The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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A LONE STAR LIFE A DESTINATION GAS STATION FOR BEER LOVERS The Yellow Store of Texas N by Anthony Head / photographs by Kirk Weddle ext year, The Law comes to the public parks in San Marcos, Texas (in-between Austin and San Antonio), and that includes the San Marcos River: pristine waters, 72 degrees year-round and a gem of a place to go toobing—that is, to float lazily down the river on inflated inner-tubes, usually with a beer in-hand and a floating cooler trailing lazily behind to keep the rest of the six-pack cold. Among the new ordinances is a prohi- bition against spear guns on the river without a permit. I guess I've been oblivious to soaring spear-gun crime rates on the river, so that one alarmed me—but so did the coming ban of "public display and consumption of alcohol" on the banks of the river. Drinking while toobing: OK. Drinking while watching toobers float lazily along the river: Not OK. Whither the aquaphobic drinker? Whither the Yellow Store? Sitting a block away from the town square and not that much farther from the river, the Yellow Store sells just about the cheapest gas for a dozen miles in any direction. Even better is the inside, where almost all of the glassed-in cooler space that dominates two walls is filled with cold beer. Beer shelves also take up sizable amounts of floor- space, and there are always 16- and 24-ounce cans of the cold stuff being iced down for river entertainment. After learning of next year's regula- There are usually two-dozen Lone Star State beers (including Shiner, Real Ale and Lone Star), and there are a whole bunch of imports. "People still want foreign beers, but there's not as much demand because of the American craft beers," Damon says. So along with the industry giants like Budweiser, Coors, Amstel Light and Heineken, the stock includes beers from small and micro-breweries: Deviant Dales IPA (Oskar Blues Brewing Company), Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy (Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company), Chicken Killer Damon Joswick, General Manager of the Yellow Store, San Marcos, TX. tions, naturally my first question to Damon Joswick, General Manager of the Yellow Store, is if he sells spear guns and/or spear gun permits. "No. But I got about 400 selections of beer," he tell me. Juggling constant deliver- ies from "about seven or eight" different distributors, Damon is, in a sense, who the beer industry most listens to because he's the retail man with the ordering power. It's totally up to me. I get to pick what I want," he says. "If people are demanding a certain beer, I get it. Many I taste; some I pick based on ratings at various beer sites. Sometimes I get beers for purely comedic reasons, like Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale, and then you try it and it's a pretty decent beer." Barley Wine (Sante Fe Brewing Company), Coney Island Lager (Shmaltz Brewing Company) and Damon's current fav, the seasonal Strawberry Lager (Abita Brewing Company). It's a well-crafted craft-beer collection in quite an unexpected location, which is why on holidays, like the Fourth of July, the Yellow Store can do an extra $1,000 just on beer business. "We'll see how that does next year with the new regulations," Damon says. "You know, the ones where you can drink in the river but not at the river. That's kind of weird, ain't it?" Actually—that's Texas, leading the nation in alcohol and spear-gun safety. july 2012 / the tasting panel / 129

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