If you are reading this, chances are that you are a beer dork. If by some weird twist of fate you have stumbled upon this blog and are not a beer dork, but are thinking, “hey, getting into a craft beer is a hobby I might enjoy” I implore you to back away from the computer screen, and go grab yourself a Miller Genuine Draft. Being a beer dork is a lonely existence, as it is rare to find anyone who shares not only your love for good beer, but also your precise flavor profile. How often have I met someone who knew their way around a beer menu only to discover that their love of beer is focussed on lambics and brown ales, and they dislike the hoppier English-American hybrids that I favor? Actually, that has never happened, but it could. And if you are a guy, forget about meeting a woman who shares your love of good beer. If you do, she will be one of the following: a) married; b) seeing someone c) not into guys in general; d) not into you specifically; e) under the impression that Blue Moon is a Belgian beer; f) some combination of the above.
Another reason to avoid the life of the beer dork is that craft beer becomes a prism which distorts every aspect of your life. Case in Point: My good friend, Mr. JK, spent the better part of this past summer in Europe for business, and was able to bring his two children with him. They were travelled around a fair bit, seeing some interesting places, eating good food, and enjoying life in Europe. Whenever I spoke to him, I had only question in mind: How’s the beer? Oh sure, I asked the usual pleasantries about the weather and business and how his kids were doing, but let’s be honest: If there was some weird weather anomaly occurring in Europe, I’d have heard about it, I already knew the European economy was in the dumps, and if there was some problem with his kids, he would not have been shooting the shit on the phone with me. I just wanted to know about the beer.
Of course, any time the beer dork travels to a new place, the hunt for new beer is on. We live in the Golden Age of American Brewing, where small brewers thrive in the far-flung corners of the Land of the Free and these small brewers usually have limited distribution, so if you travel just a few hours from wherever you live in the Home of the Brave, you can usually find beer that is unavailable in your hometown, no matter how much of a Beervana your hometown happens to be. This leads to hours spent in front of refrigerated cases, gazing wistfully at all the newly discovered beers, and way too much time bellied up to the bar, having “one last beer” that probably sends you well above the BAC level, but damn it, you cannot get that seaweed smoked porter back where you live!
I found myself in Austin a few weeks back, and was standing in front of a refrigerated case in a high-end beer and wine shop, and spotted a few beers by Independence Brewing Co., whom I had never heard of before. I picked up a bottle to see where they were located, when the hipster who worked there said “cool, they are local guys from Austin” which was all I need to hear, so I grabbed two sixes to bring back home to North Texas with me.
First up is the Stash IPA. This is less aggressively hopped than most IPAs, but had enough floral bitterness to balance the bready, slightly sweet malts. It has that sticky mouthfeel that I am noticing is a hallmark of Texas IPAs, and finished on the dry side. It did not taste like a typical IPA to me, but it was a fine beer nonetheless, 7/10.
The Independence Pale Ale is a highly drinkable pale ale, clean and bright tasting. It is not too hoppy, but is hopped enough to give it a pleasant bitterness. I would not hold this beer up was an example of some of the great beers coming out of Texas today, as there is nothing outstanding about it. On the other hand, I’d happily knock back several during the course of the evening, 6.5/10.