Saint Arnold & SA Humane Society: a very Friendly Partnership

The San Antonio Humane Society has partnered with Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (oldest craft brewery in TX) to gain financial assistance to bolster their treatment, rehab, adoption, and education efforts in the greater San Antonio area. Saint Arnold’s “Ale Wagger Project” is a commitment on the brewery’s part to donate a portion of proceeds from sales of Saint Arnold’s Ale Wagger (Brown Ale) to support SAHS’s animal welfare efforts.

The San Antonio Humane Society shelters, medically treats, and rehabs close to 5,000 animals each year. That staggering number needs great heaps of support from the citizens of San Antonio, and other city institutions such as locally owned, civically responsible small businesses. Enter The Friendly Spot Ice House.

This Saturday, March 21st, from 12p to 2p, Nicole George with Saint Arnold Brewing Company will be on site at The Friendly Spot along with the San Antonio Humane Society. Ale Wagger will be featured on draft. Folks who order a pint of this brew and bring their dog with will get a limited edition Saint Arnold bandana (while supplies last!). SAHS will be discussing the work they do and will also be accepting donations.

Come out to support this great cause, drink some killer Texas craft beer, and kick back on our grounds knowing your money is going a long way for a lot of dogs and cats that need so much.

Ale Wagger’s appearance is a rich, deep brown. It’s full mouthfeel can be credited to the brewery’s use of five different types of malts used to meticulously create the ale. Notes of chocolate, mildly roasted coffee, sweetness, and a touch of hop come through for a truly well rounded ale.

This event is free and open to the public. See y’all on Saturday!

#DreamWeekSA makes our city Friendly

#DreamweekSA makes our city so Friendly

Friends

I was so fortunate to experience being a part of the “1005 Faces” project by Sarah Brooke Lyons in 2014. Sarah, a San Antonio Photographer, had contacted the Friendly Family to start off her project at Alamo Street Eat Bar. We were so excited to be a part of this project but had no ideas the impact and legs that the “1005 Faces” would have. Sarah created an event this past Sunday at “The Spire,” a super cool re-use of a church on the East side in the Sunset Station area.  “Talk. Educate. Network. Expanding the voice of 1005Faces. A DreamWeek 2015 Event” was 10 participants of the project speaking about our signs and beyond. Here’s mine: “Have Faith, Dive In”

Signs

I was number #788. Being a number took on a whole new meaning. I found myself Sunday, a #DreamWeek-er. Entering “The Spire” you could feel the energy of the project. It was truly inspiring to hear the other 9 participants talk about why they wrote what they did. Diego Bernal, former D1 City Councilman spoke of John Henry, he challenged a machine and won with human effort. John Henry gave all he could, his life. Diego spoke of giving all you have. Nina Duran won me over when she asked her “Daddy” if he could hear her? It was a beautiful display of respect and love. I couldn’t help but feel like my Dad, who passed 15 years ago could hear me too. I know it. Nina spoke about the #messylife. Every speaker touched on amazing topics. It was truly magical and so fitting for #DreamWeekSA. I was number 7 to speak. To be honest, I had not really prepared. I spent the day doing some work and then hanging with my kids. With my 4 year old hanging on my leg and or twirling on my finger. I spoke from the heart about my blind faith, love of change and watching things improve around me. Change is hard but, necessary and the only way to improve your surroundings. So you have the Faith, now you’ve gotta go for it. Dive In, you may win, you may lose, dive in anyway. My sign and it’s impact over a year later is what #DreamWeekSA is all about. Take the opportunity to look into Dream Week. Attend one of the dozens of events all around town, inspire someone or get inspired. I’m sure you’ll find it one of San Antonio’s most Friendly weeks.

Follow Dream Week Here:

Twitter @dreamweekSA

www.facebook.com/dreamweeksa

Web http://dreamweek.org

Check out the “1005 Faces” Project by Sarah Brooke Lyons and keep up with this talented artist here:

www.facebook.com/1005Faces

www.sarahbrookephotography.com

 

SA is a Friendly Spot

San Antonio is Truly a Friendly Spot

In the past several days, we have received Facebook messages, emails and texts letting us know that San Antonio is the Friendliest City in Texas, 3rd in the nation. We’ve been so happy to hear from all of you. Here are some of the links:

http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2014/08/07/travel-us-unfriendliest-friendliest-cities.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/dispatches/2014/08/04/conde-nast-traveler-friendliest-unfriendliest-cities/13577157/

http://www.today.com/id/24843322/ns/today-money/t/friendliest-cities-america/#.U-TEtlZk4ds

All this friendly talk got me thinking, San Antonio is truly a Friendly Spot. More so than any other places I’ve lived or even visited, San Antonians are willing to pitch in and help.

