LOOK OUT, TOPO CHICO: Austin’s own sparkling water set to hit stores

Look out, Topo Chico. An Austin-based upstart is coming for you.

Two years after it was first announced, Rambler limestone-filtered sparkling water is set to hit store shelves late this summer. There have been a lot of challenges along the way, but the product’s backers, including several well-known Austinites such as James Moody, say they never stopped believing.

“We had to change directions a few times,” said Moody, who owns The Mohawk live music venue and the Guerilla Suit advertising agency. “We’re so sensitive to making sure we do this right.”

Rambler will be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans when it hits stores late this summer.

One of the biggest obstacles was finding a place to produce Rambler. As luck would have it, Austin Beerworks recently expanded and had extra capacity at its facility in North Austin.

“They initially didn’t have any interest in working with anyone outside of their own business,” Moody said. “We approached them and when they realized there was no local option out there for sparkling water, they said, ‘We wouldn’t normally do this, but we want to work with you.’”

The sparkling water – billed as a “soda alternative” – will be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. A price has not yet been set.

“Our recent brewery expansion created lots of fun opportunities for us, but helping Rambler get up and running has been the most exciting,” said Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham. “The Rambler team shares our company values, passion for delicious carbonated beverages and love of all things Texas.”

While the Rambler team had initially envisioned their product in bottles, like Topo Chico, Moody said canned waters – such as LaCroix – have become more popular lately, in addition to being “better for the environment and better for economics.”

“If you look at what’s happening locally and nationally, people are actually drinking way more LaCroix,” Moody said. “LaCroix is something you have in your fridge all the time, while Topo Chicos are only once in a while.”

Moody, for instance, who says he was “hooked” on Diet Coke for many years, says he goes through 12 to 14 LaCroixs a day at work, while typically downing Topo Chicos only when he’s out and about.

In addition to Moody, the team behind Rambler includes Leo Kiely, former CEO of MillerCoors; Bill Kiely, owner and director of Windowseat Entertainment; Jay Russell, chief creative officer for GSD&M; Jeff Trucksess, a partner in Solcharge; and Dave Mead, an Austin-based photographer and director.

All say they are committed to producing Rambler with sustainability in mind. To that end, they plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

“We’re pleased to partner with Rambler, a Texas-based company that is helping to promote conservation of Texas lands and waters,” said Anne Brown, the foundation’s executive director. “We applaud Rambler for their conservation-minded approach to launching this new endeavor.”

When it debuts, plans call for Rambler to initially be distributed in the Austin area, using the Austin Beerworks distribution network. That, Moody says, means the 600 or so customers – primarily bars, restaurants, convenience stores and grocers – already carrying Austin Beerworks products will be first in line to get Rambler.

Over time, the goal is to go wider, perhaps taking Rambler into other Texas cities.

“For us to be bringing a local, healthier option to the marketplace, I’m stoked,” Moody said.

Is Austin home to millennial ‘slackers’? Yes, but not as much as other Texas cities

The Pew Research Center found last year that the current generation of 18-to-34-year-olds (millennials) are more likely to be currently living with their parents than to be living with a spouse or significant other, or living alone or with roommates, for the first time in 130 years.

From Flickr user Elizabeth Hahn. Used with Creative Commons license.

Apartment search site Abodo took that Pew data and found that 34.1 percent of millennials across America are still living under mom and dad’s roof. To understand why, Adobo looked at 16 metropolitan statistical areas (cities with populations over 1 million people) that exceeded the national average.

The results? Austin isn’t as much of a slacker city as you might think.

Related: I’m a millennial. I don’t need your participation trophy.

The Austin-Round Rock area landed at the bottom of Adobo’s list at No. 40, with 22.3 percent of the city’s millennials still living at home. That’s 11.8 percent below the national average. And, just 8 percent of Austin’s millennials are unemployed, compared to the 10 percent national average.

Austin millennials are also raking in more money than the national average, whether they live at home or not; those living at home took in $1,314 a month, while those living on their own or with other people took in $2,329 a month. Unsurprisingly, the housing market in Austin isn’t kind to millennials. They pay almost $200 more than the national average in median rent.

More: When it comes to this list of heavyweights, San Antonio is way ahead of Austin

The area with the highest population of millennials living at home is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla. area, with 44.8 percent of that area’s millennials living at home. The largest contingent of stay-at-home-kids in Texas is in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area, at 36.2 percent.

Austinites can alert city to dangerous roads via new crowd-sourced map

Austinites can now tell city officials on an edit-able map which areas are dangerous for drivers or pedestrians and bicyclists. Graphic courtesy of the City of Austin.

A website is now live that Austin officials say makes it quick and easy to alert the city about streets that need to be safer.

City officials said they are particularly interested in what pedestrians have to say over the next couple of weeks.

Austinites can select their mode of travel (walking, bicycling, riding a motorcycle, driving a car, or using an assistive device such as a wheelchair), choose from a drop-down list of concerns, and add additional details. They will immediately see their dot appear on the map, among the others that people have placed.

With all the notes that people have already placed, the map can be a bit daunting, but it’s fairly user-friendly once you zoom in on the streets you’re interested in.

This map is for planning efforts only, city officials said. People should call 3-1-1 to identify pressing safety concerns that need immediate attention.

We want to see your most Texan picture on Texas Independence Day

Got a picture that perfectly captures how happy you are to live in the Lone Star State? This Texas Independence Day, send all photographic evidence of just how truly Texan you are to readerphotos@statesman.com or tweet us @statesman.

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Photo by Dave Thomas/Austin-American Statesman

If you don’t have the perfect picture in mind, we’re unopposed to taking one just for the occasion. Bust out your boots, grab a Shiner, pull up a patch of bluebonnets, and remind everyone who doesn’t know just why Texans are so proud to be just that.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS: Here’s 181 things we love about you

Ranking: Austin is No. 1 ‘super cool’ city, thanks to SXSW and food

 

Austin is weird. Austin is the best capital city to live in, according to U.S. News and World Report. Austin’s restaurants land on many year-end “best-of” lists. Austin is one of America’s most generous cities, according to GoFundMe.

rbz-city-skyline-01

And now, a new list from Expedia ranks Austin as the “coolest U.S. city.”

The travel company ranked 21 cities, giving points based on attributes like the availability of a Lyft ride, the amount of farmer’s markets in the city, low crime rating, music/arts/food/drink festivals and population age.

Austin was the only Texas city to make the cut. It scored a 26 out of a possible 28 points by Expedia’s scale, and the company found plenty to like about the Lone Star State’s capital city.

More: Spring break destinations? New York Times recommends Austin

“The only uncool thing about Austin can be the weather, and it takes care of that with awesome watering holes (ahem, Barton Springs), cool places to crash (hotels like Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt), and killer cold treats (Lick Ice Cream, anyone?),” Austin’s description on the list reads.

Other highlights of living in Austin, according to Expedia:

  • A crime rating of 35 out of 100, according to Sperling’s Best Places
  • A great restaurant scene
  • South By Southwest Festival, Art City Austin and the Mexican Experience
  • South Congress’ shopping district (which is growing smaller by the day)

However, some parts of Austin aren’t that “cool” to the people who live here. A recent New York Times article says that “the coolness factor” that drives many startups and hip bars to build in East Austin is what’s leading to the rapid gentrification of the city’s east side.

Plus, there’s always the traffic, which any longtime Austinite will blame on the rapid influx of Californian transplants.