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An embarrassment of beery riches

It's always sad to see the Christmas seasonals disappearing from the tap wall, but it's a cloud with a sliver lining because those empty taps mean that we can dip into our growing inventory of Badass kegs and, at least for a week or two, triple or even quadruple the number of Badass beers on tap.

Last weekend, when the Shiner Cheer ran out, we tapped the first of two kegs of St Bernardus Christmas. This superb Belgian Strong Dark Ale was one of the Badass Bottles we put on during Christmas in July, and here we are already saying goodbye to this season's Christmas beers. How can it be six months since then?

The Watou brewery, although the beers are no longer brewed by monks, the friars having decanted back to France, still specialises in abbey style ales such as the dubbel (8%), tripel (8%) and Abt 12 (quadrupel - 10.5%) as well as a lower ABV Patersbier dubbel (6%) called, appropriately enough, Pater 6.  This one won't last too long - they're only five-gallon kegs!

When the Boulevard Nutcracker ran out we decided it was time to bring out that keg of Independence Braggot we'd had sitting in the walk-in for a month or two. This is their 6th anniversary brew and an interesting beer style to celebrate a birthday with.

Braggot goes back a long way, back to the times of Geoffrey Chaucer and beyond. It's a beer brewed with honey, but it's not a mead. Mead is essentially fermented honey water, but braggot should involve a malt mash - the basis of beer. This braggot is brewed with Goodflow honey and the zest from locally grown clementines for a true Texas original.

Then the Sierra Nevada Celebration ran out. Oh calamity! But wait, we've lost a hoppy IPA, let's replace it with something similar to keep the hopheads (and me) happy! Another trip to the back of the walk-in yields a keg of Brooklyn Blast!

This fantastically hoppy double IPA is from Garrett Oliver's Brewmaster's Reserve series that includes Sorachi Ace (a saison) and Blunderbuss Old Ale. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of these high class beers in Austin during 2011.

But what of the original Badass Tap? Well, until yesterday it was Full Sail Wassail, a wonderfully dark and rich winter warmer. Today it's something even more special - Real Ale Vol. XIII Barrel Aged Belgian Pale Ale. Real Ale took some of their 13th anniversary Belgian pale ale and aged it for a few months in wine barrels for a uniquely flavoured result.

If you've been dropping by South Lamar during the past 12 months you might have already tried a few of the other Mysterium Verum beers we've had on tap - The Kraken (barrel-aged Sisyphus barley wine), Highlander (Real Heavy Scotch Ale) and Empire (Lost Gold IPA).

These are far and away the most expensive beers ($8.00 for half a pint) we've had on tap in the nearly six years South Lamar has been open, but I've always been a firm believer in the dictum that you get what you pay for. Some folks might consider it madness to pay the equivalent of $16 a pint for beer, but if I thought that way I wouldn't have bought half the bottles I've tried these past few years. Some were sublime, some were average and one or two were a drain pour, but all were worth trying.

For a few more weeks we'll be running at least four Badass Taps at Lamar, maybe five if there's a gap between seasonals and we find that we have any empty tap. When the Anchor Christmas is finished we've got something interesting lined up for that tap (and we're already into the last keg of the 2010 so it'll only be a short time), and look for something very interesting on the Real Ale seasonal tap, bridging the gap between Coffee Porter (still flowing) and Phoenixx Double ESB.

I can hardly believe it's a year since the Badass Tap was launched with two kegs of (512)'s Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter, and I find it even more incredible that were able to celebrate that anniversary with a firkin of the very same beer which, as far as I'm concerned, came to no harm at all for having spent the year inside a barrel.

May you have a safe, prosperous and happy 2011.

Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar “If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson

News Categories: Austin, Beer

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