This year we have the first annual Big Give SA, raising over 2 million dollars in one day. People who participated in the Big Give could give small or large amounts and could help thousands of causes with a click of the mouse. It was amazing. And what about our SA2020 initiative? That’s Friendly. SA2020 wants to track our progress in things like teen pregnancy, literacy and downtown development so we know where we are, where we’ve been and how we can improve. San Antonio touts a healthy job market, affordable real estate and over 300 days of sun a year. Friendly right?

This week many of my gal pals are downright giddy. First, the nomination of Ivy Taylor as the first African American female Mayor of San Antonio. And now our 5 time world champion San Antonio Spurs hire the first female Coach in any of the 4 major professional sports, Becky Hammond. Our city’s Standard and Poor’s AAA rating was reaffirmed this week under the leadership of City Manager Sheryl Sculley saving tax payers over 6 million in finance charges alone. I meet more and more females that want to become entrepreneurs in the Alamo City with progressive ideas and community in mind. I know this is not the kind of Friendly that all the articles were talking of this week. But, you have to admit, things are Friendly here in San Antonio.

San Antonio is a Friendly Spot because we’re all working together to make a better city. And for those who messaged us to say SATX is friendly because of “The Friendly Spot Ice House.” Swing by for a brew. There’s plenty to choose from, pour perfect, start at $2.25 and you can bring your 4 legged friend too. If not a brew, a housemade sangria, sweet tea or even a free cup of ice water and say hello, we’re always happy to see our friends.

 

Cornyation and Being Queen Anchovy I

From the desk of Jody Bailey Newman, Chief Friend:

San Antonio, I used to be in like with you…..

For over the past 10 years, SATX has been where I’ve lived. I always liked San Antonio. I met the love of my life here. We found Southtown here. Our two rambunctious children were born here. San Antonio is where my husband received the greatest second chance of his life. I have lived, laughed and cried here. I became a strong, empowering female entrepreneur right here. I’ve always liked San Antonio.

Commence Operation: Royalty

Commence Operation: Royalty

And then…. I became Fiesta Cornyation’s Queen Anchovy I. What a completely different view point to see the city I’ve liked. I was floored when they asked. My husband as King Anchovy seemed to make all the sense in the world. He is fair, always persevered and was the face or some might say “the beard” of our operation. Ray Chavez wanted me too. I didn’t understand why? But he did and I’m so glad he did. Ray succeeded in giving me the greatest view point of the best of San Antonio. As Queen Anchovy I, I asked many of our friends and business colleagues to join me in fundraising for San Antonio’s AIDS related charities. So overwhelmed by the response, I am getting teary eyed just thinking of it. Tim Campion of GLI was my first call, followed by lawyer Andy Tiwari of Tiwari and Bell. I was two for two! William Germany of Bayne Snell and Brian Salmon of Baby Vison said yes too. John Barrera a member of our Royal Court, asked his broker Kuper Sothebys and they said yes. Then John matched the donation. We were off to an amazing start. So many friends, I cannot mention you all but, you’re huge to me. Being Queen Anchovy I allowed me to see all the generosity that surrounds me. Fiesta Cornyation forced me to pick up my head from work and see my world, San Antonio. “We are honored you asked us” said Katie Reynolds of Silver Eagle Distributing. I still get chills when I think about that phone call. I called Rey Chavez right away, he giggled.

 

3 fundraisers followed. I was amazed. So many supported the cause by participating, having fun and donating their dollars. And then there was the hours of skit practice many weeks before Fiesta began. Elaine Wolf wrote our skit and Agosto Cuellar was designing both were volunteers. The Royal Court was a true list of characters: Jake Dady, Andrew Goodman, Lara Fisher, John Barrera, Polo Gutierrez, Bob Rodriguez, Hugh Dashbach, Allison Dudley and Mike Looney. All these folks volunteered countless hours to prepare. Fiesta began and it was Anchovy appearance time. Steve and I attended over 30 Fiesta events. All the while, we prepared for the big shows, all 6 of them.

