It’s no secret that Austin, TX is producing its fair share of craft beer, but it’s worth noting that not all of that beer is good beer. While on my honeymoon, I went to a craft beer store on South Lamar called WhichCraft Beer Store to grab a pick six of some Austin-made beer that we didn’t want to buy full six packs of. A while back, I did a swap with a guy from Austin and we only traded local beers. One of the beers in that swap was a Pale Ale by a brewery I had never heard of; Hops and Grain, and the beer was Pale Dog. The problem with trades and individually sold beers is that you never really know how long that single beer has been sitting there; especially if that brewery doesn’t have a drink by or brewed on stamp. Such was the case when I received my Pale Dog can. It was bad; plain and simple. I could barely finish it and it slightly tarnished the name of this brewery in my head, but anyways back to the story. So we’re checking out at WhichCraft, and the cashier asks if we have any other plans and then informs us that Hops and Grain has taproom hours that day; I’m sold, let’s do this. Fortunately, I married a wonderful woman who enjoys beer as much as I do, so there’s never much need for convincing. We put our purchases in the car and headed over to a warehouse slammed in the middle of an Austin neighborhood, located behind an H-E-B grocery store and a Crossfit gym. The only thing that told you that you had arrived was the Hops and Grain mural on the wall, but even then, that wasn’t very inviting. All that aside, we walked in and ordered our beers. I had several and realized that this was already my favorite brewery in the city. When we arrived back home, I remembered that I had purchased one of the Greenhouse IPA cans in my pick six. Joy abounds. This is something to definitely write home about.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what exactly the Greenhouse IPA is, because it’s definitely not just another IPA. Hops and Grain is equipped with a 3 bbl pilot system on which they have the ability to experiment and basically go crazy with different hop combinations. Each month they release around 300 cases and each time they change the hop varieties in the dry-hopping so that it gives you a different aroma and flavor profile. This enables them to provide thirsty Austinites with a different beer each time it hits shelves.
This beer poured a golden, copper color with a nice bit of fluffy head; about two finger widths that retained nicely. As the head dissipates, there is some light lacing left around the top of the glass, but nothing extraordinary. The picture posted above was taken after I had taken the first few sips, so pardon the lack of demonstration on my part. I chose to pour this beer into my new Hops and Grain can-shaped glass, just for fun, but I think it may have altered the retention and the aromas slightly. Either way, the aromas were very nice; mostly in the way of some piney and floral hops. There was a nice malt scent that was peaking through the background to make itself known, as well as a light note of caramel. The smell was fairly general and didn’t really blow me away, sadly.
Taste is where this beer was made to shine. It matched the aroma for the most part, but there were some great hop flavors, mostly oily and fruity, that I didn’t pick up in the nose. The bitterness aspect was exceptionally nice and didn’t have really any astringent character to it. The malt in the latter half of the sip really allowed the beer to balance out and create a well-rounded flavor profile that I believe all hop-heads could like. Honestly, I wish I would have grabbed more than two for flavor alone. It was so complex from the nine different hops that were added during the brew. There is a nice oiliness that the dry-hopping really brings out and really lets you taste those nine different profiles.
The mouthfeel was just as nice and complimentary to the beer. That oily character mixed with the smoothness and thickness of a Double IPA creates a beautiful, medium-bodied mouthfeel that tells you you’re drinking a very nice and well put together IPA. One of the most positive things I can say about this beer is that it doesn’t sit very heavy on the stomach regardless of the medium body. I could easily knock back about three to four of these in a session and feel perfectly fine. Although, I don’t think I would, because I want to be able to taste this one again.
Overall, this is an interesting concept for a brewery to have. I embrace the thought of producing a new, experimental brew every month, because it intrigues me to not know what I’m going to be tasting. This is a crew I can really stand behind, because I have seen first hand how they’re making an impact on the environment, the people who drink their beer, and the beer itself. If you’re ever in Austin, take a trip to Hops and Grain and do the tour, too. I guarantee it won’t be a wasted trip.

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