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Bottle & Tap

Vote beer

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Vote beer

Every two years the Texas Legislature meets to battle it out over budgets, education, and designating 42 as the State Domino Game of Texas. In the between years, the entire House of Representatives has to run for office to have an opportunity to come back next year to reach another stalemate on the budget and education and perhaps determinedly declare the thumbs-up sign as the official State Sign That Everything Is Just Hunky Dory.

But the consumer group Open the Taps is focusing candidates' attention on what's really important: beer.

Open the Taps (see Bottle & Tap, August 10, 2011) has reached the next stage of their campaign to change Texas beer laws that restrict some brews from coming into the state and stifle the in-state beer industry.

The group has sent questionnaires to every House and Senate candidate they could find contact information for to get their position on issues of beer freedom.

The constantly updated site, with the results as filled out or declined questionnaires come in, is at

To date, no incumbent senators have returned the form, but a handful of challengers have come out for it, with one declining either because he is against Open the Taps' agenda or isn't taking them seriously as a voting block.

In the House races, quite a few challengers to Republican incumbents have said they are for putting Texas breweries on an equal footing with Texas wineries, who can sell their grape creations directly to consumers at the winery and to retailers. Texas breweries can only do one or the other depending on their license, which hampers their ability to grow.

Only a few incumbents have responded (two with declinations). An early responder, of course, was District 123 Representative Mike Villarreal who carried and doggedly promoted the brewpub bill last session.

Cerveza Fest winners

San Antonio's annual homebrew competition, Alamo City Cerveza Fest, crowned two top beers and brewers Saturday night at Blue Star Brewing Co.

Corey Martin won Best of Show from among more than 500 entries from across the state with his creation Darkside Mild. Best of Show was chosen by a panel of judges tasting the first place winners in each of more than 20 categories. Cindy Oberlin won best of show in ciders and meads with her White Rabbit.

Funkiest of Show honors went to Mark Schoppe of Austin for Lichtenhaimer, a sort of tart Berliner Weize meets smokey Bamberg Rauchbier. The award recognizes a beer that may defy strict style guidelines used for judging, but still stands out as a great quaff. Freetail Brewing Co. will later recreate the beer with the winning homebrewer as a pro-am entry to the Great American Beer Festival.

Party Northwest?

Home Brew Party, which has been serving Northeast San Antonio brewing enthusiasts for the last few years, is on the hunt for a second location. They're looking at Northwest San Antonio to serve that fast-growing population.

Travis E. Poling is beer writer for the Current and is co-author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can hear him March 8 at The Friendly Spot Ice House leading the monthly Beerducation series.

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