Lazarus' Second Location Works Hard So You Can Relax With a Beer

The new, North Loop location is Laz'r focused

Bread of Life (center) and Prodigal Pils make great accompaniments for Lazarus' queso fundido (photos by John Anderson)

It's 2023, which means everybody in America has gotten frisky with at least one craft beer in their lifetime. Even my hard-pounding, Bud-steady, stepfather-in-law Barry warms to a handcrafted pint whenever he visits Austin from back home in the hardcore American Rust Belt. It's one of the city's enduring features: turning each local into a craft beer extremist, then getting them to flip people like Barry into flavor zealots while out on holiday.

That's why, in the year 2023, as the American craft beer hype deflates and crashes to earth like a spy balloon at 40,000 feet, Austin is actually expanding its beermaking repertoire coming out of post-pandemic fatigue while other cities are rapidly abridging their small beer industry. Not here in Austin, though, where beer tourism continues to surge, new breweries pock the Hill Country and feeder roads, and the most popular breweries in town look toward homes away from home. Lazarus Brewing Co., the elite but young East Sixth beermakers whose quietly confident aw-shucks Brock Purdy act has them expanding from a Gen Z neighborhood to a Gen X district, is somewhat surprisingly the first of many future-planned second breweries in town.

Lively up yourself with a boozy horchata

"We had been working on Laz 2 since a few years after Laz 1 opened," reflects Christian Cryder, owner and founder of Lazarus Brewing. "I just love revitalizing old buildings and creating neighborhood gathering places, so [expansion] was probably more of a question of when rather than if. We've always felt good about the quality of our beer and the uniqueness of our experience, so we never really looked around and asked, 'Where will we find the courage to expand?' [But] maybe I should have!"

And while the upstart Lazarus is having its moment, the brewery also serves as a stress test for fellow future developers like St. Elmo (Walnut Bend), Circle Brewing (Elgin), and Austin Beerworks (Springdale). Not only for the businesses, but for the locals. The neighborhood Facebook group "North Loopers" observed the months-long construction nervously as the legendary I Luv Video and ColdTowne Theatre were slowly dismantled and the iconic frescoes painted over with Lazarus' notable aqua blue.

Notes Cryder, "Both I [Luv] Video and ColdTowne were super iconic establishments, but COVID made it hard for a lot of places to survive. We love local businesses, and if one local business can't make it, we'd always prefer to see them pass the baton to another local business rather than a big corporate entity."

Lazarus owner and founder Christian Cryder

What rose in place of the VHS stacks and the thick accumulation of stapled improv fliers was a glass, wood, and stone showpiece; sparkling fermenters peeking through 20-foot windows; a bright red, bursting neon sign beckoning people flying too quickly down Airport Boulevard to glance over for a moment from the tire shops and last-leg auto dealers. Lazarus 2 aligns with the new, modern, even walkable Airport Boulevard, with similarly minded Xennial-vibe mom-and-pops like Komé, Delicious AF, Vamonos, and JewBoy Burgers. Sure, the parking is nuts, but that is only because Lazarus is so integrated into the neighborhood already.

"We love that neighborhood and Lazarus has always been kind of a neighborhood pub concept. We felt like it could work really well for the kind of beer garden we envisioned," Cryder says. It didn't hurt that the location was available for purchase rather than lease.

“We love local businesses, and if one local business can’t make it, we’d always prefer to see them pass the baton to another local business rather than a big corporate entity.”   – Christian Cryder, owner and founder of Lazarus Brewing

Whether it's the lived-in vestige of old-Austin relics; its randomized beer garden table layout; or the mix of cool dads and power moms, 24-year-old influencers in hats, and a whole patio of excellent facial hair, Lazarus 2 gives off Mission District-zeitgeist vibes. In other words, it's a diverse setting, which is always appreciated in gentrifying Austin. Upstairs is a memento to I Luv Video's analog section, where one could feel the old floorboards boom with laughter from ColdTowne below.

"I loved [I Luv Video's] old mezzanine and spiral staircase, so we worked hard to incorporate some of those architectural elements while creating a space that also worked for our needs," Cryder explains. "Lazarus is really unique, so we're always going to give our own flavor or spin to any space we inhabit, but we also love to honor what came before us, so there are usually some nods to the former business."

A stained glass image of Madonna and child oversees the goings on at Lazarus on Airport

Like the O.G. Lazarus, Lazarus 2 is counter service and the line will snake on any of the beautiful Saturdays in Austin, yet service isn't terribly slow or imprecise. The food menu remains primarily Northern Mexican, similar to Lazarus 1: street tacos al carbon, tortas, chip-bag tacos. But the star of the band is the queso fundido con chorizo with house-made tortilla chips. It's the dramatic dish that beer lovers deserve: hot molten cheese to absorb Lazarus' impressive 15-choice beer menu, which includes a dextrous amount of common and oft-rotating unconventional styles for a smaller brewhouse. Great Northern – Lazarus' Oud Bruin with blueberries, plum, and cherries – is a malty, brown, tart ale with touches of complexity from age. Theodorus, the brewery's dark lager, is a dunkel-style treat with notes of toffee and freshly baked bread. Unfortunately, by the time of writing this story, we had drunk it all. Fortunately, neither Lazarus 1 nor Lazarus 2 is in danger of running short of their valiant and delicious mainstay, Prodigal Pils.

"The beer programs are similar, but there will always be some brands that are unique to each location," Cryder says. "We brew at both locations and move beer in both directions. So Laz 2 is geared to be able to do bigger batches of our bestselling beers, which we can move to Laz 1 if necessary. We brew [more than] 70 different styles per year, so Laz 1 can focus on some of these smaller, niche styles and we can split them between both locations. Having two locations gives us a lot more flexibility. And that opens up some real interesting possibilities down the road."

For the hops-averse, Lazarus offers a range of white, red, pink, and bubbly wines, an excellent coffee program, and a phenomenally cheeky boozy horchata frozen drink that makes us forget all about drinking beer ever again. Order it with a splash of espresso and it'll bring you back from the brink of death-by-hangover. After all, the biblical Lazarus is synonymous with rising from the dead; it so happens that this Lazarus brought back a building and helped rejuvenate this stretch of Airport, too.

"The market is definitely more saturated than when I moved here in late 2013," concludes Cryder. "There were just 23 breweries in Austin back then whereas there are about 70-plus now. There were a lot of pieces that all had to come together for something like this to happen, but we saw an opportunity, and worked hard to be ready. We were in the right place at the right time with a great property that checked all the right boxes. So we just went for it."

Lazarus Brewing Company

4803 Airport Blvd., 512/394-7620
Mon.-Fri., 7:30am-11pm; Sat., 9am-11pm; Sun., 9am-10pm

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Lazarus Brewing, Christian Cryder

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