1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
  2. white souse, n.1: A blog for literature, politics, science, and the occasional cocktail.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anvil Bar and Real Ale's Real Ale

On Saturday I went to the second soft-opening night at Anvil Bar & Refuge -- a sharp new cocktail spot started up Robert Heugel, Kevin Floyd, and Steve Flippo. They've even got a blog--drink dogma--with some great articles, though updating has been molasses-slow as they put the finishing touches on their shop. Robert and Kevin are local bartending celebrities, coming off a stint building Beaver's bar into easily the best place to go for classic or experimental cocktails done the classic way. (They've been replaced by the boyish Ryan Rouse who is a phenom in his own right.)

Anywho, I still don't think they've opened officially (there's still paper over the windows), but after local food critic Alice Cook tweeted Anvil's unofficial opening Friday night, excited tipplers swamped the place. To my tastes, the inspired (though citrus-laden) cocktails were uneven; there are a swarm of bartenders who are pain-stakingly crafting each drink and circulating to take orders, and the result is that the same drink can come out six different ways. Sometimes variation is a beautiful thing, but when you're playing with grapefruit juice, results may (and do) vary.

But there was a transcendent note to the night: my friend C. found out that they've ordered two wooden kegs of Real Ale's Full Moon Pale Rye. And the heavens parted, and the clarion call rang out across the land.

You see, to my tastes this is the biggest beer event since someone gave me a brewing kit from Austin Homebrew Supply in college. As noted below, Full Moon is one of my favorite beers and a key motivator for my own brewing experiments. And I've often wondered why Real Ale doesn't make real ale -- the English and adopted American term for beer that is cask-conditioned and served with a gravity pump (rather than force-carbonated with CO2 and pushed through a soda-inspired metal faucet). The return to "real" or "cask" ale is probably the defining movement of English microbrewing over the last couple decades. So I always thought it weird that Real Ale didn't make some -- and now I understand (1) that this was their long-term ambition all along, and (2) that I'm going to get to try my favorite done the old-fashioned way (maybe even with an old-fashioned). So who cares if the economy is in the tank? The Golden Age of Texas microbrewing has arrived.

UPDATE: I contacted Real Ale and it seems they will be sending a cask to Anvil sometime soon. I'll keep you posted.

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