Three Central Texas beers to try before summer’s end
Even though August tends to mark the end of summer, the temperatures outside are only beginning to heat up — and the best way to combat them, of course, is by cooling off with a light, refreshing beer in hand. Three Central Texas breweries, San Antonio’s Ranger Creek and Austin’s Independence and Jester King, either have one ready for you or are gearing up to release it later this month. Here are their beers you’ve got to try before the season is over.
Ranger Creek Love Struck Hefe
Like so many breweries are, Ranger Creek was founded by homebrewers with a vision. But they didn’t quite have the guts to actually open a brewery until, in 2009, one of their homebrew recipes won at the Dixie Cup in Houston, one of the largest homebrew competitions in the country. That got them “just cocky enough” to start up Ranger Creek, according to a press release, and now the founders Mark McDavid, TJ Miller and Dennis Rylander have decided to come full circle by resurrecting that award-winning recipe as the brewery’s new summer seasonal, Love Struck Hefe.
The hefeweizen “is brewed in the traditional German style with a healthy dose of Texas attitude,” the press release said. “A traditional weizen ale yeast gives this 5.4 percent ABV brew a nice banana nose, balanced with clove. Consistent with German tradition, it was mashed to bring out a deep golden color along with a touch of malty sweetness.”
It was named after the Stevie Ray Vaughan song “Love Struck Baby”: “Sparks start flyin’ every time we meet / Let me tell you, baby, you knock me off my feet.” That just might happen when you sip on the easy-drinking Love Struck Hefe, which comes on the heels of the brewery’s spring seasonal, the Strawberry Milk Stout. It ended up being the fastest-selling beer that Ranger Creek has released to date.
Look for the hefeweizen both on draft and in bottles from now through September in bars and retail stores such as the Whip In, Craft Pride, Central Market and select HEBs.
Independence Power & Light Pale Ale
Independence’s second canned offering is a revamping of one of the brewery’s oldest and most popular beers, the Independence Pale Ale. Power & Light, as it’s now called, is a notably more “stripped-down” version of the pale ale and “a natural choice to launch in the peak of summer,” according to a press release.
Among some of the changes to the old recipe, head brewer Brannon Radicke said, is that Power & Light has a slightly lower ABV, 5.5 percent, than it had in past iterations. It also has a “very crisp finish” thanks to the addition of pils malt, and it’s not as hoppy but still has a hoppy aroma, he said.
Independence decided to call the new pale ale Power & Light as an homage to the shuttered Seaholm Power Plant, which is currently in the middle of construction to become a mix of office, retail and restaurant space, including a Trader Joe’s. In designing the cans for the year-round beer, in fact, Independence wanted to incorporate the art deco elements that have always made Seaholm such a striking sight in the center of the city, with bold, stylized lines adorning the silver cans.
“As a longtime Austinite, I have always loved the Seaholm plant,” Independence co-founder Amy Cartwright said. “When it was functional, it was one of the most important places in Austin, almost acting as the heart of the city. I believe that we should always find ways to embrace history without forgetting the past and make it our own, which is why we were so inspired by this iconic building.”
Power & Light is now available in six-packs at many local stores and will also start showing up on draft at area bars.
Jester King Snörkel
In another perfect example of coming full circle, Jester King’s newest release on Aug. 15 is a farmhouse ale that’s been brewed with alderwood smoked sea salt and oyster mushrooms grown by neighboring Logro Farms — which uses spent beer grain from the brewery to grow the mushrooms.
Snörkel is certainly one of the more intriguing beers that Austin’s seen this year (and I already said something similar about Jester King’s earlier Encendia, aged in mezcal barrels, but I really mean it this time) because those ingredients are far more savory than you’d typically taste in beer. That was intentional: Jester King “set out to explore the savory characteristics of umami through use of the oyster mushrooms,” according to the brewery’s blog.
Additionally, Jester King wanted a beer in the gose style, so Snörkel is sessionable at 4.5 percent, brewed with malted wheat and salt, and is a little acidic and sour. The brewery used both sea salt and alderwood smoked sea salt in the brew.
It’ll only be at the brewery at first, both by glass and by bottle ($12 per bottle, no more than 3 bottles per person each day), although a later batch might be distributed.