Saturday, March 30, 2013

Brew Exchange Takes Craft Beer to the Next Level with New Menu




The Brew Exchange is becoming the epicenter of the explosive craft beer movement in Austin. Co-owner Tim Womac has fused his keen business sense with his passion for high-quality, hard-to-find specialty brews to create a pub experience unlike any other in the Capitol City.

At Brew Exchange, the commodity is beer, and lots of it. Prices on the 100+ beers are constantly fluctuating, based on supply and demand. Keeping up with the fluctuating beer prices is both easy and entertaining. Guests can watch the prices rise and fall in real time via the 1960’s style ticker running above the bar. Prices also fluctuate in real time on several “big boards” (flat screen televisions) throughout the bar.

The Exchange offers 72 beers on tap (120 varieties in all, including bottles) that are grouped into categories—India Pale Ales, pilsners, ambers, porters, stouts, and so forth—and each category is loaded with craft brew options from around the country and globe. Womac and his team constantly research trends, scour beer blogs and forums, and hunt for rare beers, which are big draws at the Exchange. “We look for beers that taste good,” said Womac. “Simple, I know, but simple it is.” The infamous draft wall, which is rotated weekly, features more than twenty locally brewed beers, including Live Oak HefeWeizen, Real Ale Firemans #4, and (512) Pecan Porter.

The idea is to encourage patrons to try new beers and in doing so, educate their palates. “The first part about knowing beers is understanding how beers are brewed. What ingredients—such as hops, barley, fruits, or wheat—go into them and how much,” explained Womac. “When you learn that process, you can taste beers and taste or smell certain ingredients within each beer.”

Womac, who has been experimenting with flavor combinations, recently created an innovative menu focused on original beer cocktails, such as the Steam Roller ($8), a mélange of St. Germain, lemon, cherry Heering, Woodford, and Santo brown ale; the Raspberry Brewgria ($8), a fusion of Mathilde Framboise, Lillet Blanc, muddled raspberries, and UFO White; and the Galliano Shandy ($8), a mix of Galliano, fresh orange juice, and UFO White. “There are not many places doing this, and we want to introduce people to these cocktails,” said Womac. “When people taste them, they will not believe how well the pairings go together.”

The flip side of the new menu features updated traditional mixed drinks reminiscent of New York in the twenties, including the Old Fashioned ($9), a combination of Woodford, cherry bitters, a dash of simple, muddled cherry and orange, and soda; the Sazerac ($9), a fusion of Templeton rye, simple, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon peel, and Herbsaint absinthe rinse; and the Brooklyn ($9), a mix of Templeton rye, Amaro Nonino, Mathilde Framboise, and cherry bitters.

The Brew Exchange is an inspired endeavor—and the Austin venue for beer enthusiasts.

The Brew Exchange is located at 706 W. 6th St. in downtown Austin, and is open Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. For more information on Brew Exchange, call 512.366.5727 or visit www.brewexchangeaustin.com.
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