10 Texas beers to enjoy all summer long

Texas brewers know just the kinds of beers we need to combat the heat. Here are 10 mostly Austin beers (and a cider-wine hybrid because it’s divine) to keep you cool all summer long.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Brazos Valley Brewery, in Brenham, has made a peach wheat with a couple of sneaky musical references.

Austin Beerworks Einhorn: The essential summer beer of Austin was recently put into powder blue cans decorated with unicorns (‘einhorn’ means unicorn in German) and sent all over town. Crisp, a little tart and very refreshing, the Berliner Weisse-style brew might not be as rare a find as the mythical horned horse now, but it’s not any less beloved. The North Austin brewery has even helpfully supplied a map to help us locate a six-pack, although you don’t have to rush out to find it: Einhorn will be available throughout the summer.

Live Oak Hefeweizen: A lot of the beers on this list are new, seasonal or small-batch, or some combination of the three. This one’s on here because it’s trusty — easy to get both in cans and on draft and always the straw-colored, aromatic gem we expect — and we should never take it for granted. Go get some.

The ABGB’s Rocket 100 Pilsner: This one is another reliable Austin brew and one of the beers that helped to cement the ABGB’s win as the Great American Beer Festival’s Brewpub of the Year. A pre-Prohibition example of a pilsner, it’s brewed with corn, one of the ingredients that German immigrants to our country would have used. Take it home in a growler or, better yet, a three-pack of crowlers.

Hops & Grain River Beer: Modeled after light lagers like Coors Banquet, with corn in its grain bill, River Beer is intended to accompany you on all your boat rides on Lake Travis, your tubing trips down the San Marcos River, anytime you are in or over a body of water in Texas. With it, Hops & Grain is hoping to attract people who drink the likes of Coors and Budweiser, but it’s flavorful (even a little sweet, thanks to the corn) and will no doubt be the favorite of regular craft beer lovers, too.

Adelbert’s Mango Wit: As I noted in a roundup of beers suited for springtime imbibing, the year-round Mango Wit is especially suited for the spring and summer months thanks to its sweet tropical notes. Now that it’s summer, let me just go ahead and quote myself: Adelbert’s made the Mango Wit with lemon peel and real, true, juicy mango, and let me emphasize the word “juicy” again. That’s exactly how this beer tastes: as if Adelbert’s filled cans with the sweet liquid squeezed from pounds of mangoes, threw in some citrus for balance and carbonated the result.

Brazos Valley Millions of Peaches Peach Wheat: Probably, the Brenham brewery is making a reference with the name and the can design to the Allman Brothers’ “Eat a Peach” record. But the six-pack I stumbled on at Whole Foods immediately made me crack a grin because Millions of Peaches is, to me, a nod to the insanely catchy ’90s diddly “Peaches” by the Presidents of the United States of America.

I bought the cans for the memory of belting out “millions of peaches, peaches for me” the summer in between high school and college and that alone, without knowing a thing about the beer, but fortunately it’s delicious. In the wheat beer, the sweet nectar of one of Texas’ most beloved fruits is preserved without being overly cloying, a danger that some fruit beers can face.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Got any outdoor summer activities planned? Don’t leave your six-pack of Oasis at home.

Oasis, Texas’ You May All Go to Helles and I Will Go to Texas: Are your Texan heartstrings tugging yet at this Davy Crockett reference (and well-placed beer pun)? Even if they’re not, the Lake Travis-area brewery has crafted a beer, light and thirst-quenching, that seems tailor-made for our state. The cans are a limited release, so don’t miss them.

Zilker Brewing’s Parks & Rec Pale Ale: Brewed in collaboration with the Austin Parks Foundation to celebrate Zilker Park’s 100th anniversary, the seasonal pale ale, now in cans, doubles as a good cause. A portion of the proceeds from the beer, made with old-school hops like Centennial to emphasize bright citrus notes, is being donated to the Austin Parks Foundation for Zilker Park’s upkeep. Not that you needed an extra reason to go buy it, right?

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Zilker Brewing’s newest canned beer was made to highlight Zilker Park’s 100th anniversary.

Jester King Foudreweizen: The brewery’s big and boozy Boxer’s Revenge, a a barrel-aged sour strong ale, releases this weekend, but it’s not exactly conducive to summer drinking. Buy a few bottles of that to go, since it ages so nicely, but don’t miss out on Foudreweizen. The collaboration between Jester King and Live Oak Brewing is also back and so nicely captures what both breweries do best.

