Six beer-fest hangover cures

 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 04.08.12
 
Who needs the hassle of a beer festival when a local bartender can put you an elbow away from six energizing Austin and national beers? No tasting tickets required.
 
New Belgium Cocoa Mole at the Ginger Man
Lunacy written in dark brown. A nib of un-ripened cacao rolled in hot red chile powder and cinnamon spiked with brown-sugar piloncillo. Beer’s answer to cafe de olla, though I’m not sure who was asking the question (above left).
 
Adelbert’s Scratchin’ Hippo at the Ginger Man
Hazy antique amber with a lacy head from Austin’s new Belgian-style brewery. A touch of sour over a honeyed base with a bee-stung alcohol heat on the back end to match (above right).
 
Independence Brewing Lupulust Tripel
at Workhorse Bar
Belgium is the new craft-brewers’ frontier, starting to elbow past the hop bombs for a place at the bar. This one shines in the glass as if it were lit from below by a low-watt yellow mosquito bulb in a mineral spring. Neither hazy nor cloudy, but alive somehow with emotion that’s not ready for clarity. It’s quirky and sour in that between-worlds way of the Belgians but wakes up halfway through as if from a nap, lulled back to consciousness by the hops sirens. At 9 percent alcohol, it’s just as likely to send you back to the hammock. Get it at $4 before the new guys at Workhorse realize they could charge twice as much for it.
 
Brooklyn Brewery Mary’s Maple Porter
at Drink.Well
Brooklyn beer isn’t always easy to get, even in Brooklyn. Especially this maple porter.  Daring you to figure out what lurks in its ebonied depths, it stays true to porter’s dry modern profile while suggesting exotic sugars. Reduce it for pancakes, leave it alone in good company. (OK, there’s a chance it’s rotated out by now. If so, do the festival thing and blame the customers.)
 
Hops & Grain Alt-eration at Drink.Well
I’ve brewed gallons of the home version of this forgiving style that incorporates lager’s fickle tiny bubbles with the less-demanding temperatures of sturdy ale yeasts. My results have varied like a paper-hat trainee’s. The version from Austin’s Hops & Grain starts like an Oktoberfest singalong then mellows dry and roasty before the singers start getting punchy.
 
Jester King Le Petit Prince
at Second Bar + Kitchen
The start or end to a night of too much of everything else, Le Petit Prince is Jester King’s 2.9 percent alcohol answer to having just one more. But the barely-illicit profile doesn’t mean lack of character, when you count sour as a character trait. And I do, especially with beer and especially-er with a beer in the Wild Wild Yeast lambic-slash-farmhouse style. As pale cloudy yellow as a faded royal’s epaulets.
 
UPDATE 04/12/12: I'm wrong about my characterization of Le Petit Prince as a wild yeast/lambic beer. Its flavor profile reminded me of the style. But in brewing, precision counts. Here's some illumination from Ron Extract at Jester King:
 
We appreciate your including Le Petit Prince in your recent post, however, there seems to be a slight bit of confusion in what you wrote. Unlike Das Wunderkind! and Boxer's Revenge, Le Petit Prince is not a wild yeast beer, and unless something's gone dramatically wrong, it shouldn't be sour or lambic-like!
 
We use the word "farmhouse" in describing everything that we now make, but this isn't the same thing as "sour" or "wild." All of our beers undergo a lengthy fermentation with our house yeast, which brings out a lot of earthy, peppery, spicy notes, and even a hint of perceived sweetness, in spite of the fact that it ferments nearly all of the sugar that's present, resulting in extremely dry beers.
 
The strain that we use was first developed for a farmhouse brewery in Northern France, and is extremely idiosyncratic, producing different types of flavors, depending on the size and shape of the brewing system and other environmental variables, but it is not a wild yeast. There's also no souring bacteria present in Le Petit Prince or any of our other non-sour beers, all of which are packaged after the initial fermentation, and then refermented in the bottle, cask, or keg.  
 
The process for Das Wunderkind!, Boxer's Revenge, and our other sour/wild beers is different. Rather than being packaged right away, these beers are transferred to oak barrels after the initial fermentation, where they undergoes an even lengthier secondary fermentation with a unique blend of wild yeast and bacteria, including a few strains of wild yeast that we were able to isolate from the local Hill Country air.  At this point they're kept completely segregated from our non-wild beers. My apologies if we were ever less than clear about this distinction. Hopefully, this explanation helps.
 
Cheers,
Ron Extract, Jester King Craft Brewery
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)