Texas Forever: A Dinner Club Wedding Story (Part 3)
The third — and most important — day in Texas, started early. Our crew had flown from Los Angeles to Austin, and had spent Friday seeing the sights, drinking the drinks and eating the eats. Ah, but that was not our intended purpose! We traveled those 1,000+ miles to be in Texas for the wedding of our dear friend Amanda. And that wedding was not to be held in Austin! It was meant to be held in the city of Shiner, Texas (population 2,069). So we decided we would caravan it down to Shiner as a group, in our separate cars (how LA of us…), starting at around 10 a.m.
The wedding ceremony was to begin at 4 p.m. so we had a few hours to spare. We decided to break the ride up by stopping for some BBQ on the way out of Austin. So, once again, I left Austin for the friendly confines of Lockhart. Not to enjoy a gastronomical adventure on my own, but leading a caravan of hungry gourmands. Part of me wanted to take them to Kreuz Market because it was so fucking good it made me want to cry, but I thought maybe the original location of Black’s would make for a more fun group outing. Somehow Mark and David beat Ben and I to Lockhart by a good ten minutes, and the four of us beat Nate’s motley crew by another 15 minutes or so. While standing in line, we befriended a couple Texas state troopers who were quite nice. One of them even commented that he really wished he could wash his ‘CUE down with some beer. I agreed it would be nice, but we all had to drive away from there, so maybe water would be best. Aren’t I just a perfect, moral, upstanding citizen?
Black’s turned out to be decent, if slightly worse than Kreuz. The brisket did not come close to that of Kreuz’s, it was drier and maybe not butchered as well (?). The bark was a bit chewier, gristlier, a thicker and blacker crust than I prefer. The meat wasn’t as unctuous and melt-in-your-mouth fatty. There was a similar preparation in that it was dusted with pepper and heavy on the salt as opposed to any wood- or rub-infused flavors. I like that. I just preferred Kreuz’s brisket. The sausage was a little more mealy as well. The beef ribs, on the other hand, were some of the best I’ve ever had. What I wanted from the brisket in terms of fattiness and richness I got in the ribs. They were, to put it mildly, outstanding. The chopped beef, which was kind of a last-minute add-on for me that I didn’t think much about, was outstanding. So salty and divine. The sides were pretty “meh.” It was certainly satisfying, but while I wanted everyone I was with to freak out at the Lockhart BBQ like I do, I think they left Black’s with full bellies but not blown away.
Once arriving at our little Inn in Shiner, we took a few minutes to get dressed for the wedding. The ceremony was to be held at the K. Spoetzel Brewery, which is where Shiner Bock is brewed. This, of course, was super exciting for me. A brewery and a wedding, all mixed into one bowl of self-contained jubilation? Yes, please. We arrived too late for the last tour (since when does it take an hour to tour a brewery? Get that shit over within 20 minutes!), but were given a handful of tokens to be used on free tasters in the tasting room. We put those to good use thinking we wanted to be buzzed before the ceremony started. By the time the bride and her father walked down the aisle towards her husband-to-be and the brewmaster/master of ceremonies/official…what do you call it at a wedding? Justice of the peace? Whoever it was that oversaw the nuptials, it was a cousin of Amanda’s who also happens to be the brewmaster at the brewery. And, as she walked down the aisle, I couldn’t help but be distracted by all the cans popping all around me. It seemed like all 350+ guests were drinking cans of Shiner beer during the ceremony. Truly, it was a glorious scene.
The reception was held at a local Knights of Columbus hall — which was probably the most Texas thing imaginable — but it was so fucking perfect I cannot even begin to describe it. Lights strung across the ceiling, neon beer signs above the bar, buffet BBQ, a shit-kicking Texan cover band belting out tunes…it was one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended. I can’t begin to describe how silly and crazy and boozy the night was. I remember sometime around 10 p.m., 11 p.m. after a dozen or so Jack Daniels-and-Cokes, and pitchers of beer, and umpteen cans of Shiner…Amanda’s aunts brought in their homemade chicken noodle soup to serve to all the guests. They even prepared tuna sandwiches for everyone. They’d apparently started making the broth for the chicken noodle soup a full three days before the wedding. In our drunken, merry state, there wasn’t a better late-night pick me up in the world than that incredible chicken noodle soup. Sure, I don’t remember much from the reception, but I think if I told people who were there that the soup was the highlight of the night…they would shrug and agree with me.
Brief aside: I slept like shit that night. I had way too much caffeine in my system on account of all the whiskey/soda drinks. I should know better at my old age than to drink that much Coke at night. If I drink two cans of Coke a month at this point it’s a lot, why did I have a dozen of them to help wash the Jack down? Yuck.
The following morning, most of Dinner Club went our separate ways. Nate and Kelie drove straight to Austin to watch some football games at a sports bar. Mark, David, and Ben went to have Dim Sum or Thai Food or something before drinking more and headed to the airport.
I was on my own on Sunday. The last stop I wanted to make before returning my rental car was Jester King, a brewery I’ve known and loved for years but never had a chance to visit. Even though it was cold and grey outside, I made my way to the farm and enjoyed several beers (responsibly!) before driving back to the airport. I can see how that place might be one of the most enjoyable places in Austin to imbibe when the weather is nicer. There’s so much space to move around, multiple bars, live music, dogs everywhere…it’s a perfect setting to spend an afternoon. And the beers, for the most part, are world class.
Finally, I headed to the airport for my return flight to Los Angeles. But my flight was delayed! Ugh! While I was walking around looking for a croissant or a bagel or something to tide me over, I bumped into Mark and David. And then a couple minutes later, Ben! And then a while after that, Maryn! The five of us hung out at the wine bar in our terminal until all of our separate flights departed. Three hours later, sometime around 8 or 9 o’clock on Sunday evening…I was back in Los Angeles. It was smoky. It was dark. It wasn’t Texas.
‘Til next time…
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