It was made when wort brewed at Live Oak and inoculated with its hefeweizen yeast was taken to Jester King to transform at the hands of the native yeast and bacteria, alive in the walls of the farmhouse brewery’s foudres, and the resulting Foudreweizen tastes in essence like a funky wheat beer — bonkers good.

A crowler of Pinthouse Pizza’s latest IPA: Both locations of the brewpub are producing fresh examples of the hazy, juicy IPA they’ve perfected, from the This Is Juice at the flagship on Burnet Road to the Electric Jellyfish IPA that the South Lamar brewpub can’t seem to make enough of. IPAs generally aren’t my go-to style on hot summer days, but Pinthouse makes the beer low in bitterness, albeit with the aroma and flavors that hops can impart. Like the ABGB, both locations have crowlers.

Texas Keeper Cider’s Grafter Rosé: The best drink of 2016 is back in bottles and available at the cidery starting tomorrow afternoon, where you can sip it while enjoying barbecue from the new LeRoy and Lewis. This year’s Grafter Rosé, dry, spritz-like and tart, is made with Rome Beauty apples and Texas-grown Tempranillo and Carignan grapes.

Texas brewers lose legislative fight over taproom bill, headed to governor’s desk

Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman. Self-distributing breweries like Austin Beerworks will be affected by HB 3287, which just passed the Senate and now just needs Governor Greg Abbot’s pen to become law.

Texas brewers were dealt a blow this afternoon when House Bill 3287, which seeks to limit breweries that grow beyond a certain size or become owned by a larger beer company, passed the Texas Senate by a 19-10 vote.

The bill will now head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, but the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, representing the state’s breweries, isn’t ready to give up yet and has announced that it will continue to fight against it in the hopes of a veto from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“This bill will put a ceiling on success for the 200+ craft breweries operating in Texas and will slow the future growth of what has become an important burgeoning manufacturing industry in our state,” the guild wrote in a statement published on Facebook shortly after HB 3287 passed.

HB 3287, pushed by wholesalers through the trade groups Beer Alliance of Texas and Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, will change the Texas beer code in the following ways.

  • Breweries making 225,000 barrels of beer per year (a calculation that includes the amount of barrels from any affiliate brewery with a 25 percent or more stake in the company) cannot operate a tasting room.
  • There are exceptions to this rule, however. Current breweries over this limit have been grandfathered in and will still be able to keep their taproom doors open, but they and future breweries eligible for exception have to pay their distributor for all beers they sell in their taprooms. Austin’s Oskar Blues Brewery is affected, and any future taproom locations of breweries like Houston’s Karbach Brewing — now owned by Anheuser-Busch — will also have to pay up. They can have up to three tasting rooms.
  • Self-distributing breweries can only self-distribute a total of 40,000 barrels across all locations; anything above that has to be sold through a distributor. In other words, single-premises breweries like Austin Beerworks and Live Oak Brewing can only expand so much if they want to keep their independence from the wholesale tier.

Given that Texas brewers had hoped 2017 would be the year Texas allows its breweries to sell beer directly to customers for off-premise consumption, HB 3287, which they see as taking some of their rights away, has been a big blow.

“To say that today’s outcome was incredibly disheartening would be to put it mildly,” the Texas Craft Brewers Guild said it in its statement on Facebook.

But wholesalers argue that the bill prevents large multinational breweries from “gobbling up” Texas’ small craft breweries and having “access to multiple taprooms across the state,” Rick Donley, representing the Beer Alliance, said at a previous committee hearing. That sort of access would be a violation of the three-tier system.

It’s “a system that “has allowed for an incredibly competitive marketplace and allows smalls breweries to thrive in a way that other commodities can’t do because of the inability to get to market without a distribution tier,” Keith Strama, counsel for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, later said in the same hearing.

The only hope now for brewers to be able to sell beer to-go from their taprooms is a lawsuit that Dallas-Fort Worth’s Deep Ellum Brewing and others have lodged against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, a case currently still tied up in the courts. Texas remains the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t permit its breweries to offer packaged beers for off-premise enjoyment.

In Texas Senate, craft brewers fight for off-premise sales, try to ward off taproom tax

Kyser Lough for American-Statesman. Texas breweries with financial backing from other larger breweries, like Independence Brewing, pictured here, might have to pay distributors for every beer they sell in their taprooms under a proposed law making its way through the Senate.
Texas is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t allow its breweries to sell beer directly to consumers for their enjoyment off-site. Texas also ranks 46th in breweries per capita.