 

At the Fiesta events, we met so many San Antonians. I was amazed at the excitement and wonder of fiesta-goers. It was fun. Our community is so vibrant and diverse, during Fiesta there is something for everyone. I smiled with so many, took pictures and learned so much. We toured San Antonio AIDS Foundation. It was humbling and uplifting at the same time. The staff and patients hugged and kissed us like we we’re royalty, even though we were invented. The SAAF staff are true angels walking this earth. We wanted to do right by them. We wanted to give them money. They are such trustworthy stewards of SAAF donations.

Antics

Antics

During the 3 days of Fiesta Cornyation, I met the hundreds of volunteers. All in costume, I might add. Some I knew, Chad Carey as the dancing, thong wearing HEB bag. But, many I didn’t. I was instantly enthralled with Cher. I loved her, it was love at first lip-synch “It’s a womans’ world” and Cher belted it out. I love you Tony. I laughed so hard I cried. Dennis Rodman and “The Big Bang” ruined my caked on make-up all three shows. Dancing with Boy Scouts made my crown famously “krunk” every single show. Yeah, I said krunk. Thursday night brought a drum line dance between the two shows that was worthy of my New Orleans roots. I danced, sang, chatted and jello shot-ted with dozens of the loyal Fiesta Cornyation volunteers. I hugged Ray Chavez and smiled at Elaine Wolf so many times in that 72 hours, I can’t even count. I kissed my Royal Court and held hands with King Anchovy. The audience waived, shouted and clapped with us. What a ball, how amazing you all are. Your joy was my joy. My view of it all was amazing. I remember so many details of those 3 days, I am laughing just writing this.

We raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause. Fiesta Cornyation’s Board handed out the checks at The Friendly Spot. The smiles were from ear to ear. Beat AIDS, SAAF and the Rehm Scholarship Participants deserve our support. In that moment, I realized that I don’t just like San Antonio, I love San Antonio. The generosity, the humor, the people, fiesta and Ray Chavez. I love San Antonio, its my home!

WEBB Madness, Enjoy By 4/20, Mac DeMarco

At long last, the WEBB Party is tonight at the Lambermont Estate (950 E. Grayson). If you haven’t acquired tickets yet, don’t fret. They’re still for sale at The Friendly Spot and you can swing by anytime after 3 pm to purchase them thangs.

A lot of people have worked very hard to ensure the event is a success. The organizers at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation have put in countless hours of planning and screwdriver work so that everyone that attends has a great time and that as much money as possible is raised to support this great cause. Several dozens of chefs from around the city have made some pretty exquisite food items that will be available during the menu tasting portion of the event. Chef Scott and his Friendly Crew will be serving a mighty tasty cold seafood cocktail. See you all at the party tonight and swing by the Friendly booth to say hello!

Stone Brewing Co. puts out a seasonally released double IPA every few months. The most recent one, Enjoy By 4.20.14, is on tap right now at The Friendly Spot and  the quality is maximal as always. They brew it with the specific intention of achieving an extremely short span of freshness. I can see how this can be misconstrued as gimmicky; but Stone is a brewery that I’m willing to allow to boast such gimmicks. They produce sheer quality each and every time, and the Enjoy By is no exception. It’s bitter but balanced with a subtle kind of sweetness. The ABV sits at a hefty 9.40% but the flavor masks the high alcohol content unbelievably well. Kudos to you, Stone. Thanks for the killer brew and to all of you out there, this beer will not make it to the end of the weekend so come by soon and get yourself some.

 

Crazy, crazy artists

I started listening to Mac DeMarco a little over a year ago. He put out a record called “2″ that most people considered to be a debut because of it’s release on an indie label, but in truth it was the second proper release he had put out, hence the name. I had taken a couple of days off to drive to Houston and bum around. A friend lent me “2″ and my rental car didn’t have an auxiliary input which rendered my millions of songs via Spotify unavailable to me on this mini road trip. I was stuck with a CD, Mac DeMarco’s CD, and listened to it essentially over the course of an entire weekend.

I was struck immediately upon my first listen to the sounds emitting from the Nissan Maxima’s very capable speaker system. There was something about the understated singing, the whimsical storytelling, the warbled guitar that sounded like it’d been run through a warped tape deck, and the sunny, memorable, and sweet melodies said guitar was producing.

