Which happened today at the Redbud Cafe when I joined 'the girls' for a jaunt to Blanco. Catching up with each other was good; the food at the Redbud Cafe worth the drive.
And the chance to sip a fresh ale from local brewer Real Ale was better than icing on the cake. Other people may lust over the coconut sweetness of macaroons or the chocolate bite in triple chocolate cookies, both made on site, but I'll take the taste of Real Ale any day.
Phoebe and I split a sampler of four Real Ale specialties, choosing from among the eight on tap, more than the number poured at the brewery, in fact the largest number carried by anyone anywhere.
I'd like to say our tasting was a scientific endeavor but really, it was tongue travel.
We started with the Rio Blanco Pale Ale, which was a clear reddish color, with a light and slightly fruity flavor. On a 1-5 scale, Phoebe gave it a 2.5 and I gave it a 3. Doesn't mean you wouldn't give it a 10, but we tend to go for darker brews.
Second was Brewhouse Brown, smooth, malty and toasty, complex with a hint of spice on the finish. Brewhouse Brown was Phoebe's favorite, she gave it her highest score, 4.5. It's one of my favorites too, I gave it a 4.0.
The 17th Anniversary Ale is an unusual brew, 14% alcohol. On first taste, sweetness balanced hoppiness but a likeable bite lingered in the back of the throat and a touch of acid tingle enlivened the flavor. P's score was 3.0, mine was 3.75.
Our last was Mysterium Vernum (translation "Real Mystery"). Mysterium is actually a series. For more than three years the brewers have tried aging different formulations in oak barrels.
Today's brew had a caramel aroma and flavor, maybe a bit of tannin. Plus undertones of dark chocolate, leather and deep cherry fruit. I'm guessing the barrel age adds some of this. A unique and intriguing brew. I rated it a 5.0, Phoebe gave it a 2.0.
Which reminded me of my grandmother's saying, "Everyone to her own taste, said the old lady that kissed the cow."
If you want to do your own sampling, visit the brewery on Fridays from 2 - 5 p.m. for a tour and tasting. Real Ale, 231 San Saba Ct., Blanco, 830-833-2534.
Or go whole-hog and try all eight at the Redbud Cafe,
410 4th St., Blanco, on the square across from the courthouse. 830-833-0202, closed on Mondays.
Copyright 2009-2013 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.