Those two facts were repeated often during a morning Senate committee hearing in which a number of people involved in the brewing industry — brewers and distributors alike — voiced their thoughts on Senate Bill 1217 and Senate Bill 2083, two craft beer-focused bills with very different aims.

SB 1217 would allow breweries to join Texas wineries, distilleries and brewpubs in selling their products for off-premise consumption, while SB 2083, the companion bill to House Bill 3287, would seek to limit breweries that grow beyond a certain size or become owned by a larger beer company. To sell beer in their taprooms, these breweries (which include Austin’s Oskar Blues and Independence Brewing) might have to first sell the beer to their distributor and buy it back.

The Texas House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly this weekend not to legalize taproom beer purchases for off-site consumption and also voted in favor of the limitations on larger breweries, those making 225,000 barrels or more of beer per year.

Proponents of the latter bill, namely distributors through the trade groups Beer Alliance of Texas and Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, argue that it prevents large multinational breweries from “gobbling up” Texas’ small craft breweries and having “access to multiple taprooms across the state,” Rick Donley, representing the Beer Alliance, said during the committee hearing this morning.

That would be in violation of the three-tier system, Keith Strama, counsel for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, added in later testimony, a system that “has allowed for an incredibly competitive marketplace and allows smalls breweries to thrive in a way that other commodities can’t do because of the inability to get to market without a distribution tier.”

In that way, SB 2083 protects small craft breweries in the state, according to the bill’s author, State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.

But that’s not how the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the organization representing these brewers, or the Texas Association of Manufacturers, the organization representing the state’s small businesses, see it. Both came out against SB 2083 at the hearing, along with numerous brewers, including Chip McElroy of Live Oak Brewing and Amy Cartwright of Independence Brewing, one of the directly affected breweries.

They argue that SB 2083 and the already-passed HB 3287 — which at the moment directly affect only a small number of brewers, mainly those owned by larger breweries like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors — would discourage investors and limit their businesses’ growth.

Josh Hare, owner of Hops & Grain Brewing and board chairman of the guild, spoke out against the proposed payment larger breweries would have to make to distributors for their taproom beers, calling it a tax. His brewery is in the process of opening a new location in San Marcos.

“If we exceed the collective 225,000 barrel limit, we would be forced then to sell our beer to a wholesaler, buy it back to sell in our tasting room, and it would dramatically cut into our margins and ultimate profitability. I would also like to emphasize here that the beer would never leave our brewery. It would just be paper moving around,” he said. “The wholesaler would place a dock bump tax on that transaction, receiving payment for no added value to what we’re doing on-site.”

Sweeping 2013 legislation allowed, among other things, for production breweries to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer to consumers for on-site consumption. Breweries aren’t asking for that number to increase but do want to be able to also sell a six-pack to a customer to take home. That’s where SB 1217, from State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, comes in.

The bill restricts monthly purchases to 576 fl. oz. per consumer, the equivalent of two cases of beer. Brewers are in support of it; distributors are not.

“Data from other states shows that off-premise sales leads to more brewery openings, more beer tourism and more retail sales across every tier,” Michael Graham, co-founder of Austin Beerworks, said.

Donley, representing a wholesalers’ group, did not outright discuss why the group is against the bill but pointed out the issue of off-premise sales will be resolved in court because of an ongoing suit Deep Ellum Brewing, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has raised against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The question of taprooms selling beer to-go “involves some intricate points of federal law, including commerce clause issues, equal protection clause issues, but it also strikes at the very core of the 21st Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Donnelly said, referencing the amendment that repealed Prohibition and gave the states total control over alcoholic beverages.

State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, asked for clarification about the amendment — how allowing Texas breweries to sell beer to-go, something 49 other states do in some capacity, would “strike at the core” of the U.S. Constitution.

“We repealed Prohibition and extended the right of every state to regulate our alcohol,” Donley said in reply.

“Right. And so we’re the only state that doesn’t allow this, though, right?” Estes said of off-premise sales.

“That is correct, but that’s a policy decision made by you as a legislature,” Donley said.

Neither of the bills have moved out of committee yet.

This post has been corrected to reflect the spelling of Donley’s name. 

South Austin’s new hangout Spokesman offers draft beer, coffee and art

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Spokesman serves draft beer out of repurposed bicycle handles, in a nod to one of the co-founders’ love of cycling.

The Yard, the new mixed-use complex built out of old warehouses off South Congress Avenue, is springing to life with new additions this month.