So, great, my fandom for this dude was solidified over that weekend. Fast forward roughly a month later and he had about 27 shows scheduled over the course of 4 days in Austin for SXSW. I trekked up to the self-proclaimed Weird City without an itinerary or schedule and about 5 hours into it, managed to drunkenly stumble into a tiny club gig DeMarco was set to play. It was hot, sweaty, and hazy in there. Somehow, I was surrounded by people who worked at The Monterey (crazy, right?!) and the Lone Stars were flowing.

Austin, 2013

Mac and his band took the stage like bosses and blew through a succinct and well-rehearsed set. At the end of the show, he ran off stage like a bat out of hell and started climbing the pillars in true Rock n’ Roll fashion. He’s an engaging performer and an even more incredible artist. He plays guitar like no one else around these days and writes pretty songs to boot. His new record is called “Salad Days” and is a diverse piece of music that will fit in well with his overall canon. It works well as an album one can listen to from start to finish; a rare feat these days. But the songs stand up on their own in other contexts.      ”Chamber of Reflection,” to me, is the crown jewel of the record. It sounds like a Tame Impala cut once the ecstasy they force-fed you starts wearing off. Funnily enough, Mac’s guitar work is what originally grabbed my interest. “Chamber of Reflection” has no discernible guitar in it. Which can only mean one thing, the songs all stand up on their own merits.

Another rare feat these days.

Go to Hogwild (1824 N. Main) and buy the record. It’s a must-have. Play it over the weekend and swing by The Friendly Spot to let me know what you think. I’ll see you all soon.

Travis Park, Rosella, Dirty Work

Travis Park was a place, prior to this week, most would describe as having potential. An oasis of quiet introspection smack dab in the middle of a bustling downtown. It was hard for most people to enjoy the space because of issues that arose from crimes committed against citizens and tourists that ventured into it, and a general sense of neglect perpetrated against the space itself.

Food trucks on Jefferson

Food trucks on Jefferson

Earlier this week, the “new” Travis Park was unveiled to the good people of San Antonio. The park was closed in January and work commenced by organizations in both the public and private sectors. The goal, as our mayor so eloquently laid out, was to create a “vibrant community hub in the heart of downtown.” Sounds like a lofty ambition, and after having visited the park a few days ago, one that feels like we are well on the way to ultimately obtaining.

DJ Gibb

DJ Gibb

 

 

Encouraging points of interest included food trucks lining the Park on Jefferson St., a mini book station set up by Half-Price Books that was checking out selections to interested parties, DJ Gibb spinning records primarily in rotation on KRTU, local workers having lunch and subjecting themselves to a quick respite from the meandering confines of life at the office, and a general sense of curiosity from passersby from all walks of life.

 

Travis Park or Alice in Wonderland?

Travis Park or Alice in Wonderland?

Travis Park needed the revamp. San Antonio needed the revamped Travis Park. This is going to be a fruitful, symbiotic relationship in the coming years. Food trucks and DJ’s are cool, but when happenings of that nature combine to enrich the lives of San Antonians and the people who visit this place alike, only great things will come of it. Events are planned for most of the days in this month.

The bent of this blog post seems to be serene spaces; Rosella Coffee Co. is no exception. Located on that fabulous stretch of Jones just off Broadway that is home to the San Antonio Museum of Art and The Luxury, Rosella does a lot of things and after my first visit, I can confirm that it does a few things I experienced quite well.

I arrived there after one of those productive, sweat-producing, extremely focused and strangely diligent bike rides one afternoon. So focused, in fact, that I didn’t even feel like drinking alcohol. Say it ain’t so! Ah but alas, it is. Luckily for me, their focus isn’t exactly on alcohol (yet). The bar at this place boasts somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 taps and a small bottled beer selection all mostly focused on Texas craft. I didn’t get a chance to peruse the wine list, but from what I hear, it too is mostly focused on Texas vineyards.

Menu on walls like murals

Menu on walls like murals

My motivation to visit was of a different kind. I didn’t approach it with any anticipation. A couple of people I know work there and that’s all I’d really heard about the place. I had a book in my backpack for almost a month that went regretfully unopened due to the lack of quiet space in my life. It’s a short book, lent to me by a friend that loves to read (TROUPER!). I was in search of a quiet place. I was in search of a place that would fuel my desire to not be bothered, a place unfamiliar to me that still felt comfortable. Beyond all of that, I was looking for a place where I could get a goddamned good cup of coffee. Enter Rosella.

