Austin may be known more for brisket than brews, but the emerging craft beer scene has exploded in Texas’ capital. Visitors looking to taste some local flavors will find plenty of beers from Texas and Austin, in addition to delicious international styles, at several of the city’s breweries and taprooms. To figure out where to snag an ice-cold ale or IPA, we spoke with several local experts who know where the suds are worth sipping.
“Jester King Brewery is a fantastic [brewery] that’s south of the downtown area,” says Tony Ingargiola, concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin. Farmhouse ales and a large beer garden reign at Jester King, which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown in unincorporated Austin.
Founded in 2010, Jester King has brewed about 80 different beers over the past seven years. The beautiful landscape and the brewery’s proximity to Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, a favorite among visitors, make Jester King ideal for a day trip.
David Scheffke, front office manager at the Hotel Ella, says Jester King “is really well-known and a cool spot – a little bit more of a day trip, but a good place to check out.”
Spring and summer tasting room hours are Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Free brewery tours are available Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.
Tucked away in the North Burnet neighborhood, Austin Beerworks opened in 2011 with its “core four” beers, brewed year-round: Fire Eagle American IPA, Black Thunder German-Style Schwarzbier, Peacemaker Anytime Ale and Pearl-Snap German-Style Pils. Rotating selections of seasonal beers are also available.
The brewery’s “hell-bent on excellence” philosophy draws in both locals and travelers looking to taste unique flavors packaged in colorful cans. Ample outdoor space on the property is perfect for enjoying a round with friends, playing board games and sampling fare from food trucks – like East Side King, Kebabalicious and Dock & Roll Diner – that roll through the grounds.
You can visit the taproom Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. Free brewery tours are also available Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Lagers and ales are the crafts of choice at Live Oak Brewing Co., which was established in 1997. Across the highway from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Del Valle, Live Oak sits right on the Colorado River with plenty of shady outdoor space and a nine-hole disc golf course. Snacks from Flying Pig Provision Co. are available at the bar, and onsite food trailer The Black Forest serves German cuisine Thursday through Sunday.
Year-round beers include the HefeWeizen, Pilz and Liberation IPA, and seasonal and limited varieties like Primus Weizenbock, Oaktoberfest and Helles are available as well. It’s also known for smoked beers like Schwarzer Rauch, which uses beechwood-smoked malt, and Grodziskie, with its oak-smoked malt.
There are no brewery tours at Live Oak, but the taproom is open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.
Independence Brewing Co.
Touting a 2016 World Beer Cup gold award for its Power & Light Pale, Independence Brewing Co. is a must-visit in Southeast Austin. Since 2004, Independence’s popularity has grown steadily, thanks to its top-notch beers, chill vibe and events that feature live music and food. Its eclectic warehouse is home to choice picks like the Stash IPA and Convict Hill Stout, plus seasonals White Rabbit and Cucumber Redbud.
Brewery tours are available, and taproom hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 1 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m.
“Blue Owl Brewing is in a cool area in East Austin, and they have a bunch of different sour mash beers,” Scheffke says. Founded in 2015, Blue Owl is entirely focused on producing sour mash beers, referring to a process that makes the beers tarter. Blue Owl’s brews range from Scotch ales to stouts to session wheat varieties. Visiting the brewery gives you access to taproom exclusives that take a twist on its standard and seasonal beers. The exclusives are only available on-site.
You can take a $15 self-guided sensory tour, which comes with a tour sheet, a branded glass and four 12-ounce pours. The $20 brewery tour allows you to take a trek through the facility and includes a branded glass, a tasting sheet, four 12-ounce pours and games.
Tasting room hours are Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Brewery tours in the summer take place on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. When the weather gets cooler, the brewery offers tours at 3 and 4:30 p.m. on the weekends. You can either join the tour on your visit, if there are spots available, or make a reservation ahead of time.