Texas lawmakers recently passed Senate Bill 515, which allows brew pubs to sell their beer to distributors, who can then sell to grocery stores and other outlets. This is great news for local brew pubs, who previously could sell beer only on-site.
It’s also a cause for celebration among beer lovers around Texas, and it’s especially exciting for Austin and for SpareFoot, which loves its beer almost as much as it loves self-storage. Startup life and fervent beer adoration go hand in hand, and we’re certainly not immune to the dedicated pursuit of hoppiness.
A longtime, semi-unknown tradition at SpareFoot has been Craft Beer Fridays, a meeting of Baby-sitters Club proportions (to put it modestly). Two of our biggest beer nerds, Michael Balagia and Craig Barrett, get together every so often to drink and discuss their beers of choice. They were kind enough to let me sit in on one of these exclusive sessions, where the evening’s tasting menu included Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Table Beer by Jester King Craft Brewery (Craig: “Perfect for a summer day”), Samuel Adams Honey Queen by Boston Beer Co. (Craig: “It smells like brisket”), Stoudt’s Abbey Double Ale by Stoudts Brewing Co. (Michael: “Great ranch beer”) and Salt Lick Pecan Wood Smoked Saison by Jester King (Michael: “Fun fact–I dropped this on the ground this morning”).
Craft Beer Friday quickly devolved around the fifth pint or so from its majestic and refined name to an intense conversation about everything from tattoos, to the drinking habits of monks, to the brisket that our very own developer Tyler Chamberlain prepares. Regardless, this tiny tradition shows just how much beer is tied to Austin culture–and those who love catching up with friends over a pint (or 10) have no shortage of fine options.
Here are five of Michael’s favorite places to savor some beer in Austin.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
“I love Banger’s because of the sheer number of awesome beers they have on tap–especially Texas beers. They not only have all the Austin-area beers, but Houston and Dallas are represented well, too. And they get a lot of small batches that are tough to find. They also have fun cask events where they’ll tap a few firkins (yes, that’s a real word) of awesomeness at scheduled times throughout the night. When they’re gone, they’re gone–and they go pretty quick.
“Banger’s also has my favorite atmosphere of any bar in Austin. The interior is all exposed wood and brass–I call it ‘frontier chic.’ The outside is all long picnic tables, and you sit next to people who you know are awesome, because they are there. Banger’s has a decent-size stage for hearing good music and drinking great beer. Plus, you can bring your dog. The food is awesome, too. Most of their sausages are made in-house, and they even make vegetarian sausage. If you go any night when the weather is decent (see: not raining), be prepared for a wait; it’s a popular place.
“Full disclosure, though: I became good friends with one of the operators through Austin theatre. Lauren and her fiance moved from L.A. to start it right around South by Southwest in 2012.”
Dog and Duck Pub
“It’s great because of their Pint Night. It’s an Austin alcoholic staple. It’s also just a stone’s throw from the Capitol, so it’s not unheard of to see legislators unwinding after a difficult session.”
Crown & Anchor Pub
“They don’t have a huge tap wall, but everything on there is great and their pitcher specials are awesome. It’s also unique in that it’s the only place I’ve been in Austin where you see UT professors in their slacks and button-downs, grading papers next to a table of the frattiest dudes you’ll ever see.”
Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden
“I’ve only been a few times, but I really like it. Their food is awesome. They have great cheese and cured meats, and Benoit Baudon de Mony (our resident SpareFrenchman) is obsessed with their bread. He thinks it’s the best bakery in town. (Hint: Try the pretzels with beer cheese and stoneground mustard.) They have a very impressive tap, and I really like their outdoor area, complete with ping-pong tables and views of Waller Creek.
“Pro tip: They put all of their current drafts on a chalkboard–the paper draft list they hand you may be slightly off, so when I get there I take a photo of the chalkboard with my phone, then reference that when I want to order. This can apply to several of these bars.”
“They have a huge tap wall, good food, a giant patio and views of the greenbelt. They also have Geeks Who Drink trivia on Tuesday nights. Plus, they have special cask nights where they feature a local brewery and let you keep the glass. Score.”
Those who love visiting breweries also can find endless satisfaction in the brewhouses that call Austin home. With the recent change in beer laws in Texas, beer enthusiasts could see more breweries and brew pubs pop up in the city.
“It would be interesting to consider us rivaling Portland in breweries per capita,” SpareFoot SEO pro and brewery fanatic Josh Waldrum said.
Here are three of Josh’s favorite breweries in Austin.
“This is a hidden gem located in North Austin. It offers weekly tastings/tours on Fridays and Saturdays. There beers are all crazy good and crazy strong. They are all named after funny stories about the owners, so be sure to ask what they mean, especially the Naked Nun.”
Independence Brewing Co.
“It offers open house tours every first Saturday of the month, which includes three free beers. Be sure to get there early to beat the crowds. This event used to be a little secret among Austin beer enthusiasts, but has since become very well-known. This is a good opportunity to try out their latest seasonal brews before they are available anywhere for purchase.”
“They have tastings and tours often. If you join their mailing list, you’ll be notified anytime they have public events. You can also set up private tours with a group of friends or for a happy hour with coworkers. They also do an anniversary party every year where you can enjoy five of your favorite Austin Beerworks brews as well as some of the best food trucks Austin has to offer. Austin Beerworks has a beer for every type of beer drinker. Their brewery serves up a lot of seasonal brews that are hard to find in stores and bars around the city.”
(Commenter aschwab84 noted that Independence is only open one Saturday per month and getting tickets for Austin Beerworks can be extremely difficult–things to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit Austin.)