Tuesday, December 30, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART IV of IV | The Top 25

Part I (101 - 76)
Part II (75 - 51)
Part III (50 - 26)

… So this brings us to the Top 25, which is all anyone who's a list-hound like I am cares about.  Maybe you clicked a few of the artists with familiar names just to see if something escaped your radar, but otherwise, this is the cream of the cream.  Everything below is clickable and none of it contains the word/s 'Broken' or 'Bells'.

But a bit of advertising before I let you drown in the narrative of 2014's melody:

Expect more brewery profiles on [AA] -- not an Iliad of work, mind you -- but some stuff to rouse the overgrown toddler that is the Austin beer scene.  Things are in the works for profiles on Jester King, The ABGB, and Oddwood Ales, along with our disclosure of the "Official Beer of Austin".  If you don't see something you like on [AA], do not be discouraged, as the piece may have been elevated to The Austin Chronicle, which we've begun contributing to infrequently. 

Yes, [AA] is still our pet project -- the secondary fermenter if you must.  But if you're really interested in smelling the boil, listen to Draught Punk, and follow [AA] on Twitter.

PART IV of IV | The Top 25 of 2014

25 - Slow Club | Tears of Joy from Complete Surrender: No Slow Club after 9PM iffin you want to stay a person without triplets. Its that sexy.

24 - Hamilton Leithauser | I Don't Need Anyone from Black Hours: Thats right Hamilton, you don't need anyone to help you make an unofficial Walkmen album. Indefinite hiatus, sure, but definitely awesome.

23 - Damon Albarn | The Selfish Giant from Everyday Robots: Hard to imagine that critics were harsh on Damon Albarn's solo effort, but I thought he aced it.  The imagery with the song title, piano, voice, and lyrics is truly heroic.

22 - BØRNS | Electric Love from Candy: LA-based Electro-rock by way of Michigan, this shockingly solo (because of the density) act came from so far outside our sonic scanner, we were forced to recalibrate our music mediums.

21 - Timber Timbre | Hot Dreams from s/t: Huge tip-o-the-hat to our friend Matthew at Song, By Toad for presenting this song on one of his Toadcasts this year.  If you are looking to subscribe to something awesome, witty, and musically vanguard, you should adhere to his podcast on iTunes.

20 - Father John Misty | Bored In The USA from s/t: Man, we thought this song was a huge joke at first, but when we had the time to properly dissect it, we realized its misunderstood genius, because, frankly we can relate.  The Billy Joel homage is subtle and classy.

19 - Twin Shadow | To The Top from s/t: Uplifting, gospel-y music, which to us, means its a good song to drink a beer in the shower to.

18 - Phantogram | Black Out Days from Voices: Absolutely floored us during this year's SXSW on a meager two-song set.  Black Out Days at 9am is like a double Monster Energy injection.

17 - Lykke Li | Never Gonna Love Again from I Never Learn: Lykke Li continues to expose our weakness as sensitive pussies who absolutely adore beautiful arias about love.

16 - Morrissey | Staircase At The University from World Peace is None Of Your Business: The thing about Morrissey is that he is so hatable like Jamies Winston, and yet so fucking excellent like Jamies Winston.  We just don't even …  yet, we continue to pledge our unencumbered devotion to Him.

15 - Damon Albarn | Heavy Seas Of Love from Everyday Robots: One of our favorite pseudo-subgenres of music is something called Northern Soul, which is essentially just underground 1960s Detroit Soul that was embraced by Englanders.  This song, though not true to Northern Soul form, is a cool bluesy tribute.

14 - Interpol | All The Rage Back Home from El Pintor: El Pintor didn't absolutely jump out at us as a stellar record, but this leaked single sure as fuck did.  Wowow.

13 - Real Estate | Talking Backwards from Atlas: This song is so simply arranged and so smartly self-aware, that it is 2014s 'most perfect' song.  Its the same formula that makes something equally simple, yet perfect -- like a pale ale -- top Best Of lists by simply holding form.

12 - Warpaint | Disco//very from Warpaint: Our stripper song, if we were ever to be in desperate financial need for lawyerin' school.  Dibs.

