An Abbreviated, Inebriated Beer Festival Taste Test 

click to enlarge BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss

Real Ale Coffee Porter
5.6 percent ABV

From Blanco, Texas, Real Ale’s limited edition seasonal Coffee Porter is dark, earthy and is blended perfectly with fair-trade coffee beans from Houston-based Katz Coffee. While some coffee-infused beers can be overwhelming, Real Ale’s hits the nail on the head with a beautifully colored and aromatic porter that is easy to drink. If you’re a fan of coffee-infused brews, give this one a chance. The Coffee Porter is great after a meal and chocolate complements the brew. This is a true fall-weather drink, even without a lick of any true fall weather.

Stone IPA (India Pale Ale)
6.9 percent ABV

The good folks at Stone Brewing don’t brew beginner’s beer, and this India Pale Ale, full of hoppy goodness, will make any craft connoisseur salivate. While bitter and hoppy, this IPA is also aromatic with a floral after-tone. The golden-colored beer has a full-bodied head with an airy taste. The foam sticks around from first pour to last sip and leaves pleasant rings around the glass. If you love the hops, this is for you. If you’re not a fan of the hops, stay away. Warning for the newbs: don’t chug-a-lug the Stone IPA India Pale Ale.

Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Artisanal Reserve Honey Crisp
6.5 percent ABV

Yes, we’re throwing a giant beer bash in Maverick Park—tickets available at sanantoniobeerfestival.com—and we’re sure there will be people there who aren’t completely obsessed with craft brews. If you fit that description, the Crispin Cider Company’s honey crisp apple cider is for you. Serve this soft refreshing nectar ice cold. The cider is a cloudy honey wine color and pleasant on the eye. After sipping, the cider has a mild soft finish that gently dissolves with a hint of sour apple. This drink is made from organic products and is gluten free. And it’s a perfect fit with a light lunch and soaking up sunshine.

Adelbert’s Brewery Tripel B
9.3 percent ABV

When the heavenly hosts gather for celebrations, this amazing hand crafted Belgian-Style Tripel has to be their brew of choice. This award-winning ale from Austin’s Adelbert’s Brewery tackles one of the most complex ales with amazing detail and results. With an inviting amber yellowish color, the Tripel B glows with perfection. And once you start drinking it, the juxtaposition of fruity and nutty flavors will cause your taste buds to dance in joyous celebration. This brew’s roots go all the way back to a sect of monks from the Middle Ages and once you taste this ale, you’ll realize why versions of it have continued to be brewed and distributed for hundreds of years. Now that’s staying power. —Mark Reagan   

Branchline Evil Owl Amber
5.2 percent ABV

Brewed here in San Antonio, the Branchline Evil Owl delivers with a rich amber taste and a mild bitterness, like the mid-point between a standard American Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada’s flagship green bottle) and the malt flavor of a true amber (Fat Tire). Light in carbonation and relatively dry, the Evil Owl is a beer that stands independent of a pairing snack. But be careful, after a few of these heavy-bodied beers, you may forget about the chow all together, spilling your contents into some unfortunate bush—or God forbid, the gazebo—in Maverick Park.

Pedernales Classic Hefeweizen
5.2 percent ABV

From Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewery, this Bavarian-style Hefeweizen is a revelation for drinkers stuck in a Blue Moon or Hoegaarden rut. A delicious wheat beer, the Pedernales ferments their Hefeweizen with delbruckii yeast, giving it the strong signature taste of this brand of beer (“Hefe” is German for yeast). Unlike some Hefeweizens brewed with orange peel and coriander, the banana tones of the delbruckii would not benefit from a citrus garnish. Sparkly, crisp and finishing smooth, this Fredericksburg-brewed beer lives up to the legacy of the town’s German roots.

Saint Arnold Oktoberfest
6.0 percent ABV

Is it possible for a beer to be too smooth? From Texas’ oldest craft brewery, the Saint Arnold Oktoberfest has a sweet first impression and a texture that’s barely there, a dangerous combo for a beer clocking in at six percent alcohol by volume. Though it’s a little suave at first, the orange-amber colored beer hits with a barley malt flavor after a few sips, delivering on the traditional Oktoberfest flavor first concocted in Munich.

Leprechaun Premium Hard Cider
7.1 percent ABV

Founded in Texas, but now operating out of Washington, Leprechaun crafted an impressively sweet hard cider for its high alcohol percentage. Brewed with champagne yeast and crushed apple, this pale goldenrod cider has a dry feel and pucker-sweet taste, the ideal beverage for gluten-free attendees looking to get a little boozy. —Matt Stieb

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