Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End.

This is it.  This is the end.  The glorious fucking end of [An Avenue].

As my good pal Steven Morrissey likes to advise, 'Every proper band should have the decency to split' -- and I have always taken that to mean that every successful run should meet its sudden, yet permanent demise; requiring far more backbone to be undeterred by the unfinished dissection of the grand illusion and exit smiling.

Yes, I am off to do just that.  These are the metaphoric last bars of the closing anthem, a vow to extreme hiatus because, well, its the decent thing to do.  This place has done all that it can.

Leaving is really very easy.  The site's original intent was to help build awareness for small, local beer, and perhaps it has done just that.  The ancillary effect, however, is what made [An Avenue] great: The support of the local brewing industry for it.  Writing this blog has revealed the radiant insight into the culture of craft beer and those who proliferate it. Talent abounds at all stages, from production to publication, but even more notably, talent is supported.  Enthusiastically.  And for a state as enormous as this one, it still feels as if there is so much room for even more imagination.  The saturation perimeter is still so very, very far from being breached.

Craft beer's narrative has gone from the libatious outlier, to the unfriendly beer snob, to the consumer standard.  Its nearly infeasible that an establishment who cares anything about its clients wouldn't offer something artisinally crafted regionally or nationally -- often times strictly locally.  That is not a fad at all, that is a trend.  And trends tend to become habits.  One that we will all happily hang on to.

Financially, small beer in Austin -- and as a whole nationally -- appears to be entirely sustainable, which makes the silliness of writing a dinky blog about it a bit like the tail wagging the dog.  We had our fun here, our disagreements, our public grievances, our linguistic triumphs.  Most importantly, we've developed our friendships with people we will end up caring about for the rest of our lives. There are so many to recognize, and so whenever I see you again, I will have to shake your hand to let you know how much I appreciated the time you invested in what has happened here.  Without being too much of a loin-licker, sincerely, thank-you.

I do, however, have to single out my wife, Mrs. [An Avenue], because she was my dearest supporter and best research assistant, which is just one of the trillions of reasons why I am head over feet about her.  People always mention how she "let me do this", but she never saw it that way.  She was unbridled with encouragement, and that kept this place going for two years. Almost to the day.

So, yeah, this blog is leaving me in a better place than it found me 24 months ago.  It improved me.  It didn't help me fulfill an immediate dream to write professionally, but I discovered that such a thing doesn't even matter anyway.  What did matter were the millions of tiny triumphs along the way.  Like craft beer, I too am in a good place.  Perhaps the writing industry isn't as keen on small beer as the rest of us.  That remains to be seen.  They certainly aren't paying close enough attention to it, and they most certainly aren't paying many people to adhere.

And with that, Avenuelings, I leave you all with a few unresolved items on the way out:

1) This is, in fact, NOT the end.  If you haven't braved an episode of Draught Punk (Twitter) yet, you might be surprised how enraptured you might be by a depraved indie music + indie beer podcast.  It is where I will be for the foreseeable future.  We think it kicks ass.  We have almost no restraint, and we can show you the proof if needed.

2) In fact, [AA] began as an indie music + indie beer blog.  If you poke around the site, you will still see remnants of that.  As such, we are publishing our 9th Annual Top 101 (of 2013) at the bottom of this post.  Music is the lubricant that drives our desire to go next-level on getting breaded on great beer.

3) Will [AA] ever come back? Bitch, it might.

4) Yes, I do consider Goose Island to still make craft beer.  At least what they do on Fulton Street.  Its still made with artisinal commodities by people versed in small batch.  They've just got major funding to protect from insolvency, like that one team from little league who wore the pro-style New Era jams.  Yeah, fuck that team, but they were still 9-year-olds just like the rest of us.  You want to beat em at their game?  Do it better.

5) 2014 just might be better than 2013 in regards to statewide distribution of beer -- as well as the influx of nationally fapped-to brands reaching Texas. 

