Best of Austin Craft Brews

by Jessica Newman in Summer 2015

The award-winning Hops & Grain prides itself on being a frontrunner when it comes to sustainability. By 2016, the brewery plans for their 15-barrel system and taproom to be a zero waste destination. That’s why they serve you in a can, as aluminum is a recyclable material that produces less carbon emissions than glass. Employees get reimbursed the price of a gallon of gas a day for not driving to work, and owner and founder Josh Hare donates 1% of annual revenue to local environmental nonprofits.

Beer-wise, “The One They Call Zoe” is a top-selling pale lager with notes of floral and citrus. A so-called coffee porter, the “Porter Culture” pours dark with chocolate and raisin flavors. Hops & Grain brews are available in stores and in the taproom, where small-batch experimental brews are also poured.

Sip on This: 4,000 visitors/month | 1,550 gallons brewed daily | 4,500 cases packaged monthly

Hops & Grain  |  507 Calles St, # 101 | Austin

Since opening WhichCraft Beer Store last year, Jody Reyes and his knowledgeable staff have lovingly curated Austin’s first bottle store, stacking the shelves with the finest craft beers around, organized by region and style.

At one of their frequent free tastings, the beer-tender opens several bottles to get a sense of what customers like best. Take the opportunity to explore by trying a Meridian Hive mead from Austin or Revolver Brewing’s Blood & Honey, made with Texas honey and blood oranges. Or taste Dallas-based Community Brewing’s Mosaic IPA with citrus and floral flavors, or San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Bourbon, aged in oak barrels.

Sip on This: Over 275 beer brands | 800+ beers| 18 Austin breweries represented

WhichCraft Beer Store  |  2110 S Lamar, #F  | Austin

Strange Land Brewery brews beers of the past with a modern flavor. Adam Blumenshein and Tim Klatt manage their own yeasts and love to experiment. They opened the 15-barrel brew system and 180-barrel fermenting capacity to the public early this year after tapping the Westlake location back in October 2014. Kegs are available across the state with bottles coming soon. In the tasting room, guests can savor a range of offerings from ginger beer – think kombucha – with a low alcohol content to a small batch reserve Dewi Sant Braggot-style beer at a hefty 13.5%. You’ll find more than a dozen of their flagship beers on tap in the tasting room.

Sip on This: 5 to 10 brews at a time | A dozen grains | 4 different countries

Strange Land Brewery  |  5904 Bee Caves Road  |  Austin

Banger’s, featured in our spring issue, has mastered the art of beer and sausage. In the mood for some good ‘ole Southern appetizers like boiled peanuts, fried pickles and maybe a Canadian appetizer of poutine? Follow that bellyful with a thirst-quenching beer from the tap. Recently, Banger’s had an Odell “tap takeover,” in which guests enjoyed the Odell Loose Leaf and the Odell Wolfpicker Pale Ale, in addition to a Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Nooner. Other favorites were the Green Flash Soul Style IPA and the Middleton Bobcat Red. You can’t go wrong pairing beer with delectable sausage plates like Bangers & Mash, Cajun Boudin Plate or Currywurst.

Sip on This: 100+ beers | 30+ sausage selection | Free tattoos for all patrons

Banger’s  |  79 Rainey St | Austin

Independence Brewing brews handcrafted beer sold in graphically eye-catching cans. The brewery is open for tours and drinking in the recently upgraded tasting room. Chief brewer Brannon Radicke is enthusiastic about their White Rabbit, a medium-bodied white ale with a slightly fruity, refreshing tang and a clean, zesty finish. The brewery’s Austin Amber (a top seller) and Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout (8+%) are also not to be missed. Seasonal offerings include “Oklahoma Suks,” available around the Texas-OU football game.

Sip on This: $10 tours every first Saturday | 10,000 barrels brewed in 2014 | Doubling capacity next year

Independence Brewing  |  3913 Todd Ln, #607 | Austin