Texas is one hell of a great state for beer and Austin is its beer capital. There has been an explosion of new craft breweries with eight new breweries starting in Austin in the past year and a half. While tastes continue to get more sophisticated, brewers keep raising the bar of excellence and creativity in brewing. There has never been a better time to be a beer drinker in Austin. The city now boasts a dozen breweries and several more brew pubs. Here is a run-down of the local breweries.
(512) Brewing Co. Founded by Kevin Brand in 2008, (512) Brewing makes four beers year round and another nine seasonal brews in its microbrewery. They are well known for the (512) Pale, a food friendly ale with plenty of classic hops and citrus flavors, and for the (512) Pecan Porter. You can find (512) brews on tap at local restaurants and bars. The Pecan Porter is available in bottles in limited supply at some shops.
- Location: 407 Radam, F200, Austin, Texas 78745
- Tours: quarterly open houses with tours and tastings
- How to get it: Draft in bars around Austin and in limited release bottles at select local retail outlets
Adelbert’s Brewery Scott Hovey just opened this north Austin brewery, named for his deceased brother, this winter to make Belgian-style bottle conditioned ales. Hovey brews four year-round ales and has three more in the works to introduce in the Spring of 2012. Austin’s newest brewery takes its time, conditioning each batch for a minimum of six weeks for a smooth taste. Adelbert’s first two releases, Rambler Ale , a Belgian blonde ale, and Scratchin’ Hippo, a Bière de Garde, are bringing smiles to beer lovers around town.
- Location: 2314 Rutland Drive, Suite #100, Austin, TX 78758
- Tours: Adelbert’s Grand Opening and Tasting will be held Saturday, March 24, 2012. Check the website for additional event and tour opportunities
- How to get it: Draft in bars around Austin and in 750ml bottles at local retail outlets
Austin Beerworks Austin Beerworks took the town by storm in the summer of 2011 with kick-ass beer, distinctive branding and plucky wit. Founded by four partners, Michael, Will, Adam and Mike the microbrewery is cranking out kegs and cans at a mad pace in an effort to meet demand for its highly drinkable brews. Austin Beerworks makes four year –round brews including the Pearl-Snap German Pils, Fire Eagle American IPA and the recently introduced Black Thunder German Schwarz. The Peacemaker Extra Pale not only is a match for our discerning Austin taste-buds, but it also passed muster with the expert palates at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, winning a silver medal.
- Location: 3009 Industrial Terrace, Suite 150, Austin, TX 78758
- Tours: Periodic happy hour tours provided. Check website for tour availability
- How to get it: Widely available on-tap at local bars and restaurants and in cans in local retail outlets
Circle Brewing Co. Childhood friends and brewmasters Ben Sabel and Judson Mulherin are celebrating the one year anniversary of Circle Brewing on March 10, 2012. They make three year-round and three seasonal brews adhering to the German Purity Law of 1516, which limits the allowable ingredient to water, malt, hops and yeast. The Blur Texas Hefe, Envy Amber Ale and Nightlight Dry Irish Stout and weigh in at less than 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), so you can kick back a few pints in the Texas heat before you start trying to bed the cuttie next to you at the bar.
- Location: 2340 W Braker Ln., Suite B Austin, TX 78758
- Tours: The tasting room is not yet open to the public, but check the website for periodic tours and events.
- How to get it: Draft available at Austin restaurants and bars
Hops and Grain Brewing Co. Josh Hare opened his microbrewery in the summer of 2011 where 6th street dead-ends on the east side. Demand for the beer and the opening of a cannery has already necessitated an expansion of the facilities. Hops & Grain brews two year round beers, Alt-Eration, a Dusseldorf style Altbier brewed with German malts and noble hops, and Pale Dog, American Pale Ale, made with two-row malted barley and domestic hops. In addition, they are brewing up to ten special beers annually – what they call Greenhouse – which includes both seasonal and experimental beers. Right now they offer Ruta Maya, dark Belgian style imperial stout, and will be switching to a barleywine in March. Hare keeps an eye on sustainability and even makes Brew Biscuit dog treats from spent brewing grains. Bring your pup for a biscuit while you have a brew.
- Location: 507 Calles, Austin, TX 78702
- Tours: The brewery and tap room are open every Friday from 2 – 6 pm and Saturday noon – 4pm.
- How to get it: Draft available at Austin restaurants and bars and soon releasing cans
Independence Brewing Co. Relatively “senior” in comparison to all of the new breweries popping up on the Austin scene, Independence was started by Rob and Amy Cartwright in 2004 in a South Austin warehouse. Rob and Amy have not only been around for a little while, they are also actively promoting craft brewing as active members of the Texas Craft Brewers guild and volunteer organizers of the Texas Craft Brewers Festival. They make six year-round beers including the Austin Amber Ale, Bootlegger Brown Ale, Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout, Freestyle Wheat Ale, Stash IPA and my favorite, Independence Pale Ale. Independence also brews five seasonals that rotate every two-to-three months. They also make six, limited production beers, which they call Brewluminati, that are available only on tap while the miniscule supplies last.