The space inside is immaculately repurposed. Industrial and functional in it’s initial feel and look, the people responsible for making the interior into what it is now did a bang up job. It happens all the time, but I still, to this day, am awestruck at how seamlessly concrete, steel, and brick make for comfortable surroundings of the most intimate kind. I feel at home at this place. I hurriedly snapped a few photos while waiting for my coffee, but like most things worth seeing, the photos do the space no justice. Go here and let the compellingly relaxed atmosphere wash over you.

Courtyard of solitude

Courtyard of solitude

Pretty dinner menu

Pretty dinner menu

I sat down outside in the beautiful, spacious, and quiet courtyard that makes up one side of the exterior part of the building. I sipped my coffee, and I read the book my friend lent me with a gusto I haven’t felt in a long time. I can’t attribute it all to Rosella, but for a month now I’ve struggled to find a time and place to sink my teeth into the read, and I finally found it on that storied stretch of Jones just off Broadway. In the past when life overwhelmed, I escaped to SAMA to get lost among history and art. Or to The Luxury for shade under a tree and a pitcher of some fine, local craft beer. My excitement at finding a new place to combat the sensory overload of life is palpable.

And man, they sure do make a damn fine cup of coffee.

Albert Alvarez currently has an exhibit running at Bihl Haus Arts (2803 Fredericksburg Rd.) that I had the pleasure of viewing last week. I met Albert about three years ago at The Friendly Spot. I would bartend at the back bar, back when there were six taps as opposed to the forty eight we currently have now at the second bar, and he would sit quietly at a corner of the bar and sip a few pints while sketching in his book. He was a quiet guy that seemed disinterested in the usual bar banter that occurs at local watering holes.

Albert's work

Albert’s work

After a few months of seeing him around, the day came when I decided to engage him and ask what he was doing in that little book of his all the time. He handed it over to me and my jaw hit the ground. I saw the most intricate drawings I’d ever seen that illustrated sheer beauty and devestating horror juxtaposed on the same page that ran for pages and pages. I became a devout fan of his work in the few short minutes it took me to flip through his sketchbook.

Later on, I found out he has work on display at SAMA, that we shared several mutual friends, and that this guy was a true, incredibly talented, bona fide local artist. Most of his work is done simply; ink on paper. His messages, however, are complex and detailed. He draws ugly sentiments, illustrates debauchery, and taps into wretched convolutions that he sees and has seen in everyday life. San Antonio is truly privileged to have a gem like him here. His current show is a must-see and runs through May 3rd with gallery hours being Fridays and Saturdays from 1 pm to 4 pm or by appointment.

Albert Alvarez

Albert Alvarez

That’s all I have for you this week, folks. Happy First Friday, have a great weekend, and I hope to see you all soon.

Síclovía, Fire & Ice, Feast

Síclovía is this Sunday at 11 am. The route this year starts in Southtown (S. St. Marys & E. Cesar Chavez) and continues south until it’s endpoint at Mission Concepción. The motivation behind this outdoor event is to turn busy city streets into viable venues for families and friends to walk, bike, skate, and generally exercise outdoors. It’s a fun and useful way to show our citizens how to live a healthier, more fulfilling life while using the backdrop of our city as the venue.

I’ve never had the chance to attend the event, but I look forward to participating this Sunday. Happenings such as this one serve as a great springboard for showcasing the ease with which meaningful life change can occur. It’s really simple to get up, get outside, and get active. Need more incentive? It’s also a lot of fun. Is that not enough? It’s also free. So there! The other really cool thing is that it makes the beers you drink and the food you eat, post-activity, that much more rewarding.

The Brooklyn Brewery‘s latest installment in their Brewmaster’s Reserve series is called Fire & Ice. This release is a smoked oatmeal porter. Beechwood smoke is used to dry the smoked malts that are used to form the base of this beer. The addition of roasted malts in the blending process keep the smoky flavor to a subtle minimum while helping to play off the chocolate, caramel, and coffee notes that are ever-present throughout the drinking experience.