11 - The Rural Alberta Advantage | On the Rocks from Mended with Gold: Canadians, man -- when they're neglected, they can write a tune like a burr in the loins.

10 - Wild Cub | Shapeless from Youth: When [AA] are the executive producers of a John Hughes reboot, like Ferriss Bueller or Sixteen Candles, this will be our lede. 

09 - Phantogram | Celebrating Nothing from Voices: This will make your sex mix that is one song long.

08 - Sun Kil Moon | Ben's My Friend from Benji: The most limp-dicked, whitest song ever created, which makes it a fantastic narrative that is entirely lovable because we love blue crab cakes and The Postal Service too.

07 - Run The Jewels | Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) ft. Zack De La Rocha from Run the Jewels 2: Good thing for RtJ they released their amazing album when they did because they almost didn't make this prestigious list.  Forever h/t to John @partyends for championing them since the beginning.

06 - Spoon | Rent I Pay from They Want My Soul: Album of the year?  Yeah, probably. But the tease of this song in the run-up to They Want My Soul was the best 10 seconds of audio this year.  Damn, that was seriously infectious.

05 - Tokyo Police Club | Argentina (Parts I, II, III) from Forcefield: An eight-and-a-half minute TPC song sounds like the worst gag ever, but man, if you can take it seriously, it really becomes a clever song.  We were VERY serious about it at the [AA] offices in 2014.

04 - FKA twigs | Two Weeks from LP1: Without question, the one song on the entire list that will make you feel cooler having heard it.  Lyrically and musically, the gem of 2014.

03 - The Orwells | Who Needs You from Disgraceland: Despite the depressing act of business waged on fans of this song, its has massive cultural cognizance that is truly genius when one considers it was written by 17-19 year olds.  Its an amazing record on an amazing album.  Lets just hope Apple doesn't abuse it.

02 - Future Islands | Seasons (Waiting On You) from Singles: There was just no truly discerning diagnostic measurement between track #2 and track #1 in 2014.  This was on heavy and frequent rotation all throughout our year, and nary was there a moment when once started, it didn't have the opportunity to finish.

Which brings us to [AA]'s #1 song of the year, an enormous honor shared with the following tracks since 2005: 

2013: Daft Punk | Doin' it Right 
2012: Beach House | Myth
2011: Wu Lyf | We Bros
2010: LCD Soundsystem | Dance Yrself Clean
2009: Fanfarlo | The Walls are Coming Down
2008: MGMT | Time to Pretend
2007: Radiohead | Videotape
2006: Phoenix | Consolation Prizes
2005: Sigur Ros | Hoppipolla

… which is ...

01 - Taylor Swift | Shake It Off from 1989: Holy shit, right?  We totes know!  Nothing is gonna make you mooove like this chorus, and above everything else at the music branch of [AA], we value musical kinetics. Truly, Taylor Swift adheres to the indie-approved style craved by the scene kids and the guilty-pleasure awkwardness of beer dads alike; Swift has earned herself the distinction of a true crossover artist.  Haters gon' hate, hate, hate.

Happy new year, happy listening in 2015.  Drink everything.


Monday, December 29, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART III of IV | #50 - #26

Part I (101 - 76)
Part II (75 - 51)

Three posts in four days seems like a flurry of activity and it is for a guy on vacation … but this is really important shit and I wanted to make sure this year-end best-of list got to you in time to salvage your entire year.  You're welcome!

First bit of business in this episode is a spoiler alert.  No where on this list will you find anything by Jack White because Jack White is fucking incessant.  In fact, Jack White hasn't made a worthwhile piece of music since people were still doing internet searches on Alta Vista.  In short, fuck Jack White.  You can't be on my list.  

But on a more relevant tip, you know what other artist also sucks, but whom also seems to be on a shitload of worthy year-end lists?  Sylvan Esso.  I literally can't think of a single situation where I would prefer to listen to Hey Mami over any other piece of music, and that includes Jack White.  I would actually prefer to listen to Jack White over Sylvan Esso, thats how bad it is.

And if you haven't heard either of these albums this year, feel free to take my word on both of em.  It's like when your mothers warned you not to stare at the sun or drink poison.  Sometimes at the behest of curiosity, its better to just take them at their word.

