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Texas Brew Review: Real Ale’s Blakkr rocks hard

Posted 2:43pm on Tuesday, May. 05, 2015

Heavy metal music is not easy to love. It can be nasty, aggressive, confrontational, sometimes downright evil — the stuff your grandma would probably be disappointed in you for listening to.

But Real Ale brewmaster Erik Ogershok is into it all — black metal, grindcore, even sludge metal.

His love of all things metal has manifested itself in Real Ale brewing Iron Swan Ale, a collaboration with the Austin band The Sword last year. And it’s become apparent that this heavy metal-beer marriage is not just a passing trend.

Real Ale, the popular Texas Hill Country brewery, has teamed up with metal-loving brewers from Indiana’s Three Floyds Brewing and Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing to create Blakkr, an imperial black ale that packs a significant punch.

Ogershok and Surly brewmaster Todd Haug play in metal bands, while Three Floyds has collaborated on beers with High on Fire, Pig Destroyer and Pelican among others, so the authenticity in brewing this beer comes straight from the (black) heart.

Where Iron Swan was an easy-drinking English-style pale ale that represented the accessibility of The Sword, Blakkr is much darker, literally and figuratively. And just as blast beats and death growls might not be for everyone, neither is this beer, with its aggressive hops and dark roast.

“American Black Ale” is a relatively new beer style that is more commonly referred to as “Black IPA” or “Cascadian Dark Ale.” It all boils down to beers that are significantly hopped and use heavy amounts of dark malt. These two seemingly disparate worlds of hops and roast can range from beers that taste much like stouts (but with a little more hop flavor) to the other end of the spectrum, where hops reign supreme and the beer just so happens to be very dark.

Blakkr is on the hop-forward end of that scale.

At first it can seem weird having a beer exhibit citrusy hop qualities and chocolatey, coffee malts, but Blakkr works. There is a bit of an alcohol burn since it clocks in at 10% ABV, but it’s not obnoxiously boozy. And of course, the beer is about as black as they come.

Just a warning: If bitter beers and hard-core flavors aren’t your thing, stick to tamer fare. But, remember, just because your grandma would probably hate Blakkr, doesn’t mean it can’t still rock.

Blakkr releases: Blakkr was released in Austin during SXSW and will have launches in Dallas at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House on Friday with Ogershok’s band Canyon of the Skull playing at midnight, and Sunday in Fort Worth at The Bearded Lady, where there will be a metal T-shirt contest and playlist chosen by Ogershok. It also will be available locally soon in four packs for around $12.

Quick sips

18 Years of Real Ale: On April 19, the Blanco brewery will be open for its 18th anniversary and, as always, it will feature hard-to-come-by beers, bands, food trucks and a generally great time. Entry is free and parking is $5.

Big Texas, big festival: Tickets for the Big Texas Beer Fest, April 5 at Fair Park Automotive Building in Dallas, are still available, but probably won’t be much longer. The festival has sold out its first two years and this year will likely be no different. Last year’s festival featured 90 breweries and more than 400 beers and the growing event should see even more this year. General admission tickets are $35.

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