Black Star Co-op Brewery Tour

Black Star Co-op is a fairly new brewery and pub in Austin, TX, and the first co-op brewery in town. Being a co-operative means that the business is owned by the people (or members, in the case of Black Star) and the employees. We decided to check them out by scheduling a brewery tour for Kegerator.com employees that were interested.

One of the first things I learned about Black Star when I arrived is that the employees at the bar don’t accept tips. I ordered my first beer (a Thirsty Goat Amber) and looked around for a tip jar with no luck. I asked the girl who took my order where I could leave a tip, and she informed me that the employees of Black Star all receive living wages. So no tip jars on the bar and no tip line on the receipt. Awesome.

    

A few of us in the group enjoyed a beer as we waited for everyone to arrive and the tour to begin. It’s definitely a nice setup for hanging out with friends, inside or out on the patio.

The tour began with us climbing a ladder to a loft in the brewery room where the grains and mill are stored. We tasted some of the grains on hand and got a quick overview of Black Star’s process. The next part of the tour included two mash tuns where the grains are steeped and 4 fermenters, which each can hold 20 half barrels of beer. The final stop was the cold room where the beer being served at the bar is stored and kept cool.

         

We learned that Black Star never makes the same beer twice; they’re constantly tweaking and improving the recipes, so while the beer might have the same name, there could be subtle changes in the taste.

After the tour, some of us hung around to drink some more, chat, play darts and try some food. The place got fairly crowded in the evening, so there was a bit of a line to order beer or food, but the atmosphere was very relaxed and enjoyable.

I look forward to going back soon and possibly becoming a member. Do you have any co-op breweries near you? Plug them in the comments!

Mini Keg Beers for the Mini Kegerator

EdgeStar Mini Kegerator

If you’re a draft beer lover like I am, there is something to be said for bottled beers. The beers they contain are delicious, but something about them being in a bottle just doesn’t taste as good as if they’re poured right from the tap. Unfortunately, most grocery and liquor stores force you to buy the bottles, and there is no way around the fact that you’ll have to drink bottled beer yet again.

That is where the 5 liter keg comes in. It was designed by draft lovers, just like you, to allow you to serve fresh draft beer in your home without having to buy a keg or build a home bar. We love these specialized kegs, but not every beer brand comes in this size. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of a few brands that you will be sure to love on draft. If you’ve had them, try them on draft; if you haven’t had them, then be sure to put them on your grocery list!

 

heineken mini kegHeineken Lager

As one of the most popular European beer brands, Heineken’s unmistakable look and label has given the beer increased notoriety over the last few decades. This clean-tasting lager is malty and has a nice bite to it, and the most distinctive part of this beer is its “skunky” smell, meaning that the hops really take effect in the aroma of the beer. A good mix of sweet and bitter, this Dutch beer goes down smooth.

ABV: 5%

 

newcastle mini kegNewcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale is heralded by critics, thanks to its sweet and nutty flavor that seems to please most beer drinkers. Originating from Britain, the brown ale has hints of caramel, a malty taste, and a creamy texture that is easy to drink. The light body also gives this beer a certain quenching aspect that enables you to drink several without getting too full.

ABV: 4.7%

 

Coors Light Mini KegCoors Light Lager

Coors Light, one of the major American brews enjoyed by millions, is a thirst-quenching beer with a light body for easy consumption. The crystal clear beer features notes of grains and high carbonation, which is great for those who don’t like heavy or dark beers. A crisp finish and clean taste, this beer can be enjoyed by people of different tastes and styles.

ABV: 4.2%

 

Paulaner Mini KegPaulaner Oktoberfest Marzen Amber

A local favorite in Germany, the Paulaner Oktoberfest was a seasonal beer that was so popular, the brewery decided to brew it year-round. Very malty and sweet, this beer is great for those who don’t like an aggressively bitter taste, and the medium body has hints of bread and butter. Because of the malty taste, this beer goes down smooth and quite easily and leaves a bit of an aftertaste to enjoy.

ABV: 6%

 

DAB Mini KegDAB Original Lager

The DAB lager is a German pilsner with a very earthy smell and rich golden color. A simple beer, the taste of bread, malt, and hops are the key notes taken away from the taste, while a slight citrusy flavor combines to provide a great aftertaste. The light body allows for it to quench your thirst with ease, while the crisp flavor will leave your taste buds satisfied.

