Monday, April 8, 2013

Hops & Grain's 'The One They Call Zoe': Austin's (new) Most Important Beer

Pale lagers are the world's most pervasive beer style, and any one of you reading this has undoubtedly drank your age in kegs of it.

Budweiser is a pale lager.  Yep, the King of Beers.  So is the 'ol Silver Bullet.  And all the scenester standards -- them too: Old Style, Hamm's, Pabst, Lone Star, Schlitz, you name it.  Even [AA] grad-school-staple Michelob (in the lava lamp bottle -- fuck, can we bring those back yet?) is a pale lager.  Its easy drinking stuff and as genetically ingrained in American conventionalism as the 2nd Amendment and loving Taco Bell at 3AM.  Simply put, pale lagers are safe and agreeable in almost every way: mild in flavor, low alcohol, and a disarming color that prevents people from perioding down the front of their pants.  

The problem is, is that these 'beers' are dependent on mass-producing technology and cheap ingredients, like corn and rice fillers to mimic an all-malt bill.  But what those additives impart, is a sickly sweet (corn), abnormally dry (rice), apparition of a true pale lager.  Essentially, Anheuser-Busch and its ilk have castrated the balls of a traditionally round and robust beer style in favor of a gimmick called "drinkability".  What in the entire hell does that even mean?  Well, I'll tell you what it means: it means that the product is inoffensive.  'Drinkability' is basically the equivalent of boneless fucking buffalo wings. 

This city, Austin, -- and any of Hops & Grain's reachable market -- is about to be turned on to something called 'Affability', the central thesis of the most approachable, good-natured, and transcendent beer to approach the city in a decade. 

Hops & Grain's The One They Call Zoe will take over the long-vacated position of Austin's 'gateway beer', where Real Ale's Fireman's #4 left a gaping hole when trained palates became too enduring for a light, golden ale.  It will responsibly be tasked to herald in the next generation of the craft-curious, the same way Austinites were escorted through the desolation of the 1990s by Celis Pale Bock and the open experimentation of the early-aughts by Fireman's #4.

Zoe clears the smokescreen of what is considered seasonal beer drinking by the general beer populace, but a term itself under scrutiny by Austinites because of our weak temperature transitions.  Zoe provides the relaxed spirit of a medium-bodied, appropriately pigmented, slightly sweet, and brightly gratifying beer one would expect to find in the spring and summer, yet, roundly robust, with a clever hop finish that would also be appropriate to drink in the autumn months along with the two days in February called winter.  This beer has year-long endurance.  A game changer.

Immediately, I associated Zoe with a kolsch beer -- a criminally underrepresented style in the Central Texas, provided our heavily influential German roots, reckless summers, and mild ancillary seasons.  Kolsch beers are designed for a place like Austin, given its clean, uncomplicated, and refreshing composition, but also its textured and bold flavor disposition -- like Natalie Portman's navel: tender with a light peach fuzz.  Zoe is a fresh white girl.  Its amazing how great something can taste when care is used.

Here is the final stroke of genius with Zoe as a kolsch:  It is a natural rival of Hops & Grain's own Altbier -- essentially the Texas-ou rivalry of German beer folklore.  Fortunately, we are not forced to take a side in that battle and we can enjoy the fruits of competition.  

So, for a measly $2 more per-pack than any other corn-and-rice pale lager at any local grocery chain (thats ¢33.3 more per can, for you Fine Arts grads), one can procure a beer that uses proper ingredients, brewed with sustainable practice in mind, and crafted by an actual human person.  Its one hell of a deal that will get you by on a year-round basis.  Besides, we can't be expect to get passed these bastards-for-summers with only Pearl Snap and Hans Pils at our disposal, now can we? 

ABV 5.1%
Acquired HEB Hancock
Can I Find This in Austin? You bet. Also, H&G is shipping some stuff to Houston now. Excite!
Album Pairing Josh Ritter | The Beast In Its Tracks (2013)