At least there wasn't an Avett Brothers release this year.  There wasn't was there?

Anyway, now onto the meaty part of [AA]'s Top 101 of 2014

PART III of IV | #50 - #26

50 - Broods | Mother & Father from Evergreen: Kiwi pop that very fortunately wasn't buried by American satellite radio.

49 - Little Boots | Taste It from Business Pleasure EP: Female electroclash is our weakness.

48 - The New Pornographers | Champions Of Red Wine from Brill Bruisers: Great effort by the Canadian indie legends, in large part because most of this album sounds like it was recorded drunk, which is how the greatest artists should always do it.

47 - Future Islands | Back in the Tall Grass from Singles: Underrated band, underrated dance moves.

46 - Tennis | I'm Callin' from Ritual in Repeat: Saccharine sweet female indie pop is our weakness.  An [AA] gig favorite from 2014.

45 - Strand of Oaks | Goshen '97 from HEAL: Our pal BeertownAustin would smash his computer into bits  if we didn't give him credit for introducing us to Strands of Oak. Fine, dude, they're really good, mkay?  Go brood about something else now.

44 - Fat White Family | Is It Raining in Your Mouth? from Champagne Holocaust: One of the white hot artists of SXSW 2014.  These dudes appear to be certifiably nuts.  Makes us miss Wu Lyf.

43 - We Were Promised Jetpacks | Bright Minds 
from Unravelling: The second selection from WWPJP on our list. In our top 3 favorite acts at SXSW 2014. These Scots do music very well.

42 - Kevin Drew | And That's All I Know from Darlings: Yep, this list is strewn with Canadians. Beautiful Canadians.

41 - St. Vincent | Birth In Reverse from St. Vincent: We could be the only folks in the indieverse who are not an unapologetic St. Vincent extremist, she's just okay -- however, this song is a totes jam and should be played liberally.

40 - The New Pornographers | War on the East Coast from Brill Bruisers: We didn't say this was gonna be a diverse list, but The Pornos just made a solid album and its our duty to let you know it.

39 - Chromeo | Old 45's from White Women: No srsly tho.  We haven't seen this many Cunucks on a list since You Can't Do That On Television was sweeping the Kids Choice Awards in 1983.  Chromeo's album was our hidden gem this year.

38 - PHOX | Slow Motion from PHOX:  Well, no.  Maybe this one was.  This whole album deserved so much more attention.

37 - The War On Drugs | Red Eyes 
from Lost in the Dream: On a lot of lists for album of the year.  We won't take it that far, but this was definitely a noteworthy song.  They lose a bunch of cred points though, for being Mark Kozeleks bottom bitches in '14.

36 - Kishi Bashi | Manchester 
from 151a: A touring member of the band, of Montreal, his music has a ton of depth and lyrical embedding.  Good stuff. 

35 - Owl John | Stupid Boy 
from Owl John: Owl John is the side project of Frightened Rabbit's guitarist/vocalist Scott Hutchison, and its aces.  The Scots typically win indie music, and when these are just the side projects, its easy to see why.

34 - Lo-Fang | When We're Fire 
from Blue Film: We felt like we were some of the first people out there in the blogosphere to blow up Lo-Fang in 2013 (he even made our top 101 last year). His debut album in 2014 was good, but didn't have as much lasting power as we first thought.

33 - The Antlers | Intruders 
from Familiars: Another candidate for Top 3 gigs in 2014, a list that spans 20 acts.  Familiars is genuinely in our Top 3 albums of 2014, though.

32 - Young Ejecta | Welcome to Love 
from The Planet: Wowzers, we fell immediately in love with Leanne Macomber, one half of Young Ejecta, which is a side project of hers when not recording with Neon Indian.

31 - TV On The Radio | Careful You 
from Seeds: Our most anticipated album of 2014, which held expectations for us that couldn't be possibly lived up to.  Nonetheless, the album is pocked with nifty little songs like this one.

30 - Tennis | Never Work for Free 
from Ritual in Repeat: Sweet, delicious, upper crust, female-lead, indie pop.

