Texas is known for two iconic beers — Lone Star, which first began brewing in San Antonio in 1884, and Shiner, which has been brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in the tiny town of Shiner (about halfway between San Antonio and Houston) since 1909. Lone Star was actually started by Adolphus Busch, of Budweiser fame, while Shiner was also founded by a German immigrant, Kosmos Spoetzl.
For those who have never tried it, Lone Star is a very traditional American lager, perfect if you are enjoying ribs at the Country Tavern, but otherwise fairly nondescript. Shiner’s flagship Bock, on the other hand, is excellent, with a smooth, malty flavor in the German tradition.
Also, unlike Lone Star, Shiner has recently expanded its offerings with a number of new styles, including a very good Wicked IPA, which is not too strong but with good hop flavor, and its Berliner Weisse, which is excellent — tasty with lemon flavorings.
Despite its long brewing history, Texas has been fairly slow to embrace the craft brewing movement, with a relatively small number of independent breweries for such a large state. Other than Lone Star and Shiner, Texas beers are hard to find outside the state. That is about to change, however, at least in our area, as one of the most popular craft breweries in Texas is about to make some of its beers available here on the Gulf Coast.
Austin’s Oasis Texas Brewing Co. has selected Gulf Distributing to handle the first expansion of its beers outside of Texas, beginning this month. “After shopping around … and then heading to Mobile and touring the market,” remarked Hamilton Stewart, co-founder of Oasis Texas Brewing, “we felt really comfortable putting our brand in their hands.”
Not surprisingly, Austin is the mecca for craft brewing in Texas, with numerous brewpubs and breweries in and around the state’s capital city. Oasis Texas Brewing Co., founded in 2014 and located outside the city on Lake Travis, has become a favorite of locals because of both its fine beers and its picturesque taproom.
I was recently able to sample some of the beers that will soon be available in our area, and was impressed. Its London Homesick Ale won the gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in the “Ordinary or Special Bitter” category, and for good reason. It was a smooth English ale with a definite bitter bite at the end.
The Luchesa is an unfiltered lager that is excellent, with much more heft than we are used to from most American lagers. It tasted European, like a Grolsch or a Heineken.
Finally, I sampled the Metamodern Session IPA. It, too, was very good — a light, easy-drinking IPA with a nice flavor, not over-the-top with hops, and at only 4.5 ABV not overpowering.
The Metamodern was probably my favorite, but I am partial to IPAs; as someone who has largely moved away from lagers, I was really impressed with the Luchesa — it tasted like a beer should.
Oasis Texas beers will soon be available in the areas served by Gulf Distributing, not just Mobile but as far north as Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and into the Florida Panhandle eastward to Panama City.
“We are excited to partner with Oasis Texas Brewing Co.,” said Evan Maisel, vice president of Gulf Distributing. “The fact that we are the first Oasis distributor outside of Texas is a testament to our experienced and dedicated craft beer division. We look forward to working with Oasis to grow their brands and bring their award-winning beer to Alabama and Florida consumers.”
If you want to be among the first to try Oasis Texas brews, there will be a number of kick-off events this week. On June 7, the downtown Wintzell’s will host a launch party for Oasis Texas at 5 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by a similar event just up Dauphin Street at Moe’s Original BBQ. Across the bay, Mellow Mushroom in Daphne will also host a tap event for Oasis Texas from 5-7 p.m. that night.
The next evening, June 8, West Mobile will get its taste of the Oasis Texas Brewing Co. with kick-off events at Fuzzy’s Tacos at 5 p.m. and the Mellow Mushroom on Old Shell Road at 7:30 p.m.