Austin Beerworks

“Black Thunder” might be the phrase I use to describe my lactose-intolerant husband’s experience after eating an entire bowl of ice cream, but it’s also the name of a great dark lager by Austin Beerworks, which I in no way associate with fecal matter. In fact, this brew is the exact opposite of crap (and no, I’m not suggesting it’s piss). I’m implying that this beer is fantastic.

Black Thunder is a German schwarzbier, a black lager, that Austin Beerworks defines as “dark, distinctive, and dry.” With its combination of dark malts and Urquell yeast, it is no wonder the brewery considers this beer a “lovechild” between a stout and a pilsner – a description that should conjure up some very sexy beer images for you. If it doesn’t, allow me to help:


 (Guess what! I only added eyes and a bra to this picture. The rest of the image was born that way.)

The great thing about well-crafted schwarzbiers, and Black Thunder in particular, is that you can enjoy the roasty flavors of a stout without the heaviness that typically accompanies them. Because this beer is actually a lager, it feels clean and light while still maintaining the blackness of its ingredients. Translation: you can drink much more of this beer than you ever thought possible! Your friends will be so impressed.

To me, this marriage of dark and light, stout and pilsner, black and lager (which comes packaged in perfectly portable cans) makes Black Thunder the ideal camping companion. It is superb for staying up late into the night, telling ghost stories around the campfire, and stuffing your fat face with s’mores. Or at least I assume it is. Truth be told, I never go camping because I fail at the outdoors, I have zero talent when it comes to telling ghost stories, and I think deer are just so stupid. If you’re like me, please don’t panic about the pairing for this beer because I’ve discovered a work-around.

Got a fireplace? Good, light it. No fireplace? Got a microwave? That’ll do. Got the interwebs? Good, go to Youtube and search “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” No internet? Well that’s dumb. How are you even reading this? I guess if you don’t have internet, then you probably live in a time when there’s still a Blockbuster somewhere near you. Go there and ask for every episode of “Are You Afraid of the Dark” because we are about to take our Black Thunder and parrot with the ultimate indoor camping experience!

Based on the above orders I barked at you, you’ve probably gotten the general idea of how to bring the sensation of camping into the comfort of your own home. So by all means, take the concept and run with it like a honey-covered camper trying to escape a swarm of bees! Bust out the tent, hang up a bunch of pine-scented air fresheners, and invite over every bear you know. Add whatever personal touches you choose, but allow me to make a few key suggestions. You will need to stock up on the following provisions: graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and of course, Black Thunder. You must also turn out all the lights in your house. ALL OF THEM! Lastly, check to make sure your smoke detector has batteries and is working properly.


When it comes to the ghost stories portion of our camping adventures, I took it upon myself to do some research on the best episodes of “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” and let me tell you, there are no wrong choices to be made. However, there are some episodes that certainly stand out above the rest. If you only plan to play out this indoor camping fantasy for an hour, then you must at least watch these two episodes in this order:

First, “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float” (season 5, episode 1). If you don’t already have a fear of swimming pools or fart smells, the ghost in this story is going to flip-turn your life upside down. In my opinion, he is legitimately scary. Maybe I’m a wuss (yeah, I’m also afraid on the new Ninja Turtles), but just don’t say I didn’t warn you. I am in no way responsible for your nightmares.

Second, follow up that episode in chronological order with “The Tale of Station 109.1” (season 5, episode 2). This story is not nearly as spooky as the first, but it does star two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. That’s right, heartthrobs Ryan Gosling and Gilbert Gottfried. However, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of this handsome duo because in 1995, when the episode was filmed, Ryan Gosling was a mere fifteen years old. Practically an actual baby goose! And Gilbert Gottfried was not disguised as an animated parrot, so his regular, unattractive face is visible, making it difficult for even me to swoon. On the bright side, Golsing’s bro-tastic acting and facial expressions more than make up for the lack of eye-candy potential in this tale.

I hope you’ll consider at least some of my suggestions for this pairing with Austin Beerwork’s delicious Black Thunder. If you’re not quite convinced, then just know that after my indoor camping experience, our house smelled like barbecue for a whole two weeks! And that, my beer buds, is a reward in and of itself.



gilbert (Gilbert Gottfried showing how attractive he is compared to his cartoon parrot alter ego.)