A brewery and restaurant in East Austin giving beer and food equal reverence has been making national waves of late — and the most recent one is a pretty big splash.
The Brewer's Table's Vor Ort lager was named in a Men's Journal article published online today and in the most recent issue (with Matthew McConaughey, one of Austin's favorite celebrities, on the cover) as one of the 50 best craft beers in the U.S. One beer from each state was selected.
What impressed the publication was the Brewer's Table's focus on making its beers, all of them lagers, through a wood fermentation process that most breweries don't use. (Fermentation in beer generally happens in stainless steel tanks.)
"At this Austin brewpub, the smoked-rabbit carnitas with pig’s blood mole are as delicious as the homemade lagers fermented in massive wooden vessels called foudres, which impart lush notes of vanilla and oak to beers such as the Vor Ort, turning an easy-drinker into a beverage worthy of a wine glass," Men's Journal wrote. "Nowadays, breweries are using foudres, the same ones wineries have used for centuries, to create complex sours and multifaceted pilsners. The wood adds a quirky, delicious marshmallow note."
Vor Ort was one of the original house beers the Brewer's Table launched with in June, when I described it in a preview of the beers as a corn lager that's no Bud Light. Corn, a distinctly American product, was used to make beer well before the mass production of Bud Light called for corn syrup, rather than the real kernels. And it's intended to be wonderfully simple, according to the Brewer's Table head brewer Drew Durish. He rotates out the hop varieties used with each batch, too.
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"Beauty in simplicity was key to crafting the recipe," he says of Vor Ort. "Flaked maize, Pilsner malt, and a single hop variety to showcase clean, sharp flavors with a faint nip of alcohol and the beautifully palate-rounding oak character of the foeder that Vor Ort called home. I love finding hop varieties with a common thread of flavors and aromas, but with still unique characteristics."
The first variety used was a German hop, Perle, Durish said, notable for its minty, earthy notes. After that, the Brewer's Table moved onto Kazbek, "the wild Czech hop with spicy, floral tones, and most recently we used Saaz, the quintessential Czech hop with a spicy, white pepper and grassy finish."
In the Men's Journal piece proclaiming the country's top 50 craft beers, Colorado's Oskar Blues' Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy, Pennsylvania's Tired Hands Brewing's Milkshake IPA and Vermont's the Alchemist Focal Banger are also highlighted.