A Guide to Finding Beer Outside of Austin’s City Limits
Drinking outside of the box
With a booming urban brewery scene, easy access to a wide variety of local cans, and a full hat rack of logo snapbacks, we Austinites tend to be a little myopic in what we consider local. Sure, we have brewers excelling in a wide variety of styles from pale ales to funky farmhouse saisons, but when it comes to beer, less isn't more. Drive a few miles in any direction and you'll discover what commuters already know: The suburbs and Hill Country are packed with just as many good breweries and brewpubs as the city proper. From Tex-Mex lagers and Belgian wits to American ales and German kölsch, your adventure starts here.
Treaty Oak Brewing16604 Fitzhugh, 512/599-0335
Long known for their spirits, Treaty Oak branched out to a core three beers – British mild Fitzhugh Ale, session IPA Lil' Hop, and Bright Side blonde – in 2016. You can get pints at a few outposts in the city limits, and their 28-acre ranch, complete with a full bar and kitchen, is well worth the short trip – especially on the weekend when there's live music.
Twisted X Brewing Co.23455 RR 150 W., 512/829-5323
How do you tell if those Pilates classes paid off? Order a Twisted X flight paddle and walk back to the picnic tables without spilling a drop. But you don't need core strength to enjoy their Tex-Mex beers like jalapeño-spiced pilsner Fuego or session IPA Later Days – or the beautiful Hill Country vistas.
Barber Shop (Acopon Brewing)207 W. Mercer, 512/829-4636
This popular brewpub and watering hole will soon be undergoing a major expansion. Their downtown brewing operations – rechristened Acopon – will move to the former location of the Mercantile Wine & Tapas restaurant two doors down with a focus on English-style ales.
Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co.13010 W. Parmer #800, 512/986-7038
The outside of Red Horn may look typically strip mall, but the inside couldn't be any different. Partners Jared Hill, Chad Misner, Zack Gardner, and Jon Lamb brought a little urban chic to Cedar Park by outfitting their shop with the work of local artisans. That commitment to quality shows in their drinks too, from coffee made with in-house roasted single-origin beans to a damn good American IPA.
Thousand Oaks Brewing3200 Woodall Ste. C-1, 512/686-7999
This nanobrewery proves the old adage that when a door closes, a window often opens. After IronSight Brewers closed their doors, co-owner Grady Reynolds hired brewer Dave Heath for a new project at the same location. The result is Thousand Oaks, focusing on lighter beers perfect for the Central Texas weather like the subtly spicy Rye Blonde.
Whitestone Brewery601 E. Whitestone #500, 512/765-4828
Variety is the name of the game for owner Ryan Anglen and head brewer Kris Gray. Want a peppery hef? They got it, along with a creamy blonde and a bourbon barrel-aged Baltic porter. Check all of them out at the taproom while enjoying a packed schedule of everything from food trucks to pub trivia and live music.
Rentsch Brewery2500 NE Inner Loop, 512/688-5046
Father and son owners David and Andrew Rentschler pay homage to Germany with their selection of styles like weizenbock and hefeweizen brewed under the standards of German law, but the brewery is all Georgetown – from the focus on the community to the use of the city's wind-powered grid.
Bull Creek Brewing7100 FM 3405, 512/940-5079
Bull Creek is a family affair for husband and wife team Julia and Greg Parma, with Greg coming up with the recipes but Julie handling the head brewer responsibilities. We suggest any of their crisp core beers – ranging from a citrusy saison to an accessible blonde – for your own domestic bliss.
San Gabriel River Brewery Inc.500 Chaparral, 512/627-9384
Cans may increasingly be the norm in Austin, but there's something we still like about putting our hands around a longneck. Brothers John and Patrick Peck let you relive your craft beer past with diverse offerings like a honey porter and a Scottish ale with a charming bottle label that will look just right on your bottle tree.
Two Wheel Brewing535 S. Loop 4, 512/361-3401
Like many craft breweries, Two Wheel started with owner Marc Woffenden's passion for craft brewing, but that soon led to some hardcore schooling at the American Brewer's Guild brewery school in Middlebury, Vt., which also counts brewer Dennis Howell among its alumni. But we don't need to hear one bit of that to know it's our favorite stop on the way back from Schlitterbahn.
Bluebonnet Beer Company1700 Bryant #107, 512/774-4258
This pocket-sized brewery in an industrial park may not have a food court or a petting zoo, nor a branding manager that can spend all day thinking of hops puns, but sometimes it's best to keep it simple. Bluebonnet does just that, with four ales and rotating seasonals, any of which will make that trip to IKEA bearable.
Flix Brewhouse2200 S. I-35 Ste. B-1, 512/244-3549
If King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is currently at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe it's because none of the screenings were at the nation's first combination microbrewery/movie theatre. Clunky dialogue and CGI mastodons just go better with a little ABV. We like the delightfully odd Satellite red IPA.
Idle Vine Brewing Company16920 Joe Barbee, 512/527-3235
Depending on whether you ask Facebook or Google, Idle Vine is either in Pflugerville or Round Rock. But either way, the initial focus of the brewery is to fill in the distribution gaps up north. That means, for now, you'll still have to travel to collect their "Amazing Adventures Of" project, a 12-part series of bottled Cascadian dark ales whose Clark Dallas bottle designs will line up to make a complete comic.
Texas Beer Company201 N. Main, 512/466-6939
Owners J.D. Gins and Ian Davis are well-known in the Chronicle pages: Davis as a grassroots activist and Gins as a "burr under the saddle." But we reckon both of their names will soon be synonymous with beer. This summer, they'll start canning from their solar-powered brewery. Our guess is their light beer will be sitting pretty in every Yeti by fall.