It boasts a black hue of the darkest kind and produces minimal foam. This is a beer that is supremely viscous in terms of texture. The aroma is something akin to smoked caramel. Upon tasting, the smoke flavor dies down and opens up a pathway of boozy and rich flavors of caramel, toffee, and top notes of specialty licorice. The mouthfeel is satisfying without being cumbersomely heavy; something I did not expect from a beer so dark and viscous. It finishes pleasantly dryer than expected. Kudos to you, Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Brewery has a vast line of diverse, well-crafted beers. They’ve been producing quality products since 1987 and show no signs whatsoever of slowing down. Fire & Ice is on tap at The Friendly Spot for a limited time. Swing on by this weekend and grab yourself a pint or two.

I’ve been coming to Feast (1024 S. Alamo) for quality eats since it’s opening a few years ago. Every meal I’ve ever had there has been accompanied by stellar company, assuring ambiance, and impeccable service. This past Tuesday night was no different. I dined in with a friend about an hour prior to the establishment closing for the evening and we were taken care of with great care by their staff.

Small plates-themed restaurants have been in style for several years now and Feast does the concept justice. Their menu is seasonal and the food is incredibly fresh. My buddy and I ordered a modestly priced bottle of Syrah and about six plates that ranged from fried oysters to preciously smoked salmon, french fries to sweetbread curry, and a dessert of custard, berries, and nuts. I’m racking my brain trying to think of what else we had but the wine and good company of the evening distracts me from remembering the rest.

Feast has been one of my favorite restaurants in San Antonio for a long time and will continue to remain on that list for an even longer time to come, I’m sure. They’ve got the formula down: top quality and adventurously prepared food, reasonable prices, great location, polite, keen, and invariably knowledgeable staff, and a bar helmed by capable and kind ‘tenders.

I send out-of-towners and locals alike to Feast endlessly, consider this the same but in a printed format. I’ve heard their brunch is out of this world, but Sunday’s are difficult for me to sneak away so I’ve been unable to experience it first hand. Perhaps soon, I’ll sneak away and throw down on mimosas and brunch-y items to my heart’s content. But until then, astounding dinners will have to keep me satiated.

Have a great weekend and I hope to see your fair faces around the Friendly confines. Until next time!

 

Maverick, Cornyation, Stone Go To IPA

The Maverick Music Festival kicks off today at La Villita. In it’s second year, the festival has grown into a 2-day spectacle sprawling across 3 stages and boasting some relatively big international acts interspersed with local jewels from SA’s burgeoning music scene.

Attending the festival is important. There is a market here for events like this. It’s cool that the rodeo comes to town every February and I understand that it’s very much apart of our history, but that’s not all there is to us. San Antonio is a big place and the people that live in it have diverse, varied, and eclectic taste when it comes to our recreational activities. The Maverick Music Festival is gaining momentum for being so young still and the willingness of bands to play it is refreshing.

People across the country know us for a few things: The Spurs, the Riverwalk, Fiesta, tacos, margaritas. We know there is loads upon loads more to us and our city. The more importance we give to diverse happenings will only increase the frequency of those happenings.

It looks like it’s going to be a fun one. Make sure to swing by the Bizarre Bazaar for handmade jewelry, second-hand clothing, and knick-knacks of all sorts. Our homie, Agosto Cuellar, will have a space set up and will be selling his goods to the masses. Stop by and say hello.

King and Queen Anchovy

King and Queen Anchovy

King and Queen Anchovy for this year’s Fiesta event, Cornyation, are Steve and Jody Newman. The Friendly Spot hosted an event earlier in the week to help raise money for the charities that Cornyation supports. Chef Scott Boone paired food donated by U.S. Foods to beer donated by GLI Distributors. The cost to get in was a modest $30, and the food and drink was outstanding.

Braised Beef Chalupa

Braised Beef Chalupa

Chef Scott rolled out a braised beef short rib chalupa, fried chicken and waffles with pepper jelly, red beans and rice with corn fritter, creole mahi sliders, and stout and pecan brownies.

The grub was paired with beer that normally doesn’t get featured at events like this; Lone Star, PBR, and Shiner Bock. And then also, because it IS a craft beer bar, the final two pairings went to Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA and Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale.

Everyone in attendance had an excellent time. DJ Refried put his deliriously disseminating booty music prowess to good use. Several thousands of dollars were raised, delightful eats and cold brews were consumed, and lots of money went to a great cause. That, my friends, is what’s up. Stay tuned for more great events like this week’s fundraiser.

 

Stone, how do you make such great beer? What did you do to acquire these skills? Oh, hard work and trial and error, you say? I guess there really is no way around it. Want to be successful? Work hard, dude.