6) Thank-you for reading right now and in the past.  Do enjoy the music.  And drink what you want.

7) Yes, it is indeed celebration time.  Now I'm going to get fucking drunk, as one does.  Sounds like a pretty can't miss plan.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Where to Watch Football (World) and Drink Beer (Local) in Austin, Texas for the 2014 World Cup

So, um, fuck yeah. 

In less than a week’s time, everybody on the planet will be giving out exactly zero shits to work obligations, and instead, actively seeking out a nice, cozy pub in which to drink their burdensome nerves under the table, all the while, meshing curse words into superlatives and urging his favorite football hero to save this fucking country or else!

Here in The States, the tension is a bit more muted, but only just! 

Lately – at least over the last several years dating back two Cups now – has the broad valley of American ethnocentrism and cultural indifference been bridged by the curious marvel and metered patriotism for The Beautiful Game –  just as the rest of the world does for one month out of every 48.

Further still, this year's tournament is a merciful two hours time difference between where we stand right at this moment, and where the games will be played; a veritable reprieve from the unholy wake up calls when the World Cup was held in South Korea/Japan and South Africa.  

But this year we, and many others like us, will take full advantage of our geographic fortune and proceed to get shitfaced during normal business hours!  And because of this regional advantage, bars (actual fucking bars!) will be in full operation to help us be participant in our personal pursuit to massacre our vital organs and unreasonable stresses with alcohol.  Namely beer.  Good beer. (Because what kind of asshole would drink a gin and tonic during a football match?).

Because of these integral conditions of having world football on the television and good beer for consumption, we cannot entrust just any old bar to meet our (typically low, but for just this once) high standards, now could we?  This is a very rare event after all, and all of the macro american lagers in the country won't do it a lick of justice.  No not at all.

What we are requiring is a pub that will heed the gravity of The World Cup.  Bars with beer choices that compliment the importance of animate art.  But also bars that, while holding the form of good potables, also allow for the pledging of allegiances to the men of Argentina, or Cameroon, or by God, the USA.  And besides, do any of us really need more of reason to say fuck it when it comes to work than sports and beer?

So here are a hand-selected grouping of bars who meet the caveats of maximal World Cup viewing, which are 1) good beer, and 2) sound amplification of the televisions.  And while bar specials are nice, bar specials are merely fluff as long as they meet our first two stipulations.  

The Brew & Brew [500 San Marcos St. | 512.493.0963]

A craft beer bar (and café!) will head this list because it hits on all the proper elements like an upper-90 golazo from the top of the 18.  If that sentence is literally gibberish to you than know this, B&B serves 38 craft beers on draft to make you talk like a cleft-arsed English supporter by the 60th minute.  And if this paragraph still means nothing to you, then go and have yourself a latte, sit in the corner, and watch how the self-loathing Brits do it.  B&B promises projection for all matches with sound, a blackened viewing area for maximal viewing of Wayne Rooney’s poor touch, and Hops & Grain specials for every game!  Smashing!

B.D. Riley's Irish Pub [204 East 6th | 512.494.1335]

B.D. Riley’s also caters to the craft savvy, but functions far more as a sports bar in the rad-est part of downtown.  We won’t hold the fact that they typically operate as a Notre Dame and New England Patriots bar against them, because in doing so, they seem to both love and loathe America at the same time, which is essentially what the whole rest of the world does everyday.  To us, that is very World Cuppish.  B.D.’s promises to show all matches with sound on their big 70” screen.  They will have pint specials on semi-local, sorta-craft Shiner beers and others.

Haymaker [2310 Manor Rd | 512.243-6702]

NEVERMIND.  AVOID AT ALL COST. Mismanagement on crowd control and short pours on pints.  We gave them enough chances.

Hopfields [3110 Guadalupe St | 512) 537-0467

Apart from being one of our favorite every-day pubs, Hopfield's also assured that ...

which is pretty much all the convincing we need to take in a few matches at this campus area joint.  

