Craft Beer Guide for Beginners
Welcome to Austin, TX! I am sure you have had your fair share of BBQ, Tex-Mex, food trucks and sore feet from walking up and down 6th Street but now it’s time to enjoy another venture within city limits that us Austinite’s pride on; Craft Beer! With a scene that is rapidly growing from all corners in the state of Texas, Austin is definitely part of this booming scene of breweries and beer bars. With so many breweries and bars avail for beer, it can get overwhelming as where to start and finish. As your online craft beer guide, I hope this small list I will provide to you today will be the perfect alley-oop to getting your beer on in this vibrant city I now call home.
As your craft beer guide today let’s start here, one of the staple breweries of Austin, TX as I am going to assume you are visiting and just arrived at Austin/Bergstrom International Airport from a long flight of crappy snacks and crying babies. Live Oak Brewing has been around since 1997 and a lot of breweries (even those featured in today’s list) pays homage to them regarding their own successes today. With four core beers available on tap daily as well as limited rotating releases; you are sure to find a tasty treat of hoppy greatness. The four cores include the fan favorite Heffeweizen, a wheat beer sitting at 5.3% abv with low hop additions to ensure banana and clove flavors of this traditional style. The Live Oak Pilz golden lager which is a bit lower in abv but a nice starter beer for the afternoon or a great refresher during the summer months. Big Bark is another take on a lager but shines with more malt character and aroma with the use of different hop additions than the Pilz for a smoother taste. Liberation IPA is the beer that shines the most in my honest opinion! Utilizing two of my favorite hops, Columbus and Cascade, to dial this brew back to the O.G. Pacific Northwest style of a classic IPA creating that authentic grapefruit and pine taste.
LOB does have a solid rep in the craft beer community. The most memorable contribution is the victory of overturning a state law that required breweries to give up distribution rights.
Over the years Hops & Grain has been making a solid name for themselves and their extensive lineage of beers. From porters to doppelbocks and IPAs to barleywines, this brewery is a crowd favorite and must try when visiting ATX or seeking local suds. With the addition of expanding to neighboring San Marcos (opening soon) you will have your palate blown to new and exciting flavors. Their core beers can be found in supermarkets and bottle shops around town as well as on-site. These options include and not limited to The One They Call Zoe, an american pale lager bursting with hop notes and biscuity malts. Alt-eration Ale, an German altbier that’s dry, nutty and caramel character. Greenhouse IPA for the hop heads that enjoy the bitter medium bodied ales and Porter Culture Porter that is chocolate forward and faintly sweet with a nice roasted backbone.
H&G has now ventured more into Kolsch and Kettle Sours with flavors ranging from apricots to Blackberries which are currently released and themed on Sunday’s. Barrel aged beers have been rolling out as part of their Volumes of Oak series which are special releases throughout the year.
Being one of the first ATX craft breweries I’ve tasted during my travels to Austin before calling this city home, this local gem is definitely a favorite for me. Located at the tail end of famous 6th St just past “Dirty 6th” and the freeway you’ll stumble across this local gem. Parking sucks but the beers and experience will make up for it. My favorite and highly recommended beer choice is their Coffee Milk Stout. The lactose produces a nice creamy mouth-feel with a soft body that piggybacks off the roasty coffee and cherry flavors that burst through this beer. Luckily, this option is available on draft and in stores via cans and sometimes we will be blessed with a Bourbon Barrel Aged variant. Another favorite is the Marco IPA which is loaded with El Dorado and Simcoe hops creating nice tropical fruit aroma from the dry hopping. Very balanced IPA that I am sure for those who don’t fancy the style would love.
As a fan of the two mentioned beers above I haven’t had much experience to try the many other options that’s available, but, Zilker does have seasonal beers such as their new Extra Side Beer (available in the Fall and Winter) as well as another first time and personal favorite Elfie Sunshine which is the imperial version of the Coffee Milk Stout with cocoa nibs!
