Tag: Beer

The Wurst Festival in Texas

It was the best of times, it was the wurst of times at this year’s 52nd annual Wurstfest, a celebration of all things German.

A group of friends joins in with the rest of the crowd by holding their cups in the air to make a toast while singing along to the traditional “Ein Prosit” song. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

A group of friends joins in with the rest of the crowd by holding their cups in the air to make a toast while singing along to the traditional “Ein Prosit” song. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

By: Morgan Bridges, Erin Griffin, Erin MacInerney, Jamie Pross

(Click to listen to the Chardon Polka Band perform live in the Stelzenplatz Biergarten at Wurstfest)

(Click to watch a first-person view of the festival)

NEW BRAUNFELS- Sprechen sie fun? Hint: say yes!

Don’t worry, you needn’t speak German to enjoy the revelry of Wurstfest, the 10-day salute to sausage.

But if you really want to delve into the culture that makes up this Oktoberfest- inspired event, knowing a few phrases will help you to fit in among the lederhosen clad festival-goers.

The small town of New Braunfels, Texas welcomes over 100,000 visitors to the festival each November.

Wurstfest Lingo-FinalThe smell of kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), strudel, schnitzel, and other dishes you may have a hard time pronouncing, waft throughout the tents of the festival grounds.

For people like Sammi Guerrero, Wurstfest is an annual family tradition.

“I have been going every year since I was born,” says Guerrero. “My whole family goes at least three days out of the ten days it is held each year.”

Guerrero’s 21-year streak (or 22 if you count the time she was still in her mother’s belly) is nothing compared to her father, Roland, who has been going every year since the early 1970’s.

Roland’s father, Larry Guerrero, has been joining the family for as long as he can remember. Larry may use a walker but the minute Grammy Award-winning polka artist Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra start playing, Guerrero can’t help but get up and dance.

“Everyone loves my grandpa and when they see him dancing, they can’t help but join,” says Sammi Guerrero. “I love getting to come with him each year and watch him make people smile.”

One of the Guerrero’s favorite parts of the festival is sharing a pitcher of German lager. Roland recounts when a pitcher of beer was a dollar compared to the now almost 30 dollar pitchers being sold.

While grandpa dances to the polka music, the rest of the family heads to the biergarten, part of the newly renovated Stelzenplatz hall.

With more than 30 craft beers from all over the nation and a few specialty German beers, Wurstfest is known for drinking.

Guests make it a point to collect as many plastic beer pitchers as they can down, and that crashing sound you just heard? It was a pyramid of pitchers stacked up falling to the ground, a common sight among the beer hall.

Despite the vast alcohol consumption, Wurstfest Associations members make sure that the fest is centered around good family fun.

Another important part of the festival are the traditional German clothes, lederhosen worn by men and dirndl’s worn by women.

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Click here to learn more about the history of Wurstfest

 

“A lot of people want to be dressed up for the event,” says Paula Kater, owner of the Kuckuck’s Nest in Fredericksburg, Texas. “Every year, sales pick up and people want to get more and more into it. Even the younger generations want to dress up.”

Kater emphasizes that the outfits she dresses her customers in are not costumes, but authentic clothing of her heritage.

“Every one is an original straight from Germany,” says Kater.

Kater was impressed to find such a large German influence in the Texas Hill Country when she arrived here from Ludwigshafen, Germany 15 years ago.

She travels all over the nation providing outfits for people attending Okterberfest events but says Wurstfest has always been her favorite.

“Wurstfest is one of the biggest,” says Kater. “It is the elite of all of them, even the ones up north.”

Lederhosen & Dirndl-Final

 

(A supplementary video from Wurstfest. How to sing one of the favorite songs, Ein Prosit!)

 

 

Beer Culture A-Brewin’ on Campus

Will Craven, a sophomore at the University of Texas, is a member of the Texas Brewing Society.

University of Texas sophomore Will Craven rises early on a drizzly Sunday morning to initiate the fermentation of his specialty home-brewed India pale ale. Even before achieving the two-to-four week fermentation process, the beer solution takes nearly half a day to prepare.

For folks like James Sutton, drinking a run-of-the-mill beer is simply not satisfying enough.

Sutton, president and founder of Future Brewers Club at the University of Texas at Austin, is a beer enthusiast who eschews the likes of Bud Lite and talks excitedly about lagers the names of which few have probably ever heard of, much less tasted.

“Both my parents are craft beer drinkers,” Sutton said. “I grew up with my dad drinking Saint Arnold, and that just being in the fridge all the time and not thinking anything of it.”

