We were in Austin for eight days, and we visited TEN breweries. You’re welcome–our job is to research local beer for you, and we take our job very seriously. We also had a few drinks at non-brewery locations, including cocktails, coffee/tea, and milkshakes. Be aware when planning your alcohol travels that Uber and Lyft both left Austin last year, but several smaller competitors jumped in to fill the void. We used Fasten (someone told us it was the biggest game in town; I didn’t verify that) and liked it. Try promo code GV7000 for $5 off your first Fasten ride (it worked in Jan 2017, and is still a Google search result, so give it a shot).
In chronological order, we sampled beers at Zilker, Lazarus, Austin Beer Garden Brewery (ABGB), Uncle Billy’s, Hops and Grain, Adelbert’s, Oskar Blues, 4th Tap, Jester King, and St Elmo. (And we went once more to ABGB on our last night in town.)
I’m hoping J will write more details about each brewery, because I’d rather just hand out some superlatives:
Best Brewery for Outdoor Drinking
The night before we had planned to visit Jester King, we Fastened out into the Austin suburbs to hit a cluster of breweries (Adelbert’s, Oskar Blues, 4th Tap), and the schlep factor outweighed the fun factor, so on the way home we agreed to scrap the 30 minute trip out to Jester King the next day–even though we’d wanted to go there since our Hill Country stay last Spring. A new day dawned and we decided to go to Jester King after all. The day was blustery and not ideal for outdoor drinking (although maybe the weather kept the crowd size down), but the (dog-friendly) setting on an old farm is unbeatable, the variety of beers is like none I have ever seen at a brewery, and the beers we tried were interesting and delicious.
Best Brewery for Pizza
The fact that pizza seems to be the default brewery food offering (does it seem that way to you too?) makes me assume brewery pizza will just be average, and I don’t seek it out. We met our friend and Austin expert Jeremy at ABGB our second night in town so he could give us the scoop on Austin, and he convinced us to order pizza. It’s great, you should go there and order pizza too. Even without the pizza (and I admit I got a fish taco–which was good–before caving to the pizza), we would have loved ABGB for its dark, energetic vibe, and excellent beer.
Honorable mention goes to Violet Crown Social Club–not a brewery, sorry to include it here but it deserves to be in here somewhere–for a great (dog-friendly) patio, local beer offerings, and the Detroit-style pizza I raved about here.
Best Brewery for Tacos
Lazarus was brand new when we were in town in January, but we couldn’t sense any newbie missteps in the beer, food, or service. How can you not love a brewery who advertises “Coffee, beer, tacos, joy”? It’s a cool space with super friendly staff, good beer, and excellent tacos–I recommend the fish tacos, of course.
Best Brewery for Proximity to Pecan Grove
While we weren’t in love with the beers in our flight at Uncle Billy’s, we did appreciate the wifi and the fact that it’s just two doors down from Pecan Grove, the best campground ever. Bonus points for you if you know the origin of the name of the beer advertised in the photo above.
Best Brewery for Watching Basketball
Pecan Grove is the best campground ever, except we couldn’t get the DirecTV dish to find the satellites through the pecan trees, so had no TV while in Austin… which is no biggie except we wanted to see a UVA basketball game. We called a couple nearby breweries and St Elmo offered to put the game on a big screen. The beer was good, we had our own TV, and if the basketball had been boring we could have chosen from the brewery’s bazillion board/card/etc games for entertainment.
Best Brewery We Didn’t Visit but We Drank Lots of Their Beer
Lone Pint partnered with G’raj Mahal for the beer pairing dinner I raved about in my Austin: Eating post. The beers were excellent and the pours were generous. Lone Pint is located in Magnolia, TX, closer to Houston than Austin, and we were happy to have the chance to try their beer as we have no plans to visit Magnolia (unless Magnolia is wonderful–please let us know if so). We had two different IPAs (one with a pre-dinner snack, one with the appetizer course), a brown (with the entree), and a porter (with dessert) and while we preferred the IPAs, we enjoyed the darker beers and were happy to experience expert pairings. And the food…. so good.
Other Brewery Notes
- Stopped by Hops and Grain for a quick beer, it was tasty and the airy industrial space was energetic
- Adelbert’s was our first stop on our Fasten adventure to the suburbs. They specialize in Belgians, which we tend to find too sweet, but I liked their saison, and the brewery’s interior full of barrels reminded us of a Belgian bar–that is, a bar in Belgium (where we’ve done a lot of beer touristing)
- Oskar Blues is walking distance (through dark office parks and strip malls) from Adelbert’s. It was dead on a school night except for several small children running wild (which is not what we look for in a brewery) and as far as we could tell no nonstandard (i.e., can’t get at the grocery store) beers on tap. We read later that they offer one beer you can’t get anywhere else, but that wasn’t advertised at the brewery
- We walked from Oskar Blues to 4th Tap for good beer under too-bright lights, and a great selection of games
- We stopped for a fancy cocktail on the dog-friendly porch at Revelry while exploring the E. 6th neighborhood
- Cedar Tavern, a old-school mahogany bar with classic cocktails hidden in the back of a posh restaurant, was a fun place for a drink close to the campground
- From the Airstream’s front door we could see Juliet Ristorante so had to stop by for a happy hour Italian cocktail and snack, both of which were very enjoyable. They offer happy hour every day!
We first tried Caffe Medici (South Lamar location) for coffee/tea and wifi, but the internet wasn’t great. Seventh Flag had better wifi and a nice, bright atmosphere for working, but our favorite was Opa!, and I will henceforth omit the exclamation point from the name. Opa has a large, shady, dog-friendly patio, good wifi, and after you get your work done you can transition from coffee to local beer, which we may or may not have done.
P.Terry burger stand is around the corner from our campground, and we visited a few times for burgers. J and Bugsy loved the burgers, J and I loved the fries, but neither J nor I enjoyed our impulsive late-night milkshakes. Sad!
And that wraps up another crazy-long post about Austin–and I’m not done yet! Next up I’ll tell you about our adventures that *gasp!* didn’t revolve around eating and drinking.