Lobo ready to howl
Pedernales Brewing Co., a Fredericksburg microbrewery five years in the making, opened its doors December 17 with a party and tanks full of their Lobo-branded beers.
Specializing in German styles, the brewery expects to start making deliveries to area stores by the middle of January. Their very first delivery in the Lobo truck went to a toy drive at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio last week.
Although Paul Farnsworth, an owner in the venture, is a brewing professional, he was in the market for months for a head brewer. Pedernales scored with Peter McFarlane, a well-known name in brewer circles.
McFarlane, who has since relocated to Fredericksburg to the take the position of head brewer, worked as owner/brewer at McFarlane Brewing Co. in Arizona, and spent time as a brewer at Hops! in Phoenix, Rogue Ales in Oregon, and at Leinenkugel in Wisconsin. Most recently he worked as a wine maker helping a friend's operation in the Napa Valley.
Lee Hereford, one of several co-founders and the brewery's head honcho, said mainstays Lobo Lager and dark lager Lobo Negro are ready to roll.
"I don't want to go after the craft brewers with Lobo. We're going after the big three," Hereford said of the beers' appeal to drinkers of mass market beer who want to support a local brewery.
There is good news for craft ale drinkers too because the rollout of Pedernales Classics ales will begin sooner than originally planned, Hereford said. Expect to see an IPA and red ale by the third week in January.
But don't expect to see this at your local supermarket just yet. The brewery is self-distributing and plans to have about 500 restaurant and bar accounts across 10 counties.
'Beer' meets free speech
There was a partial victory for brewers, distributors, importers, and consumers on December 20 when U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks granted summary judgment in a case filed against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission by Authentic Beverages and Jester King brewery of Austin.
The judge determined that TABC rules requiring beer under 4 percent alcohol by weight be called "beer," and anything over that be called "ale" or "malt liquor" — even if it wasn't — was nonsensical and violated free speech.
Likewise, he ruled to allow free speech in letting breweries and distributors in Texas to actually tell consumers where to find the beers on their website or through advertising and marketing materials. Brew folks will also will be able to advertise how much alcohol their beers contains.
The lawsuit further tried to accomplish what brewing interests lobbying the Texas Legislature last session could not by opening sales at breweries and brew pubs, but the judge said the plaintiffs did not demonstrate how they were harmed by law.
Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can reach him at email@example.com.