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An Austin Beer Thread

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What local brews do you guys like? What beers are hard to find in Austin? Where do you like to have them?

To me nothing beats the Thursday night special at the Draught House, $2.25 for an imperial pint of their housebrews. You can have almost a gallon of beer for less than $16 after tip.

My favorite homebrew of theirs they only make in the winter - the coffee stout. Right now they're serving among others, a homebrew called Red Planet. Be careful with it, though. There's a hangover in every third one.

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  1. I love the Draught House, and enjoy many of their homebrews. The IPA that they have right now is very good IMO. I'm a big fan of the IPA's. So, another local brew that I really like is Live Oak's Liberation Ale.

    While the selection isn't as good as the Draught House, I also love The Dog & Duck pub. The fact that they have Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA makes the smaller selection a non-issue for me. This is hands down my "go-to" beer, and any establishment that has it on tap gets points in my book.

    The Gingerman is another great pub, with a great selection of beer. Also worth noting is Uncle Billy's Brew & Que.

    As far as places to buy beer for consumption at home... my top pick would have to be The Whip In. Spec's is also great, but I try to support the little local guy if at all possible.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kegsandkitchen

      I like the Real Ale guys from Blanco. I enjoy Rio Blanco Pale Ale, Full Moon Rye Ale, and Fireman's #4. Their small run beers (like their Coffee Porter) are usually good also. St. Arnold's also does a great job with their Elissa, Amber, and I love their Christmas. I have not had anything I disliked from them.

      My favorite place to sample these is Zax Pints and Plates for a combination of their food to go with their small, but well chosen selection of local brews.

      1. re: El General

        I like the Real Ales too, and also enjoy Zax.

        Though not at all local, they had a Belgian tasting on Saturday, which I had to skip in lieu of the Swamp Thing Fest. They may have leftovers from this partial list:

        Tripel Karmeliet

        Kwak

        Deus

        Duchesse de Bourgogne(Flemish Red Sour)

        Urthel Hop It

        Urthel Samaranth

        Grotten Brown

        Grotten Flemish

        St. Feuillien Tripel

        Dubuisson Scaldis

        St. Bernardus Tripel

        St. Bernardus Wit

        Chimay White

        Chimay Blue

        D'Achouffe La Chouffe

        D'Achouffe Mc Chouffe

        Duvel

        LeFebvre Blanche de Bruxelles

        Lindeman's Framboise

        Orval

        Westmalle Dubble

        Westmalle Triple

        Rochefort 8

        Rochefort 10

        1. re: Nab

          Their Wednesday night pint night feature is Belgian Assortment this week. It is the leftovers from the tasting. I wanted to go, but couldn't make it.

          http://www.zaxaustin.com/calendar.htm

          1. re: Nab

            Oh good Lord! Thank you for posting this. Rochefort 8 is my favorite beer of all time. I used to be able to buy it at Whole Foods, but not any more. I'm going to have to hit Zax ASAP!

            1. re: foodiegal71

              We bought Rochefort 8 and 10 at Grapevine in December. Delicious!

        2. re: kegsandkitchen

          kegs if you love that dogfish head ipa ask draught house to get them a randall tap. it's an amazing and contoversial device, but it allows the pub to add their own live hops for a final "fresh" hop blast. your go-to brew is the one they usually randallize at the craft beer pubs out here in noo yawk. now that'll really do ya!

        3. I would have to say the Draught House is a GREAT austin Gem! I love the variety! Nothing beats it!

          1. Local brewers:
            Live Oak is a favorite for many. I find their Pilz over-hopped but I'm in the minority.

            Blanco's Real Ale offers some good stuff in bottles (the Rye is very unique) and occasionally has a really good seasonal draft. The most recent was something they called a "double ESB," called Phoenixx.

            Independence has some quality beers that are very drinkable. I love the big stuff but it's nice to have some quality session brews in town, too.

            Pubs:
            Gingerman is great. One of the only places in town that pulls cask ale (Opal Divine's downtown is supposed to serve it but I've never seen them do it).

            Despite the crowds, I'm pretty fond of the Flying Saucer. They were the first place I saw serving the new Avery Maharaja (if you like IPA, go get one now!)

            Draught House and Dog & Duck are good choices, and Billy's on Burnet has a reasonably good selection with cheap prices.

            I have never been to NXNW or Zax.

            8 Replies
            1. re: mkwng

              Live Oak Pilz was the first beer I had at B-Side Lounge (Are they gone yet?). I liked it a lot, but it never catches my eye when I'm at a bar for some reason.

              And whoa - Real Ale made a double ESB? And I'm just now finding out about it? Is there any place I can buy it still, or is it past the season?

              1. re: KPeff

                Just got back from Draught House, which I hadn't been to in a long while. First thing I had there was the Live Oak Pilz, and it was as good as I remember it being at B-Side Lounge.

                mkwng, the Pilz is hoppy, but that is what I like about it. It has bite. It's like the difference between Barq's and A&W.

                Nice selection of other beers written on their chalkboard menu. I also had the St. Arnold's Divine Reserve #6 which was good, too.

                1. re: KPeff

                  I love a hoppy beer, I just think that the Live Oak is wrong for the style. When I order a pilsner I want that crisp, fresh-cut grass taste. Live Oak Pilz is a little to aggressively hopped for me.

                2. re: KPeff

                  The Real Ale ESB was pretty dissapointing, but then again, can anything hold a candle to Fuller's ESB (other than say an ESB brewed in some out of the way place in England)?
                  One of the brews at Draught House many people like is Hop Gold. I don't go in for overhopped, grapefruit tasting beers, so hopheads might not love that one; I think its pretty well balanced, though not as good IMHO as Live Oak Pilz.