I had the opportunity of visiting their facility a few times since opening and been a fan of just about everything they have to offer. My personal favorite is their raspberry sour called Rosa, sitting at 4% abv which is pretty standard for sours this beautiful beer packs a nice tart punch and showcases gorgeous red hue of color. Another favorite is the Angus dry stout clocking in 5% abv as well as the Chico Pale Ale. Their tap list rotates frequently with new beers continuing to pop up and the space is amazing with an open concept brewhouse and a huge back patio with board-games, corn-hole and dog friendly. Their new additions is the Winston foreign stout, Evangeline saison and Koufax shandy that are must try offerings.
Opening their doors in December 2016, St Elmo is off to a great start so make sure to pay them a visit.
Let’s welcome the newest kids on the block! Four core beers and ready to take on the Austin craft beer scene. Located off Highway 183 and Texas 71, Hi Sign Brewing goes unnoticed with a large 6,600 sq. ft. warehouse facility and in your face signage welcoming all craft beer lovers new and advanced. I had the opportunity of checking them out during their Grand Opening on February 12th to test out there core four beers available and was duly impressed. The blood-orange coffee stout stole the show out of the four in my opinion being robust with coffee flavor and juicy tones of grapefruit. Not too bitter to the new guy or gal getting into craft and combines my love for both beer and coffee into one glass. HSB has also hopped on the hazy IPA bandwagon by trying their hand at a NEIPA (New England/North East IPA) but it fell a bit short in my opinion. Wouldn’t necessarily call it a NEIPA but traditional in the style of your typical PNW (Pacific-Northwest) IPA as it’s not overly bitter as an IPA but far from juicy and aromatic as NEIPA’s. The blonde ale is definitely refreshing and a good starting point when trying their line up as well as the pale ale.
You can take the sampler route by indulging in the $10 beer flight to try them all in one sitting at 4oz pours.
Pinthouse Pizza is my favortite place to visit within city limits, not only for their amazing variety of pizzas but for the even better variety of craft beers. PHP has two locations in Austin but I find the one on Lamar to be the best in my opinion. The highly favored Electric Jellyfish NEIPA is only available at the Lamar Blvd location as well as the seasonal Nomura; the Imperial version of Electric Jellyfish. I find this location to be a bit bigger, more available parking and laid-back than the secondary Burnet Rd location which features the amazing Man O War IPA and the hopped up Pineapple Express IPA.
Each location features a selection of beers only available to one or the other and both are now doing crowler fills thanks to new Texas laws lifting the rediculous ban so take your favorite to go.
Curious to why there’s a bar listed instead of a brewery? Well, Craft Pride may be one of the coolest places for craft beers in downtown Austin! Located on Rainey St where houses were converted to bars, restaurants and nightclubs, CP has an extensive list of local favored beers. This place prides on craft beer and Texas, hence the name, by only featuring taps from breweries ONLY within the state of Texas. I can always be sure to find a cold pint of pours from Real Ale Brewing to Austin Beerworks and Lone Pint (mmmm, Yellow Rose) to Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Craft Pride also has a nice bottle cellar if your looking to grab beers to go as well.
Home of the sausage while indulging in 100+ choices of craft beer! With a selection of 30+ house made sausages and a huge beer garden to hangout and relax with friends this place is a must visit while on Rainey St in downtown ATX. Also featuring 104 taps and another 50+ choices available in cans ranging from local favorites such as 512 Brewing, Adlebert’s, Blue Owl Brewing and more to cross-country gems from Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Odell and The Bruery to name a few. Banger’s has the 3rd largest draft system in the state of Texas so whether you’re a local or a visiting I am sure you will be able to find a beer or three that will satisfy the quench for craft beer.
At the end of the day, Banger’s is all about being a wonderful place to eat, drink and hangout. Not too rowdy, not too laid back, just a good old fashioned good time.
So this concludes the tour and I hope you beginner craft beer lover’s will find solace with the places listed in my craft beer guide. If you’re feeling advanced and need a broader craft beer experience, please be sure to follow me on IG (@thebrewbrotha) to see other places I’ve visited and beers I like to drink