1) 4TH TAP CO-OP (Austin) 4th Tap tends to get buried beneath the goliaths of brewery row, like Austin Beerworks and Oskar Blues, but what they lack in taproom size, they make up for in beer clout, with a rangy menu of experimental styles that clock in with heavyweight-grade ABVs.
2) RED HORN COFFEE HOUSE & BREWING CO. (Cedar Park) The best thing about Red Horn is the festivals' worth of house beer they boast on hanging wooden planks behind the bar that provokes their guests into shamelessly ordering a beer flight instead of the cup-o-drip that they originally came in for. Better use that last sick day.
3) RENTSCH (Georgetown) Though Rentsch's beer lineup is simple, straightforward, and top-quality, what works best about this rural brewery is its uncomplicated countryside character. It's so far off the map, no one from Austin will ever taint it with their free SXSW promo sunglasses and mutant hipster children. Until NOW. Mwahaha.
4) SKULL MECHANIX (Austin) Not only is SM the most overlooked brewery in town in terms of the quality of its rather extensive beer program, but it also flaunts the most underappreciated taproom featuring local rock acts that sounds like they were rejected names for experimental barleywines – like Pig Venom and Twinkle Twinkle Little Death.
5) ROUGHHOUSE (San Marcos) Roughhouse is a bit of a misnomer, given their lineup of spectacular beers is so thoughtfully designed and delicately created using mixed culture fermentation in oak foeders. No horseplay afoot here. Rare Merit, Roughhouse's 3.3% table beer, is delightful and hits like a herd of kittens.
6) NOMADIC BEERWORKS (Austin) Moving the needle is difficult for new Austin breweries – the hype train comes squealing in hard, overshooting the depot, or ambiguity between other newbie breweries causes sluggish indifference. Nomadic is neither. Instead, it's a head-down, hardworking brewery with a nifty pineapple basil saison to be proud of while they continue to gain industry steam.
7) TEXAS BEER COMPANY (Taylor) There are very few day trips better than out to Taylor for some Louie Mueller Barbecue, with the other half of your guts dedicated to pints at Texas Beer Company. It's easy to see why Austinites are starting to expatriate out there. Until your time, TBC's Bill Picket Porter straight from the tap is worth the commute.
8) THE DRAUGHT HOUSE (Austin) The DH has been making its own house beer since the salad days of the Nineties when the Scabs played Antone's and Midnight Tacos still patrolled the city in something novel called a food truck. But like everything cool in Old Austin, the brewery came to a grinding halt, only to be revived again in the 2010s with a nice little seven-barrel program that rotates through a very diverse beer program. On Thursdays, the discount is deep enough to experiment through their full lineup.
9) CENTRAL MACHINE WORKS (Austin) Central Machine Works feels like a space where Peloton would film their exercise bike ads, but despite the gorgeous interiors of steel, glass, penny tile, aluminum, and wood elements that mimic a high-end bistro, the atmosphere itself feels genuine and true, with pub grub, an outdoor stage, family-friendly spaces, and a killer pilsner.
10) (512) BREWERY (Austin) As one of Austin's grandpappy beermakers, a (512) revival has been in the works for a while with the long-term promise of an upgraded location and a decent taproom with better ambience than an insurance company's reception lounge. But even if none of that happens, (512) is still churning out an overlooked classic in their IPA and one of the city's most beloved tapwall beers in Pecan Porter, which should see its six-pack debut in 2020.
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