29 - Pixies | Greens and Blues 
from Indie Cindy: Shite album, which again, could never meet our anticipatory demands, but this is an amazing song reminiscent of the Bossanova era.

28 - Delta Spirit | Language Of The Dead 
from Into the Wide: Our drunkest show of 2014, we don't even remember if they played this song before we hailed an Uber, but we wanna say we did and it was killer.

27 - The Antlers | Parade from Familiars: Gospel music for the Church of Chillwave.

26 - Spoon | Inside Out 
from They Want My Soul: Second selection from Spoon on our list. They own our soul.

… to be continued.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART II of IV | #75 - #51

Read Part I of IV here.

This year, Weezer came back reincarnated as … Weezer, which my some of my buddies thinks is awesome, despite all of the schlock they've released since The Green Album -- which in of itself is still pretty debatable as properly vintage Weezer album (I say, "sorta").  Regardless, its hard to deny that they've gave it a "good job, good effort" Los Angeles try.  

That is the basic premise of Part II.   Here are a number of
 decent Tuesday afternoon office jams, and a smattering of Friday night boozing ones.  We are confident that you will be able to tell the difference between the two.  We hope you like it, although you have to understand that sometimes we make a Pinkerton, and sometimes we make a Hurley.

PART II of IV | #75 - #51

75 - Weezer | Go Away from Everything Will Be Alright in the End: Heavy guitars, griping lyrics, and love themes.  We'll take it.

74 - Kasabian | Eez-Eh from 48:13: Some of the lyrics are trite, but its anthem-y and British and makes you want to take your shirt off like you're in 1996 Ibiza.

73 - Work Drugs | Time from Insurgents: Is retro-synth still a genre?  Dunno, we think it is, so it made our list.

72 - Generationals | Gold Silver Diamond from Alix: Retro-synth with added drum track.

71 - Sam Smith | Money On My Mind from In the Lonely Hour:  Took me a long time to accept that people on Facebook were crazy about Sam Smith because literally nothing breaks on Facebook.

70 - The Drums | I Can't Pretend from Encyclopedia: Still waiting for another jam like "Money", but we've always dug their sound nonetheless.

69 - Tokyo Police Club | Hot Tonight from Forcefield: This album wasn't TPC's tightest effort, but there are some great songs on there that sound like [AA] guilty pleasure '3rd Eye Blind' if they were a junior high band.

68 - Spoon | They Want My Soul from They Want My Soul: Finally getting into some serious face music.  The whole list is littered with Spoon, but we wouldn't allow more than three on it.

67 - The Fresh & Onlys | Who Let the Devil from House of Spirits: In a year without a BRMC album, this filled the gap nicely.

66 - Foxygen | How Can You Really from … And Star Power:  Honestly, we're shocked that Foxygen still were on friendly enough terms with one another to even record a second album.  Even though its mostly a complete mess of a record, there are still some interesting songs like this one.

65 - Kendrick Lamar | i from i: We must have been in a weird mood when making this list, as this is the most likely track on the list to have a Santana credit -- who is also on our list of Top 3 most overrated things ever, along with Reggie Bush and Tex Mex.

64 - Sharon Van Etten | Every Time the Sun Comes Up from Are We There: This track would be a nice theme song for a writer on a port wine bender.

63 - Bishop Allen | Start Again from Lights Out: Every damn year, there is an album that we are immediately giddy about, then come to our senses.  That was Biship Allen's 2014 effort.  Still, its a nice Brooklyn-y sounding track that we're sure someone in their early 20s relates to.

62 - Fanfarlo | Cell Song from Let's Go Extinct: Each time we re-listen to this song, we are reminded how 1) disappointing Fanfarlo's latest album was, and 2) how we've disrespected this song by being low on the list because its pretty great.

61 - Wild Cub | Thunder Clatter from Youth: This year we saw Wild Cub open for Vampire Weekend at Stubb's and they were literally the most appreciative band in history.  The band acts exactly like their music, and so we think its genuine.  And good.

60 - Wye Oak | Before from Shriek: The first band with a multiple spot on our list.  This album surprised us with how intense it was.  Definitely one of those drinking songs were were talking about.

