Wednesday, December 19, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Sputnik Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout | Austin Beerworks | Austin, TX

Before we get into the tedious ritual of me exaggerating about another great beer I've been drinking this week, and you ungrateful fuckers not commenting any of them, I felt the need to talk about how spectacular its been discussing micros and craft with you as the first anniversary of [AA] approaches.

Most of the drivel I've rabble-rabbled on about on this site has been largely embraced by the brewing industry, both locally and nationally (sometimes, internationally), and I'm humbly grateful that many of my readers have taken me seriously in regards to a subject I only marginally know about.

I am not a brewer.  I am not a writer.  I am not a sociologist.  I certainly didn't start [AA] to espouse those three ideas together into a prolonged beer discussion about craft culture as it pertains to the art of beer making.  Yet, somehow it became that -- and so it became a stable fusion reaction to honor the greatness of small-brewing in America as a whole; but most especially, to commemorate our local Austin brewers as they stitched the rows of creative yarn into my head through their astonishing talent in brewing.

One brewery (amongst several) whose practice has inspired [AA] verily, is Austin Beerworks -- the gilded and important gentlemen of brewing consequence residing in the northern borough of its eponymous city.  At this point, Austin Beerworks are shit hot, and are outpaced by the city's total frenzy to procure their goods from any gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, taphouse and doghouse.  The fugitive's name is Austin Beerworks, and everyone is out to get 'em -- and this is just for their regular rotational accouterments.  They've given themselves quite a few challenges by simply being so great at what they do.

But when Austin Beerworks decides that the challenges of appeasing Austin's everyday thirst isn't enough, then they brew a seasonal -- because, frankly, who doesn't love a good mania in their city?

Along with their assemblage of leggy Baltic lady scientists wearing lab coats and thickly rimmed glasses (to make them look even more sciency!) who observe the nobs and rods on their state-of-the-art engineering machines, the team at Austin Beerworks has created a beer that makes the most Slavic of Russian imperial stouts seem like lightly-entertaining fluff.

Sputnik is brewed in the Fall to the sounds and sights of John Cafferty's Hearts on Fire and the Rocky IV Siberian training montage (but into the fermenter before the final scene when Rocko SCREEEES Drago and all the geopolitically sensitive Rooskies in the crowd go all 'Merica! 'Merica!).  When its ready to rock-n-roll -- 80s Cold War style -- in the dead of Austin's arctic 80° winter, Sputnik "poosh eet to leemit, every time" because "no pain, no pain".

And if Einhorn is Austin Beerworks' masterpiece, then Sputnik is their manifesto.  It's creed is recited when November dissolves into December, and the Autumnals are replaced by Christmas Ales.

Sputnik is the contradiction to Einhorn's bright and clean summertime exemplar.  It is the baddie villain that strokes a white cat while watching you wonder just what the fuck are you are in for this time around?  Sputnik's Eastern aggression meets our Western ethos right at the mid-line of cultural wintertime joy -- dark roast coffee, coffee liqueur, sweet cream, almonds, and a very subtle milk-foam -- like a Matryoshka nesting doll of complexity and character that fits perfectly together into one vessel.  If this wasn't called beer, it would be called Sunday Brunch in Saint Petersburg, and it would be hanging in the Hermitage.

As the official Christmas post of [AA], I'm imploring you to seek out Sputnik for whatever shenanigans goes on at your family's house on that contrived day; or as a supplement to your lame, paper-plates-and-HEB-cookies contribution at your office holiday luncheon; and yes, even for the intellectually dormant New Years Eve party at the friend's house you've yet to visit in the three years since moving.  It will be the gift that gives. 

ABV 7.9%
Acquired Black Star Co-Op
Can I Find This in Austin? Only on tap, so knock the dust off of those growlers.
Album New Order | Power, Corruption, & Lies (1983), or, you know, John Cafferty.

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