The Badass Tap: (512) Alt
(512) Brewing in south Austin was partly instrumental in kicking off the whole Badass Beer thing so it's fitting that we should have another one of their beers on the Badass Tap.
Last year, during the depths of what passes for winter in Texas (actually, it was quite wintry this year, wasn't it), I was pondering the idea of having a rotating tap of seasonal, aged and high-end beers, and when the Christmas seasonals started running out at the end of December we found ourselves with an empty line or two, right about the time that (512) released the Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter. Just thinking about that beer brings a little tear of happiness to my eye.
So we got a pair of kegs. They flew out of the door on wings, and thus was born the Badass Tap. This time we have a few kegs of their spring seasonal, an Altbier, which they debuted this time last year.
I must admit that this is a beer style I'm not too familiar with. Having grown up on English bitter I'm a confirmed hophead, so malty German beers are not something I often drink, but the Altbier is relatively well-hopped as German beers go. Altbier means 'old beer' in German, and it's throwback to the time before lager took over as the predominant German beer style. In fact, it's kind of a hybrid. It's brewed with top-fermenting yeast (like an ale) but at a cooler temperature (like a lager), and stored, or 'lagered', at cool temperatures for longer than most ales, giving it a crispness and clarity similar to a true lager.
For those of you who (like me) want to know the details: (512) Alt is brewed with 98% organic 2-row Munich malt, Santiam hops (a US variety with noble (Tettnang and Hallertau) antecedents), and it has a 5.9% ABV. It's one of the tastiest beers I've had for a while - plenty of roasted malt flavour with none of the cloying malt sweetness, and a subtle hop profile with a slight bitter finish.
(512)'s second birthday can't be far off, and I believe they have another anniversary brew lined up. Last year's, the (512) One, was a delicious Belgian Dark Ale. They're not giving away any secrets about what this year's will be, but they've yet to made a beer I didn't like.
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