Top 10 (Almost) Local Beers
It isn't easy to choose just 10 local beers. From old-timer Live Oak to newbies such as Hops & Grain, Austin churns out an exemplary selection of craft brews. For the purposes of this list, beers were selected based on year-round availability as well as the brewery's proximity to Austin. Brewpubs were omitted, as were seasonal and specialty beers. As due diligence requires, I also consulted with one of Austin's few certified cicerones. In no particular order, here's to 2013's Top 10.
1) The One They Call Zoe, Hops & Grain This pale lager is clean, refreshing, and dry-hopped for an extra level of complexity. An affable and year-round companion, Hops & Grain recommends pairing it with life.
2) Pecan Porter, (512) A local-beer gift basket would not be complete without this Austin staple. Made with locally grown pecans, organic two-row and crystal malts along with Baird's chocolate and black malts, this American porter is perfect for wintry weather, but true fans drink it all year long.
3) Hans' Pils, Real Ale Inspired by the pilsners of northern Germany, this beer is hoppier than a typical pils at 52 IBUs. Worthy of note: People who love Hans' Pils really love Hans' Pils.
4) HefeWeizen, Live Oak Dispelling the persistent adage that only craft beer neophytes drink wheat beer, Live Oak's HefeWeizen is widely regarded as an Austin classic, perfect for fighting the summer heat.
5) Fire Eagle, Austin Beerworks Made with Summit, Columbus, Centennial, and Amarillo hops, Beerworks' straightforward interpretation of an American IPA is veritably hoppy and dangerously drinkable.
6) Devil's Backbone, Real Ale Made with Czech Saaz hops and Belgian yeast, the house-made candy sugar in Real Ale's Belgian-style tripel could leave you seeing double. Careful now.
7) Wytchmaker, Jester King Jester King's Farmhouse Rye India Pale Ale is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and 100% naturally conditioned. Using native wild yeast, a little funk is just a matter of course for Jester King.
8) Stash IPA, Independence One of the oldest breweries in Austin, Independence makes an excellent American IPA using four different hop varietals. As promised, Stash is "a dank, resinous, and enlightening hop trip."
9) Pilz, Live Oak Though Live Oak is more widely recognized for its Hefe, this Czech-style pilsner deserves the limelight, too. Golden-colored and moderately bitter, this Pilz is crisp, clean, and ready for center stage.
10) Yellow Armadillo, Thirsty Planet Thirsty Planet's American wheat-style ale is light-bodied and highly sessionable at 4.1% alcohol. Though perfect for summer day-drinking, any season will do just fine.