Austin Beerworks has enjoyed a massive run of success in Central Texas. Seven years in, it's the largest brewery in the city, though they only distribute locally. The brand’s laser focus on “clean and bold” flavors proved a good match for the sunny patio culture of the city, and its early adoption of canning led to near ubiquity in local bars and restaurants. All this said, you can’t win ‘em all. When Austin Beerworks’ German black lager Black Thunder proved the lowest seller of their core beer range, the brand replaced it with something more populist. The result is Flavor Country, a hoppy pale ale that recently took home a bronze at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival.
Flavor Country’s can features the brewery’s teardrop logo on a can brighter purple than Prince’s closet in 1985. It’s hard to miss on the shelf. The beer itself is a pleasing light gold color with moderate lacing and medium carbonation.
The taste is more akin to an IPA than a pale ale, which is a neat trick from a 5.9% ABV brew.”
Austin Beerworks might have missed the mark on the name. Aromatic County wouldn’t be an unfit alteration. The use of lupulin powder and a combination of Centennial, Mosaic and Citra hops gives the beer a massive nose of resin, herbs, tropical citrus and bready malt. It’s a lot to take in, and the nose adds a tremendous amount of fun and complexity to the beer.
Hoppy, piney flavors attack the palate during the first sip of Flavor Country—these flavors aren’t shy. Biscuit and bread malts do a nice job of balancing the assertive hop flavors, somehow managing a long yet clean and refreshing finish. The taste is more akin to an IPA than a pale ale, which is a neat trick from a 5.9% ABV brew.
Overall, this is a winner for IPA fans looking for something with exciting flavors, but without the usually high ABV. It could easily pass for an IPA, but the balance and lighter touch put it in a unique space of its own. The GABF award was for an “Australian-Style Pale Ale,” but we’ll just call it a warm weather winner.