Following in the footsteps of neighboring St. Elmo Brewing at one end of the row are two boozy newcomers at the other end: the Austin Winery, which relocated from the east side of the city, and Spokesman, a coffee shop and beer bar from industry veterans who are finally opening their own space.

The next-door neighbors are planning to have grand opening celebrations later this month, although their doors are open now to offer locals early looks at each. (Here’s what to expect from the Austin Winery.)

Spokesman is the brainchild of C.J. West and Trey Ramirez, who wanted to create a comfortable hangout for the neighborhood that features two of their favorite things. West has helped to open and brew at local breweries like the ABGB and the south location of North by Northwest, while Ramirez developed his love for coffee working at Home Slice and the Brew & Brew.

As a result, Spokesman has opened with nearly two dozen draft beers — primarily local — and a toddy, served in a chilled pint glass sans ice and roasted on-site, that will be the first of many house coffee drinks to come. A few of the taps are also devoted to wine and cider.

Working with coffee for many years, I’ve always wanted to learn how to roast,” Ramirez said. “Getting the control and being able to shape what it tastes like is huge. It can be overwhelming at times, but it can be a lot of fun. And C.J. has been brewing beer for a long time here in town. He’s the other side of it. He’s been pulling in amazing beers from Austin and Texas. So you could say Spokesman is kind of a fusion of both our backgrounds.”

But don’t try to pigeon-hole Spokesman as the place to go solely for beer and coffee. The two co-founders feel strongly that Spokesman — decked out with eye-catching art from local painter Briks, of the Blue Dozen Collective — has more to offer than just drinks.

The name of the coffee bar, for example, comes in part from West’s passion for cycling. Spokesman aims to be “a ride-up shop where you can park your bikes inside and not have to worry about locking them,” Ramirez said, pointing out the vertical metal racks along the front garage-like wall where bicycles can hang. (Another nod to cyclists is the row of tap handles made of colorful bike handles.) 

And then there’s all that wall art.

Walk in and your jaw just might drop at first glance, like mine did, at the larger-than-life figures adorning nearly every available inch of wall space: the plump cat (or is it a raccoon?) with his arms folded, the boombox with dials and two large eyes and lips, the cheerful stork covering the Employees’ Only door leading to the back warehouse. The art is a marvel and so integral to the experience you’ll have at Spokesman.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. When Spokesman uses its projector to play a show, the screen fits perfectly in the painted screen that local artist Briks created on the back wall.

“To bring Briks onto this project was amazing. I don’t think we could’ve picked anybody else. His art and his sense of humor reflected in his art just made this place come to life,” West said.

He and Ramirez hadn’t expected they’d renovate an old warehouse for their project. They looked for about two years at retail spaces in Austin, none of which were quite right for what they envisioned. Then, West’s friends at St. Elmo Brewing told him about the Yard.

Part of the reason the warehouse works so well is that it’s got lots of extra room to grow into — which, first and foremost, will be used for the expanding coffee program. The goal is to sell bags of roasted beans to go from the shop and to have them in retailers around town as well. But that’s largely phase two, the co-founders said.

In the meantime, Spokesman has a coffee roaster visible to customers in its nook at the back of the shop. Ramirez will continue using it to make the toddy and other upcoming coffee items until Spokesman outgrows it, he said, and needs to move roasting operations to the back warehouse.

We’re starting with just a couple of origins that we’re really excited about,” he said. “We’ve always loved Mexican coffee and African coffee, and we’ve been looking around for coffees that are just right for us and what we want to kind of mix together. The African coffee that we’re doing with our toddy we’re super thumbs-up on.”

West similarly aims to pay careful attention to the draft beer program. He said the taps will rotate out constantly (save for four always-on brews: Real Ale Axis IPA, Live Oak Brewing Gold, Hops & Grain River Beer and Austin Beerworks Peacemaker) and will primarily, but not exclusively, be from area brewers. Austin Beerworks’ limited Grinds My Gears, a hoppy ale with hefeweizen yeast, is only available at the Beerworks taproom and at Spokesman, in a nod to the coffee bar’s bicycling theme.

“We take a lot of pride in the breweries that we feature because for me, personally, this is my contribution to Texas craft brewing,” West said. “I went from the production side to this side. In the brewing industry, everybody wants to be a brewer. It’s like the star quarterback. The lead actress. Everyone wants to do it. But brewers can’t do it alone.”