Saint Arnold is a craft brewery in Houston, just one of many that Sutton frequents on a regular basis. Many of the best craft breweries in the state are here in Austin, according to Sutton.

“We’re really lucky that we live in Austin and we live in 2015, because there’s a ton of craft beer everywhere,” Sutton said. “You can find good stuff anywhere. Try anything from Austin Beerworks, 512 or Real Ale.”

 

 

While brewing your own beer combines a bit of creativity and a bunch of complex chemistry, Sutton insists that the club is really just a vehicle to bring beer buffs together.

“You definitely don’t need any homebrew experience to come or to enjoy it,” Sutton said. “I, at least, try to stay away from the more technical side of beers. I just want people to come and learn some and not be overwhelmed.”

The crux of the club is simple, but Sutton himself knows the complexities of brewing and hopes to have a career in it someday.

“I’ve worked at a couple breweries in the past and it’s extremely rewarding to see a product out at a bar or a grocery store,” Sutton said. “You could see a bottle out on the floor at HEB and think, ‘Hey, I might have picked up that bottle at some point.’”

“This is what I want to do. I don’t know about the rest of my life, but after I graduate I definitely want to work in a brewery. It’s fun.”

Working at a craft brewery is not so much of an oddity anymore, either. According to the Washington Post, there are now over 4,500 of them in the United States, and sales from craft breweries constitute 14.3 percent of the $100 billion beer market.

Sutton, like many craft brewers, is a chemistry major, and attests to the importance that science plays in brewing.

“Brewing is a science,” Sutton said. “Brewing is an art. It’s a lot of complex chemistry that maybe we don’t understand. But a lot of it is understood and it’s helping everyone make better beer every day.”

But after some prodding, the process was revealed to be not so difficult.

“Really, there are only four ingredients: barley, water, yeast and hops,” Sutton said. “Boil the barley in the water, which breaks it down into simple sugars. Boil some hops in there for bitterness and aroma. Transfer it, cool it down. Add yeast, and it’s basically a chemical reaction in which simple sugars are converted into alcohol and CO2.”

 

 

Sutton’s club was started just last year, but the membership has already grown substantially.

“At orientation, they tell you all you need [to start a student organization] is three friends and 10 dollars,” Sutton said. “I was like, ‘Hey I totally have three friends.’ Twenty people showed up at the first meeting. It was hard to get it started, but rewarding.”

The members of the club have varying levels of interest in brewing their own beer, though seemingly none are as enthusiastic as Sutton.  He claims that you get out what you put into it.

“It’s kind of like any hobby,” Sutton said. “You can spend as little as you want and do as little as you want or you can spend as much as you want and do as much as you want. It’s not that hard if you want to do it. The hardest part is getting out and doing it.”

In the end, Sutton said, craft brewing is all about being the right mix.

“Brewing is 25 percent janitor, 25 percent chef, 25 percent chemist and 25 percent dude who drinks beer.”

Interested in brewing? Sutton tells us how.

 

Sutton, chemistry student and president of the University of Texas’ Future Brewers Club, shares some brewing basics and what his new student organization is all about (though that you could’ve guessed), all over a glass (or two) of his own home-brewed beer.

Tapped Out: The Explosion of Craft Beer in Austin

By: Jeffrey Kahn, Austin Powell, Joshua Fechter

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state.  The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state. The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)

 

         Everything is not bigger in Texas, this according to a study by the New Yorker showing the number of craft breweries in the country.  However, the Lone Star State does crack the top ten by coming in eight.  Thanks to legislation passed by the state legislature in June 2013, craft brewers, or microbreweries, now have easier access to distributing their product to a larger audience.  Craft breweries currently contribute $608 million to the states economy, however, that number is expected to $5.6 billion, according to a study by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.  Austin and its surrounding areas currently have 15 microbreweries.  Austin is also celebrating its fourth annual Austin Beer Week this week with many bars across the city holding events to recognize craft beers in Austin.

 

 

 

       Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que is one of Austin’s finest hybrid brewery-restaurants in town. Located off of Barton Springs in South Austin, Uncle Billy’s brings locals home-brewed craft beer. Michael Waters, head brewer, has been brewing professionally since 2009 and takes huge pride in brewing consistent, great craft beer. Waters believes Austin has a great craft beer community with a lot of growing left to do. Check out more on Waters, Uncle Billy’s, and craft beer in the videos embedded below.

 

 

Craft Beer Infographic