ABV: 5%

 

Widmer Mini KegWidmer Hefeweizen

This popular American brew is a slight mix between a hefeweizen and a wheat beer, as the taste is wheaty with a mix of a citrus flavor like most wheat beers. The medium body ensures that it will be lighter than wheat beers, but the overall light taste is reminiscent of a hefeweizen. With a malty feel and distinct taste, this hefeweizen will be sure not to disappoint.

ABV: 4.9%

 

Bell's Oberon Mini KegBell’s Oberon Wheat Ale

A typical wheat beer, Bell’s Oberon has a full wheat taste with a hint of citrus for flavor, as well as a nice, hoppy taste that will mix together well. A sweet, floral aroma entices you to drink more, while the malty texture mixes in with the smells and tastes to create a wonderful drink. The sweet flavor and medium body is great for drinking in the summertime, which is the only time this beer is in stores.

ABV: 5.8%

 

Rogue Yellow Snow Mini KegRogue Yellow Snow IPA

In the traditional fashion of most IPAs, Rogue Yellow Snow features high notes of hops, but it also has a citrusy bite to it that gives the beer some flavor. Beer drinkers should note that, like most IPAs, the bitterness of the hops in this beer takes over as the main flavor. With a hazy feel and medium body, this beer will quench your thirst as well as fill you up, and the aftertaste has hints of pine and, of course, hop.

ABV: 6.2%

 

Bitburger Mini KegBitburger Premium Pilsner

This light pilsner hails from Germany, and – as most pilsners – is very golden in color, and features a grainy aroma. However, Bitburger is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to pilsners, as it has a more hoppy flavor than others thanks to its origin. This beer provides a good balance of spice and bitters with malt to give a good, crisp taste.

ABV: 4.8%

 

Spaten Mini KegSpaten Premium Lager

Originating in Germany, the Spaten Premium lager is an easy beer to drink, thanks to the smooth taste and light body. The grassy, earthy aroma gives a clue to the taste: an herbal taste with a small amount of hops. A malty texture is another feature of this beer, and the balanced flavors make for an overall enjoyable drinking experience.

ABV: 5.2%

 

Warsteiner Mini KegWarsteiner Premium Verum

As a German pilsner, the Warsteiner Premium has a straw-colored yellow look with a crisp, light taste. The mild hop flavorings do not tend to overshadow the rest of the beer, and a malty sweet flavor tends to carry through the initial taste. A very simplistic but refreshing beer, the carbonation level is not too high, which is great for being able to taste the subtle notes inside.

ABV: 4.8%

 

Feel free to leave a note in the comments if I missed any!

Top 5 Drinking Games

If you’re having a party and want to entertain your guests, and are willing to let your guests crash on your couch, then play some drinking games. As a recent college graduate I am well versed in the art of drinking games and would like to give you my list of the top 5 drinking games.

1. Beer Pong / Beirut

Beer Pong

This is a classic drinking game started in the 1960’s. In this game there are two teams of two on opposites of a long table. Each team will have 6 or 10 cups setup in a triangle formation, all one third filled with beer.  Each team takes turns throwing a ping pong ball at the other team’s cups. If a ball goes in the cup, the opposite team must drink the contents. A team wins when they hit the last cup of the opposite team.

Those are the basic rules, but you should always ask what the house rules are before starting a game. Many people have adjusted, changed or added to the rules over the years, so it’s always best to make sure you’re on the same page if you want to win.

2. Baseball

There are again two players on a team, but the teams take turns drinking and throwing in this game. There are four cups lined up spaced out from one each other, each one further from the throwing team than the previous. The first cup is ¼ full, the second ½ and so on until the fourth and final cup is full. The game consists of nine innings of three outs each. Each person on the batting team takes turns throwing a ping pong ball into the cups. When they hit the opposing team must drink everything in that cup. If the batting team misses that counts as out. You keep score with amount of runs. You only score a run when a “base runner” is advanced past the plate, just like baseball. After nine innings the team with the most runs wins.