For now, Spokesman is open 4 to 10 p.m. on weekdays at 440 E. St. Elmo Rd. A small menu of cafe food is to come. After the grand opening — look for that date to be announced on the coffee bar’s social media accounts — it will be open 7 a.m. to midnight daily.

For more information, visit spokesmancoffee.com.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Enjoy local beer, like Zilker Brewing’s Murderino, while admiring wall art from local artist Briks, who completely covered Spokesman’s interior with his expressive characters.

Central Texas brewers react to AB InBev’s acquisition of Wicked Weed Brewing

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. A variety of Wicked Weed beers arrived at Jester King Brewery a few weeks ago, before news of the North Carolina brewery’s acquisition by AB InBev broke. Now, Jester King will no longer carry Wicked Weed beers.

This morning’s news that Wicked Weed Brewing, one of the country’s most lauded makers of barrel-aged sours and hoppy ales, had been scooped up by Anheuser-Busch, stunned many people in the beer industry who hadn’t seen it coming.

Wicked Weed, based in the beer-loving city of Asheville, North Carolina, joins others breweries — like Seattle’s Elysian, Chicago’s Goose Island and New York’s Blue Point Brewing — in A-B’s craft and import portfolio, High End, a position that gives the brewery a very big step up in funding and more access to thirsty markets.

“In order to innovate, push the boundaries, and grow, we’ve decided to take on the High End branch of Anheuser-Busch as a strategic partner,” Wicked Weed Brewing announced this morning. “Our founding ownership staff will continue to lead Wicked Weed in their same capacities as we move forward and into the future. This decision is a large part of the future for Wicked Weed, and will allow our brand, staff, and beers to achieve their greatest potential.”

But not everyone is happy about Wicked Weed’s decision to sell to the mega-brewer.

It was only last summer that local beer lovers rejoiced when Wicked Weed started limited distribution to Texas, bringing in beers like La Bonté, a tart farmhouse ale with plums. Already, however, one of Wicked Weed’s biggest local supporters has announced that it will no longer carry its beers or collaborate on projects with its brewers.

Jester King Brewery owner Jeff Stuffings announced the decision on social media, noting that a core principle of the Hill Country brewery is not selling beers from AB InBev or its affiliates.

“We’ve chosen this stance not because of the quality of the beer, but because a portion of the money made off of selling it is used to oppose the interests of craft brewers,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “In Texas, large brewers (and their distributors) routinely oppose law changes that would help small, independent brewers. We choose not to support these large brewers because of their political stances, and in some cases, their economic practices as well.”

Austin Beerworks alluded to the Wicked Weed acquisition on Facebook as well, quoting Modern Times Beer founder Jacob McKean to ultimately say that “selling out” is not something the North Austin brewery — which recently opened a much larger brewery and taproom — will ever be interested in, not even for a billion dollars.

“I’m not going to screw the people who made my success possible in the first place,” Austin Beerworks quoted McKean as saying. “That would be an unethical choice I could never be proud of. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to everyone in this industry, and when it comes time for me to do something else, I refuse to throw a hand grenade over my shoulder on my way out the door.”

In nearby San Antonio, Freetail Brewing co-founder Scott Metzger — who, with the aid of a master’s degree in economics, has helped change and develop some of Texas’ more recent craft beer-related laws — expressed consternation on Twitter.

“The point is that ABI will eventually push to scale all of these brands to the point of crowding out your local, friendly, neighborhood brewer who works 80 (hours per week) to follow his dream and feed his family simultaneously. Beware,” he wrote shortly after the news broke.

Presumably, the Wicked Weed and AB InBev deal is subject to scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, which stated last summer upon approving the $108-billion merger between the world’s two largest beer producers, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, that it would “review any future craft beer and distributor acquisitions.”

Formerly Untapped, Index Fest reveals full beer list for Austin event

The inaugural Index Fest, which is combining craft beer and live music with art and food components, kicks off in Austin with quite a beer list.

At the May 13 event, there will be nearly 300 beers from 75 breweries in Texas and beyond, including Fredericksburg’s new Altstadt Brewery, BrainDead Brewing in Dallas and Jester King in the Texas Hill Country. Austin’s only meadery, Meridian Hive, will also have some meads available for tasting, and several cideries will also be on hand.

Here are some of the beers you’ll get to taste at Index Fest. The festival’s website has the full list, which you can explore by brewery, style, ABV and booth number (in case you want to plan out your day).

