The eight beers that Strange Land Brewery is starting out with all run a pretty extreme gamut in style and alcoholic content — although you won’t see a hop-heavy IPA in the lineup.
Instead, because founders Adam Blumenshein and Tim Klatt are more interested in contributing lesser-brewed beers to the market, they’re making just about everything else, from an altbier to a barleywine. The smallest beer, at .75 percent ABV, is almost not a beer at all, but rather a sort of sparkling probiotic tonic perfect for mixing into gin and vodka drinks. And the biggest, at 13.5 percent ABV, is a bit of a hybrid between beer and mead: a style, called a Braggot, that hails from as far back as sixth-century Wales.
“With our beer styles, we wanted to take what we thought were representations from each major craft country in beer,” Blumenshein said. “You can’t talk about beer without noting that the Belgians, the Germans, the Brits were so pivotal to the culture. As for America’s influence, we feel like (our bourbon porter) is a re-interpretation of what the Brits would have done if they had bourbon at their disposal.”
He and Klatt have had their vision for the brewery and the beers fleshed out for a few years now, but delays in the permitting process meant they weren’t ready to open in a small building behind West Lake Hills’ Hat Creek Burger Co. until the end of 2014, when they finally started getting kegs of their four mainstays out to bars and restaurants in Austin, Dallas and Houston. (So far, Strange Land beers are draft-only.)
Even with beers finally on the market, Strange Land, the Westlake area’s first brewery, is still a bit of a work-in-progress. The taproom isn’t opened to the public just yet; wait until the weekend of Feb. 6, when you can start visiting at 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays — times when Hat Creek’s parking lot won’t be so crowded.
You’ll want to check out the small space to listen to Blumenshein and Klatt talk about the brews like proud parents. “They’re like extensions of us; they’re like children,” Blumenshein said.
The four Strange Land flagships include the light and crisp Ploughshare Saison, the German-style Alemannia Alt, the robust English-style Entire Porter and the complex and spicy Sanctum Dubbel.
Strange Land also has a trio of small-batch beers: Bishopsgate, a rich, full-bodied barleywine; the Last Gentleman, the porter that’s been aged for 60 days with bourbon-infused oak chips; and the Dewi Sant, the beer-and-mead hybrid named after Wales’ patron saint, St. David, and featuring 1,000 pounds of local honey per batch.
These all feature one of the four house yeast strains Strange Land has (a rarity, as most breweries, Blumenshein said, only carry one or two). They also have all been keg-conditioned, rather than force-carbonated, a more natural process of adding carbonation to the beers that he said has made them not only more flavorful, but more friendly to people with gluten sensitivity, including him.
A beer only available only at the brewery is Tibicos, the. 75 percent ABV probiotic beer that Blumenshein likes to mix with Hendrick’s Gin or Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka. “It hydrates you and helps you process all those grains you just drank,” he said. “Tibi could explode or be this tiny little thing we do that’s super fun.”
Whether people begin clamoring for it or not, he and Klatt don’t just have their hands full with seven other beers to regularly produce. They’ve also recently purchased the Texas Sake Company, which was about to go under, and are in the process of revamping it with new sake recipes that Klatt and another employee have been developing. “It’s not that hard to get high-quality rice out of Texas, so we’re looking forward to getting some truly Texas sake to consumers” sometime in February or early March, he said.
As a brewer of both beer and sake, he’s also looking forward to the collaboration opportunities owning both companies will bring. “Sake barrels will be an easy thing to share,” he said.
In the coming months and years as Strange Land grows — the brewery is already on pace to be where the business plan had expected it to be in two years — he and Blumenshein will continue to play around and experiment with their beers. Klatt, for one, is ready to taste a few of the beers once they’ve aged, in particular the Dewi Sant.
“At some point in the near future, I want to dig a hole somewhere, build a cellar and start stockpiling,” he joked. “We’re like the preppers of the beer world.”
“Except we’re not planning for endtimes; we’re planning for celebration,” Blumenshein added.
Look for Strange Land beers on draft at places such as Hopfields, Whole Foods and the Draught House. For more information, visit strangelandbrewery.com.