Austin's Brewpub Bargains

Pints for Pennies:

Austin's brewpub market, like the rest of the bar business, is a cutthroat and highly predatory racket. With new microbrewers expanding distribution operations into Texas, the local makers of fine brews fight tooth and nail with million-tap ale houses, a new breed of beer-savvy bar manager, and corner stores stocked with coolers full of exotic bottled beers.

Ain't it beautiful?

All this rabid competition means great news for Austin's beer drinkers, who can try ever-changing varieties of local beers fresh from the brewers' tanks, just as god intended. And because of the trusty supply/demand equation, it's even better for aspiring beer novices, who can begin a serious self-guided study of "Brew Styles 101" at a remarkably low cost.

Austin's brewpubs stand out among the million other local bars by brewing their own beers in house, thereby providing a thirsty public with the freshest beer in town. Instead of being shipped by boat from Amsterdam or Pwllheli, your beer travels from tank to keg to glass -- a journey of maybe 50 feet that leaves flavors intact and customers happy. Think of it as the liquid equivalent of a "pick your own" produce farm.

Small-batch brewing ensures freshness and a generally quick turnover of beer styles, so it's not uncommon to have a brewpub's selection of house brews change from week to week. If you want to test drive an unfamiliar style, all of the brewpubs listed below have knowledgeable barkeeps who cheerfully offer tastes to trial-and-error beginners. So if you can scratch up a few bucks and a willing palate, you're ready to explore a new world of beer -- or a familiar one made better by low, low discount prices.

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