Buzz is an unpredictable beast made even more capricious by something as fickle and competitive as the Austin beer market. I am sort-of in awe of the madness it would take to run a brewery especially one susceptible to such extreme hype that the demand far exceeds the supply. But because craft beer is still by-and-large a niche product, one still is having to chase money up the ladder in order to stay on top of the game in terms of relevancy.
Enter the buzzy brewery that has been contradicting the grueling calisthenics of running Austin's eponymous beerworks. So, maybe they haven't figured it all out yet, but they sure as shit are making things look easy.
For most brewers, caring about beer is nice, but caring about beer is pretty easy. Brewing is a lumbering dinosaur of non-glamour and continued education -- the way most of our shitty, alcohol-free jobs are -- but with a much more discerning and unforgiving audience. A misstep is recoverable, two is a Flying Wallenda swan dive into the abyss. As Mark Renton says, "It's a tightrope, Spud. It's a fuckin' tightrope".
What impresses me most about Austin Beerworks is the sophistication in which they credited their market with from the get-go. They were going to attempt a trickle-down from the most cogent of beer dorks and build their campaign from superb branding and word-of-mouth from your most obnoxious friends. I know, because I'm one of those people. Combined with the first-rate talent of their brewers, Austin Beerworks blazed onto the city's #trending beer market with four, exceptionally-tasting, oil-canned hydraulics. While people around the state were elbowing in the aisles for their final, legal cans O.G. 4Loko, Austinites were being introduced to an O.G. formula brewed without any kind of palatal prejudice. It was the most successful entry into any kind of Austin retail outside of the highly-ascendent, but short-lived Free Money Emporium and Brothel.
Most people would bite their own hand off to make just one successful beer; by their first few months in existence Austin Beerworks had four. That is precisely the apex at which most humans would relax and count their millions.
But at the risk of over-fellating with prose, Austin Beerworks motored through the bright lights of triumph with several exceptional seasonal beers, worthy of exceeding the baseline measurement for 'beer-trading bait' had they only been able to can the stuff.
Did you know that the intended theme to the TV sitcom Cheers was to be a song originally penned for a Broadway musical called "People Like Us"? Not until all sorts of litigation threats and alternate version denials was the universally recognized and beloved "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" approved. The world is better for it.
In an alternate universe, people gather around bartops in this country and sing about pearls and ascots and other kinds of tomfuckery related to the original Cheers song. In that variant landscape, success is not measured by "who knows your name" because walking into a familiar bar either 100% guaranteed that everybody already did or 100% guaranteed that they did not -- if that makes sense. You didn't have to earn your recognition based on merit and consistency the way Norm did.
But in this very correct, and very reputation-forward universe, everybody could potentially know your name because you fucking earned that shit through achievement and dependability.
When I walk into a bar in the future, and I say, 'Barkeep' pointing downward towards the vacant drink coaster in front of me -- the way Norm did on almost every show -- I would like for that to gesturally refer to this beer. I want its reputation to precede me. I want everyone to know its name.
Einhorn is pound-for-pound, pretty much the best summer beer I've ever tasted -- and that is comparatively assessed against the giants of summertime like Bell's Oberon, Boulevard's Tank 7, 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, Dale's Pale Ale, Dogfish Head Festina Peche, and so on.
The immediate tenor of the beer is that it is superbly tart and deftly citrusy -- not in the clumsy way I find most brewers who've rushed a sour to market. Einhorn had the dextrous finesse of apples, pineapple, citrus, and other subtle palm tree fruit mingling with fancy champagne notes. It was gentle on the palate and crisp at the bookends of my articulators. It was sweet without being either sugary or syrupy -- and most importantly, it hit the key characteristic of any worthy summertime ale: cold, bright, and effervescent.
Should I ever be stranded on a desert island, or if I'm ever called upon to answer such an immediate question during a round of what people call shooting-the-shit, I'll call upon this like the goddam fatman walking into his local: "Einhorn!"
Acquired: Billy's on Burnet