Wednesday, April 4, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Common Denominator Imperial Belgian Brown | Thirsty Planet/Hops & Grain | Austin, TX

The universe has such a fucked up way about itself in that it can correct seemingly unrelated outcomes in order to maintain its perfect equilibrium.

For example, just one day after attending one the best and most significant beer events ever to ever be held in Austin, I also attended the worst in its 183-year history.

When word leaked that Drink.Well. would be hosting Austin's inaugural tapping of the city's (and by extension, the state's) first local brewery collaboration, there was a prevalent buzz around the nerd-dom about attending the event that would further seed Austin's blooming beer rep around the country.  When brewers act as integers for the greatest common denominator, the maximum number of beer people will benefit from their efforts.  And when the maximum number of people are enjoying this esprit of craft, is when the city's stature gains momentum as the brewing capital of the southwest -- and one of the major catalysts in the entire country, young as it may be.

But as the universe corrects for this localized awesomeness, it was required to shit upon its municipal boundaries in the form of The Austin Beer Fest, an event so incapable
and deficient that it had to wear a helmet to keep from hurting its head.  I do not have the finger strength to type out the epic list of problems associated with the "500-brewery-strong**" event, but to generalize the majesty of fuck-ups in one statement; the petite tavern Drink.Well.has more grace in their eight taps than did an entire 25,000-person event. Also, it appeared that most of these "craft-beer loving attendees**" had the collective palate of a 9th grader, because the longest lines of the day were for the $7 InBev/Budweiser sample table.  Read that horrible information again.  This was the lowest common denominator.

So, taking that all into consideration, this beer would basically have to slay in order to appropriately counter-balance the fire breathing monster that was the ABF.

But first, a bit of background regarding the stitching of these two breweries in the form of a singular beer.

The press release (yes, a press release) stated: Jake Maddux of Thirsty Planet and Josh Hare from Hops & Grain, have joined their masterful brewing forces on [...] Common  Denominator, an insightful and invigorating Imperial Belgian Brown Ale. The men worked together, taking raw materials from each respective brewery, to execute a craft beer on a truly local level. The name, Common Denominator, stemmed from the idea that while Jake and Josh are both brewers and peers in this cooperative, yet competitive local craft beer industry, they are also very good friends outside of their breweries’ walls. The two have been wanting to collaborate on a libation for quite a while and when their good friend and supporter of both breweries, Michael Sanders, offered to host the unveiling of the collab beer at his new American craft bar, Drink.Well., the ball started rolling.

So, there you have it.  The confluence of brewing by Thirsty Planet and Hops & Grain, combined with the vehicle to push this skag on to the addicts in the form of the Drink.Well Tavern managed to realign the poles that would shortly be put off its axis by an enormous dump taken in Far East Austin.

Apart from the event being generally spectacular, the beer itself reflected the cosmic effort put forth for all responsible.  Generally, hype exceeds payload in too many instances, but when you have somebody like Vince Young behind the line of scrimmage, you know that there is always bound to be something spectacular forthwith.  This is the case with these two breweries: accountable and engaging; the brewmaster versions of Black Jesus.

Common Denominator tilts Austin's axis, so much so, it must be fully consumed and exhausted in its holster within a 48 hour period (and it was!) so as to prevent further malevolence inside the city limits.  The cola notes and extra carbonation is a very heady, initial touch to begin the whole journey down this glass.  As it warms, the complexity is very prominent -- heavily roasted malts, Belgian yeasts, cocoa, caramel, and a hint of oak undertones -- a winter warmer of sorts, but also deft enough to make the head swim in sunshine. Its heavily boozed, but entirely subtle.  All contradictory integers, sure, but each characteristic cleverly finds that common denominator.

This was truly a mash-up of great minds -- like Dangermouse and James Mercer ... no Dangermouse and Cee Lo.  'Cos that shit made me crazy.

ABV: 8.5%
Acquired: Drink.Well.

** um, no.


Roperaz said...

Does this Awesome Post remotely resemble your Platform in your Presidential Aspirations?

Eric said...

In every way, including Vince Young as Veep.

You Stay Hoppy Austin said...

Loved this review! Really need to try this beer now. Cheers!

Eric said...

Thanks for the kind words! It really knocked the whole bars socks off. It smelled like Jester dorm afterwards.

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