Three Beer-Filled Days in Austin, Texas

Share Post

Link to article
beer patrons enjoying patio

Texas’ fun and funky capital city has a lot to offer for beer lovers.

Once a quirky alt-anomaly deep in the heart of Texas, Austin’s mix of art and adventure has lured tourists-turned-residents like the steely strum of a siren’s song. In addition to music venues, bodacious barbecue, and epic tacos fit for three squares a day, this booming metropolis is The Lone Star State’s leading locale for incredible craft beer. The following three-day itinerary is built for soaking up the suds scene at an octet of Austin’s finest ale-and-lager outfits.

Day 1 | South Austin

Pinthouse Brewing

Pinthouse Brewing: 2201 E. Ben White Blvd, South Austin | Pinthouse Burnet: 4729 Burnet Rd, North Austin | Pinthouse South Lamar: 4236 S. Lamar Blvd, South Austin | Pinthouse Round Rock: 2800 Hoppe Trail, Round Rock

Hit the ground running and eradicate any post-flight hunger pangs or hop deficiencies at this fast-growing business’ South Austin headquarters. Take a seat in a solarium-esque lounge or a stylish inner sanctum featuring diagonal slat-wood interiors, the company’s skull, crossbones, and pint-glass logo, and a sweeping view into the two-story brewhouse. That apparatus pumps out an IPA-heavy assortment of oft-rotating beers that feels more California than Texas. There’s a reason for that: the founders were so enamored with San Diego-based Pizza Port that they (with that brewpub operation’s blessing) sought to recreate it in Austin. It was a gamble in such a session-lager-centric city, but it paid off. Over the past decade, Pinthouse has grown into the largest independently operated brewpub chain in the country and is considered by many of Austin’s brewers and beer afficionados to be the area’s best overall brewing concern.

Even with scores of award-winning beers, Pinthouse is best known for its ubiquitous flagship hazy IPA, Electric Jellyfish. With a grapefruit nose followed up by gentle flavors of peach and papaya, it’s befitting its must-try status, but don’t limit yourself. Another hazy called Training Bines is juicy yet mellow with pronounced pineapple character, while an iteration with Nelson Sauvin will give fans of that varietal all the gooseberry and petrol notes they can handle. A double-dry-hopped version of classic West Coast IPA, Scorpion Disco, offers bold grapefruit and orange pith and is only available at the source.

On the food front, Pinthouse’s signature sourdough pizzas are joined by burgers of the smash and veggie variety, sandwiches, salads, assorted snacks, and shareables. Get your fill, then take a short (one-and-a-half-mile) trip to stop number two.

Pro Tip: Pinthouse runs happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m. and offers brunch with a side of live music from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Hours of Operation

All Locations: Su.-Th., 11AM-10PM; F-Sa., 11AM-11PM

St. Elmo Brewing

440 E. St. Elmo Rd, South Austin

st elmo beer cans with beautifully poured beers

Hydrate with a serving of house-made Citra- and Simcoe-hopped water while perusing the diverse assortment of beers available at this seven-year-old interest that started as a draught-only brewery before South Austin became a hotbed for local beer. A former physician heads St. Elmo’s brewing program and applies his scientific background to nailing Old World classics, IPAs, and fun modern-day styles, making for a something-for-everyone situation. Though they are all different, balance and drinkability are shared traits across all of St. Elmo’s beers. Nothing is too hoppy, too malty, or too sour, and beers seldom register over 7% alcohol by volume. It’s a winning formula. Construction is underway on the company’s second location, a larger brewery, tasting room, and beer garden set to open in North Austin later this year.

Most of St. Elmo’s beers are named for people, and their biggest local celebrity is Carl, a crisp Kölsch providing flavorful fuel fit for sunny Texas days ranging from scorching to oppressive. Liquid refreshment is also offered in the form of fruited kettle sours and a helles lager with delicate, semisweet cereal notes that’s aptly named Easy. A session-strength hazy IPA called Smalls punches way above its weight with a pineapple bouquet segueing to a burst of satsuma and guava on the palate, while its venerable West Coast cousin, Slater, (the first IPA St. Elmo ever produced) tells a complete story courtesy of a navel-orange front end and lightly resinous finish.

