Top 10 Beer Things to Look Forward to in 2016
1) The New Live Oak Brewhouse & Taproom
Since closing brewing operations at their Fifth Street location in the fall, Live Oak has left their fans at a cliffhanger. But when season 2 premieres sometime in the spring/summer (we're speculating), it will be a smash-hit success with a brand-new brewhouse, taproom, and drinkin' yard over in far East Austin. Live Oak also knows that introducing their first-ever canning line will be just the fresh concept to fire us all up, as top-rated HefeWeizen and their crisp Pilz will finally be available for garden parties.
2) St. Elmo on Fire
Founded by two former Austin Beerworks pros, this brewery and taproom will feature three perennials: Chico Pale Ale, Angus Stout, and the exceptionally lubricious Carl Kölsch, along with rotational seasonal offerings. St. Elmo plans to be open six days a week by the summer with an on-site food truck serving "Southeast Asian meets American drinking food" to keep happy-hour buzzes at bay.
3) Hops & Grain Keeps Grinding
Hops & Grain and Austin's chemistry is undeniable, and the next step in their relationship is to get a new house – well, a vacation home at least. While main operations will remain at the Calles Street brewery, H&G's second facility at FM 969 and Hwy. 130 will be partially devoted to warehousing the sour and wild barrels of their "Volumes of Funk" series. Naturally, this means a new tasting room serving barrel-aged and mixed-culture beers. This also means more large-format releases and a new canned year-rounder called 78702 that is – wait for it – a Kölsch.
4) Pinthouse Pizza Begins to Distribute
No need to nurse that first-class hangover with only pizzas and salads. Now you can enjoy the city's best IPA program over wings, burgers, nachos, Wes Anderson films, or your very own porcelain potty, provided PHP agrees to your client request. Yep, Pinthouse's excellent, medal-winning brews will be even more accessible for Austinites, as they begin to sell beer, including the criminally spectacular Fully Adrift double IPA, to other bars and restaurants around the city.
5) The Brewer's Table
After a lengthy brewing hiatus, Jake Maddux – historically of Thirsty Planet, New Belgium, and Anchor Brewing – debuts his much-anticipated brewpub devoted exclusively to wood-fermented beers with Ned Elliott of Foreign & Domestic running the all-wood-fired kitchen. Lagers are the top priority, with a few ales keeping the defense honest before morphing into multistrains in the foudres.
6) Blue Owl & Black Star Collaborating
Blue Owl is still calling up former bae Black Star on the party line and is all like, "hey." Which is marvelous news for beer fans. The power couple will brew its first collaboration beer together, a sour double IPA called "Can't Quit You." Expect that sometime around Valentine's Day as a taproom-only release.
7) Friends & Allies
Yet another brewery is sprouting on the Eastside and bringing a massive amount of brewing cachet with it. Head brewer Nathan Crane (Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Elysian), Ben Sabin (Thirsty Planet), and Devon Ponds (South Austin Brewery, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing) will attempt to friend-zone you with their debut session IPA called Noisy Cricket. Then Friends & Allies plans on a saison with Brettanomyces; a West-Coast-style IPA, "Fresh Coast"; and perhaps a Berliner Weisse. A barrel-aging program and canned releases are also on the docket.
8) Oddwood Ales Movin' On Up
The coy, on-again, off-again nanobrewery originally housed at Adelbert's is getting its own deluxe apartment in the sky – or a building on Airport and Manor Rd. – that they plan to convert into a dedicated brewery and taproom serving Austin's most elite Saison. Oddwood's focus will be on wild ales and hoppy beers, with a small-batch emphasis on experimentation, including the highly anticipated release of their second-ever beer, Taming the Savage Heart, a tart blonde ale.
9) Jester King's Coolship
On this season of Jester King Theatre, expect a trickling release of their 100% spontaneously fermented beer that has been inoculated with airborne Hill Country yeast and bacteria (the good kind, of course). The massively talented experimental brewery is "using native microflora on a particular night of the year to make a beer that's inextricably linked to a particular place and time, never to be reproduced again." 2016 will be the first time that Jester King will brew, blend, and bottle this untamable beer. Expect a crush of Instagrammers and Insta-grandmas. We are also anticipating that elusive outdoor restroom finally being completed.
10) A Brewery Row in Austin? How About Two?
It's not 1992 anymore. Or even 2015 when Austin had no brewery row. Now, with the addition of several new taprooms in North Austin, including 4th Tap and Oskar Blues in addition to stalwarts Circle, Austin Beerworks, and Adelbert's, it appears that Austin will have itself a true brewery district. But wait! There's more! It appears that the Eastside will have its own crawl too, with newbies Friends & Allies, the Brewer's Table, and Oddwood Ales joining neighborhood powerhouses Hops & Grain, Live Oak, Blue Owl, and Zilker Brewing.