The Beergardigans Return: Austin Kids Grade Local Breweries

The second installment with your beer garden friends

The long tables at Live Oak are the perfect place to sip a cold beer … or (according to Theo, 6) to play with toys (Photo by John Anderson)

For those of you just now being enlightened to the existence of Austin's premier pint-sized brewery critics, the Beergardigans – Enzo: 10, Theo: 6, and Tallulah: 4 – we recommend that you momentarily put down this piece of Pulitzer-caliber literature and catch up on Volume 1 of the series somewhere on the internet ("Austin's Best Breweries, According to Children," Food, Oct. 1, 2021). In that story, we discussed the most pressing question keeping the coffee-and-emoji-addled parents of Central Texas socially anxious: Do my children belong at the brewery? And we answered: Yes! Hell yes they do! No more and no less than pups, or Californians, or tech bros named Asp Patagonia decamping to the taproom with their 23-deep bachelor party squad (#AspFest!), sampling 17 1-ounce beers at a time while a line stretches to Hutto behind them.

Breweries are communal spaces intended for a spectrum of beer garden experiences like graduation celebrations, Sunday fundays, bike crawls, and yes, post-T-ball family outings.

We've said it often, but we'll say it again: Breweries are communal spaces intended for a spectrum of beer garden experiences like graduation celebrations, Sunday fundays, bike crawls, and yes, post-T-ball family outings. A good beer garden has just enough "LET'S GOOOO!" caterwauling from the bitcoin bois as it does from the waning toddlers, so long as each group minds their own spaces.

Not these kids though. Not the Beergardigans. They're perfectly calm and composed and seamlessly integrate into any social setting like little Jürgen Klopps. That's why they're qualified to bring you sizzling takes from the perspective of grade school know-it-alls. They'll tell your kids what's up, and by default manage your whole squad's weekend like they're setting up key pieces to Liverpool's run for the cup. So, here they are, the Beergardigans back for Volume 2. Enjoy 'em while they're still young.

Trees and tables galore at Live Oak Brewing Co. (Photo by John Anderson)

Live Oak Brewing Company

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: A
1615 Crozier Ln.,

"There were a lot of fuzzy caterpillars. They were lovely." – Theo

The most prominent feature of Live Oak's beer garden and brewery is its connection to nature (WHY, IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME!). And while everyone's mileage may vary regarding their affection for fat caterpillars on their undulating journey toward final form, you can be sure that the best way for a grownup to experience Live Oak is beneath their grove of native Texas trees, drinking world-class Pilsners and various other platinum-grade lagers. The littles, meanwhile …

"I love all the shade trees but not the bugs." – Tallulah (not into bugs)

"Both caterpillars and kids have so much space. That's always good for any brewery. But I would definitely wear pants here." – Enzo (also not into bugs)

"It's very easy for kids to make friends here with other kids because there are always a lot of kids and the tables are very long and you can share the end of the table to play [with] toys. But it would be very rare to ever see them again." – Theo

While one of the Beergardigans internally wrestles with ephemeral beer garden life, the others move on to brewery grub, expertly handled by the steady presence of Live Oak's resident Bavarian-style food truck, the Black Forest.

"The pretzel … with queso." – Tallulah, on her favorite part of Live Oak

"I rate the pretzel very high, but the [dipping-sized] queso wasn't my favorite. I also ate a hot pepper [from the pickled veggie plate] and it made my mouth burn for three minutes. You said it wouldn't be spicier than Hot Cheetos and you LIED." – Enzo

Technically, dads have legal immunity from tricking their kids into eating spicy foods, so no crime was committed here. Besides, there were plenty of other distractions around Live Oak to divert from the trauma of distrust, like an actual in-house brewery hound and planes screaming into Austin-Bergstrom from above.

"I loved the airplanes landing right over my head but they were loud!" – Theo

"They were very big and coming from far away and I think they were bringing people to the brewery." – Tallulah

"That dog was huge and hairy!" – Theo

"The brewery dog was really cool because he could just walk around on his own wherever he wanted to smell and the [brewery] owner could call it back from far away with just one whistle. You should do that for us!" – Enzo

The Brewtorium (Photo by John Anderson)

The Brewtorium

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: B+
6015 Dillard Cir. Ste. A,

"I don't like that it doesn't have a playground. I know that every brewery has a playground but this one doesn't." – Theo

True, the Brewtorium is an urban beer garden fit snugly within Austin's central corridor, but that's about the only amendment to a traditional, kid-friendly brewery usually found in the Hill Country. But what the Brewtorium lacks in playgrounds and whirligigs, it makes up twentyfold in courtyard comfort and approachable menu items for even the pickiest of palates.