59 - Paws | Erreur Humaine from Youth Culture Forever:  One of my pals in Scotland produced this track and it is fucking excellent, as one in Scotland might say.

58 - Sisyphus | Rhythm of Devotion from S/t: A Draught Punk selection from Episode 11 with our friend Jacob of Austin Sessions; its a strangely addictive hip hop collab by Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti, and Son Lux.

57 - Dum Dum Girls | Too True to Be Good from Too True: One of the indelible hits of SXSW 2014. We fell in love many, many times during this gig at Mellow Johnny's.

56 - Robert Schwartzman | It's You from Palo Alto OST:  Robert Schwartzman is the former lead singer of Rooney, which is a band with close ties to both Sofia Coppola and The O.C., which is everything this blog wants to be about. 

55 - Ages and AgesDivisionary (Do The Right Thing) from Divisionary: Draws the fine line between naively monotonous and overwhelmingly cheerful.  Why not both?

54 - Jamie T | Limits Lie from Carry on the Grudge: Jamie T sure does sound different than the last time we heard 'im!

53 - Stars | Turn it Up from No One is Lost: Every single album Stars makes is crappy except for one song.

52 - Los Angeles Police Department | Cave from S/t: We don't know who this band is either, but just try to resist the gravitas of this song.  Us too.

51 - Alvvays
 | Adult Diversion from S/t: Totally Camera Obscura-lite, but their themes, melodies, and vox are completely on-point.

... to be continued.

Friday, December 26, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART I of IV | #101 - #76

As is tradition for [An Avenue] going on a full decade now, we here at company headquarters have compiled our list of the 101 Best Tracks of 2014 between remnants of the shittiest office party treats and room temp bites of leftover Christmas Eve prime rib.  There has also been much beer consumed over the course of re-engaging all 400 songs of the master list, which, for the most part, has been utter shit, so several dozens gallons of Stout and winter IPAs were a requisite.

Nope, it was not a great year in music, at least comparative to the last several years, where long awaited albums by perennially engaging artists were total triumphs.  But this year -- a year in which legendary acts like The Pixies, Morrissey, The Black Keys and about a dozen others promoted feckless albums that registered absolutely no amplitude on the musical magnitude scale.  Other recently alluring artists like Fanfarlo, Alt-J, and Foxygen for example were equally stodgy.

Look, the ass-end of this list isn't a musical masterpiece, but we at [AA] invite you to check in over the next four posts to see if there is at least a little bit of musical litter for you to scavenge from 2014.

PART I of IV | #101 - #76

101 - Sleeper Agent | Waves from About Last Night: decent edge-of-Alt-radio-but-mostly-Mix-radio artist who gave the boys at Draught Punk a nice tweener show during Friday of SXSW.

100 - Charlie XCX | Boom Clap from SUCKER: Charlie XCX slayed at SXSW, this being her show closer despite "You - Ha Ha Ha" still in her back pocket (where it remained).  We gave her benefit of the doubt here.

99 - Jenny Lewis | Slippery Slopes from The Voyager: A legacy pick, but its not totally horrible.

98 - Eagulls | Possessed from s/t: A Draught Punk favorite from our March show with Matthew Young of Song, By Toad

97 - Saint Pepsi | Fiona Coyne from Fiona Coyne:  Summer anthem, inescapable on XMU

96 - Avery Tare's Slasher Flicks | Little Fang from Enter the Slasher House: In the same vein as of Montreal and Ariel Pink, so mood music.

95 - Alt-J | Every Other Freckle from This is All Yours: Least offensive song from the sewage that was their 2014 album.

94 - Grimes | Go ft. Blood Diamonds from Go: Grimes is the shit.  And Canadian.  Which slid her up our scales.

93 - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks | Lariat from Wig Out at Jagbags: Quite a very Pavement-y jam; plus he's a dad that drinks craft beer. Relatable. A Draught Punk fav from our February show.

92 - Chromeo | Hard to Say No from White Women: Goofy, schlocky electro-funk from Montreal. How is this not #1?

91 - Wye Oak | Schools of Eyes from Shriek: Folksy-indie isn't exactly our thing except when it sounds like how Wye Oak does. Entrancing.