Beta Brewhouse by Osmo’s Daughter226 E. Austin St.
If you can't already tell from the name, Osmo's Daughter has a bit of an old Austin hippie vibe. Working with local farmers, the small operation is building a new "farm-to-glass" brewery as part of the Elgin Agrarian Community. For now, they are open for limited hours in an old tofu factory close to downtown, a lab of sorts where they developed trippily titled beers like Snow Wit Squirrel Belgian-style wit and GalaxBee Griff IPA.
Granger City Brewing Company109 W. Davilla, 512/717-1859
This one is fresh out of the gate. According to an update on their Facebook page, the brewery just eked out a small batch of a "hoppy bock," for the town's annual Lakefest and were able to open their tasting room after a series of delays. House offerings are slim for now, but they are filling in the gaps with a selection of Texas craft brews.
Real Ale Brewing Company231 San Saba Ct., 830/833-2534
We don't need to introduce you to Real Ale. You've been drinking Firemans #4 for years. But instead of driving down the block to H-E-B, we encourage you to travel out to the taproom after a day shopping at Blanco Market Days or swimming at Canyon Lake.
Fredericksburg Brewing Company245 E. Main, 844/596-2303
When Texas lawmakers finally allowed brewpubs to operate in the Nineties, FBC was first to the gate, opening within months of the law's passage. Today, they have grown to a full-on destination with a restaurant, biergarten, and "bed and brew" that appeals just as much to locals as Fredericksburg's many weekend tourists.
Pedernales Brewing Co.97 Post Trl., 830/998-7486
We have all seen Robert Earl Keen honey pils in the cooler, but Pedernales' obsession with music doesn't stop at the collaboration with the legendary singer-songwriter. Brewmaster Peter McFarlane reportedly plays music during the overnight fermentation process to match the mood of the beer.
Pecan Street Brewing Company106 E. Pecan Dr., 830/868-2500
Johnson City may be the beginning of the Hill Country wine trail, but we are just as happy making the trip for beer. PSBC doesn't just stick to one style, cranking out IPAs, porters, ESBs, blondes, and the occasional holiday seasonal – all of which pair expertly with their brick oven pizzas.
Save the World Brewing1510 Resource Pkwy., 830/637-7654
The name isn't just talk. STW donates 100% of their net profits to charities that provide basic needs to less fortunate people both locally and globally. What's more, their facility uses a variety of tactics to preserve the environment – from solar power to greywater catchment. They just happen to make some great Belgian-style beers too, from citrusy wits to heady quads.
Double Horn Brewing208 Avenue H, 830/693-5165
Double Horn is a tribute to the rough and tumble past of our state. Named after a 19th century settlement (and the locked horn deer battle which lent the town its name), the brewpub brews rugged ales that reflect the Hill Country terrain. Be sure to check out the El Niño and La Niña taps, which ride Texas' notoriously turbulent weather.
Faust Brewing Company240 S. Seguin, 830/625-7791
This devil is in the details. Want to tube down the river with a stainless steel growler? They have you covered. Want snacks after the float? They have that too. The brewpub's namesake may have been dissatisfied with "earthly meat and drink," but that's just because he never tried Faust's German nachos.
Guadalupe Brewing Company1580 Wald #1, 512/878-9214
GBC is a bit of an insider's secret among Central Texas and Hill Country beer lovers. Without plans for big commercial growth, the beers don't have to bow to big commercial demands. Their Texas Honey Ale tripel is a rightful award winner.
New Braunfels Brewing Company180 W. Mill, 830/626-2739
They say Austin keeps it weird, but we could learn a thing or two from NBBC owner Kelly Meyer. His experimental and sour beer collections incorporate everything from lemongrass to cucumber and jalapeño. But his mischievous magnum opus might just be PKL FKR a Berliner weisse that gets a shot of – you guessed it – pickle juice after secondary fermentation.
Ruggedman Brewing7600 S. Old Bastrop Hwy., 830/632-2104
The slogan – "drink the damn beer" – says it all. Marine Corps veterans John Wamer, Randy Williams, and David Wilson are all about getting the job done. Their approachable styles – blondes, ambers, and stouts – aren't for sipping. They're for downing by the pint after a hard as hell day.
Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing Co.15898 TX-123, 512/667-9537
In today's ever-showy craft beer scene, sometimes a brewer can make the most impact by keeping it simple. A&L follow German Reinheitsgebot standards, making their four core beers with just four ingredients – hops, barley, yeast, and water. The results are porch drinking beers as easy as a Saturday afternoon.
AquaBrew150 S. LBJ, 512/353-2739
If you want to know just how much this year-old brewpub loves their craft, start with the food menu where their beer shows up in a loaded queso's green chile fondue or a braised beef shoulder's IPA au jus. Any beer worth cooking with is also worth drinking, but be warned: Many of their house brews carry a hefty ABV.
Middleton Brewing101 Oakwood Loop, 512/847-3435
Middleton brews a variety of styles, but you'll want to go there for the Belgians. Their Galena dubbel makes one heck of a carbonade flamande.
Root Cellar Cafe & Brewery215 N. LBJ, 512/392-5158
San Marcosites (Marcons? Marconians?) have been raving about the Brewhouse burger, with its intoxicating mix of beer-candied bacon, cheddar, and grilled onion, since Root Cellar opened over a decade ago. But they tend not to let non-locals in on the restaurant's secret: They brew some of the best seasonal ales in the Hill Country.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to email@example.com