Monday, July 16, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Alt-eration | Hops & Grain Brewing | Austin, TX

This blog isn't about news, or specific promotion of breweries, or rambling about being at the most cutting of edges in regards to the small craft beer movement in The States.  Well, only just a little.

No, its really just a thinly built fa├žade manifested as a forum which allows me drink until my liver pickles over, all in the name of research, of course.  And so this, lads and ladies and other Avenuelings, will be the final essay on this blog for at least ten days due to very extensive field research in our country's Beer Belt.  Say Yes! To Michigan!

As a pittance to my fellows-in-beer up in Beardsville, and the suburbs of Euchreopolis and South Canadia, I elected to bring with me a message from the Austinites who have looked the rest of the Beards squarely in the face and said, 'Challenge accepted.' 

Two breweries in particular are forcing the rest of the Brewniverse to recognize the state of Texas and the city of Austin, especially, as the young beastmasters, for they were born with the courage of eagles, the strength of black tigers, and the power of  gods!!

Hide yo' kids, hide yo wives ... and veil any other precious kinfolk in whispered prayer, because these locals are getting real rapey with the awards, ribbons, and absurdly large trophies once predestined for the Giants of Microbrewing.  And, speaking purely on my behalf, I would like to put Michigan on blast first -- as the following beers will be crossing the border from Texas into the Murder Mitten:

Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle IPA
Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils
Hops & Grain Pale Dog Pale Ale

... and ...

If ever a beer perfectly encapsulated the state of the local Austin beer scene -- and provides its consumers with a handy, transportable vessel -- it would be Hops & Grain Alt-eration.  (Pearl Snap as well, but this particular article is dry-humping on Alt-eration at the moment).

Let me use this analogy to explain the prodigy that is Hops & Grain Brewing.  My wife, God bless her sweet heart, loads the dishwasher like a goddam maniac.  There is really no control over her tyrannic reign of scatterbrainery all over the dish landscape.  I'm actually really impressed with her commitment to fuck it up so badly; bowls where wine glasses go, wooden spoons that inhibit the upper spinning arm, small plates in back of large ones, and other sorts of arrant shit.  Its a whip trying to follow up on dish duty behind her this artwork, like a skeleton crew trying to make sense of Edmund Fitzgerald.

In my opinion, this is how Hops & Grain made their indention on the local Austin brew scene -- piecing together, re-evaluating, and reconstructing the dallying momentum that was plateauing in this city; doing something simple, but doing it very well (again, this is also where Austin Beerworks comes in as another example, but they'll just have to wait for their hand job at a later date).

Hops & Grain were putting the wine glasses in the correct spot for bulbous glassware, the plates in the right slots, let it all rinse correctly through a full cycle.  It really was perfect vision for their future and the future of the local craft scene -- kinda like the way I map out exactly how I'm going to load my WHOLE fucking machine before I even eat a weeks worth of meals.  Its so simple that its actually kind-of hard.

Alt-eration is one of the two flagship beers of Hops & Grain, and in my opinion, is perfect in matrimony with its partner, Pale Dog.  One feeds the kids and the other, well, cleans the dishes.  Alt-eration also already has the hardware to back up its local acclaim -- taking the Gold Medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup for the style of Dusseldorf Altbiers.  This is a beer that Hops & Grain opened its doors with, and six months later, they were standing on a podium in front of their peers, looking shocked that they'd won a marathon just by purchasing new sneakers. This is what you get see when you dream about the future. 

So, what is this beer, anyway?  The altbier is Dusseldorf's answer to their Rhine-rival Cologne's Kolsch beer (though different in style entirely -- like Longhorns and Aggies being from the same state, but, you know, one exists because of the other.  And also, one is kinda strange).  Its is a generally crisp, but malty brown beer that is bold in color, and light in body.  This particular version is very, VERY handsomely constructed with a medium-to-light body, roasted, nutty, malty, and caramel-y, but also clean on the palate.  It finishes abruptly, making it very appropriate for hot-weather drinking, but also is complex enough to swim around your articulators like tiny spelunkers looking for taste receptors.  Its really a fantastic balance of bold and subtle, the way beer makers try to deftly balance hops and malts. 

Also, if you ever get the opportunity -- and please do -- try the (Maker's Mark) bourbon-barrel-aged version of the Alt-eration.  Jesus fuck.

Indeed, Hops & Grain wins at beer.  If you don't like it, you must be a pretty dismal sort of  fucker.

Say Yes! To Texas!

ABV: 5.1%
Acquired: HEB


Dr Clarkus said...

Love all the awesome Texas breweries that are "popping up". Need to try Hops & Grain, stat.

Eric said...

Indeed x 2. Their tasting room is also amazing!