Saturday, March 10, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Phoenixx Double ESB | Real Ale Brewing | Blanco, TX

Real Ale is one of the grandaddies of Austin(ish) craft brewers, setting up shop in Hill Country centuries ago in 1996.

Most people who come to visit Austin will get initiated into our drinking culture with one of the three primary beers: Shiner Bock, Lone Star, and Real Ale's Fireman's #4, before branching out to the more ambitious offerings by other beer mills.  All three of those are a solid foundation and sold at the right price, but they all get a bit boring over time, unless you are slumming it on the East 6th bar district.

Knowing this, the dinosaurs of Austin brewers started concocting some rather interesting and inspired seasonal options before those new brewers on the block could lure everyone away with their fancy new shwarzbiers, DIPAs, and stouts.  Things really got kicked off at the Real Ale Brewing Company -- a brewery that everyone in Texas agrees is a damn solid brewhouse -- with their Coffee Porter.

With the new realization that limited, special, and limited releases make your beer brand get fawned over, Real Ale mobilized with this epiphany and began brewing even more adventurous stuff; enter Phoenixx Double ESB.

The ESB in Phoenixx ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter: a bit of a misnomer since the IBUs are relatively tame.  I will give Real Ale accuracy points for "special" though.  The brewers have managed to honor a traditional British-syle ale that nobody in The US craft scene is really clamoring to clone.  Real Ale took a bit of a gamble that fans would respond positively to a steeply malted brew that kind-of coats your tongue in biscuity residue.

I find Phoenixx Double ESB remarkably charming in that it is very reflective of the several pints I had in London the same year Real Ale Brewing was founded.  They did a great service making this taste like an entire beer culture -- comfortable and hearthy; smooth and mild -- along with caramel and molasses overtones.

I'm particularly interested in drinking this beer on damp day, allowing it improve in complexity as it warms.

ABV: 7.2%
Acquired: Spec's

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