Austin Beerworks
Black Thunder Schwarzbier
Fire Eagle IPA
ACTION! 6th Anniversary Pale Ale (which debuts this weekend at the sixth anniversary party)
Bloodwork Orange Blood Orange IPA
Finkle Berliner Weisse
Pearl Snap Pils

Pinthouse Pizza
Electric Jellyfish IPA
Burro’s Breakfast Mexican Lager
Handlebier American Pale Ale
Joe’s Magical Pils
Old Beluga Amber Ale
Zappy Squid IPA

Founders (Grand Rapids, MI)
All Day IPA
PC Pils
Rübæus Raspberry Ale
Lizard of Koz Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Sumatra Mountain Brown
Backwoods Bastard Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale

Big Bend Brewing
Tejas Negra Vienna Lager
Balmorhea Berliner Weisse
West of Pecos Helles

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hops & Grain is one of the breweries featured at Index Fest, formerly Untapped.

Hops & Grain
Dispensary Series: Imperial IPA
The One They Call Zoe Pale Lager
Pellets & Powder IPA
78702 Kölsch
River Beer Premium Lager
A Pale Mosaic IPA

BrainDead Brewing
We Own The Night Imperial Stout
Idle Playthings Belgian Strong Ale
Foreign Export Stout

SweetWater Brewing (Atlanta, GA)
420 Extra Pale Ale
Goin’ Coastal Pineapple IPA
Cool Breeze Cucumber Saison
Sweetwater IPA
Pulled Porter Smoked Bacon Porter

(512) Brewing
Pecan Porter
Stingo Old Ale
SMaSH Cashmere Session IPA

Jester King Brewery
La Vie en Rose
Funk Metal
Cerveza de Mezquite
Fair Voyage

Tickets for the festival are also available at the website and run from $25-$119. Index Fest will take place in the parking lot of the Austin American-Statesman at 305 S. Congress Ave.

For more information, visit indexfest.com/austin.

Austin Beerworks expands hours to seven days a week

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Celebrate Austin Beerworks' new taproom and brewery at a grand opening party Saturday
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Austin Beerworks will now be open seven days a week thanks to its brand-new, Michael Hsu-designed taproom.

Now that Austin Beerworks has a dedicated taproom, the North Austin brewery is making sure it’s open seven days a week so that we can get our beer fix in.

Austin Beerworks officially debuted the brand-new taproom earlier this month but waited a few weeks before implementing the hours change. Starting Monday, it’s now open from 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 12 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 7 p.m. Sundays.

It will also be easier than ever to share beers with your entire table or to sample some of Austin Beerworks’ taproom-only releases. Also coming Monday are branded pitchers, 4 oz. sample flights with four pours and style-specific glassware.

As the brewery noted in their announcement of the exciting changes, “this whole dedicated taproom thing is pretty sweet.”

More Austin beer news:

  • The Yeti flagship store at the corner of Barton Springs Road and South Congress Avenue is hosting a weekend-long grand opening celebration and will have a handful of beers available at the bar area, where a back well is decked out in more than 12,000 bottle caps, among other neat features. The opening beer list, which will change out frequently in the future, includes Shiner Bock and Shiner Light Blonde, Live Oak Pilz, Austin Beerworks Eagle and Lone Star.
  • St. Elmo Brewing has started getting one of its beers — the easy-drinking Carl Kolsch — to a few local bars, including the Draught House and Wright Bros. Brew & Brew. The brewery isn’t aiming to have wide-scale distribution, so these places are a neat opportunity to have St. Elmo beers beyond the South Austin taproom.
  • After winning our hearts over with the now year-round Red Bud Berliner Weisse, Independence Brewing is introducing another canned sour brew to the market with Illustrated Man Dark Sour with Berries. Celebrate the launch tomorrow at a party that will double as a competition for tattoo lovers looking to win $300 toward their next tat.
  • Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse & Brewery is hosting an Academy Awards watch party starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday with free popcorn and a pretty special beer. The Hell or High LAWger, which the brewpub originally made in honor of the film “Hell or High Water,” is coming back on tap to celebrate the four Oscar nominations that the bank heist movie has gotten, including Best Picture. The lager features prickly pear cactus as a nod to the setting of “Hell or High Water,” the rough-and-tumble desert of West Texas.

Austin Beerworks to host next pop-up of the Brewer’s Table

Photo by Tyler Malone. The Brewer's Table founder Jake Maddux, center, is hosting another pop-up with head brewer Drew Durish and executive chef Zach Hunter at Austin Beerworks.
Photo by Tyler Malone. The Brewer’s Table founder Jake Maddux, center, is hosting another pop-up with head brewer Drew Durish and executive chef Zach Hunter at Austin Beerworks.

