Day Trips & Beyond: Live Oak Brewery

Austin institution flies into new brew house out by the airport

It’s fitting enough that one of Austin’s oldest craft brewers has a new beer garden shaded by a massive live oak tree.

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Live Oak Brewery’s new digs are impressive. Tucked away in the woods near the Colorado River just north of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the brewery has the look of a combination Swiss chalet and a rocket launching pad.

Designed by a German firm that specializes in automated craft-brewing systems, the new facility is twice as large as the old brewery and makes beer three times as fast. The brewery’s new capacity tops out at around 100,000 barrels a year. It will also allow Live Oak to sell beer in cans for the first time.

At the tap room’s soft opening on the last weekend of January there was quite a crowd milling about the beer hall-style tasting room and filling the picnic tables in the sunken beer garden under the oaks. This is going to be a great place for happy hours with friends, or a stopover going to or from the airport. Only a few minutes from the Austin-Bergstrom’s front door, this will be a comfortable place to wait for a plane.

The 10 beers listed on the chalkboard behind the taps reflect the diversity of Live Oak Brewery’s founder Chip McElroy’s liquid vision. The Big Bark Amber Lager is one of my all-time favorite local brews, and it tastes even better when it’s fresh from the brewer’s tap. A new one for me was the Primus Weizenbock. This is a dark wheat beer with a chewy mixture of flavors in the style of a lager beer. The subtle chocolate undertones make it very smooth and drinkable.

The new tap room will open to the public with tours by the end of February. Colin Ferguson, sales manager with the brewery, says the staff is still working out the final details. “We’re all very excited about the opening,” Colin says. “Watch for an announcement on our website and social media sites very soon.”

Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for the past 24 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

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