In mid-April, thousands of people are going to be positively vibrating in front of their TVs in anticipation of the final and sure-to-be-epic season of "Game of Thrones." It's no doubt going to be several hours of nail-biting, hair-pulling and mouth-covering suspense, and with all that excitement, we're going to need some booze.
For Austinites, not just any alcohol will do. The newly turned zombie dragon giving an edge to the White Walkers in the coming battle for Westeros seems to spell doom for anyone still living. The Zombie Dragon East Coast IPA produced by brewery North by Northwest, on the other hand, tastes like our salvation.
First served in early fall 2017 — just after the most recent season finale aired on HBO — the Zombie Dragon IPA has become a bestseller for NXNW, and no wonder. It's hazy, juicy and full of bright tropical flavors thanks to the heavy hop additions of Mosaic and El Dorado. And yes, the NXNW brewers named it as a "Game of Thrones" reference.
"When we first came out with the beer and were serving it at the Texas Craft Brewers Fest (in September 2017), I remember people coming up to try it based on the name alone. They'd strike up a conversation about the show and ask if it was named after it," NXNW head brewer Kevin Roark says.
At the time of Zombie Dragon's launch, faithful fans of the HBO show knew that Daenerys Targaryen's beloved third dragon, Viserion, had fallen beyond the Wall and been creepily resurrected by the Night King, breathing ice instead of fire to bring down the Wall.
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But Roark and his assistant brewer hadn't known about Zombie Viserion at the time they came up with the name. It was purely a prediction, he says. They had discussed a theory that one of the dragons would be taken down by the White Walkers, had been struggling to come up with a name for NXNW's new hazy IPA and "said, 'screw it, let's call it Zombie Dragon,'" Roark says.
"It was supposed to have been a one-off anniversary beer," he says. "We had extra hops on hand and decided to throw in a stupid amount of hops, and it had such good feedback and sold so fast that we had to do it again. Next thing you know, Davis (Tucker, NXNW founder) has the artwork for the cans, and it’s going to be one of our main production beers. It’s pretty cool to see how successful that beer has been in just a year and a half."
Ready to stock up on the cans for your "Game of Thrones" watch parties? You can buy them to go at the brewpub at 10010 N. Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) or at local retailers like H-E-B.
A draft-only mango version of Zombie Dragon is also on tap at NXNW, which you can take home in crowlers or growlers. The mango puree "amplifies the tropical fruit character" of the beer, Roark says.
"Game of Thrones" season eight kicks off on April 14. Catch up on the show with our "Game of Thrones" newsletter.