Your globetrotting liquor reporter is penning this week’s column from a seedy hotel bar in Dallas, Texas.
Everything is bigger in Texas; the boots, the beers, and the bosoms. You will find two out of three of your humble narrator’s favourite things right there, so you can imagine how much fun I am having.
I can’t tell if it is the self-serve draft beer tap in the hotel lounge, or the busty barmaids bringing out the hot wings, but I am in my happy place!
Texas has a long and storied beer history, going back to 1884 when an ambitious young entrepreneur named Adolphus Busch founded the Lone Star Brewery, which could be considered the first Texas-sized megabrewery in San Antonio. Well… it was as mega as megabreweries way back in 1884 could be.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Adolphus Busch went on to found another brewery later, a wee cottage brewery called Anheuser-Busch. You might have heard of it – they make something a little something called Budweiser, also known as the King of Beers.
Interestingly, Adolphus Busch pioneered the art of pasteurizing beer as a preservation method right around 1900. Until that point, beer had a shelf life of less than a week, so it could not be transported long distances.
With the introduction of pasteurization to kill the nasty bacteria in the wooden beer barrels, it could now be kept fresh long enough to be shipped by rail all over the country. This was the beginning of a nationwide beer empire that has since conquered the world, and shows no sign of letting up.
As you can imagine, your nose-in-the-air beer snob of a liquor reporter didn’t spend much time drinking any Bud or Bud Light while in Texas.
However, Lone Star Beer is still considered the king of the hill in the Lone Star state, and outsells its competitors by a comfortable margin.
The brewery was shut down during the dark days of Prohibition from 1920-1933, but quickly reopened under new ownership at the end of the so-called Noble Experiment.
The Lone Star Brewery has changed hands several times over the years, as is common with the increasing consolidation in the beer industry. Today, Lone Star is owned by Pabst, makers of PBR, aka the preferred ironic brand of hipsters everywhere.
The beer itself comes from a recipe concocted in 1940 by a brewer who had apprenticed in Munich, and there have been only very minor changes since then.
Lone Star is brewed in the style of a Light American Lager, and is largely similar to a Labatt Blue. With a pale straw appearance and very little hop bitterness, Lone Star is a typical macrobrew.
Extensive use of lesser grains such as rice and cereals make this beer cheaper to produce than an all-barley brew, which helps Lone Star sell to the price-conscious guzzlers that your humble narrator refers to as the teeming millions.
With its thin and watery taste, this is a beer best consumed ice cold on a hot summer day, when you are pushing around a lawnmower or swinging a golf club on the back nine.
Since there is very little hop aroma, you won’t even lose much taste by drinking it straight from the can instead of in a glass. Mark this day on your calendar, gentle reader, as it is one of the few times that your intrepid liquor reporter will not insist on a beer being properly served in a pint glass, so the volatile esters and hop aromas can be intranasally enjoyed on the palate.
Lest my description lead you to believe that Texas is awash only in insipid macrobrews, please think again, gentle reader.
Much to the delight of your intrepid liquor reporter, the craft beer scene is alive and well in Texas, with most of the activity centered around Austin, also home of the famous SXSW music festival, and is widely considered to be the cultural capital of Texas. It is also the most liberal city in Texas, so you won’t see any Boss Hogg-styled tycoons with steer horns on their Cadillacs.
Now if I can just convince that busty barmaid who keeps bringing my hot wings to accept my room key as a tip, my visit to Texas will be a success!