The upcoming restaurant-brewery The Brewer’s Table has been hosting pop-ups in Austin and around the country, but those have mainly provided early tastes of what the food will be.

Now, beer lovers can also get a taste of the boozy side of the business.

On Feb. 19, the newly opened Austin Beerworks taproom is playing host to The Brewer’s Table team, which includes owner Jake Maddux, executive chef Zach Hunter (previously of Fixe) and head brewer Drew Durish (formerly of Live Oak Brewing). At the afternoon tasting, they’ll have samples of The Brewer’s Table’s signature beer and a small selection of bar snacks.

The casual event is in contrast to previous pop-ups at local restaurants Franklin Barbecue and Olamaie, which offered full sit-down meals for people to try.

This time, The Brewer’s Table will have free pours of their flagship brew, the Common Lager, designed by Durish but brewed for the pop-up by the Austin Beerworks team. Pair the beer with complimentary bites like beer nuts, made with candied chickpeas, puffed grains and seeds, chile and black lime.

Additional Austin Beerworks beers will also be available for purchase.

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Here’s the full menu of bar bites that Austinites will eventually enjoy at The Brewer’s Table, which is opening this year at 4715 E. Fifth St. Owner Maddux has envisioned the space to have wood-fermented beers and seasonally minded food that will have complementary flavors with the drinks.

  • Beer nuts
  • Smoked fish and cauliflower dip with Meyer lemon, salt and vinegar beer chips
  • Rye cured chicken rillette with root vegetable escabeche and sourdough rye bread
  • Beer grain falafel with farmer’s cheese and hop leaf harissa

The pop-up runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19. To RSVP, visit The Brewer’s Table’s event page on Facebook.

Austin Beerworks’ new taproom officially opens Saturday

You might have noticed the building next door to Austin Beerworks transform last year. Large, rainbow-tinted letters spelling out the name of the North Austin brewery were visible from the street and lit up at night, bright and welcoming.

But Austin Beerworks’ new taproom and brewing space wasn’t quite ready for visitors until recently — and to mark the official opening of the neighboring building, the brewery is throwing a party on Saturday with more than 20 different beers on tap.

From 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, you’ll be able to sip some of these suds by paying $15 for three beer tickets and a commemorative glass (a temporary move back to the way Austin Beerworks used to sell beer; now, you can simply buy one pint at a time). The party will also have food trucks Quality Seafood and East Side King on hand and live music playing throughout the day.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Celebrate Austin Beerworks' new taproom and brewery at a grand opening party Saturday
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Celebrate Austin Beerworks’ new taproom and brewery at a grand opening party Saturday.

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Austin Beerworks’ co-founders Michael Graham, Michael McGovern, Will Golden and Adam DeBower have steadily built one of the largest breweries in town — while still distributing their canned and draft offerings only in Austin. Upon outgrowing their cramped quarters at 3009 Industrial Terrace, they decided they needed more space to brew, snapping up the building next door when it became available.

Now, the 16,000 sq. ft of new space greatly supplements the existing location of 8,000 sq. ft., which Austin Beerworks will keep for overflow seating and other uses.

With the new brewery, the four co-owners have larger offices, enough room to serve up to 250 thirsty visitors and a custom-built quality-assurance lab to boot — all smartly designed by Michael Hsu, the architect behind the South Congress Hotel, the Lamar Union development and other modern commercial and residential properties around Austin.

For the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, “the main goal in the expansion of the brewery and tasting room was to relay the vibrant and fun personality of the Austin Beerworks team,” Hsu said. “It had to be a fun place, seriously fun, but not serious. If beer were a building this would be it, I think.”

Among the features of the taproom are “custom-hinged windows, (which) unfold to form a social standing bar and open the tasting room to the active lawn area,” he said. “The windows also combine with large skylights to bring natural daylight to the beer-making process and eliminate the need for artificial lighting even on cloudy days.”

In addition to approving his design, the brewers purchased Odell Brewing‘s old brewhouse system, which will allow them to just about double current brewing capacity at roughly 40,000 barrels annually.

That means we’ll get more Austin Beerworks brews in cans — with seasonal beers like the popular Bloodwork Orange IPA becoming year-round. Just don’t expect the brewery to expand too quickly.

