Ozark Beer Company | American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.3% | IBU: 38
Got time for a story? Great, have a seat. Last week something tragic happened: my neighbor finally mowed their lawn. Up until last Tuesday, by comparison, my lawn looked fine. However in an effort to keep up with the Jones’, now that my neighbor’s yard was cut, edged, and beautiful, it was my turn.
But you know what? No problem! I don’t mind mowing, it’s actually kind of a cathartic experience for me, so out comes the mower. I gas it up, I put my yard shoes on and my ear buds in and rip the start cord back… and again… and again. Nothing. Crap. I need a beer. Lucky for me, the beer fridge is close at hand, so I grab what always seems to be in my fridge- Ozark Beer Company’s “Hardwork” APA. Before I know it, my hands are covered in grease and I’m elbow deep in attempting (read: failing) to figure out what in the hell has gone wrong with this shoddy piece of machinery. The direct relationship between my frustration levels and rate of beer consumption is wreaking havoc on my beer inventory and after a couple hours of scrubbing carburetors and tearing apart/rebuilding small engines I throw my hands up in the air and submit to the fact that a trip to Home Depot and a relatively large purchase are in my near future… Fast forward to last night and you’ll find me comfortably reclined in a janky plastic Adirondack chair surveying my now-masterpiece of a yard with what in hand? You guessed it, that same tried and true pale ale.
Ozark derives the name of this flagship ale from their slogan “Hard work – Honest Beer”, which is an homage to the people found in the Ozark mountain region. Their website says it best:
“We are rooted in a deep tradition of independent, spirited people who live their lives with a resilience and humility rarely seen anywhere else, and where living from the land and crafting your livelihood is the foundation of the culture and identity of this region. “
The namesake is an honest assessment of not only the beer but also the brewery. In a market that seems like it there’s a new brewery opening every week, it’s easy for existing local beer makers to get swept up in trying to stay relevant and adopt a strategy of blasting social media, putting out a new beer every two weeks, or having expansive lineups. At Ozark this isn’t the case, their American Pale Ale is one of just three canned options year round. The artwork on the can, by local ad agency BLKBOXLABS, is beautiful and entices you to grab it off a crowded shelf. It dons a bugling Rocky Mountain Elk, which are being reintroduced to the Ozark’s famed Buffalo National River area, along with mission statements and suggested food pairings: “sharp cheddar, grilled meats, spicy foods, and great company”.
At first pour the beer has a bright white 1-2 finger head that dissipates rather quickly. The color is mostly clear gold with a little copper. Very inviting even from first glance. On the nose the first thing that hits me is some grassiness followed by some citrus fruit, pine, and cracker/toasted bread crust. Nothing here is very overpowering but instead, you end up with a very well-balanced and pleasant smelling beer which can be approached even by the craft beer apathetic – like my wife, who hates when I open a beer that “smells like armpit” or “musty basement”, enjoys the bouquet on this brew. From the first sip this guy is crisp and refreshing through and through. In a time where it feels like everyone’s seasonal is some sort of “Tropical This” or “Grapefruit That”, this beer has slight notes of grapefruit and other citrus fruit but is much more focused on moderate grassy hop bitterness and that same bread crust malt backbone and dry, crisp finish derived from the rye in the bill. It’s a fantastic beer for any occasion, but especially the approaching spring and summer when a brown ale, porter, or stout just won’t do.
As I mentioned earlier, this is my fridge beer. Not only is it delicious and refreshing, but it’s also available and accessible. Ozark’s focus on making honest beer for the hardworking man or woman consistently has their beer priced modestly, usually around $7.50 for a six-pack when competitors generally run a dollar more. That may not seem like a big deal but for a small batch brewer to sell an outstanding beer worth much more at the same price as a sixer of Shiner? I’ll grab that shiny black can every time. In fact, you know what? I think I’ll do that right now. If you need me come on over, beer’s in the fridge, you can find me in my lawn chair out back admiring my freshly cut lawn.