Neglected to grab a bite at Pinthouse? Wildly popular Southeast Asian fried chicken all-star Spicy Boys operates an outpost in St. Elmo’s spacious side yard, which is also home to crawfish boils, island-themed parties, and bluegrass on Thursdays. Grab some grub, then it’s on to our last stop.

Pro Tip: Ask which beer is being dispensed off the side-pour, which regularly features five-ounce pours of Carl for the low, low price of $1.

Hours of Operation

Su.-W, 11AM-10PM; Th.-Sa., 11AM-11PM

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

1305 W. Oltorf St, South Austin

No beer style is better suited for Texas’ typically warm weather than German lagers, and no local brewery does greater justice to that refreshing subsect than this highly decorated brewpub. Behind scads of awards amassed at the nation’s most prestigious brewing competition, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the ABGB won Large Brewpub of the Year three years in a row from 2016 to 2018. Gold, silver, and bronze aside, the small but mighty business has earned the respect of its peers and Austinites…and not just those who love craft beer. With its eponymous outdoor beer garden, a spacious indoor dining room stocked with communal tables, and a stage that regularly hosts solid musical acts, the ABGB draws people from all walks of life and shows them all a good time.

austin beer garden beers in glassware with GABF medals

The tap list here is brief yet stacked, with a two-time GABF medalist, Hell Yes Munich-style helles, among six always-available mainstays. That brewer’s half-dozen includes more GABF gold in the form of a lightly grassy German Pilsener, Industry, and a pre-Prohibition-style Pils, Rocket 100. The latter is bolder and greener than the former and took gold at three different GABFs as well as its international sister competition, the World Beer Cup. Dry, piney Day Trip pale ale and pithy Superliner IPA provide lager alternatives along with four taps dispensing “sometimes beers” that can include anything from sours and wild saisons to, of course, more lagers.

End your day here with an Italian-inspired menu leading with pizza (can you ever really have enough?) and sandwiches, including a muffaletta and bacon-topped meatball sub, topped off with plenty of lagers and live music.

Pro Tip: On Wednesdays, Warren Hood, son of legendary Austin musician Champ Hood, takes the stage as part of a longstanding ABGB residency.

Hours of Operation

Tu.-F, 11:30AM-11PM; Sa., 12PM-12AM; Su., 12-10PM

Day 2 | West & Back Again

Jester King Brewery

13187 Fitzhugh Rd, West Austin

It’s worth driving 30 minutes out of the city center to visit this bona fide mecca for wild, mixed-culture, and spontaneously fermented ales. Opened in 2010, this passion product of two brothers has grown into a 168-acre estate housing a solar-powered farmhouse brewery with a copper coolship used to capture native yeast and bacteria prior to oak aging of assorted saisons and lambics. Water for brewing comes from a well fed by the Trinity Aquifer, while produce, herbs, wine grapes, and other natural additives are grown and hand-processed on-property. Beer doesn’t get any more traditional than that, and touring the brewery, its grounds, and its extensive beer list is an experience unlike any other.

In 2020, Jester King began producing “clean beers,” including lagers and (mostly hazy) IPAs. Integrate them into your tasting, but focus on the oak-aged tart, funky, sour, and fruited ales that built this standout brewery’s reputation. La Vie En Rose shows off the natural earthen tartness of raspberries initially incorporated into bolder cousin Atrial Rubicite. Cleanse your palate between those fruit bombs with a refreshing table beer, Le Petit Prince, which also provides an exquisite segue to green, peppery sister saisons Noble King and Noble Queen, or a blend of farmhouse ales called Das Wunderkind displaying bright lemon-like acidity and minerality. This is but a small sample of the many exotic creations that await at this Texas Hill Country gem.

Multiple bars are spread around Jester King’s public area, the centerpiece of which is a shaded area with picnic tables, a stage for live music, and a store selling merchandise and beer to go. Both pizza and barbecue are available along with house wines and cocktails. The family-friendly grounds also include a playground, petting zoo, and walking trail.

Pro Tip: Visitors who want to take driving out of the equation can opt to stay overnight at one of the Jester King Inn’s five on-site cabins.

