More Subjective Taproom Thoughts From Austin Kids

Beergardigans the Third, courtesy of local half-pints


The backyard at Lazarus Brewing (Photos by John Anderson)

The saying goes, "Many hands make light work."

But as a father of three, I dare say that many little hands make light work seem gargantuan. This is why I often take a break from parenting and let a brewery handle 'em for a couple hours, giving all those fun-seeking Gen Zers in the taproom a little head start on parenthood. This is my public service to the beer industry: observable contraception.

No, actually, my li'l taproom tax refunds are super duper: calm, funny, well-behaved. No need to send any angry screeds to my editor. These kids are, in fact, the Beergardigans – Enzo, 11; Theo, 7; and Tallulah, 5 – Austin's half-pint brewery critics who are back for a third dash of taproom goofin', rating their experiences at the local beer mill that their parents drag them to on an early Saturday afternoon when their little minds and bodies are at their freshest.

This time around, the Beergardigans took a look at three highly regarded brewing institutions: Lazarus (Airport location), Oddwood, and Hi Sign. Places, one might note, that are not out in the rolling hills of Dripping Springs or among the industrial heat sponges of some of the more spacious warehouse-y places over by Q2 Stadium. Nope, these breweries are more urban by design, and as such, are less hospitable to hipstercore A-frame cedarwood playground sets and 5v5 soccer pitches. The Beergardigans would have to be extra creative in their own mindspaces this time around. But what else would we expect from Austin's perennial preteen brewery watchdogs but the very best opinions?

Lazarus Brewing (Airport)

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: A
4803 Airport, lazarusbrewing.com

Oh, the blue brewery! – Theo

Authentic to local culture, the blue brewery replaced an iconic duplex in I Luv Video and ColdTowne Theatre with the only, ONLY(!) thing acceptable to neighborhood townsfolk: a place to drink $7 beers. In 30 years, the "blue brewery" on Airport will be as iconic a landmark to the youngsters of Austin as a moontower or the last leaning house on Rainey.

I liked the lounge upstairs. It's so chill. It's the best part of the brewery. It's like a really good coffee shop.
  – Theo

We love the upstairs part the best. But the outdoors is not too hot because it's under shade. – Tallulah

How many Austin breweries build outdoor patios to flex their Gen X consciousness? All of them. How many erect bombastic metal and stained glass renditions of the Virgin Mary above the patio to silently judge our Christ-free Sunday fundays? Just this one. It does indeed provide great shade and anyone who's been in town longer than 30 seconds knows that you just can't drink cold beer indoors. It's the law. So the patio is where you gotta drag the kids, too.

The tables are small and there's always lots of people. It's so fun there. But, it's good for when there's only a few kids. You have to push the tables together just to get a little kid space. – Theo

Kids should like this brewery. They had [spring riders and mulch] but it was pretty small. My parents had fun because they talked a lot and laughed together with their friends. – Tallulah

It's really a brewery that's best for like 6-, 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds, but maybe a middle schooler would like the tacos there. – Enzo

Like Laz Original on East Sixth, Laz 2's menu is Mexican street food-themed, which, of course, kicks all kinds of ass with a Prodigal Pils, at least to a bunch of 40-year-olds wishing they were disembarking a cruise ship in Mazatlán rather than drinking by a feeder road. But the kids were happiest with the thick-glassed bottles of Mexican Coke and the juice boxes.

I ate queso [Dad Note: It's fundido] and played hide-and-seek and that's good for little kids. – Theo

I didn't like the queso, it's like glue. [Dad Note: It's fundido, dammit! And it's freaking good, just eat it!] It's not the type of queso I like, too thick, but they did have the oversized bottles of Mexican Coke. – Enzo

I liked the queso, I mean, it's queso! And I drank a juice box. – Tallulah

Yeah, I think Lazarus is pretty good for families. Just one family though, maybe one other family too. But three kids is the limit. – Theo

Hi Sign Brewing

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: B+
730 Shady, hisignbrewing.com

At first I thought I was gonna die of sweat on the patio, but then we went inside and it was very cold.
  – Theo


In the A/C at Hi Sign

I'll say this about modern taprooms: They come with A/C now. Taprooms used to be these industrial workspaces, but now they're handsome, frigid lounges. Turns out this is the kind of setting the kids were wanting all along. I feel like that 1960s boomer dad who brought home a brand-new Plymouth Satellite with ozone-depleting refrigerant. You see, kids! We're not sweating all the way to Magic Mountain this year!