- Location: 3913 Todd Lane, Austin, TX 78744
- Tours: First Saturday of each month
- How to get it: you can find Independence on draft in local bars and restaurants and in bottles in local retailers
Jester King Craft Brewery Lawyer turned brewer, Jeffrey Stuffings, turned heads when he released highly acclaimed barrel-aged brews in late 2010. The beer caused such a clamor that the brewery’s opening party in January 2011 was over-run and sold out with thousands of thirsty Texans demanding more. Stuffings turned heads again when he won a lawsuit against the TABC allowing breweries to say where their beer is sold and call it beer on the labels. Old, weird-ass laws are dying. Jester King makes five year-round brews including Le Petite Prince, Commercial Suicide, Wytchmaker Rye IPA, Black Metal Imperial Stout and Mad Meg. Jester King also brews four seasonal beers and always has special brews in the works.
- Location: 13005 Fitzhugh Road, Austin, but way out west Austin as in damn-near Dripping Springs
- Tours: the tasting room is open every Saturdays from 1-4pm, with tours at 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm.
- How to get it: On tap at Austin restaurants and bars and in several types in 750ml bottles at local retailers
Live Oak Brewing Co. The granddaddy of Austin craft brewing, Live Oak Brewing, was started in 1997 by Chip McElroy and Brian “Swifty” Peters (now brewmaster at Uncle Billy’s brewpub). Celebrating its 15th anniversary this April, Live Oak is well known for its old-world German and Czech style beers including its award-winning four year-round beers: Pilz, a Czech Pilsener, Big Bark Amber Lager, Hefeweizen and Liberation Ale. They also introduce new seasonal brews each quarter. This spring the Schwarzbier replaces the winter Primus. Live Oak stays small and doesn’t can or bottle its beer. It is widely available around the state on tap.
- Location: the corner of 5th and Allen Streets in East Austin
- Tours: available twice-monthly on Saturdays. Check the website for the schedule and sign up ahead of time.
- How to get it: On tap and in to-go growlers from Whole Foods Bar Lamar
Real Ale Brewing Co. OK, so they’re not exactly in Austin and you may not even think of them as a microbrew because of the phenomenal success of their omnipresent flagship ale Firemans #4, but this Blanco-based brewery still makes the list. Founded in 1996 by Philip and Diane Conner it is one of the oldest breweries in the area, and with a capacity of 72,000 barrels (almost a million cases) a year, they are definitely one of the biggest. Real Ale brews six year-round brews including the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, Lost Gold IPA Brewhouse Brown Ale and ESB. They also make two seasonal brews each quarter such as Phoenixx Double ESB and Devil’s Backbone Tripel. They also brew experimental barrel-aged Mysterium Verum series, which includes WT3F?!, a tripel wort fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces bruxellensis and The Kraken, aSisyphus barleywine aged for 11 months in American and French oak.
- Location: 231 San Saba Court Blanco, TX 78606
- Tours: the tasting room is open on Fridays from 2 – 5 pm with tours starting at 3 and 4 pm.
- How to get it: Widely available in draft and by the bottle.
South Austin Brewing Co. South Austin Brewing Company held its Grand Opening party on February 11, 2012. The newest Austin craft brewery just started delivering kegs of Belgian-style beer to local restaurants and bars in February. Brewmaster Jordan Weeks is making specialty Belgian Style Golden Ale and Saison D’Austin for local distribution.
- Location: 415 East St Elmo, Unit 1D, Austin TX 78745
- Tours: Check website
- How to get it: On tap at select sites in Austin.
Thirsty Planet Brewing Co. Brian Smittle fell in love with beer while studying politics in the U.K. After getting his brewer’s sea legs in Colorado and Oklahoma, he and his wife, Tammy, moved to Austin and started Thirsty Planet in the summer of 2010. Thirsty Planet three year-round brews are highly drinkable in the Texas heat. I’m always a sucker for Buckethead IPA, Yellow Armadillo Wheat or Thirsty Goat Amber when I see them on a menu. They also occasionally offer seasonals like the Silverback Pale Ale.
- Location: 11160 Circle Drive, Austin, Texas 78736, near the Oakhill Y on the southwest side of town
- Tours: Each Saturday. Visit the website to get a ticket.
- How to get it: Draft at finer bars and restaurants in central Texas
Twisted X Brewing Co. This self-described “Tex Mex beer,” or Texas styled Mexican beer, was introduced in 2011 by Jim Sampson and Shane Bordeau. The two brewers aim to make hand-crafted beer that appeal to a broad audience of drinkers. Twisted X makes five year-round brews with unique twists. The flagship Twisted X, Premium Tex Mex Lager adds yellow corn for a Mexican taste. Fuego, Jalapeno Pilsner packs a pepper punch. Cow Creek ,Tex Mex Dark Lager will remind you of Negro Modelo, while Chupahopra is a goat sucking IPA. Senor Viejo, Imperial Black Lager is a high alcohol Schwartzbier aged in Republic Tequila barrels. They also make a summer seasonal Siesta Prickly Pear Lager with red corn and prickly pear cactus.
- Location: 3200 West Whitestone Boulevard C#1, Cedar Park TX 78613
- Tours: Tours will be available beginning in March 2012. Check the website for details
- How to get it: On tap at select restaurants and bars in Central Texas
No matter where you go to drink beer or buy it to take home, you are bound to find a great selection of Austin-brewed beers. Stock up!
What are you drinking?