90 - Blood Orange | Champagne Coast from Palo Alto OST: We missed the Blood Orange bandwagon last year, but making amends as best we can with this pick.

89 - BRONCHO | Class Historian from Just Enough Hip to Be Woman: A total latecomer to the list, and it still hasn't registered whether this would have been higher if heard earlier in the year, or fell off the list altogether for monotony? A Top 90 slot, it'll likely stay.

88 - We Were Promised Jetpacks | Peace of Mind from Unravelling: When [AA] are the executive producers of a network TV drama about Texas high school football, this will be its theme song.

87 - Mac Demarco | Let Her Go from Salad Days: People lost their minds over this shit, but this was the best it got for us.

86 - HAERTS | Hemiplegia from s/t: Nothing pioneering, but its less aggravating than CHVRCHES.

85 - You'll Never Get to Heaven | Caught in Time So Far Away from Adorn: The lone nod to our emo readers.  We swear that there is a Supremes song embedded in there somewhere, but we can't put our finger on it.

84 - Courtney Barnett | History Eraser from A Sea of Split Peas*: Another song that pinged our radars too late to move up significantly.  Her next album might likely be in our Top 10s at this rate.  *note: This '13 release hit America in '14 so it totally counts.

83 - The Notwist - Kong from Close to the Glass: Now and then, there is a fantastic song from a band who've you gave less than a half a shit about before. We expect that trend will continue, but very nice melody reminiscent of when The Postal Service and Dashboard were listenable.

82 - Shakey Graves | Only Son from And the War Came: Its folksy, but its hipster folksy and sung an Austinite so that makes it awesome.

81 - Fyfe | For You from For You: Submitted for our enjoyment by our great pal Carlos, who is a very chillwave kind of soul and has an ear for this sad shit.

80 - Lykke Li | Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone from I Never Learn: Admittedly this dropped further than we thought because we didn't want you to think we were slipping on the surly scale. We are tender at times.

79 - Elbow | This Blue World from The Take Off and Landing of Everything: The best song from the perfect album for pairing Blakkr by Real Ale.

78 - Kevin Drew | Mexican Aftershow Party from Darlings: Kevin Drew would probably be our singer-songwriter role model if we were into that sort of thing. We are. So he is. These are the themes we would sing about too.

77 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. | James Dean from James Dean: Auto-tune our hearts.

76 - Hamilton Leithauser | Alexandra from Black Hours: The worst is that The Walkmen are on extreme hiatus, but then, if Leithauser is releasing solo stuff that sounds like The Walkmen anyway, we don't mind too much at all.

... to be continued.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


This is CHAPTER 1 of a MULTI-PART SERIES entitled "Tell Me How My Craft Taste", which features extensive profiles of Texas craft breweries. You can read more about the premise here.

[Ep. 1]

Anyone can build a brewery these days. 

Anyone can draw up artwork and a t-shirt and put a weird spin on an ale and deliver it in a can that opens all the way on top. It can all be done.  

But in this expeditiously exploding craft beer market, having a gimmick only allows for enough inertia that persuades people to give you a chance, but not nearly enough to force them to like your stuff.  

In the end, a brewery needs two qualities to push through the imminent decline of hype:  good beer and a genuine personality. 

The charm of Hops & Grain started with the founding of the brewery itself in 2011, a classic DIY enterprise from veteran backyard brewer, Josh Hare, who ostensibly started Hops & Grain to placate the alt-folk carousers of Austin's emergent brewing scene.

Hops & Grain was built from the rustic and modest beginnings of a typical start up brewery, whose stories are familiarly exalted in trade circulars and weekly press mags, but ballooned to soaring popularity on the strength of two handsome flagship brews, Pale Dog Pale Ale and Alt-eration Altbierthe latter of which captured the gold medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup in their very first fiscal year of production.

Just like that, Hops & Grain had great beer to match their charming wit; a "How the jolly old fuck have you been, mate?" meeting of the two essential characteristics of brewery survival.  After all, that is the general precept of Hops & Grain as a brewery, anyway -- friendly, approachable, accomplished -- doing beer simply, but doing it very well -- which, in the end, is actually a pretty difficult thing to achieve.   

