chips plate with bubble and squeak on the side.

“When the new team comes, soccer is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she says, referring to the San Antonio Scorpions, the professional soccer team that will kick off next year. As you might have guessed, the Lion & Rose is one of the team’s proud sponsors.

That’s not all the restaurants sponsor, however. They back an indoor soccer team, an outdoor soccer team, a softball team and a flag football team among their local sponsorships.

But the Lion & Rose isn’t just a place to get a pint and watch a game. “People can bring their kids here,” Thompson says. “We’re trying to show America what a pub is.”

To the Brits, that was a “public house, where everyone can go, young and old, and everyone’s welcome,” she adds.

That’s what the Lion & Rose strives to be. As important as food and ambiance are to diners, service has to equally strong. If the staff or the kitchen somehow falter, owner Allen Tharp wants to hear about it. That’s why he lists his email, atharp@thelionandrose.com, on comment cards.

“That way we can follow up,” Thompson says. “We want to communicate with our guests. … We want them happy.”

For locations of the Lion and Rose, click here.

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Beer Dinner Tuesday at Brasserie Pavil


Brasserie Pavil will host a beer dinner featuring the Beers of the World, with featured guest Travis Poling, author of the book “Beers Across Texas.”

The evening begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday and there will be a five-course meal and a reception with passed appetizers.

Enjoy these drinks:  Sunner Kolsh,  Koln (Cologne) Germany; Filnsburger Dunkel Schleswig-Holstein, Germany;  Southern Star Bomb Shell Blonde, American; Triple Karmeliet, Belgium; Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale, Texas;  Southern Star Buried Hatchet.

A beer-friendly Texas  meal will include: Medjool Date with foie gras mousse, duck pastrami and a port reduction; Curry Butternut Squash Soup with a goat cheese and crab dumpling and chipotle oil; Mediterranean full-on Sardine Tempura and a jicama, cilantro salad; Roasted Quail Cordon Blue with Manchego cheese and prosciutto, herbed red quinoa and a brown butter mustard. Also, Almond and Portabello- crusted Veal, Pale Ale-ginger emulsion and a white bean ragout. Dessert is Kaffir Lime Cheese Cake with ginger sauce

Price is $49 per person.   For reservations, call (210) 479-5000 or visit www.brasseriepavil.com.  Brasserie Pavil is at 1818 N. Loop 1604 W.

Irish whiskey tasting at Kirby’s

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the monthly Scotch tasting at Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse takes on a whole new profile. The feature on the first Tuesday of the month, March 1, will be four Irish whiskies from Jameson Distillery.

The Not Scotch Tasting will include Jameson Standard, Jameson 12-Year, Jameson Gold and Jameson 18-Year. The Jameson ambassador will also be on hand to answer questions.

The tasting runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and is priced at $25 a person. Kirby’s is at 123 N. Loop 1604 E. For reservations, call 210-404-2221.

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Restaurant Notes: Fattboy Burgers & Dogs Opens


A Fattboy burger and fries

Fattboy Burgers & Dogs has opened at 2345 Vance Jackson Road.

As you can tell by the name, burgers and hot dogs are the game here. In fact, they’re the only items on the menu outside the fries and drinks.

But you can get a Slimburger (a quarter pound of beef) or a Fattburger (1/2 pound) with cheese, with bacon or which bacon and cheese.

All burgers come with your choice of mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, relish, raw onions, grilled jalapeños, grilled bell peppers, A1 or barbecue sauce.

The hot dogs are made by Hebrew National.

Frank Torrez is the Fattboy of the name and he started out with Tio Frankie’s Mexican Restaurant before opening the burger joint, where his slogan is “Shut up and eat.”

Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Visit www.fattboyburgers.com or call 210-377-3288 (FATT).

In other restaurant news, The Friendly Spot at 943 S. Alamo St. is now open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. The open-air Southtown joint, which serves up interior Mexican food, is now boasting a beer list with 150 different craft bottlings.

Movie nights are every Wednesday.

Call 210-224-2337 (BEER) or visit thefriendlyspot.com for information.

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