If there is anything I can say about my fellow Austinites, it’s that they surely love two things: coffee and beer. This is why I was stoked about participating in the Up & Down Tour, hosted by Casa Brasil and South Austin Brewing Company. After all, what better way to kill two birds with one stone on a Saturday?
The two tour hosts happen to be neighbors in a small business park at 415 E. St. Elmo, just off of S. Congress Ave, south of Ben White. Joel Shuler, co-owner/sourcing/quality control of Casa Brasil, got together with Jordan Weeks, founder/brew master/managing partner of South Austin Brewing Company.
Together, they decided that creating a tour featuring two of the best ingredients for a relaxing Saturday – coffee and beer – would be a good idea. The small number of guests (15 to be exact) for the aptly named Up & Down Tour creates an intimate atmosphere where participants can comfortably chit chat about what they learn and experience during the tour.
My particular tour group included the usual Austin cross-section of people, along with visitors from Russia and the United Kingdom. I find these multicultural experiences to be enlightening. With the common denominator of coffee and beer, it’s cool to learn about how other countries approach these worldwide dietary staples.
Up With Casa Brasil
In 2005, Casa Brasil started out as a cultural center, bringing together American and Brazilian cultures through food, music and language classes. Two years later, they began importing Brazilian coffee to the greater Austin area.
Casa Brasil is highlighted during the “up” portion of the Up & Down Tour, which begins at 10 AM on the second Saturday of every month. During my visit, Joel handled the multimedia and interactive presentation. On display were samples of coffee beans of varying roasts and qualities. The thorough presentation was accompanied by reading material in the form of a booklet, featuring outlined notes, blank paper to write on and even a quiz in the back (don’t worry, it’s not graded).
Joel took us on a journey that detailed the history of the coffee bean and its development. You might be surprised to find its true origin. Casa Brasil also provided a taste test of 8 different coffees of varying blends and roasts. Joel and his assistant, Pacifico Gouge, carefully showed us the steps in the roasting process.
The “up” portion of the tour concluded with Joel bidding us adieu, and the folks from Noble Pig in Cedar Park stepping in to provide a tasty lunch. Tour participants received Mexican coke, chips, cookies and a variety of sandwiches. I had the Noble Pig sandwich: ham, pulled pork, bacon and provolone. It was a good setup for the “down” portion of the tour.
Down With South Austin Brewing Company
Chris Oglesby, event coordinator of South Austin Brewing Company, kindly guided us over to the brewery for the second half of the tour. Since South Austin Brewing Company was recently featured by the Austinot, I won’t reiterate the details here. Chris poured us a glass of their Golden Ale. Jordan showed off his beer knowledge through a detailed history of beer, the brewing process and how it has aided humanity’s development.
Since the focus at South Austin Brewing Company is Belgian-style ale, Jordan made special note of the Trappist Monks, their beer recipe and what it takes for a beer to be considered Trappist. I know this information may sound esoteric, but when you are standing around with 14 new friends and tasting a variety of Belgian beers, the knowledge makes the drink even more intriguing.
Try the Up & Down Tour for Yourself
You’d be hard pressed to leave the Up & Down Tour without some new knowledge. I did for sure. I left with a better understanding of coffee and why the stuff I drink at work tastes like old burnt motor oil. I also left as an even bigger fan of Belgian ales and their light, fruity tastes that seem so right for Austin summers. If you are interested in the details of coffee and beer and would like to taste some fine samples of each beverage, be sure to check out the next Up & Down Tour which takes place on August 10, 2013. For $35.00, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Have you experienced anything like the Up & Down Tour in Austin?
Cover photo via Flickr CC, courtesy of davidd.
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