We are usually outside at breweries so it was nice to be inside for once. I liked the long tables because you can fit a lot of people and toys. They didn't have a playground but I brought my own Barbies.
  – Tallulah

There was no room to play on the ground so you had to sit at a table. – Theo

There weren't really any activities for kids. The tables were good, and it was cold in there, which is good for Austin. – Enzo

I'm convinced that the first-ever food truck was a brewery life hack finding a way for people to keep buying Pilsners while gorging on tacos. A good brewery food truck is as valuable as a great tap list, even if it's less flexible and diverse. You don't want roadkill sushi for lunch, kids? Tough! Fortunately, Hi Sign features two food trucks – Ranch Hand and Norte – and neither of them are demanding on a kid's palate.

I got a burger and I ate it all up. Then I had another burger and I ate that one all up, too. I was pretty hungry and thirsty. The food was really good and I liked the [organic sparkling] soda. I had never tasted it before, but I liked it. So, I drank two. – Tallulah

They need a bigger drink selection for kids my age; Sprite, lemonade, Dr Pepper, something like that, because the soda was just OK. I didn't really like it. The hamburger was solid 8 out of 10, though. – Enzo

Visually, Hi Sign is stunning. It's the picture of what an urban taproom should be: engaged with its community, embedded in a walkable neighborhood. It is hip in the sense that many components contribute to a tight experience: cold beer, sleek furniture, good burgers and tacos, and you'll run into someone you'd been meaning to text anyway.

My parents had fun because there were other parents to talk to. They were smiling and talking about everything. And the wallpaper in the bathroom was really cool, too. – Tallulah

The painting of Downtown Austin on the wall really got my attention. I think my parents had fun there because they were talking a lot. I think I'd go to that brewery by choice if I was an adult. But my advice for kids? Bring a phone to play on. – Enzo

For kids, this brewery was just really family-friendly. Do you know what family-friendly means? It means it's really nice and no one says bad words, right? Even the grownups working there treat kids really nice.
  – Theo

Oddwood Brewing

Beergardigans' Brewery Grade: A+
3108 Manor Rd., oddwoodales.com

Oh yeah, I know Oddwood. It's one of my favorite places in the state. – Theo

We should really get this kid out to some more museums and such, but also, this little fella tells no lies. Oddwood is a staple of ours for its agreeable menu (pizza and Egyptian-/Texas-style BBQ truck KG BBQ), their dazzling selection of drinks (Maine Root Root Beer in bottles for the littles, Pool Dad for the bearded one), and a free-play arcade game room cosplaying as the 1992 Iowan basement of your richest friend (Sonic 2!).


There's a bunch of old-school console games and NBA Jam was free. It seems like a brewery that my parents would have built. A very dad vibe. – Enzo

Kids will like the arcade and you can play every game there for free. This place doesn't take any money except for the drinks and food. I drank root beer in a bottle, which is better than a cup because it's way bigger. We played NBA Jam and I beat my dad. – Theo

No, no. I made light work of the boys using the Suns duo of Barkley and "Thunder" Dan Majerle as Tim Kitzrow serenaded them in the background with condescending howls of, "He's heating up," and, "Boomshakalaka!" I was totally obnoxious about it too, like a proper dad.

We watched the World Cup final [in both 2018 and 2022] there. I love the place. They seem to like sports and it's a very family-friendly place. They have good video games and really good pizza. But the best part is they carry Mexican Coke and have a big screen for games. – Enzo

You know what this town lacks? Decent sports bars! So you gotta get your community sports experience wherever you can, and dangit, Oddwood does as good a job as any other beer-havin' establishment. At least according to these glory boys, still lickin' their wounds from the Round Mound of Rebound ripping the souls from their little bodies.

I think my dad had the most fun there because he was playing games there that he used to play all the time. – Theo

Damn right, kid. Damn right.


Find Vol. 1 here, and Vol. 2 here.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Lazarus Brewing, Oddwood Brewing, Hi Sign Brewing, Austin beer

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