"Mosquitos don't bother me. Ever since I became an alcoholic, they leave me alone.” I heard a guy say that during Austin Beer Week, which wrapped up last Sunday — two weeks after the mammoth Austin City Limits festival. If that combination of boozing and airborne contagion doesn't sum this town's many annual brouhahas, nothing does.
Then again, not all festivals are created equal. Consider an SAT-friendly analogy. Austin Beer Week : New York's CMJ Music Marathon :: Great American Beer Festival : ACL Fest. In my opinion, multiple venues with ticketed/free admission trumps one massive space with major beers/bands and equivalently major admission policies. So as I drank up Austin Beer Week, I matched brews to bands performing at CMJ. Here are my recommendations, arranged by venue.
This castle-like drinkery opened its chambers for a (512) Brewinganniversary. Foregoing a proper tasting, Draught House offered pints and halves, and, time-strapped, I committed to two.
Beers: One, Belgian-style Strong Ale (fragrant clover with a dash of sunlight), and FOUR, English-style Strong Ale (blackest ever black, full Islay peat assault)
Pair with: Dum Dum Girls. I've followed this band since their 2009 CMJ showcase, and their maturation mirrors (512) in addictive consistency.
Onward to the downtown lager library, where they tapped a keg fromIndependence Brewing Company's rare Brewluminati series.
Beer: Brewluminati Brouwer's Dubbel. Sensual. Dangerous.
Pair with: Angel Haze. The young lyricist's rapid-fire, emotive soliloquy left CMJ audiences spellbound...and I'm enamored by her goth leanings.
Beer: Black Thunder Schwarzbier. A lungful of just-ground coffee with a dry finish.
Pair with: Big K.R.I.T. This charismatic Southern rapper's storytelling steez is as refreshing as that schwarzbier, and then some.
This east-side beer garden's motto is “slow down, stay awhile.” ConsideringReal Ale tapped six special casks that evening, I did as suggested.
Beer: Brewer's Cut Signature Hop. Pale ale fundamentals, resin-y and hoppy as Hades.
Pair with: Savages. These Londoners debuted stateside wearing their Siouxie Sioux/Joy Division influences on their leather jacket sleeves.
Beer: Mysterium Verum Imperium IPA. Liquid hallucinogens.
Pair with: Death Grips. This equally aggressive brew and band makes me go bonkers — and I mean that in the best way possible.
I leave you with a CMJ live clip from Canuck punks METZ. It's a fair indicator of what a week's worth of craft beer drinking feels like. Prost!