3. Flip Cup

In this game two teams of players of equal size line up on the opposite side of a table or counter from each other. Each person starts with a cup face up with a small amount of beer in it. To start the game two players on opposite teams cheers with each other then drink the beer in their cup. Once they have finished what’s in their cup, they attempt to flip the cup from right  side up to upside down using one hand. The trick is to place the cup a little off the edge of the table, and then gently flip it. After the first person flips their cup to the right side, the next person on the team drinks what’s in their cup and then flips it. This continues until the last person on the team has flipped their cup. First team to flip all of their cups wins.

Flip Cup

4. Chandeliers

This is my personal favorite game. This game can be played either with quarters, smaller glasses and liquor or ping pong balls, larger cups, and beer/liquor. All of the people playing gather around in a circle with a cup of what they’re drinking in front of them. Each of the contestants also adds an amount of their liquor to a pitcher in the center. All of the players then go around bouncing a quarter, or ping pong ball. If the quarter goes into someone else’s cup, that person has to drink; if the quarter goes into their own cup, they get to pick who drinks. If it goes into the center, the players race to finish their drink, and the loser must drink the contents of the pitcher in the center. Everyone is a winner.

5. Kings or King’s Cup

This game has a lot less action then the rest, but is still quite entertaining. To setup the game you layout a deck of cards, face down, in a circle with no gaps between the cards. Each person goes around and takes a card, and performs the rule that corresponds with that card. Every house has different rules for each card, so it’s best to just look up rules you would like to use. Some examples are, girls drink, guys drink, you drink, you pick someone to drink, and waterfall. The game is done when all the cards have been picked up.

 

This is just a short list of some of the games that can be played at a party. In all of these games lots of good beer is almost a requirement. Just remember to drink responsibly, have a DD, don’t drive, etc. and you’re sure to have a great time.

 

Our Top 10 Man Caves (Part 2)

The Final Countdown

Check out the first half of our Top 10 Man Caves list here.

5. NFL Network Presents…

Built for a competing family atmosphere, this football-themed man cave was built and furnished with the help of the NFL Network. As the family is torn between the Ravens and Redskins, the center couch is placed on a rotating platform, allowing you to view each game on the TV screens or projector, with service provided courtesy of the NFL Network.

Man Cave 5     Man Cave 5-2

[click the images for a larger view]

4. J-E-T-S!

If you’re a Pats fan, you might as well just get out now, because this next home bar is all about the Jets. Hand-carved, polished wood make up the bar, which is stocked to the brim with almost any alcohol of your choice. A big-screen TV with game consoles and a DVD player, as well as luxury leather couches, give this man cave a very “at-home” feel.

Man Cave 4    Man Cave 4-2

3. Holy Batcave, Batman!

Come into the Down Under while we visit this man cave based in Australia. The owner took the “cave” part seriously – as the walls are made out of a faux rock siding – because of his affinity for the Batman series. A full projection screen lines the front wall, with two rows of movie theatre-style seating for guests. Come on though, who wouldn’t love a Batcave like this?

Man Cave 3     Man Cave 3-2

2. The Lap of Luxury

This man cave will take your breath away as you gaze over the luxury that you can enjoy. Featuring three TVs to watch several games at once, and luxury seating that can fit a large group of people, this would be a perfect place to host a game. It also helps that a built-in wine cellar is right nearby, allowing you to take anything from your collection to enjoy.

Man Cave 2     Man Cave 2-2

1. Hittin’ the Club

Our number one man cave boasts the nightclub theme, with ambient lighting to set the mood and luxury couches to relax comfortably. The fully stocked bar lights up while tables and chairs adorn the bar and around the entire room. As a roomy and relaxing atmosphere, it’s no wonder that you may feel the urge to dance.

Man Cave 1     Man Cave 1-2

Are there any amazing man caves out there that we missed? Let us know in the comments which is your favorite or share pictures of your own man cave. You may even inspire us to update the list.

Our Top 10 Man Caves (Part 1)

The Manliest of Cavernous Spaces: The Man Cave

When you start to build your private space, you do the research. You decide whether to hire the contractors or do it yourself. You know that this shade of blue is for Mets fans, while this shade is for the Yankees. You seem to know everything you’re doing to make your man cave the best.

But how will it match up?

