Evidence continues to mount for Texas taking its (rightful) place in the national craft beer culture. Many metrics exist for how we’re doing, from an expanding state brewing scene to award-winning brewers to how we now attract some of the most coveted brands in the country.
Here is another indicator: beer being brewed by out-of-state microbreweries for sale only to the Texas market. It can be a risky move to restrict your potential customer base like that but the size and robust nature of the current Texas consumer makes it worth the risk. Two breweries have recently taken up this state-specific task, Southern Tier Brewing of New York and Clown Shoes (Mercury) Brewing of Massachusetts.
Southern Tier has a practice of brewing special beers whenever they are made aware of popular Beer Weeks across the country. To help celebrate our recent North Texas Beer Week they brewed their first for us named XNTX, a “Special Ale for the Good People of North Texas,” according to the logo. XNTX came straight from their research and development team, featuring a new experimental hops varietal known only by its index number, 07270.
XNTX is a simple pale ale designed to showcase the new hops rather than try anything more flavorful or groundbreaking. The beer is a light pale gold (almost an “extra” pale ale) with a very light and sweet malty base and a modest 5.9% ABV. The new 07270 hops are not overwhelming, a graft of Apollo and Wye Target, and give the beer a nice, gentle hoppiness with mild citrus and pine. A stronger malt base might be preferable but the new hops are meant to be the star of this show.
Last month, Clown Shoes dropped on us their beer called The Good, The Bad, and The Unidragon, a Russian imperial stout with a Texas twist. With a Sergio Leone-inspired name and semi-mythical label, this beer is based on their standard imperial stout named Blaecorn Unidragon but using Mesquite-smoked malt from the Hill Country’s Blacklands Malt. Or if you prefer the label’s explanation, “using dark malts sourced from Texas, attitude sourced from the burning pit of a bad-tempered spirit, and righteous fury from the hand cannons of The Good.”
Clown Shoes bumped the alcohol up slightly to 14% ABV in The Good, The Bad, and The Unidragon but that barely registers on the palate. Classic RIS flavors abound without becoming too acrid or too sweet, a rich depth of chocolate and black patent malts, some bitter espresso and dark roast. The smoked malt is not extremely evident but traces of a chemical, phenonic nature will tickle your nose hairs. This is one of the better imperial stouts on the market right now (and the Blaecorn Unidragon is great, too).
The Unidragon is by far the better of these two beers — if such a comparison were in any way fair — but more beer and more recognition by out-of-state brewers is always welcome and appreciated. Hopefully, native Texas brewers will someday return the favor.
Availability: As far as I know, the XNTX is draft-only and can still be found at select beer bars around North Texas. The Good/Bad/Unidragon has been in 22-oz bottles and select local taps for about a month now, and won’t last forever.