Holy Mountain [617 E 7th St]

In every World Cup, there is always a breakout star whom sets the place ablaze with flair and aplomb.  My José Mourinho senses are telling me that Holy Mountain is this year’s Diego Forlan.  Just listen to their self-promo from their website:  

World Cup Watch Parties are happening on the Mountain starting on June 12th!  We will be open for all other matches, from those fabled early (long) lunch breaks (11am kickoff) and the “leave work a little before 5” efforts. Special guests will be joining our host Adi Anand to discuss all the action. Trivia before the matches and at halftime with chances to win drink tickets and more! We’ve got drink specials from Jim Beam, Thrilled Cheese food truck to ensure we stay the course, DJ sets & live bands, and plenty more fun and games!”

They’ve done so much of the writing work for me, that I can’t help to give them one of those above-head, post-game hand clap addressed to the supporters section.  Oh, and this:

“Ghana vs USA at 5pm. Happy Hour prices all night AND complimentary Jim Beam shots for everyone (21+) at the bar for EVERY US Goal.”


Mr. Tramps [8565 Research Blvd | 512.837.3500]

If Holy Mountain is the young upstart, then Mr. Tramps is the Zinedine Zidane of Austin soccer pubs; not flashy, but makes those around it better and has an excellent work rate.  A real winner.

They must be so busy being awesome over there that no one answered the phones to update us on their Cup specials.  But does it really matter anyway?  You are going here while your wife shops at SuperTarget.

The Mohawk [912 Red River St | 512.666.0877]

Will the best music venue in Austin become the best place to catch a footy match in Austin?  

We can’t say for sure just yet, but the idea of Mohawk displaying The World Cup in all of its glory to supporters fixed atop their concrete vistas is a supremely romantic and lets face it – engagingly European – way to show the games, what with the backdrop of downtown and plaza-style viewing.  We're in.

Mohawk promises signature cocktails, “bubbles for ladies” (ed: how WAG), IPAs lagers, stouts, and ales in the holy trinity of draft, bottle, and can.
 There will be craft hot dogs by Frank, and of course, multiple screens (indoor and out) with surround sound.  Please note, however, 21+.

Bar 96 [96 Rainey Street | 512.433.6604]

Bar 96 is probably our favorite “dedicated” sports bar in Austin because it is so unapologetically not a sports bar, but your step-father-in-law’s beach bungalow that has been lent out for the summer to his Jaycees frat mates.  Its old and new in many, many ways, with a few dozen TVs and a first rate garden area for lounging in the remorseful summer twilight.  

Bar 96 is also the unofficial (future MLS franchise – we hope) Austin FC World Cup viewing area.  Their beer is craft, but we would be remiss if we didn’t add that their very reasonably priced Lone Star Lite is a sometimes treat for us.

Black Sheep Lodge [2108 S Lamar Blvd | 512.707.2744]

The (older) sister restaurant to Haymaker is not as perky as her sibling, but she gets by very well on congeniality.  There are very ample swaths of viewing areas and a superior food menu to Haymaker, but sometimes Black Sheep slips up when it comes to providing sound for lesser matches.  Still, they do promise sound-on for bigger matches, a wide selection of craft beer, $1 off for wearing a team jersey, and a buck off any beer from the countries of origin who are currently competing on-screen.  For those Amstel Light meatheads, Holland takes the stage on Friday, June 13.
The Tavern [922 W 12th St | 512) 320-8377]

At a time not terribly long ago, The Tavern was a sports-veiwing dinosaur in terms of television quality, but dude, have they upgraded!  The Tavern boasts 55 TVs and promise full sound upstairs.  They report to have "beer bucket specials", which sounds menacingly like macro beer to us, but whatever, they have loads of craft taps and a general electricity that has been privy to all of the greatest sporting moments of the television era.  Oh, and they are also versed in dealing with the boisterous soccer crowd, as they host the Austin Aztex supporters group before every home match.  Good enough for us.