We here at Kegerator.com decided to compile a list of the Top 10 Man Caves to give you the inspiration you need. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and to do that, you’ll have to see the best. So here is what your competition looks like:

10. What’ll You Have?

This garage man cave comes complete with a fully-stocked pub, as well as a few parked Harleys that are ready to ride at a moment’s notice. The aluminum siding adds a bit of a manly edge to the cave, and the pub comes personalized with the owner’s name – Boutte’s – right on the front.

Man Cave 10     Man Cave 10-2

[click the images for a larger view]

9. Right on Cue

As the laws of basic man caves go, this one follows it to the letter. Everything a guy wants and needs is in this brightly-colored cave: a pool table, two TVs connected to watch the games, and even a stocked wet bar with a fridge, stove, and microwave to make your manly meals.

Man Cave 9     Man Cave 9-2

8. It’s Tee Time!

Perfect for the golf lover, this man cave captures the essence of the country club while indoors. A few nice touches are the green turf added along the floor, as well as a hand-carved, man-made bench. The golf simulator is the main component here, allowing you to work on your swing without having to travel to the links.

Man Cave 8     Man Cave 8-2

7. Erin Go Braugh

The Irish eyes are smiling down on this Ireland-themed man cave. Complete with an astounding collection of Irish memorabilia and family records, the owner of this man cave went all out to make himself feel at home. A built-in wet bar extension from the garage, a pool table, poker table, dart board, and luxury seating in front of the TV make this a great place if you’re feeling lucky.

Man Cave 7     Man Cave 7-2

6. The Man Sanctuary

This large space is decorated with the things a man really loves: a projection TV, great leather seating, a pool table, and a full-stocked bar waiting to be tended to. Of course, none of this is complete without the décor, and no décor is great unless it has the Jack Daniels name on it!

Man Cave 6     Man Cave 6-2

Click here to see our top 5 man caves

Local Brewery Wins Battle But Not War

There are countless things that make the city that houses our headquarters (Austin, Texas) great, one of them being the enthusiasm for cold drinks and the brands that create those delicious beers, wines, and liquors. Local brewery, Jester King, and its two co-plaintiff’s Authentic Beverage Company and Zax Restaurant & Bar, recently won a case against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) regarding a select few of its strict rules.

The ruling basically said that you can now call it like you see it – beer can now be called, “beer” and ale can now be referred to as “ale” (whereas it was not allowed before).  The conclusion also resulted in allowing craft breweries to let their fans know where they distribute their goods (AKA adding a “where to buy section” on their websites).

However, craft breweries are still not treated as wineries and cannot sell their product onsite under the Equal Protection Clause.

Though they didn’t win it all, we’re supportive of the craft brewers here in Austin and proudly store their bottles of beer or kegs in our beverage coolers and kegerators.

Cheers and happy holidays!

  

And The Winner Is…

Kegerator.com sponsored an employee beer brewing competition over the month of November, and the winner was recently announced. There were four participating teams:  Rainbow Ale, Brew Ha Ha’s, Holiday Five Pack, and Schlitz and Giggles.

All put up a good fight – but ultimately, the judges had to choose just one to be the winner. And how did they determine the best beer you ask?

We arranged for a panel of beer aficionados (the brew class instructor from Austin Homebrew and two unbiased company execs) to rank the brews. They came to an undisclosed location (AKA an upstairs conference room) for scoring each team’s batch based on the following four criteria:

  • Presentation
  • Aroma and head retention
  • Flavor
  • Overall perception

JB, our brew class instructor and actual beer expert, lead the tasting – giving Rick, our CEO, and Peter, one of our VPs, his insights throughout the process. Interestingly enough, the scores came out synonymously, which affirmed a true winner.  Phrases used to describe the victor included, “excellent, almost-commercial, and a true first place.”

The winner was Schlitz & Giggles’ Meadow Muffin, a medium-bodied brown ale with hints of chocolate and malt. Out of a possible 120 points, Meadow Muffin came in at a not-too-shabby 102.

 

Kegerator.com congratulated its first ever beer brewing competition winners with a trophy of a home brew keg and tickets to a local beer tasting event.

Debut Day! | Schlitz and Giggles

Today is a landmark day at the Schlitz & Giggles Brewery. Our new beer is making its debut on store shelves!

Meadow Muffin Brown Ale is a medium-bodied beer that has hints of chocolate and malt. Our secret ingredient adds that hint of spice, which gives a kick to the overall smooth flavor of the beer.

