For the inaugural iliveindallas beer road trip, I traveled southbound down I-35 to our great state's capital for some beer adventures of my own. After a torrential downpour for most of my way South, I decided to stop at Austin Beerworks (ABW) for their tasting room hours to meet up with an old friend. Outside of their beers, ABW is also known for their clever 99-beer pack marketing strategy last year where they sold boxes of beer containing 99 cans of their Peacemaker Anytime Ale. There, I enjoyed some of their more unique offerings like their Sputnik coffee imperial oatmeal stout, Hesienberg filtered wheat Kristallweizen, and Lotion in the Basket Zwickelbier (an unfiltered pale session lager).
The next morning after scarfing down some local brunch fare at Kerbey Lane, I decided to go check out Jester King Brewery out in the hill country on the outskirts of Austin, before heading over to the Untapped Festival. Jester King is known for making unqiue and interesting beers fermented with local wild yeast and bacteria, and mixing in other ingredients like fruits, and aging them in a wide range of oak barrels. My first beer there was a brand new collaboration between Jester King, Crooked Stave (Denver, Colorado), and Brasserie Trois Dames (St. Croix, Switzerland), called Cerveza Sin Frontera (translated to "Beer Without Borders"). This beer is a unqiue combination of barley, wheat, oats, hops, and well water, and independently fermented with natural wild yeast and bacteria at each of the three collaborating locations. After an initial 3 months in stainless steel fermenters, the beer was then transferred into Spanish sherry barrels for 12 months, and then bottle conditioned for another 3 months. I was also able to try Repose (a farmhouse sour ale aged in Brandy barrels), Hibernal Dichotomous (a farmhouse ale brewed with beets, oranges, and thyme), and Ambree (a farmhouse amber ale).
From there, I traveled to Carson Creek Ranch where the festival was held. This location just North of the airport gave the Austin Untapped Festival a different vibe than either of the previous Dallas or Fort Worth festivals. Being out in an open field gave the festival a calmer relaxed vibe, and you didn't feel as constricted when you had thousands of people milling about in a parking lot downtown. My self-assigned mission for Austin Untapped was to try as many Austin area breweries that we don't normally get up here. I feel that my mission was a complete success, as I was able to taste several local and national beers and still made it out alive, before the following storm unleashed it wrath on the festival.
I also ran into some familiar faces down in Austin, as the DFW breweries made an impressive showing as well. Community, Deep Ellum, Grapevine, Peticolas, Revolver, and Rahr & Sons all had tents showing all the Austinites how we do beer up here in North Texas. Revolver even brought their coveted Sangre y Miel (sour fermented Blood & Honey) for the fesstival goers to enjoy.
Some of the Austin-local beer highlights from the festival include:
Stash IPA - Independence Brewing Company (Austin, TX)
Austinites are lucky because this great West Coast style IPA is available year round. Austinites know this, so they drink it all before they can sell any outside of the immediate area. I would personally love for this to make it up to our DFW market. This strong citrus notes from the hops give this beer a great burst of aroma and flavor.
Sweep the Leg Peanut Butter Stout - Infamous Brewing Company (Austin, TX)
Probably the biggest surprise of the festival for me was Infamous' Sweep the Leg Peanut Butter Stout. Most of the peanut butter flavored beers I've tried (DuClaw's Sweet Baby Jesus, Terrapin's Liquid Bliss) achieve more of a raw peanut flavor in their brews. When I think of a peanut butter beer, I want more of a sweet peanut butter cup with a thick chewy beer. Infamous' Sweep the Leg clearly achieves both of these and is what I've been looking for.
Templar Nights Barrel Aged Milk Stout - Austin Beerworks (Austin, TX)
Templar Nights started out as regular sweet Milk Stout, but was then aged in wine barrels, and then again in whiskey barrels with a heaping addition of tart cherries. The blend of flavors from the stout, barrel aging, and cherries, creates a complex balance of tart/sweet/smooth/fruity/oaky in this small one-off batch.
Montmorency vs Balaton Cherry Sour Ale - Jester King Brewery (Austin, TX)
Speaking of cherries, Jester King's second batch of Montmorency vs Balaton (MvB) was also available this weekend. As is with most of their sour fruit ales, MvB is made with a blend of native yeast and bacteria to achieve the desired mouth-puckering flavors, and then Montmorency and Balaton cherries were added, and then allowed to referment to achieve a dry tartness. The cherries aren't overpowering as they are in other styles like Krieks and other Lambics, but are present in the subtle finish of the beer.
Wild Bear Sour Brown Ale - (512) Brewing Company (Austin, TX)
As seen here, another trend at Untapped (and across the nation) this year was a wide variety of sour and wild fermented beers. Wild Bear is (512)'s first foray into the world of wild fermented beers. Wild Bear started off with their usual Fall seasonal beer, (512) Bruin, and was aged in new oak barrels where souring bacteria (Pediococcus), and wild yeast (Brettanomyces) were added, and let age for over 10 months. The beer is only moderately sour and not too overpowering like most other sour beers at the festival.
Tenebrae Aeterna Sour Robust Porter - Real Ale Brewing Company (Blanco, TX)
The newest addition to Real Ale's Mysterium Verum experimental beer series, Tenebrae Aeterna (Latin for 'Eternal Darkness') is a robust porter aged in barrels for two years with bacteria and wild yeast additions. The longer aging brought out some of the tart 'cherry pie' flavors from the souring bacteria, giving it an interesting complement to the dark roasted flavors from the base porter.
Make sure to check out Fort Worth Untapped Festival coming up soon on May 9th!