"Five out of five for the pretzel. No, wait, 10 out of 10." – Enzo, expert soft pretzel appraiser

"It's my favorite menu of all the breweries." – Theo

"The [beer] cheese is really good. I couldn't even tell there was beer in it." – Enzo

"Yummy in my tummy." – Tallulah, picking at sliced bratwurst and soft pretzel from the Smörgåsbord

See? The kids are happy here and definitely not dragged there by Mom and Dad solely to relish some of the best hazy ales and lagers in town under multiple beer garden sail shades.

"I feel welcome here. We usually sit outside and I like that better [than sitting inside] because I like when the train goes by. The inside is kind of boring because it doesn't have a train." – Enzo

The Brewtorium's notable ease of ordering and cavernous interior are set up with families in mind, particularly multifamily walk-ups from the surrounding North Loop/Highland neighborhoods who find counter service a much easier arrangement for larger groups, or the passing soccer squad looking for a swift happy hour dinner on their way to Q2 Stadium via the Red Line.

"My favorite parts are how they cater to what kids like to eat and drink like Dr Pepper and juice boxes. And it's a fun place to play games with your family. But bring a screen as backup just in case someone loses and doesn't want to play anymore." – Enzo

"I ONLY have fun here! I saw two other kids having fun too. They were my brothers." – Tallulah, overemotional as a result of an Uno triumph

"Do I like this brewery? I'm in the middle. It has good views of trains and helicopters. I like all the plants and the decorations. The Sprite is sparkling. [Thinks deeply for a moment] Actually, I DO like this brewery even though there's no playground. Can I use your phone yet?" – Theo

The courtyard at Frontyard Brewing (Courtesy of Frontyard Brewing)

Frontyard Brewing

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: A+
4514 Bob Wire Rd.,

"It wasn't just a brewery. It was a MAGICAL brewery." – Theo

First impressions of Frontyard Brewing will tell you that it is bougie as hell and that your kids are probably fated to spoil all the nice things there, but after a few moments of consideration one can discern that A LOT of thought was put into making Frontyard actually look like someone's backyard. Someone who might actually have kids of their own! Durability! Fake turf! A dirt mound! Unfixed seating options! Make these people Spicewood's PARENTS OF THE YEAR right this minute. I demand it!

“It wasn’t just a brewery. It was a MAGICAL brewery.” – Theo, 6, on Frontyard Brewing

"I love it as a place for kids to go but parents will like it too. There's a lot of space for me to play and dance. My favorite part was all the room to do handstands." – Tallulah

"There's A LOT of random kids here but still plenty of space to play with my toys. And we did a somersault challenge to see who could get the sweatiest. It is very grassy so we weren't in the way of grownups." – Theo

"You can play so many games and sports here: Frisbee, soccer, football … maybe baseball. You can't play basketball though." – Enzo

"But you CAN play pickle golf." – Theo, conflating the latest athletic craze, pickleball.

The courtyard at Frontyard Brewing (Courtesy of Frontyard Brewing)

Yes, pickleball courts are a prominent feature of Frontyard's property for families fresh off the marina. A sign says that they take reservations for the courts, which I was far too lazy to look further into on my phone, so I lied and said there weren't any more appointments that day. It was very hot.

"They have pickleball courts but we used them to play soccer tennis, instead. That was fun! It's unique for a brewery to have an option like that. It's the best brewery I've seen with the most activities for kids [and] one of my favorites so far." – Enzo

"If you're big, like maybe 10 or 11, your parents can drop you off and you can just walk around wherever you want." – Tallulah

While the temptation to ditch our kids is always fascinating, we enjoyed the entire property as a family, including taking in the hilly vistas from the edge of the property only afforded to overpriced Airbnbs in Canyon Lake while we chowed on two of the four basic-kid food groups offered by Frontyard's on-site trucks: pizza (Neapolitan) and soft pretzels. The grownups attended to Frontyard's stunning hot-weather drink choices: a Mexican lager and a blonde ale that were each exceptional, house-syrup flavored seltzers, and wine from property mates, 5 Soul Wine. The Backyardigans enjoyed house-made Frontyard root beer.

"The view is wonderful." – Theo

"Dang, this pretzel's bussin. And yeah, the view is great. You can see lots of mountains." – Enzo (not a mountain expert)

"Big yummy. The pretzels were salty and cheesy and nice." – Tallulah

"The pretzel with cheese was excellent. But the popsicles were very delicious. There was a birthday cake INSIDE my popsicle." – Theo

"I also liked all the TV screens they had showing sports. It was like a Dave & Buster's." – Enzo

The Beergardigans will return soon for Volume 3!

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