That’s what Stone has been doing since 1996 when they first started brewing in Escondido, CA. They put out a quality product and this latest release from them is no different. We’ve seen a trend lately with session-able IPA’s gaining in popularity. Low ABV’s (generally between 4 and 5 percent), brilliantly hoppy characteristics, and decent carbonation are traits most of these types of brews share.

Stone’s Go To IPA is really something extraordinary. The flavor is huge, almost akin to the richness of a double IPA with almost half the alcohol content. It’s hard to drink a lot of big beers, but easy to drink a lot of this one. The flavor, texture, and carbonation don’t quit. Low alcohol means more beer, less mumbling, less stumbling, and almost no drooling.

It’s on tap at the back 48. Friendly Ruben is working the bar back there today, drop on by and get yourself a pint. Hope you all have a great weekend, see you soon.

Ruben is very Friendly. And also very awkward in pictures.

Ruben is very Friendly. And also very awkward in pictures.

Sip (and that is all)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I became a patron of the old Sip (160 E. Houston St.) right around the time I started seriously riding a bike (about four years ago). I’d get up early in the morning and attempt to ride off some especially painful hangovers. It worked. From the very beginning, I’ve always been a fan of riding in urban areas as opposed to more rural trails. The constant hustle and bustle of a downtown backdrop would keep me engaged and focused on the task at hand; riding hard while overcoming sudden obstacles.

Early on, my journeys through downtown San Antonio would always end at Sip, the beautiful little coffee shop/lunch spot on the corner of St. Mary’s and Houston. Post ride, I’d sit at a table outside with four shots of espresso on ice and a banana. It’s hard for me to imagine the cumulative amount of hours I spent at a table on that street corner sipping coffee, people watching, listening to music, and thinking.

After a month or two of dropping by 3 to 5 times a week, I gradually started getting to a point where the staff would see me through a window locking my bike up to one of the posts outside and upon seeing me, busy themselves preparing my drink and choosing my banana so that by the time I walked in, my order was ready even before it had officially been placed.

Some people refer to this as “regular status.” I’m a huge, huge fan of attaining this status.  All it really takes is a high frequency of visits, empathy towards the plight of the staff, a serene lack of douchebaggery, tipping (not necessarily extravagant but modest and frequent), and generally low-maintenance demands. The coffee at the old Sip wasn’t the best, but their staff was sweet and warm which is what made me a repeat and loyal customer for years.

Fast forward to the end of 2013, and Sip is closed for renovations. Shortly after they closed sometime in December (can’t remember when. I have a terrible memory), I came across an article online about what’s really going to happen to Sip. The article outlined that the new Sip would be open in January. It’s almost mid-March now and still nothing. But this is not a bad thing because from the looks of it, this is going to be a truly new and improved Sip.

The reimagining of the inside is striking and bold. Robert Tatum had a big hand in that. And Andrew Weissman at the helm, leading the charge, creating a menu that focuses on freshly made juices, made-to-order salads, and good coffee. And by good coffee, I mean just that, good coffee.

San Antonio has been focused on the “decade of downtown” and contending with the fact  that we have lovingly been dubbed the “city on the rise.” Great descriptors, ambitious but ultimately attainable goals. A solid, downtown, neighborhood coffee shop will help get us there. I’ll see you at the new Sip very soon. Over and out, homies.

B&D Ice House, Más Rudas, First Friday

photoB&D Ice House first opened its doors in 1961. The owner, Bruno Z’Danski, tended bar, amassed a following, and held court right there on the corner of Cedar and S. Alamo for nearly 50 years. That kind of longevity is legendary and slightly hard to process for me. I mean, dude was tending bar at the same spot I’m writing about now back in 1984 when I was busy being born! And at that point he’d already been at it for 23 years. Incredible.

Bruno and his Ice House ended daily operation in 2010. The charming, dive-y bar sat vacant for a few years. A lot happened on that street and in this city in those few years. S. Alamo became a destination the likes of which people from all over San Antonio and beyond visited to take in the first-class restaurants and bars that line it now.

In this highly visible and feverishly sought-after environment, 2014 sees the reopening and reimagining of B&D Ice House.  Steve and Jody Newman have partnered with Jason and Jake Dady to bring Texas BBQ and Texas craft beer and wine to Southtown.

