This week won’t be the first time Strange Land Brewery has hosted what it calls a night of ‘beer poking,’ but the particular description of its next such event, listed on Facebook, caught my eye.
“Assuming it'll be cold by the end of November here in Austin, we're going to be warming up by taking an ice-cold beer and jamming a burning fire iron into it at the Glass Half Full” bar at the Alamo Drafthouse, according to the Facebook event page for a Nov. 30 beer poking night.
Wait a minute — sticking a sizzling-hot fireplace poker into a pint of beer? But why? (It’s worth noting here that obviously the poker doesn’t stay in the beer once you’re drinking it.) The two founders of the Westlake-area brewery Strange Land like to take the road less traveled, as the name of their boozy business suggests, but beer poking sounds like a step beyond strange.
Except, actually, it’s not.
Strange Land hosted its first beer poking event last fall — explaining at the time that it’s a colder-weather tradition that helped people wanting a beer in cooler climes to stay warm. Obviously, Austin doesn’t generally have such frosty temperatures, but the brewers thought it’d be a good celebration of our few days of milder weather nonetheless, hosting the events in the fall and winter.
There are other reasons for beer poking, too, namely the flavor that is imparted when red-hot poker meets ice-cold brew. Think of marshmallows roasting over a blazing outdoor campfire. Depending on how long the marshmallow hangs over the fire, it stretches into a darkened blob with new flavors of nutty, smoky, fruity goodness.
A similar chemical reaction happens with beer. “In addition to heat, the red-hot poker adds depth of flavor, caramelizing the malt and imparting a smoky character while giving the beer a creamy mouthfeel,” Strange Land wrote on Facebook last year, when introducing the concept of beer poking.
The brewery noted that “because Texas winters don’t bite the way Minnesota winters do, most Austinites have never heard of beer poking. Until now.”
Want to drink some fire beer? Head over to Glass Half Full, Alamo Lakeline’s beer-focused bar, on Nov. 30. The bar will be doing the beer poking on the patio with Strange Land Brewery’s Headless Gentleman, a seasonal imperial bourbon pumpkin porter. The beer poking runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at 14028 N. Hwy. 183. Bldg. F. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.