A SXSW beer flight
This survey of quality brew hangouts is by no means exhaustive – if you're doing South by Southwest, you'll mostly be Downtown, so this leaves out standouts like the Draught House Pub & Brewery, Crown & Anchor Pub, Billy's on Burnet, and North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery. Nor do I list every place Downtown with a broad selection – these are just some personal favorites.
The Ginger Man (301 Lavaca, 473-8801, www.aus.gingermanpub.com) One of the original monster-selection beer bars, its 76 taps and 110 bottled choices are a connoisseur's dream. If it's not here, you likely can't get it in Texas. Inside seating is cozy, and the back porch is perfect for Texas spring days. Warning to SXSW vets: It's moved – the new location is around the corner from the old one.
Dog & Duck Pub (406 W. 17th, 479-0598, www.dogandduckpub.com) Before Ginger Man, there was D&D. If you crave a British pub with a Texas twist, this place pulls it off without touristy schtick. Warning: Its St. Patty's celebration is crazy.
Zax Pints & Plates (312 Barton Springs Rd., 481-0100, www.zaxaustin.com) Heading over to the free shows at Auditorium Shores? Fuel up first at Zax, a short walk away. Aside from great food, it has a small but quality group of taps – of the 14, half are Texas microbrews. Try the Austin sampler, featuring Live Oak, Independence, and (512) brewing companies.
Uncle Billy's Brew & Que (1530 Barton Springs Rd., 476-0100, www.unclebillysaustin.com) is another good launch pad to Auditorium Shores. An award-winning brewer and fantastic barbecue – need I say more?
Opal Divine's Freehouse (700 W. Sixth, 477-3308, www.opaldivines.com) Quite likely, you'll end up here for a showcase in the parking lot. When you need to get off your feet, head inside to the great selection, including $2.50 Texas beers on Wednesday. Also take note of its outstanding Scotch menu – more than 65 single malts.
Lovejoys (604 Neches, 477-1268, www.myspace.com/lovejoys) is not only a bar but also a brewery. A friend always kicks off his SXSW with a Wednesday gathering at Lovejoys' unofficial showcases, a tradition I hope never dies. I haven't been since last year, but I've heard its new brewer is really doing great things.
Honorable Mention: Little Woodrow's, Opal Divine's Penn Field, Jackalope, Bull McCabe's Irish Pub.