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5 Craft Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss

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By Marcy Stellfox

The Texas Hill Country is an adult beverage hotspot. Wineries and their vineyards ramble through the hills, distilleries dot the landscape like wildflowers after a spring downpour, and craft breweries are popping up everywhere. Never has there been a better time to sip some local suds. Here are a few breweries to put on the top of your tasting list.

1. Austin Beer Garden Brewing (the ABGB)

5 Craft Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss

Photo: Marcy Stellfox

Nestled beside a long time south Austin neighborhood, the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company makes its magic in an unassuming warehouse. Once inside the place brims with fun, exuding a comfortable and happy vibe like barbeque night at your best friend’s house.

That’s exactly the way Owner/Advocate Mark Jensen wants it to feel. “ABGBs motto is ‘Beer makes it better.’ We want people that come here to know they can always find a good time and a party,” Jensen said.

Bands jam away on the stage in front of giant fermentation tanks adding to the party atmosphere. Share a pizza made from fresh (locally sourced when possible) ingredients or nibble on a muffaletta at the long wooden picnic tables.

German style hoppy lagers are the specialty of the house with the Hell Yes Helles ranking as the most popular. Five regular beers are always on tap including the Hell Yes. Another four make appearances from time to time, and currently available for a short time is the gold medal winning Rocket 100 Pilsner.

2. Black Star Co-Op

5 Craft Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss

Photo: Facebook

Housed in the bottom of a multiuse building next to a Metrorail station, Black Star Co-Op is one of a kind. Originally, the Black Star concept was to open an Austin neighborhood Belgian beer bar that was owned by the community it served. But thanks to an interested local brewer, the concept evolved into a brewery and pub. Johnny Livesay has been around since the original 16 people met in an empty lot to discuss plans and said, “We decided we wanted to brew beer, by the people, for the people,” and the idea of making their own beer was born.

The atmosphere inside is modern with concrete floors, open ceilings and a thick black slab of a bar with wire mesh facing, but wooden tables add a traditional touch. You’ll find picnic tables with umbrellas outside on the cozy, dog-friendly porch. One of the first bar/restaurants to do away with tipping, Black Star employees are also paid a fair living wage and have excellent benefits.

The 27 beers on tap offer in-house brews and guest brewery seasonal favorites. The brewery’s Gold medal award winner Recalcitrant Dockhand, a robust porter, is a must-try as is Black Star’s most popular brew Vulcan with a citrusy peppery hop profile. High Esteem, flavored with local wildflower honey and Crystal Hops, also tops the list of most popular brews.

Serving authentic pub-style fare, don’t miss the fish ‘n chips. The chips, fried to crisp perfection and showered with a perfect blend of salt, pepper, and sautéed garlic are so tasty that they should come with a sign warning of possible addiction.

5 Craft Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss

Photo: Texan Wear Beer Label – Shirt by Texas Hill Country

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3. Adelbert’s Brewery

5 Craft Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss
Photo: Facebook

Setting up shop in an Austin industrial park, Adelbert’s feels like a visit to your big brother’s garage on brew night. With the barrel-lined walls reaching to the soaring open beamed ceiling, it’s not the surroundings, but the low-key, friendliness filtering through the room that adds the hominess. Step up to the bar and buy a wristband for $13 so you can try six different beers. Keep the cool glass as a souvenir for your personal bar. Pull a wooden stool up to one of the barrels used as tables and listen to a local band. Play some darts or a little foosball, and grab some grub from one of the rotating cast of Austin food trucks.

Adelbert’s is named in tribute to founder Scott Hovey’s brother, George Adelbert (Del) Hovey (1953-2000) and brews multiple Belgian style ales with creative names such as Scratchin’ Hippo, Naked Nun and Flyin’ Monks. Chat up the bartender to hear stories about Del that led to the creation of these offbeat names. Ingredients are imported from the Czech Republic and Belgium and give these brews their authentic complex Belgian taste. Triple B, a single malt, single hop brew is the most popular beer. General Manager and head of Marketing Sarah Haney said of its popularity, “It is super approachable for both men and women with a nice balance.” It’s the go-to beer for folks who claim not to like beer.

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