Hours of Operation

Th.-F, 2-9PM; Sa., 11AM-9PM; Su., 11AM-8PM

Zilker Brewing

1701 E. 6th St, East Austin

Back in 2015, when East Austin was far from cool but undeniably up-and-coming, a homebrewer installed his dream brewery in the shell of a former Volkswagen mechanic shop. Now it serves as a sudsy respite from the high-rises that surround it. Located along a transit corridor leading to and from downtown, Zilker blends Old World elements such as communal tables and a shaded beer garden (with fans!) with an old-time Americana aesthetic and a selection of ales and lagers that’s in tune with current consumer tastes. Release events for those beers regularly include an art-show element featuring the work of the artists responsible for each new brew’s can design.

Start out with dry, heat-smashing light lager, Icy Boys, or the equally clean and refreshing German Pils homage, Pilsgnar. Strata and Citra hops lend a tropical profile (papaya, passionfruit, mango) to Parks & Rec Pale Ale, a core beer that raises funds for the Austin Parks Foundation. Marco IPA displays similarly potent fruitiness (orange zest, mango, caramelized peach) offset by touches of pine and rosemary, while the juiciness of house hazy Heavenly Daze is reminiscent of pineapple, passionfruit, and Cara Cara orange. Coffee Milk Stout, brewed with java from local roaster Spokesman, provides a nutty, semisweet end note to the tasting experience, while Zilker’s over-fruited smoothie sours ratchet berry tartness and saccharinity to full-on dessert levels.

In the mood for a midday snack? You’re in luck. The aforementioned Spicy Boys operate another brewery-adjacent chicken shack here as well. But don’t fill up. You’re going to want to save room for what they’re cooking up at the last stop of day two. Don’t worry, it’s only one block away.

Pro Tip: Zilker also serves up popular beer slushies, as well as hop water made with Yakima Chief Hops’ Cryo Pop blend and Idaho 7.

Hours of Operation

M-Th., 11AM-10PM; F-Sa., 11AM-11PM; Su., 11-8PM

Lazarus Brewing

Laz 1: 1902 E. 6th St., East Austin | Laz 2: 4803 Airport Blvd, North Austin

After getting a taste of brewpub culture in his hometown of Missoula, Montana, a pastor with a passion for beer moved his family south to erect a sanctuary for ale-and-lager fans in East Austin. Named for the biblical figure Jesus raised from the dead, Lazarus offers perhaps the city’s most diverse beer roster. IPAs and pale ales share space with beers of U.K., German, and Belgian origin, including specialty offerings aged in whiskey, tequila, and gin barrels, and a pair of American white oak foeders inoculated with different species of Brettanomyces. The brewpub has produced more than 300 different beers in its seven years, and Austinites have responded to its a-little-of-everything approach. In 2022, Lazarus opened a second location in North Austin with twice the brewing capacity of its predecessor.

lazarus brewing exterior

Lazarus’ lagers have a lot to offer. Saphir hops lend watermelon-rind nuances to Prodigal Pils, while the pumpernickel aromas of a dark Czech lager called Buffalo Jump give way to flavors of dark berries and prunes. But easily the most interesting of them all is Black Pearl, a rice lager brewed with lemony Taiwanese Maqaw peppercorns. On the ale side, a hazy rye pale ale going by the name of Copper John oozes tangerine, pineapple, and peach courtesy of Strata, Mosaic, and Citra hops, while classic “C” varietals translate to spruce tip, orange, and black tea in West Coast IPA 40 Days & 40 Nights. Try them but be sure to also explore obscure styles you won’t find elsewhere.

Lazarus’ beers are accompanied by a “street Mex” menu of tacos, tortas, bag tacos (toppings loaded into bags of Fritos or Doritos), and breakfast items (yes, they have Austin’s ever-popular breakfast tacos) that are served until 1 p.m.

Pro Tip: Lazarus’ food menu is “hackable.” If you want to make a tweak or two and if they have what it takes to do so, they’ll hook you up.