Original sign. Carnations touched up by the capable hands of Mr. Tony Lopez.

Original sign. Carnations touched up by the capable hands of Mr. Tony Lopez.

Steve took me over and walked me around the venue recently. Upon entering, I was struck at how intensely I felt like I’d just walked back in time. There is a seemingly weighty sense of history in the place. It’s something intangible, an incredible feeling of many, many happenings having taken place in the tiny space. Beer neons and knick-knacks from the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s litter the place but clearly communicate that they’re not going anywhere any time soon; a very comforting thought indeed.

Steve spoke at length with me about how vital it was to him and everyone involved to keep the original ambiance of the place intact. For so many years, B&D was a place for neighborhood folks to gather. When I moved to San Antonio (about a year before the bar closed), it was the first place my neighbor took me to visit. I didn’t know anything about Ice Houses or bars in Texas in general. I walked in wanting a vodka martini and when I ordered one, laughter ensued from Bruno and the clientele. Several cans of Lone Star later, I left the place and took away with me an extraordinary sense of community that I’d found within the confines of that tiny, dimly lit place. That feeling, to this day, is one of the main reason’s I’ve stayed in San Antonio. That feeling will also be what will ultimately make the new incarnation of B&D Ice House the hands-down go to for locals and residents of Southtown.

L to R: Jason Dady, Steve Newman, Chris Jerrick aka Mr. Pitmaster

L to R: Jason Dady, Steve Newman, Chris Jerrick aka Mr. Pitmaster

Styles and fads come and go, what’s popular now may not be next week, but might be popular again five years from now. In Texas, three things will never go out of style: lovingly prepared barbecue, cold beer, and camaraderie. Bring on B&D.

L to R: Mari Hernandez, Kristin Gamez, Sarah Castillo, Ruth Buentello

L to R: Mari Hernandez, Kristin Gamez, Sarah Castillo, Ruth Buentello

 

Más Rudas is a Chicana art collective comprised of four very talented and independent women. My first encounter with their work was an installation at The Institute of Texan Cultures they did  called Ruda Phat. The exhibit ran from August to December of 2013 and addressed the issue of body image using video, painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, performance, audio, and text.

Walking through the exhibit, I remember feeling invigorated at the fearless quality of their work. Body image is something we struggle with universally, and these women’s address of it was refreshing because it was challenging. They don’t pull any punches and they surely don’t mince words or thoughts. The sporadic inclusion of humor in their work (at this particular exhibit and beyond) is a brilliant move because it makes the challenging or taboo issues they address much easier to absorb.

Kristin Gamez, 2012

Kristin Gamez, 2012

The group held a talk at the Briscoe Western Art Museum (210 W. Market) last Tuesday and I was lucky enough to attend. Their talk addressed Chicana Identity, their thoughts on the Alamo, and an installation they had at Unit B in Southtown a few years ago.

The personification of SA iconography.

The personification of SA iconography.

The group that attended the talk was made up mostly of middle-aged to older caucasian, upper-middle class folks that were serious about their art. It was a relatively small group of people, maybe 15 to 20. The magic we witnessed in that room played out for us by four fiercely independent, articulate, incredibly intelligent women was powerful enough to fill an arena. They use their art to address important issues like combating obesity, reducing the unbelievably high rate of domestic violence, sexism and discrimination directed at women, discrimination of all kinds directed at anyone, and broader social, political, and personal struggles that resonate with people from all backgrounds. Their message is far-reaching, varied, and transformational. I think we should consider ourselves supremely lucky that we have unhindered access to this group of artists as residents of San Antonio. Keep up with them on their Facebook page, attend their events, and support them. They do important work and we need them to continue.

S. Alamo

S. Alamo

First Friday is upon us. The last four First Fridays have been cold, quiet, and subdued affairs. Today, however, is going to be huge. Our little stretch of S. Alamo will be teeming with people from all parts of San Antonio and beyond. I took a quick stroll outside the Friendly gate to snap this photo, and the excitement is palpable. Vendors are setting up their booths, bars and restaurants are stocking up and preparing, and the good folks at B&D Ice House are getting ready for their debut. It’s a beautiful day in our fair city. Come on out and enjoy our little neighborhood. Support local businesses, artists, and craft makers. Hit up all your favorite spots from Alamo Street Eat Bar all the way down to La Tuna. I’ll see you guys on our little corner of S. Alamo very soon.