Though life has been jam packed, I took a vacation over our University spring break. If that had not been planned since Christmas, it would have probably not happened since though it may have been deserved, I did not necessarily have time for it and I am making up for it now. Moving, taxes, thesis, class, work, conference (rapidly approaching), and all the many other things in life have me barely keeping my head above water! It seems I cannot catch a break but no more complaints here- I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not just summer approaching, it is graduation and done with school forever!! (Yikes, since I said that, I will probably end up back in school :P)
My boyfriend knew I had been wanting to check out the beer scene in Austin so as my Christmas present he bought us tickets. We had hoped for a little bit warmer weather so we could sip delicious cocktails by the pool, but rather we completely stuffed ourselves full of food and beer so that getting in a bathing suit was the last thing we wanted to do.
Hops and Grain
Hops and Grain was the first place we visited in Austin. We arrived on a Friday night around 7. It was not that busy but there was a good amount of people hanging out, and more casually arrived during our time there. Many games were scattered out around long wooden tables and people were playing games while enjoying a beer.
To taste the beer you must buy a glass for $10 and then with that you get three beer samples. These were not small tasters but large pours of the beer. We definitely were feeling toasty :D We tried the ALTeration, Pale Dog, and Zoe. The ALTeration was good for an Alt-style beer. The Pale Dog was the favorite of the group. It was crisp, hoppy, balanced, and a delicious beer! The Zoe was a lighter beer, more like a lager. It was also good but hard to compare after trying Pale Dog :)
The bartenders were friendly, describing the beer and answering my questions. We had a really great time at Hops and Grain and it would definitely be a place I would go often if I lived in Austin.
Jester King was highly recommended as a destination spot so even though it was outside of central Austin, we made it happen. After driving 30 minutes out of Austin, we arrived to this beautiful open space with a lively and packed outdoor brewery. It was an overcast day but warm enough to be comfortable in jeans and a tank top. There were many tables spread out in the grass with friends and families enjoying each other’s company. They could have used a new corn hole set or at least some bags but it was still fun to play a couple rounds.
Jester King makes a lot of unique beers. They are one of those breweries that stepped foot into unknown territory, making wild ales with natural fermentation. In very general terms, each batch will vary and sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get. My favorite one that I tried was the Ol’ Oi Barrel-Aged Sour Brown Ale. This was kind of surprising since I am picky about brown ales but I thought this sour version was quite impressive. The La Vie En Rose that is shown in the sexy yet creepy labeled bottle was a little light for me. I was expecting it to have a little more flavor and crisp to it. It is a beautiful color which comes from being refermented with raspberries. There was another beer that was aged in cherries that had a good tart flavor. Though I loved the atmosphere and brewery, I cannot say I absolutely loved any one of them. I do typically like a little more carbonation and I am still a new explorer in the world of sour beers. I feel there beers might also vary a decent amount batch to batch.
Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza permeated the fresh air with amazing smells. It was so difficult to not eat the pizza but we were saving ourselves for Salt Lick. Though Salt Lick was good and a great experience, we kept hearing about the mistake we made in not ordering Stanley’s!
We went to Torchy’s Tacos twice during out trip; do I need to say more? :) Both times we ate at the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery which is one of Austin’s many food trailer parks! I love this concept because it allows a group of people to get together and not have to settle on one type of food.
This trailer park had only a few food trucks but I have a feeling things heat up in the summer. The line for Torchy’s Tacos was fairly long both times but it went by quick. At least the line gave you time to decide on their many delicious options!
The first time we went we tried the Wrangler breakfast taco, the Trailer Park, and the Democrat. The trailer park, trashy style (adds queso), won by a landslide. It had fried chicken, green chilies, pico, cheese, queso (with trashy version), and poblano sauce. It was really hard to compare to the other ones since this one was so amazing!
The second time we went we got the Green Chile Pork and two more Trailer Parks (not sharing this time!!). The Green Chile Pork was very well done and delicious. As you may have noticed, each time we only got 3 tacos to share and were full! However, we did get queso and chips on the side because we had heard it was so amazing and it was :D
The Pinthouse was our starting point one afternoon after our second trip to Torchy’s Tacos :D Pinthouse is a brewpub helmed by former Odell head brewer, Joe Mohrfeld. Needing a beer, I started off by drinking the Tasty Ass Pale which is part of the Fallen-Cask IPA. It was fairly aggressively hopped but was not super high in ABV (4.9%), making it an easier day drinking IPA. It was a delicious start to the day :)
Next, we did some tasters so that we could sample more of their beer :) I thought they had some really tasty beer. Unfortunately, I did not take down any notes except on the Tasty Ass Pale, that I previously mentioned. The GABF award-winning Blind Jake Porter was very delicious. The other ones mentioned below were also ones I enjoyed.
Man O’ War IPA
Iron Genny Pale Ale
Calma Muerta Session Ale
Blind Jake Porter
The bartenders were very friendly and fun to talk to. We sat at the bar and just enjoyed the Monday afternoon :D
In the same vicinity as the Pinthouse, was the Draught House, which is one of Austin’s oldest craft breweries. Walking into this rustic building felt like walking into medieval times. The lights were dimmed down low, even though it was daylight, and tall, stalky chairs surrounded large round tables. Taps covered the length of the bar and one man stood behind the bar serving beer to anyone that approached the counter.
The bartender was very knowledgeable in beer and allowed us to have as many tastes as we wanted before ordering our beer. People were slowly arriving once it opened and then by the time we left (maybe an hour after opening), there was a line to get beer. The Draught House was a fun place to visit but we did not spend a lot of time there since we were trying to keep to our busy beer-tasting schedule :)
Craft Pride would probably be a place I would frequent often if I lived in Austin. It was located in a really cool part of Austin with a nice outside area. We enjoyed our beers outside and as the days get warmer, I bet that place gets pretty packed.
They pride themselves in having only Texas beers on tap and they had a lot of options! We had a round of tasters but unfortunately, at the time, we were getting a little beer-ded out! I know, what?! I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot and wish I could have gone back when I was feeling a little less full of beer.
Via 313 Pizza came highly recommended and has apparently been written up several times for being one of the best pizzerias in the country. There pizza is Detroit-style, which if you do not know, is thick pizza with sauce and toppings on top of the cheese. The way the cheese caramelized on the crust was really good but to be honest, it was not my favorite pizza. That is probably due to that not being my favorite style of pizza. However, I can see why people would really like it. If I was less full of beer, I would have also probably enjoyed it more :D
Other food spots:
Salt Lick– this is a BYOB BBQ place! There could never be one of these places in Colorado but I absolutely loved this concept. So many people hung out with friends and family in the outdoor area while patiently waiting for food.
Amy’s Ice Creams (South Congress)- the dark chocolate flavor was so smooth and creamy and tasted like mousse; the honey graham was also amazing!
Enoteca Vespaio (South Congress)- delicious Italian restaurant on South Congress. Apparently, they have good brunch, which is what we went for, but it is only on Sundays.
Magnolia– great for a late night bite to eat; surprisingly, we thought the artichoke dip was really good.
Most of these recommendations came from Bitch Beer, an Austin-based beer blog. If you live in Texas, this is a great blog for finding out news and events related to beer. Also, even if you do not live in Texas, you should still check them out!! I am very thankful for them taking the time to give me such great recommendations!!!
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