We decided on the name Meadow Muffin, because we wanted to give back. This brown ale is a tribute to the average American farmer who has gone through tough times. The American economic troubles have taken its toll on many Americans, but few have been hit harder than the farmer. So we have decided to donate 10% of all proceeds to the Certified Horticultural and Agricultural Farmer Fund (CHAFF) to help revive the fledging agricultural industry.

We are also rolling out each bottle with a specialized code on the label that could enter you into the drawing for a $1 million grand prize. You will see a QR code like the one below on each specially-marked bottle:

All you have to do is snap it and send it to WIN-BIG (946-244) for your chance to win!

We hope you have as much fun drinking our Meadow Muffin as we did making it and, as always, drink this Schlitz responsibly!

Final Day | Brew Ha Ha’s

The day has finally arrived… the judges will taste our beer today.  A couple members of our team did a taste test last night and gave Bee Caves Imperial Stout two thumbs up; let’s just hope the judges agree.  If not, well…at least our label looks amazing!!

Speaking of our team, the Brew Ha Ha’s FINALLY got a team picture this morning.  That’s Michael, Ashley, Kari and Stefanie.  Unfortunately, Blake was on vacation today so he’s missing from our photo.

Unique Piece | Schlitz and Giggles

Our Marketing campaign has hit America’s heartland! The following newspaper article was found on the Omaha World-Herald website (omaha.com):

Published Tuesday, November 30, 2011

Guerilla Marketing for Beer Draws Buzz

By Roem Niodar
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

In what some are calling the most bizarre marketing to ever be featured in Nebraska, a small farm about 20 miles outside Omaha is the site of a buzz-worthy billboard that asks more questions than it answers.

The Jones Farm & Ranch in neighboring Fremont, NE is currently playing host to the billboard planted seemingly overnight on a reserved plain of land. Featuring the text “What is Meadow Muffin?” the billboard is signed by Schlitz & Giggles, an up-and-coming American brewery that is fast becoming a household name.

Established in early 2011, this brewery’s fast-track to success can be traced back to its board of presidents. Known for their marketing prowess and willingness to take risks, these innovators are no doubt the ones behind this billboard, which should be no surprise to the business leaders who are familiar with the workings of the board.

With the brewery’s newest beer slated to make a December 9th launch, this is no doubt an attempt to create buzz for their highly-touted product. Industry leaders are speculating as to what this beer will be called, and this billboard gives a glimpse into what exactly this beer might be.

As a slang term, “meadow muffin” is used by farmers to describe animal waste left in the fields, most commonly by cows. While not terribly appealing to the ears, this question is further churning the rumor mill as to what the new Schlitz & Giggles beer flavor will be.

While many questions may still be in the air, most will not get them answered until December 9th. Asked about the billboard, Kevin Jones, owner of the Jones Farm & Ranch, said, “I may not like it on my field, but I will definitely be waiting to see what this new beer is going to be. I’ll be sure to pick up a six pack the day it comes out.”

Rainbow Ale Fermenting & Bottling

A lot has happened since the Rainbow Ale team has last checked in and the beer judging is rapidly approaching so we figured you were definitely due for a status check.  Our last post left off with our Honey Brown Rainbow Ale in the primary fermenter.  The beer stayed in the primary fermenter for about a week.  During this time it was important that we kept it in a cool non-drafty location and let the yeast go to work.  We opted to store it in a corner of my dining room.  The first 2 to 3 days the air lock that was on the top of the primary fermenting bucket was going crazy.

It was noticeably bubbling as our brew was releasing CO2 which had one of my dogs very curious about this new object in our house.

