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Beertown U.S.A.: Austin, Texas

If you’re heading to SXSW in March, bank on falling for hot new bands and cool new beers.
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A fresh crop of brewing talent has taken Austin beer to the next level, as some brewers pay homage to Central Texas’ German and Czech roots while others harvest native yeast from the hillside to craft only-in-Texas brews. Plus, you’ve got music, tacos, barbecue and football. What else could you need to keep Austin beer’d?

The ABGB / Jody Horton Photography

The ABGB / Jody Horton Photography

The ABGB (Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.)
Beneath the shady trees dotting this large, communal-table beer garden, nothing compares to ABGB’s crisp, refreshing lagers—especially during Texas’ sweltering summers. The Rocket 100 Pilsner, which took GABF gold last year, is a must-try; deeper cuts include a solid, often-rotating selection of fruited sours.
1305 W. Oltorf St., theabgb.com

Hops & Grain Brewing
If ever a brewery perfectly encapsulated the character of Austin, it’s Hops & Grain. The DIY enterprise grew from humble beginnings into an environmentally considerate eastside hot spot that brews one of the city’s mainstays: The One They Call Zoe, a beloved American pale lager. Dip into the brewery’s experimental Volumes of Oak series if you seek barrel-aged wonders.
507 Calles St., hopsandgrain.com

Blue Owl Brewing
Blue Owl’s taproom and colorful, bohemian outdoor patio offer four 12-ounce pours for $15. (Due to Texas liquor laws, you’re technically buying the glassware, not the beer.) Little Boss Sour Session Wheat is a worthy introduction to the brewery’s spectrum of all-sour-mash beers.
2400 E. Cesar Chavez St., blueowlbrewing.com

Oasis, Texas Brewing Co. / Photo by Danielle Mitchell

Oasis, Texas Brewing Co. / Photo by Danielle Mitchell

Oasis, Texas Brewing Co.
The Oasis dazzles with its spacious taproom overlooking Lake Travis from high above the leafy hills of northwest Austin. Featuring a thought-out lineup of sessionable beers like Slow Ride Pale Ale and 2014 GABF gold-winning London Homesick English bitter, Oasis pairs lo-fi beer with an equally laid-back vibe.
6550 Comanche Trail, otxbc.com

Zilker Brewing Co.
Due to archaic Texas laws, breweries that can sell beer directly to the consumer are rare and urban Austin breweries that can do it are downright scant. Zilker is an excellent wood-and-concrete taproom that’s able to peddle its Belgo-American-style pints directly to customers, right in Austin’s beloved East 6th neighborhood.
1701 E. 6th St., zilkerbeer.com

Live Oak Brewing Co.
Live Oak is basically the rad-to-death, handsomely aging yet still relevant punk old-schooler whose fresh German lagers have dominated the Austin beer scene for nearly 20 years. But with that vintage charm comes a crisp, contemporary brewhouse in Austin’s far east side, complete with taproom and canning line that’s (finally) made the brewery’s iconic Hefeweizen portable.
1615 Crozier Lane, liveoakbrewing.com

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew / Photo by Seth Jones

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew / Photo by Seth Jones

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew
This cheery eastside joint offers so many beers and coffees, you’ll go crosseyed deciding between an alcohol or caffeine buzz. Housed in a former industrial warehouse, Brew & Brew boasts 41 total taps, three dedicated to nitro. With five coffee options available, you can enjoy the two liquids together with the eponymous Brew & Brew combo—a cortado paired with a beer.
500 San Marcos St., thebrewandbrew.com

Austin Beerworks
This maniacally popular brewhouse offers four core beers, including Fire Eagle IPA, the 2014 GABF silver medalist, and several seasonal house-brewed surprises set against a buzzing industrial setting. For an economical $10, you get three 16-ounce pours and a souvenir glass.
3009 Industrial Terrace, austinbeerworks.com

Draught House Pub & Brewery
Neatly tucked into the cool-dadish Rosedale neighborhood, this 48-year-old pub has added a reimagined, spacious front-yard beer garden while retaining the proper glum of its original English tavern interior. Worth noting: Draught House has begun brewing beer again after a lengthy hiatus.
4112 Medical Parkway, draughthouse.com

Mohawk / Photo by Pooneh Ghar

Mohawk / Photo by Pooneh Ghar

Mohawk
Bad beer at rock shows is a curiously accepted staple, but not at the viewer-friendly Mohawk, which features a menu of local beers from Real Ale Brewing Co., Austin Beerworks and Independence Brewing Co. at several bars throughout the venue. Voted Austin’s “Best Live Music Venue” in 2010, 2011 and 2012 by the Austin Chronicle, Mohawk sets nationally touring indie acts as the soundtrack to your night of boozing.
912 Red River St., mohawkaustin.com

Waller Creek Pub House 
Waller Creek lies between Austin’s most prominent downtown entertainment districts: the Red River music district, brofessional “Dirty 6th Street” and the portal to the city’s indie scene on East 6th. With a tap list of 30 beers, pub grub like grilled cheese and Korean tacos—and a patio set amid the canyon of high rises—it’s an urban brew haven. 603 Sabine St. wallercreekpubhouse.com

Craft Pride
Each and every one of the 50-plus taps at this handsomely sculpted bar is dedicated to Lone Star brews. (It’s a big state, after all.) Craft Pride boasts an onsite bottle shop for post-pub souvenirs, as well as a top-notch patio featuring Austin food truck favorite, Via 313 Pizza.
61 Rainey St., craftprideaustin.com

Jester King Brewery
You’ll have to travel to Hill Country to visit this rustic, five-year-old brewery renowned for its spectacular fruited sours and wild fermentation. Join the family-friendly beer celebration that occurs every Friday through Sunday on the grounds surrounded by farmland. A rare release like Atrial Rubicite raspberry sour might lure you to the brewery, but even the regular lineup of farmhouse hits like Le Petit Prince and Boxer’s Revenge (plus a game of cornhole) are worth the trek.
13187 Fitzhugh Road, jesterkingbrewery.com

HUNT THESE TAPS:

Pinthouse Pizza boasts the best IPA program in the city with a perpetually rotating small-batch schedule of beer crushes like Best Coast IPA, Electric Jellyfish IPA and Fully Adrift DIPA. LEED® Gold certified brewery Black Star Co-Op’s Recalcitrant Dockhand is a simmering menace—and also the 2015 GABF gold winner for robust porter. The iconic (512) Brewing Co. always impresses with its heroic Pecan Porter and ups the ante with its high-def Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter. Future star St. Elmo Brewing debuts soon with Carl Kölsch, while the experimental, worker-owned 4th Tap Co-Op’s cranberry saison seeks shared space alongside your lunch.

TAILGATING FOR BBQ

There’s typically a lengthy wait for the country’s best ’cue at spots like Franklin, la Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats and John Mueller Meat Co., but with a folding chair, a cooler and a bit of planning, you can upgrade your linger with lagers. Head to nearby East 1st Grocery (1811 E. Cesar Chavez St.) for sessionable tailgate darlings like Real Ale’s Hans Pils (5.3%), Austin Beerworks’ Peacemaker (5%), Hops & Grain’s The One They Call Zoe (5.2%), Independence’s Power & Light Pale Ale (5.5%) or Oasis’ Metamodern IPA (4.5%).

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