A Beer Drinker’s Guide to SXSW: Five of the Best #BeersofTexas

As a first-timer at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference last year, I found it pretty overwhelming deciding what to do. There are so many simulataneous events, meetups, parties, and of course panels, with everything laid out on the official SXSW website in chronological or alphabetical order, so it’s hard to distinguish the “must-attend” events from those that will ultimately suck. You kind of have to be an insider, or know some insiders, to get the goods on what actually is good. While I hardly will call myself a veteran – I just have one year under my belt –  there is one area in which I can offer some “insider” tips on how to enhance the SXSW experience: local beer.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of parties and chances are, you’ll be drinking a lot of beer. You don’t want to be stuck drinking Amstels and Buds, and since you’re in Austin, home to a great local beer scene, why not sample the hometown brews? This was my goal last year: to try as many beers from Texas as I could. My friend Amanda and I called it the Beers of Texas Tour and tagged our tweets about each beer we tried #beersoftexas. This experience spawned my interest in tweeting and blogging about local beers throughout the U.S., and thus The Beer Tour was born.

So without further ado, here’s my quick guide to five of the best Texas brews you’ll find, and where to find them at SXSW:

Live Oak Brewing Company – Austin, TX

Big Bark Amber Lager

Smooth” is the first word from your mouth after a taste of Big Bark Amber. This Vienna-style lager has a reddish-amber color with a smooth, malty flavor and low hop bitterness. It is made from Czech and German malts and German hops. “All Bark, No Bite.” (via)

My Rating: 5/5. My favorite beer discovered at SXSW. 

Where to find it:

  • Buffalo Billiards, 6th & Brazos
  • The Driskill Hotel, 6th and Brazos

(512) Brewing Company – Austin, TX

If you couldn’t tell by the name, (512) is a local Austin beer that prides itself on “brewing for the community using as many local, domestic and organic ingredients as possible… Our beers are built on old world English and Belgian recipes, but enhanced to celebrate bold domestic ingredients. Made with Austin’s mineral rich water, the (512) beers taste like none other.”

India Pale Ale

(512) India Pale Ale is a big, aggressively dry-hopped American IPA with smooth bitterness (~65 IBU) balanced by medium maltiness. Organic 2-row malted barley, loads of hops, and great Austin water create an ale with apricot and vanilla aromatics that lure you in for more. (via)

My rating: 5/5. I never had such an appreciation or love for IPAs until I tried 512’s. As a hops lover, the boldness balanced with the sweet citrus flavor just bowled me over. I wish I could find it in New York, but I’ll be very excited to drink it again when I get back to Austin this week.

Where to find it:

  • Champions Sports Bar, inside the Courtyard Marriott. 4th & Trinity, practically across the street from the Austin Convention Center.
  • The Ginger Man Pub, 3rd and Lavaca.

Pecan Porter

Nearly black in color, (512) Pecan Porter is made with Organic US 2-row and Crystal malts along with Baird’s Chocolate and Black malts. Its full body and malty sweetness are balanced with subtle pecan aroma and flavor from locally grown pecans. (via)

My rating: 4/5 This was a pretty perfect beer to me, but I hadn’t tried too many porters prior to having this one so I can’t give it an absolutely perfect rating. I mentioned this beer in my Beer Drinker’s Guide to the MLB Postseason, so I won’t repeat myself here.  I definitely will be drinking this one again, and am on a mission to find the Amy’s Ice Cream Pecan Porter flavor.

Where to find it:

  • Cedar Door Bar & Grill, 2nd & Brazos
  • The Ginger Man Pub, 3rd & Lavaca

Real Ale Brewing Company – Blanco, TX

Rio Blanco Pale Ale

Gold Medal winner – 2010 Great American Beer Festival Deep golden and malty, with a spicy hop flavor and well balanced hop bitterness, Rio Blanco is a uniquely Texan interpretation of an English-style pale ale. Czech Saaz hops provide a crisp finish and delicate aroma. (via)

My rating: 4/5. As I recall, the bar I had this at last year was just running out and I didn’t actually get to have a full pint, so I can’t comment on my full impression but I do remember enjoying it. I won’t be missing out this year.

Where to find it:

  • Champions Sports Bar, 4th & Trinity
  • The Ginger Man Pub, 3rd & Lavaca

Spoetzel Brewery Shiner, TX

Shiner Bock

Who wouldn’t love a beer from the self-described “Cleanest Little Town in Texas”?  Shiner Bock is the brewery’s flagship beer and you can’t go anywhere in Austin without finding it.

Bock has been brewed since 1913, almost as long as the Spoetzl Brewery has been in business. However, it wasn’t until a few decades ago that Shiner began producing Bock year-round. Bock was considered a lent beer, and therefore was only made around that season. Today 80% of the beer made at the Spoetzl Brewery is Bock. (via)

My rating: 3/5. Shiner was not my favorite, but is definitely better on tap than in bottle, in my opinion. A great choice with tacos and queso!

Where to find it:

  • Bottled: EVERYWHERE
  • On Tap: Hickory Street Bar & Grille (8th & Congress), Champions Sports Bar, many other bars.

I’ll be updating this during the week with more bars that I find these and any other Texas beers at. In the meantime, go forth, drink and enjoy. See you there.

This entry was posted in A Beer Drinker's Guide to SXSW, Amber Lagers, Beers of Texas, India Pale Ales, Porters, South by Southwest, The Beer Tour and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Beer Drinker’s Guide to SXSW: Five of the Best #BeersofTexas

  1. Line Hansen Kamhaug says:

    When I saw a tweet mentioning this blog post about Texas beer I had to check out if you listed my favourite Texas beer – Shiner. I’m from Norway but have friends in Texas and have visited the state a number of times (and actually took 1 semester at UT Arlington through an exchange programme). Shiner beer is one of my all time favourite beers, and I need to have one as soon as I touch down in Texas. I really recomend visiting Shiner town and Shiner brewery – you get free taste samples! Good list, I’ll check out some of the other beers on this list next time I’m in TX.

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