After the first few days the bubbling started getting less and less and then at about a week of it being in the primary fermenter it was time to move our ale to the secondary fermenter which was a glass carboy.  We found out from our friends at Austin Homebrew that using a two stage fermenting process allows for better clarity on our brew. To move the beer from the primary fermenting bucket to the carboy we used an auto siphon (which made it way easier than trying to siphon the old fashioned way because what I had in mind was more like siphoning gas from a car with plastic tubing and you adding suction without trying to get gas in your mouth).  The first step it to sterilize everything.  This is probably the longest part of the process, but is definitely key.  After I was done sterilizing, I put the empty carboy on the floor and made sure to gently place the primary fermenting bucket on the counter above the empty carboy.  When transporting the primary fermenting bucket, you want to make sure not to disturb the sediment that has accumulated on the bottom of the bucket.  This sediment is called trube.  The idea is to try to get as little of the trube as possible into the carboy while getting as much as the liquid (AKA beer) in the carboy.  A good tip is to move the primary fermenting bucket to the counter or whatever place you are going to use to transfer the beer the day before.  This will allow time for any sediment that you stirred up while moving it to settle before you begin the transfer.

I took the lid off the primary fermenting bucket, which can be tricky, but luckily there was a tool in our kit to help with this.

I then plunged the auto siphon about half-way in the bucket making sure not to hit the bottom so I don’t disturb the sediment.  I then gave the auto siphon 2-3 pumps and voila the beer was flowing from the primary fermenting bucket to the carboy!

         


Here the trube that was left in the primary fermenting bucket after the transfer:

Here is the full carboy after the transfer:

         

Once it was finished, I placed the air lock tightly on the top of the carboy and moved it back into my dining room for safe keeping and there it sat for about another week.  During this time the air lock bubbled less and less until finally it stopped bubbling all together.  At this point we knew it was time to transfer our Rainbow Honey Brown Ale from the carboy to the bottles.

Once again we moved the carboy to the counter making sure not to disturb the sediment or trube that had accumulated at the bottom.  This too can be done the day before the bottling process to ensure the least amount of sediment possible gets in the bottles.  At this point you are supposed to take a hydrometer reading to ensure your brew is ready to be bottled and the bottles won’t explode on you, however, with the excitement of bottling our brew, we completely forgot about this very important step until it was too late so we had to just cross our fingers and hop for the best.

The very important step that we didn’t forget was to sterilize everything.  We formed an assembly line as we sterilized the bottles.  Anthony took them out of the box and handed them to Scott who proceeded to dunk them in the sterilizing liquid in the bucket and then handed them to me, Kara, who placed them on my dishwasher rack to dry.

It is very important to have nothing touch anywhere the beer will touch after it has been sterilized so this required strategically place the bottles on the rack where they were balanced but nothing actually going inside them including the rack prongs.  This meant they were kind of just hanging on the rack.

While we were doing this, Michael heated up the priming sugar on the stove and transferred the beer from the carboy to the sterilized bottling bucket with the auto siphon making sure to get as little trube as possible during the transfer.  He then added the priming sugar mixture to the beer and slowly stirred it in by using figure 8 motions for 2 minutes.

By this time the bottles were drying out and we set the bottling bucket on the counter, hooked up the bottling hose to the spigot and we were ready to start bottling…or so we thought.  We turned on the spigot and noticed nothing was coming out in the hose and was instead leaking out of the sides of the spigot where it connects to the bucket.  Uh oh, it was time for us to think fast!!!  Thanks to the genious mind of Michael, we decided to syphon the beer from the bucket into the bottles instead of using the spigot.  You see, if we didn’t have the spigot on, the leak wasn’t that bad, it was only when the spigot was open that the leak became a gusher and we thought we were going to quickly sacrifice all of our scrumptious Rainbow Ale to my floor.

Though not ideal, we once again formed an assembly line and siphoned our beer into the bottles.  Anthony handed Michael the sterilized bottles.  Michael filled the bottles up.

Anthony handed me the full bottles.

I gave the filled up bottles to Scott who capped them.  To cap the bottles, we used a capping tool that came in our kit.  You place the cap on the bottle and then clamp down with the capping tool, give the bottle a quarter turn, and clamp down again with the capping tool again.

You then make sure the bottle has a circle dimple on the top, and if so, it is ready to be placed in the box for safe storage for another two weeks.

We bottled 48 beers but of course made sure that there was enough left over to give our brew a little taste tester.  At this point in the brewing process the beer will have the flavor of what it will taste like when it is complete, however, it will not yet be carbonated.  The carbonation occurs when the yeast eats the priming sugar which happens while in the bottle.  We ceremoniously gave a cheers and tasted the uncarbonated version of our brew and if we do say so ourselves…it’s delicious.

Hooray for Rainbow Ale the best honey brown ale around!!!!