This is the reputation that Hops & Grain has carved for itself in the Austin craft beer community: the propensity to hew these clever little mainstay beers that allow the drinker to habitualize into routines of well-balanced, full-bodied ales and lagers. You don't choose their beer so much as it chooses you.

It is clear that Hops & Grain's long-term goals are guided by simplicity and merit, with a nasty streak for experimentation (for those hatin' ass hipsters), after all, they are one of just a handful of craft breweries to host their own beer lab on premise, a measure that ensures nearly spotless quality control for the brewhouse. 

The result is crisp and clean beers with the most compelling ingredient being the absolute care and precision that goes into each can. 

And yet, while Pale Dog and Alt-eration kept the lights on and the brewery sustainable throughout the initial years, Hops & Grain truly came to the forefront of the Austin beer scene with the canning of their American Pale Lager, The One They Call Zoe, which, after extensive field research, [AA] dubbed "Austin's most important beer" in 2013 due to its pervasive gateway capabilities for the nescient macro-guzzling Austin crowd. Well, the few that were left, anyway.

Still yet, despite the smash-hit success of their original repertoire as well as Zoe, Hops & Grain found the courage of eagles and the strength of black tigers to release their fourth mainstay beer -- Porter Culture -- a roasty, chocolately Baltic Porter that drives Ferraris and bangs 11s.

Look, we're not in the habit of acting like some sort of product placement service for any brewery, but damn it all to hell, Hops & Grain seems to have got their shit all figured out.

And then, when Hops & Grain feels the tickle to press every single tank in the whole damn place into service, there is the matter of their small-batch rotational IPA project called Greenhouse IPA, which utilizes a broadly similar base beer for each batch brewed (several weeks apart), but through a polygamous Big Love hop marriage, utilizes different hop varietals each go-round, characterizing each finished product with its own unique kiss. It is like having a new seasonal every other month, right about the time when the human brain persuades itself that it needs a change.

The Greenhouse project also signals that Hops & Grain is fully adept at arranging some rather interesting side projects, primarily for showcasing in their taproom and during special events. 

Perhaps the best beer I've tasted in 2014, Vino Weisse, is a wine barrel-aged cherry berliner weisse that chills me to the bone with glee. Their not-oft Kolsch has inspired a twitter campaign to #CanTheKolsch. And actually, Both Zoe and Porter Culture were originally showcase-only beers, so hope remains for some of Hops & Grain's more pervasive one-offs to see the canning line at some point.

But perhaps [AA]'s favorite Hops & Grain seasonal was their Horchata Milk Stout, which if you had tried it, Avenuelings, would agree that it was aces. 


This is also the benefit of visiting Hops & Grain's taproom, the accessibility to their most special beers and seasonals.  For a boorish sum of $10, one can get a brewery glass to keep, and with it, six drink tickets that will grant a person a half-pint per.  And going only off of an often-fuzzy memory, one can also combine two tickets together for a full 16oz pour.  

Thats just plain ol great economics for the consumer right there.  Hatin' Hipster or not.

Saturday brewery tours are offered at 1PM, 3PM, and 5PM, which last approximately 45 minutes, and, according to the Hops & Grain website, "sometimes include special samples not available in the tap room".   It's true, we've tasted it with our own eyes.

Tip: there is also a food truck on premise for Saturday patrons who like to keep running on digital, and not analogue.

Finally, it needs to be mentioned that Hops & Grain defers their entire production of beer to ecological sustainability -- or at least as much as one brewery can under the limitations of expenditure and need.

The average brewhouse averages six to eight gallons of water per gallon of beer produced. Hops & Grain currently dips below that at five to one. The brewery's target goal for water usage is to reach 3.5 gallons of water per one gallon of beer. 

Hops & Grain allocates 1% of its annual revenue to local environmental non-profits and supports local community growers and producers. The brewery recycles spent brewing grains into Brew Biscuit dog treats and it packages beer in aluminum, which is the most efficient vessel for recycling.

