On our extended quest to visit all the local breweries we opted to hit Hops & Grain for our July meeting. Hops & Grain have had their Alt-eration Ale and their Pale Dog Ale available around Austin on draft and in cans for a while now. They recently introduced The One They Call Zoe in cans and it has quickly become a favorite around Austin as its a thirst quenching and refreshing beer and just plain kicks ass.
Taking their core beers alone, Hops & Grain is one of the top breweries in Austin but where they really shine is in their Greenhouse Beers. The Greenhouse beers are where they experiment one small batch at a time and includes Volumes of Oak and the Del Roble series beers that are fermented and aged in Oak barrels with some of those inoculated with wild yeast or bacteria cocktails (brettanomyces, lactobacillus, etc) called Volumes of Funk. A few bars in town will have a Greenhouse beer on tap from time to time, but the best place to try several of these experiments is at their Tap Room.
A brief aside about the Tap Room: With the passing of the recent beer bills you can now purchase beer for on site consumption at a Texas brewery and Hops & Grain has taken advantage with extended tap room hours and the ability to purchase a $2 5 oz pour or $4 12 oz pour. They are also in the process of converting to a Brewpub license so they will have the ability to sell you beer to go. I opted for 5 oz pours as I wanted to sample several of the Greenhouse beers and still be able to function.
French Oak Aged Pale Dog - Just what it says, the Pale Dog Pale Ale aged in French Oak Barrels. In the end I this was my favorite of the day. Just enough barrel qualities added to the Pale Dog to mellow it out and not overwhelm the beer. Fantastic.
Red Rye - A nicely hopped red ale that was a deep cloudy red-amber color. A good dose of hops like I like it and one of the better red ales I have had. I would buy this one on a regular basis.
100% Munich vs 100% Vienna - The same base beer with two different malt varieties. Most breweries try to highlight the hops, but this was a great comparison of malt qualities. They both poured a light straw color with the Munich being slightly darker. I preferred the Munich, but they were both outstanding.
In A Land Far Farnesene - The last one for me and it was a great ending. A clear golden brew that smelled like an amped up pilsner with a fuller malt profile. Light on the palate but a good medium body which may sound conflicting but it makes sense when you try it. Very good.
I also got a small taste of the Barleywine and it instantly jumped out at me. It seemed very big and bold, but that was only from a very small taste.
I have to add that their bartenders were outstanding. They were friendly and very knowledgeable about the Hops and Grain beers and beer in general without putting on an air of beer snobbery. They were also extremely passionate about their brews which was infectious.