                3. re: mkwng

                  regarding cask ale, there's lots of places that do it, though they're usually just a "once a month" thing. Opal's, NXNW and Uncle Billy's (on Barton Springs Rd.) all have regular cask ale events.

                  While the selection at Flying Saucer is impressive, I can't get past the costumes they put their servers in and the "chain" feel that it has going on.

                  1. re: kegsandkitchen

                    re: Flying Saucer - I guess, but it's not like Gingerman and Opal Divine's aren't chainy too.

                    I don't know if the Phoenixx is still available - they may be moving on to their next seasonal, which their site says is a wee heavy.

                    http://www.realalebrewing.com/beer_st...

                    1. re: mkwng

                      Flying Saucer, at least the one in Houston, is not without a sense of humor and community, either.

                      A friend of mine got engaged there. She and her then boyfriend had been sampling beers for a long time trying to get those plaques for hitting 200 - when he got his, his engraving asked her to marry him. And hers says "It's about damn time."

                      I'll have to go to Draught House some time soon when it's late and see if Flying Saucer is making more room at DH for neighborhood drinkers. Can anyone comment on this already?

                      Example - Hypothetical guy in town from Houston: "Draught House? That like the theater? Who wants to go there to sit at their bar? No, man. Let's go to Flying Saucer!"

                      1. re: KPeff

                        As a Draught House regular, I can tell you that the opening of the Flying Saucer has had little to no impact on the size of the crowd at DH. We're a loyal bunch. The sense of community that you mentioned at the Flying Saucer in Houston is alive and kicking at the Draught House.

                4. FYI - tonight Zax will be serving leftovers from the Belgian tasting (listed above) for the Wed. Pint Night special

                  1. Glad to see chowhounds are fans of draughthouse.

                    Other places, "What Live Oak do you have on tap?" is always the first thing I ask. Hefeweizen and Pale Ale are the favorites and I will go places because they have it.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: DrkBgrk

                        Yes! All the Live Oak beers are excellent, but the Hefe and Pale Ale are really outstanding. Their Hefeweizen is the best of that style I've had outside of Germany, in part because it's usually fresh, which makes a huge difference but also because it's just a good beer - very well-made.

                      2. for those up north there is a place called the dig on cypress creek. the have about 20 beers on tap. all from the states except the guinness on the end. they have a selection of live oak, real ale and st arnold among other ipa's, pale ales, porters, a couple tripels, ambers, lagers and stouts.

                        it sits at the end of one of the new small strip shoppin centers. i didn't go in for a long time because of that. it's right around the corner from me. it was like finding a diamond in the rough

                        1. I love the Draught House. Their selection is first rate and they go through kegs quickly so there's seldom a problem with freshness. I'm also a big fan of NXNW's Pale Ale and their Belgian sours (not always on tap). The sours aren't listed on the board, but just ask the bartender. Uncle Billy's $2 Tuesday is hard to beat, and I really like the patio. Many of our brewer pals love the blonde, but I'm a hops gal and pretty much stick to the pale ale.

                          Right now we're drinking Real Ale's Devil's Backbone. It's a Belgian golden. It's high in alcohol and very easy drinking (to me), so be careful. It's seasonal and we had it at The Draught House. Live Oak has just introduced an IPA that is delicious, too. I think it's going to replace the Liberation until the hops shortage ends.

                          1. Austin needs a better selection of Belgian Ales, period. Grimbergan, Piraat, Gulden Draak, etc.. Been so long I can't even remember the better ones. Oh, and throw in some Samichlaus, too (not Belgian, I know).

                            -sw

                            1. By my assessment Real Ale makes the best beer in Texas, with Live Oak and probably St. Arnold tied for a close second. In the recent issue of Imbibe magazine they did a national survey of great beers by region. Real Ale's Full Moon Pale Rye was one of only three beers from the southern US that they listed, and the only one from Texas. Live Oak was mentioned as "under the radar" since they don't bottle their beer and are therefore known primarily just in Austin. Real Ale's basic four lineup of bottled beers are all great. I prefer the flavor of the Full Moon but their biggest commercial success has been with the Fireman's #4, which is a great gateway beer for people who are just getting into real (small r) beer. The limited run beers from Real Ale are often outstanding. The Coffee Porter is the best I've had of that style. Their Sisyphus barleywine is also excellent in its category and ages well. In January I had the pleasure of experiencing a vertical tasting of several Sisyphus bottlings dating back to 2002 and it was amazing to see how the beer developed. I have several bottles of the 2007 waiting patiently in the fridge.

                              Last Thursday I attended a tasting of Independence beers in a food pairing at Blue Star Cafeteria. The beers for the most part were quite drinkable though they lack the full body of Real Ale or Live Oak. Blue Star is supposedly going to be doing these tastings on the last Thursday of every month, next month is Real Ale. For $15, you taste five beers paired with generously portioned small plates.

                              As for the pubs I generally find myself at the Ginger Man. Tonight I drank two beers from St. Arnold that are worth mentioning. The cask-pulled Elissa had that great texture that seems to only come from the cask beers. They are also still pouring the Divine Reserve #6, which came out only a couple weeks ago but is already sold out in stores. The draft version of this barleywine was quite enjoyable, and tasted more rounded and less hop-forward than the bottled version I tasted last week. I highly recommend tasting this beer before it sells out; and if you can get a bottle or two, hide it in the back of the fridge for a couple of years!

                              I would also like to mention Ty Phelps at North by Northwest, who specializes in an unusual style of Sour Ales. I have tried several of his lambics and a Flemish Sour Ale that were delicious and interesting, as a beer that tastes somehow like pickles would. I haven't seen that style being brewed anywhere else in town, but would like to know if anyone else has seen it.