Combined with their outstanding quality of product, if ever a brewery perfectly encapsulated the character of Austin's beer scene and Austin's ethos overall, this is the one that would be emblazoned on the capitol dome.

Hops & Grain Brewery
507 Calles St
Austin, TX 78702

East Austin

Wednesday - Friday | 2PM - 10PM
Saturday | NOON - 8PM
Sunday - Tuesday | Closed


Friday, October 10, 2014

PROLOGUE: Ayyy, Austin … Tell Me How My Craft Taste.

Feel free to let your jaw drop.  

I am firing up this old internet machine again because, well, there is something called the Blogger's Conundrum, which goes something like, 

A discrepant notion of dwindling significance 
The bellyaching of a half-dozen other projects
Lack of free time  

And if the answer to all that algebra = Residual Interest in Subject at Hand, then, yeah, you go ahead and unretire the ol' blog to do some scribing, because one cannot succumb to the peaceful recreation of middle-class alcohol abuse while being the Daddest motherfucker of all time in a post-Pitchfork era all alone.  I guess I missed you too.

This site is gonna look a bit different content-wise, and what I mean is that there will no longer be those clever audits on a singular brew that everyone reads and forgets the moment they click away, but instead, analysis on individual breweries as a whole.  

Brewery profiles.  That's what you'll read here; mainly because my approach to craft beer drinking has dramatically changed in the last year or so, from whale slaying .750s to scanning the overstock catalogues of my favorite breweries, buying the shit out of all their mainstays and flagship beers.  I suppose I'm kind-of over beers brewed in batches so small, its measured with the metric system, because, that simply not the by-God American way. (Am I right, my fellow American fatties?)

I'll tell you what, being a flagship-only craft beer guy has been fucking awesome.  Its been stress free.  My dick retracts to normal lengths on Divine Reserve day.  Can you fucking imagine that buying beer used to be so stressful?

The focus will primarily be on local Austin breweries, because fuck you, Austin is awesome, and because we as a city have the economic luxury of hosting vacationing immigrants from the other 30-or-so US states all the time (if not 30, then make up your own number, genius, this is America, land of the oblivious, home of the drunk!) -- and most of those kids on holiday become transplanted hipsters who've decided that Austin was awesome and THANKFULLY moved here!  

So maybe (just maybe) there are a few of those newly-minted Austinites (and all of the holiday hipsters they'll be hosting, encouraging to move here, too!) out there who just need a brewery primer, something to let em know whats up.  Where one can be seen.   Bottles or cans and shit?  LCD Soundsystem cover band or String Cheese?  Thats EXACTLY what we'll be doing here on [AA].  We hope to hit every brewery with such an in-depth vantage point that we'll be able to tell you if they use corn starch or gold bond on their privates.

So then, what's this beer exposé gonna be called, in the inebriant sense of the word, exposé?

"Tell Me How My Craft Taste"


Which is about the best we could come up with using a beer pun.  These ladies wanted "Hop Cock", but that just sounded gross, and the ability to use a Big Aristotle, aka, Diesel, aka, Shaq Fu, aka The Shaqtus, aka Superman, aka Shaquille O'Neal reference just sounded right given the enormity of this whole project.

The abundance of material for this series downright encouraging, as Texas is as healthy of a brewing state as there is anywhere else on the planet -- especially coming off sixteen (SIXTEEN!) medals at GABF. 

The sustainability of the small beer industry into the distant future is very palpable to both hardcore and casual beer fans, so much so, that craft beer has become the common vernacular for drinkers in Austin, and Texas as a whole.  Try to remember the last time some tanktop jerkoff was walking around flaunting his Miller Lite at you.  Maybe its not so hard to remember, but you did have to think about it a little bit.  

Some of the things we'll be examining in our brewery profiles are:

The flagship beers
Some rotational beers

and most importantly:


… which is the only thing we'll really be talking about anyway.

And finally, finally … this is a pet project to this one, and so don't be guilting us into regular articles because this shit is really cutting into our drinking time, dig?  

Okay, enough of this stupid blog post about a blog post, anyone got any suggestions for the first brewery, then?

Note: h/t to William and Chris for encouraging me to get off my ass, even though I hate em for it.