by Lance Higdon
Barring straight-edge hardcore compilations or youth group praise band worship albums, beer is an integral part of any record release show. It fuels the courage of stage divers. It gives indie-rock introverts the wherewithal to shake their fists and scream along. Drink enough, and you’ll think you understand all the words to “Louie, Louie”. It’s almost unheard of, however, to book a gig on the beer’s behalf. Well, Paper Tiger will flip that particular script this Friday, when the club hosts the debut of Real Ale’s Ghost Eye Oatmeal Stout, the Blanco brewery’s second collaboration with Austin metal/psych/shred stalwarts The Sword, who also happen to headline the main room that night.
Real Ale’s partnership with the band grew out of a series of hangouts between head brewer Schmitty (just Schmitty, thanks) and Sword guitarist Kyle Shutts at Austin pub The Draught House. Freewheeling conversations
turned into concrete proposals, which found their realization in the release of the Iron Swan English pale ale two years ago. Named for a Sword song and sold by the six-pack, it was a success by any meaningful measure, selling out two thousand-bottle batches. When The Sword began work on what would become their most recent record, High Country, Schmitty and Shutts saw the opportunity for a second round. Shooting for something seasonally appropriate and robust enough to fill a bomber, they decided on Shutts’ other favorite type of beer—oatmeal stout.
Ghost Eye is meant to be a heavy beer, but not extreme the way that a collaboration with, say, THOU or Cattle Decapitation might be. No gnarly adjuncts here, just the four fundamentals of beer. Schmitty described it as a lean-bodied pint with a dry finish, hopped just enough for balance and topping out around 7% ABV. The 22-ounce bottle it comes in is a beauty to behold in its own right: silkscreened with a design by The Sword’s longtime
designer David Maddell, it places the titular Ghost Eye in the center of a mind-bending band logo, staring you down until you finish the bottle.
There will be around 1000 cases and 100 kegs of Ghost Eye, with a roughly equal distribution to all Real Ale’s major Texas markets. And, just like any record worth its acetate, there are collector’s editions—in this case, four different cask editions, each of which riffs on the oatmeal aspect of the stout. I’m pulling for the chipotle/ancho chile infused one to come to our burg.
The beer will be strictly on draft at the show — bringing glass presents too many complications for a venue — and gives San Antonians a sneak preview before it becomes commercially available on the 21st . The band will be tasting their handiwork for the first time as well — they’ve been on tour with Royal Thunder since November 18th, so they haven’t laid eyes on Ghost Eye since they helped pour bag-fulls of malt into the boiler (see video below). All told, it’s bound to be a headbanging, beer-hoisting good time. I’ll see you at the bar (and in the pit).