Top 10 Beers Defining Austin in 2023

Austin’s best beer flight

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Beer: Rocket 100

Brewery: The ABGB

Style: Pre-Prohibition-style Pilsner

The most decorated beer in Austin, Rocket 100 is a gold medal-winning Pilsner in the Great American Beer Festivals for 2015, 2017, and 2018, as well as a bronze medalist at the 2016 World Beer Cup and 2021's GABF. That's all well-covered territory. More importantly, Rocket 100 is the emphatic winner of the hearts and palates of Austin's beer nuts.

Beer: Ethics & Standards

Brewery: Oddwood

Style: Hazy IPA

The numbers won't show it, but damned if this isn't a Top 3 Austin IPA. Pummeled with the citric and tropical hops of Strata, Citra, and Simcoe, Ethics & Standards is like a parfait of hopped-up beer and a handful of low-dose, good-time, pineapple-mango gummies.

Beer: Carl

Brewery: St. Elmo

Style: Kölsch

Like its name implies, Carl is an easygoing, everyday beer that could be the one thing to unite all of Austin's impossible cliques: the old money, the nouveau SEC students, the parking lot tailgaters, the West Coasters, the conservative liberals, the Aggies who drive maroon cars with 30 pieces of aTm flair, the lake dads, and so on. It has that good-tasting, general appeal that everybody loves.

Beer: Ol' Gil

Brewery: Hold Out

Style: "Euro" Pils

Ol' Gil is a famously endorsed Pilsner by everyone (me) at the ol' Chronicle, and we (I) still staunchly stand by the sensational take that Ol' Gil remains Austin's best Pilsner. I know it hurts (not me) for the truth to be laid bare. NOW IN STUNNING TAKEAWAY CANS!

Beer: Electric Jellyfish

Brewery: Pinthouse Pizza

Style: Hazy IPA

This is the one beer that Austinites accept no substitutes for, even with its soaring retail price at various sporting outposts and musical venues around town, making fans of Pinthouse's ubiquitous hazy IPA only slightly more sluggish at the register, but not so much that they won't give a big "AH, FUCK IT" and order two pints anyway.

Beer: Pilsner

Brewery: Meanwhile

Style: German-style Pilsner

Meanwhile continues to get great gas mileage out of their 2021 GABF gold medal for their mainstay German-style Pilsner at the hands of those fart-sniffing judges over in Denver, but if anyone ever wants a template of a pitch-perfect Pilsner in a shady biergarten in the heart of By God Texas, well then, this is your beer and that is your setting.

Beer: Smalltime

Brewery: Austin Beerworks

Style: German-style leichtbier

Smalltime is the new silver bullet, a light, low-cal (89!), and low-ABV (3%!) game day lager in a chrome can that one can drink 24 of before becoming even mildly annoyed at Michael Gallup for short-arming a crossing pattern from Dak on third down and eight. Smalltime is the beer that stopped a billion couch slaps.

Beer: Future You

Brewery: Zilker

Style: Schwarzbier

Future You was this beer knower's favorite beer of 2023. And yet, its clean and crisp toffee, caramel, chocolatey nuttiness was only available for a limited time in the fall. Zilker has made seasonals into mainstay, year-rounders in the past, so let's hope they see fit to bless us with a year-round dark lager. This personal message should work like a charm.

Beer: Grodziskie

Brewery: Live Oak

Style: Oak-smoked lager

This list feels naked without a Live Oak joint, so let's remedy that. Sure, Live Oak's Hefeweizen is stuff of legends, but the brewery also has a potent smoke game, namely in low-ABV superstar Grodziskie, their delightfully smoky "Polish Champagne," with its bright, pale, and aggressively carbonated profile. The only beer Kendrick would have on his rider.

Beer: Prodigal Pils

Brewery: Lazarus

Style: German-style Pilsner

Oh hey, it's the eighth lager on our list! What can we say, baby? Austin is Lagerdelphia. Bottom Fermentopolis. Pilsnerville. One of the great lager capitals of America based on our amazing German-Czech-Mexican genes and our rude-ass heat. Is Lazarus' Prodigal Pils the best in town? Maybe. The judges at GABF this past September thought so, naming it the best German-style Pilsner in all of America.

Want more of Eric Puga’s thoughts on the year in beer? Check out “Top of the Hops VIII,” his annual ranking of Austin’s Top 25 breweries.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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