“We’re doubling capacity right off the bat with these six tanks, and we have room to add seven or eight more depending on how crazy we want to get. But we’re in no real rush to max out or even increase capacity that much right now,” Graham said in December. “I think the first thing we want to do is get used to this brand-new system (because) the recipes don’t scale. We’ll do some test batches and make sure we’re comfortable before anything else.”

For more information, visit austinbeerworks.com.

January overflows with winter beer releases from Austin breweries

Uncle Billy's latest seasonal is the third beer in the brewpub's farm-to-keg series featuring locally made ingredients.
Uncle Billy’s latest seasonal is the third beer in the brewpub’s farm-to-keg series featuring locally made ingredients.

Although the temperature is heating back up to the low-80s this week, it’s still the season for dark beers — and Austin brewpubs and breweries are responding with an array of porters, stouts, barrel-aged brews and beers with winter flavors.

Here are some of the local beers to look out for this month and the next, too.

Austin Beerworks Sputnik: The one-time cans of the seasonal beer might be long gone, but you can still find Austin Beerworks’ beloved Russian imperial oatmeal stout on draft at bars around town, including at the Brass Tap Domain.

Tonight at 7 p.m., the beer bar is offering Sputnik, Sputniko, Battle Axe and Pearl Snap as part of an Austin Beerworks tap takeover.

The Elfie Sunshine, an imperial coffee milk stout, was made with cocoa nibs and coffee beans.
The Elfie Sunshine, an imperial coffee milk stout, was made with cocoa nibs and coffee beans.

Zilker Brewing’s Elfie Sunshine: The Coffee Milk Stout is a mainstay of the East Austin brewery, but Zilker has been riffing on it with a couple of additions to the taproom menu, including a version of it on nitro and an imperial coffee milk stout with cocoa nibs called Elfie Sunshine.

In it, according to Zilker, “expect everything you love about the original: the caramelized sugar, the creamy texture, and of course the locally roasted coffee (thanks, Wild Gift Coffee), just more of it.”

Independence Brewing’s Illustrated Man Dark Sour: Although this beer won’t be ready for full-scale release in cans until next month, there will be a pilot brew version of it in the Independence taproom. The Illustrated Man is tart, with blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries adding extra flavor to the dark-hued ale.

Get a pour of it starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Black Star Co-op Moebius: The brewpub put out a call to action at the end of last week, asking for customers to stop in and prevent a possible closure. A good time to be there is on Jan. 17, when the house beer Moebius is tapping as a Woodford Reserve Whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout.

According to Black Star, the rich and viscous “Moebius is a decadent beast of a beer” that clocks in at a robust 10 percent alcohol by volume. It taps at 5 p.m. next Tuesday.

Blue Owl Brewing’s Lord Admiral Gravitas: Remember Blue Owl’s Admiral Gravitas, a sour imperial oatmeal stout? This wood-aged version, which spent time in Balcones Brimstone barrels, takes the Admiral Gravitas up a boozy notch and has additional notes of oak, smoke and complexity.

The barrel-aged brew will only be found at the brewery taproom starting at 3 p.m. on Jan. 18, although the Admiral Gravitas is more widely available around town.

Uncle Billy’s Shakolad Chocolate Imperial Stout: This full-bodied stout full of cocoa nibs from Srsly Chocolate is Uncle Billy’s winter seasonal, and it certainly lives up to its name — Shakolad is Russian for ‘chocolate.’ The sweet addition has imbued the dark brew, at 9.5 percent ABV, with plum, dark cherry and cocoa characteristics and will have you yearning for those chilly winter temperatures again.

Have a dark beer with a cup of coffee at Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co. in Cedar Park this season.
Have a dark beer with a cup of coffee at Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co. in Cedar Park this season.

Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co.’s S.O.N. Double Stout with Coconut: The Son of Ninja series is just another example of the skill at the Cedar Park brewpub, which makes these rotating dark beers using an underutilized brewing technique called Parti Gyle.

This version is a double stout with a dash of lactose sugar to give it a smooth, sweet body. Don’t miss out on getting a pour of the 8 percent ABV brew because it won’t be around for long.

Pinthouse Pizza’s Fully Adrift Double IPA with Coffee: The beer might not be a seasonal porter or stout, but it’s got the coffee we like to have this time of year.

Stop into the Burnet Road brewpub on Jan. 21 for the second edition of the Pinthouse Pizza Fully Adrift Double IPA “Lost at Sea” series, which added a coffee infusion this go round. Starting at 11 a.m. that day, bottles of the beer will go on sale, and it’ll also be available on draft. Bottles are $14.99.