Whiskey wars and brew news
The big news in the local craft brewing community last week was the groundbreaking at the new Live Oak Brewing facility on 22 wooded acres at 1615 Crozier Ln. near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. "I fell in love with this property the first time I saw it. Building a place like this has always been part of our long-term plan. After brewing against adversity all these years, just imagine what kind of beer we can make in a facility that's actually designed for it," said Live Oak co-founder Dr. Charles "Chip" McElroy, whose Ph.D. in biochemistry happens to come in handy as a brewer. The new plant will include a tasting room, a German-built brew house and millroom, a lab, a full-service canning line, storage, and distribution areas with a capacity for 50,000 barrels, plus room for expansion in the likelihood of future growth. Outdoors, there will be a comfortable beer garden in a stand of oak trees where Dr. McElroy envisions the brewery hosting both local and traveling craft beer enthusiasts for tastings and all manner of special events. Instead of getting into the food service business by creating a brewpub like his former business partner Brian Peters of ABGB, McElroy says he plans to invite food trucks to set up at the brewery. He's shooting for an opening in late 2015.
The Waco whiskey war being waged by Balcones Distillery founder Chip Tate and the investors he brought in to finance the company's expansion has come to an end, according to a story in the Waco Tribune-Herald. The Balcones board of managers bought out Tate's 27% interest in the company, and he has signed a non-compete agreement that will keep him out of the distilling business until March of 2016. According to a press release from the brewery's public relations firm this week, Keith Bellinger is now president and COO and Jared Himstedt is the new distillery manager. They will be in charge of day-to-day operation at the distillery and will oversee the planned renovation and move into the 1923 Texas Fireproof Storage building in Waco's historic downtown business district. The $15 million expansion is designed to meet the already voracious demand for Balcones Distillery's award-winning products. We've got a call in to Chip Tate to discuss his future plans.
Austin food photographer Jody Horton's work is everywhere you look this fall – Shiner beer billboards during ACL weekends, Texas Monthly covers in both October and December, plus very distinctive work on three recently released cookbook titles, including Neiman Marcus Cooks (Rizzoli), Central Market 20th Anniversary Cookbook (Texas Monthly Custom Publishing), and Brown Sugar Kitchen (Chronicle Books). Horton was also recently honored by Photo District News as a winner in the commercial photography category of Taste, their first-ever food photography contest. Kudos to him!
Pisit "Gene" Kobboon advises us he expects the newest outlet of his popular Thai Passion (13376 Research) in the Galleria Oaks shopping center to open on Monday, Dec. 15. And it looks as though the eagerly awaited South Austin outlet of Ramen Tatsu-Ya (1234 S. Lamar) is closer to becoming a reality; the TABC beer and wine application for the space has been filed.