Hours of Operation

All Locations: M-F, 7:30AM-11PM; Sa., 9AM-11PM; Su., 9AM-10PM

Day 3 | Eastward to the Airport

Meanwhile Brewing

3901 Promontory Point Dr., South Austin

Despite opening in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, this multi-faceted business had so much to offer that it quickly became one of the most popular brewery beer venues in all of Austin. The entry point for Meanwhile’s multi-acre family- and pet-friendly campus is a combination coffee shop and bar serving beer, wine, and low-proof cocktails amid dark wood and plush leather interiors. Beyond that well-appointed space is an outdoor stage featuring live entertainment three to four nights a week, flanked by tree-canopied expanses populated with picnic tables and a sizable kids’ play area. Adding even more appeal is a fenced-in soccer field and food trucks serving (James Beard- and Eater-recognized) barbecue, Mexican food, pizza, ice cream, and more.

Even patrons who have zero interest in beer could easily spend a full and fulfilling day taking everything else in. That said, the beer is exceptional and the domain of an expat of Portland, Oregon’s perennially award-winning Breakside Brewing specializing in IPAs and lagers. Orange-grove aromas and a tangerine-zest finish are hallmarks of a GABF silver-winning San Diego-style IPA called Secret Beach, while a hazy dubbed Tender Robot is evocative of lemon pith, peach, and mint. Meanwhile (pun intended), grace and to-style subtlety are the name of the game with the house Helles and German-style Pilsner. Fruited beers, kettle sours and occasional dark beers also find their way onto Meanwhile’s marquee beer board.

Everything about Meanwhile encourages visitors to sit a spell and take their time, making this the perfect place to start out with breakfast or an espresso drink—and, of course, a beer or two—before heading for the airport. But before that there’s just one more place you need to see.

Pro Tip: On the first Friday of each month, Meanwhile releases a brand-new IPA, complete with custom, collectible merchandise items.

Hours of Operation

M-W, 8AM-10PM; Th., 8AM-11PM; F, 8AM-11:30PM; Sa., 9AM-11:30PM; Su., 9AM-10PM

Live Oak Brewing

1615 Crozier Ln, Del Valle

Opened in 1997, “Austin’s original brewery” has spent over a quarter-century celebrating beers of the bottom-fermenting ilk. They are the focus at Live Oak—which is located across the 71 from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport—and they are phenomenal. But it’s not just quality beer, convenient geography, or even a tiered oak-shaded biergarten that make this an ideal last (or first) stop for thirsty travelers. The company’s 22-acre grounds also feature an 18-hole disc golf course that’s free to play whenever the tasting room is open. It’s a prime differentiator that led Paste Magazine to name Live Oak one of the 50 Best American Breweries of the 2010s and makes for a fun way to kill time before jetting home.

life oak hefeweizen beer cans with poured beer

Sidle up to the live-edge oak bar (where you check in for disc golf) and choose from 10 taps of core, seasonal, and limited-edition beers (even the occasional IPA or kettle sour), all of which are served in fifth- and half-liter quantities or in pitchers. The year-round lineup includes Pilz, an immaculately clean, dry Czech Pilsner, a light and toasty Vienna-style lager called Big Bark, and one of Austin’s most famous beers of all time, the Bavarian-style HefeWeizen with a nose of clove and a big, alluring banana palate. But don’t leave town without experiencing the juxtaposition of light body and meaty smoke (oak, of course) of a rare-yet-flawless American take on the Polish Grodziskie.

Even when lagers and German beers weren’t popular, Live Oak brewed them almost exclusively, refining them into things of beauty. Now that they are all the rage, this stately forerunner to Austin’s now-thriving craft-beer scene is a must-visit spot…and a great place to end a beery adventure.

Pro Tip: In January, Live Oak becomes the “Bamberg of the Colorado” when it taps a half-dozen smoked beers as part of its annual Rauchfest.

Hours of Operation

Su.-Tu., 12-8PM; W-Sa., 12-9PM

Itinerary Add-Ons

Day 1 | Austin Beerworks

Brewery & Tasting Room: 3001 Industrial Terrace, North Austin | Sprinkle Valley: 10300 Springdale Rd, North Austin

This 12-year-old institution paved the way for Austin’s craft beer revolution, inspiring many of the city’s current brewery owners while providing a roadmap to larger-scale success in the local market.

austin beerworks brewery exterior

Day 2 | Hold Out Brewing

1208 W 4th St, Downtown Austin

With a house beer list made up almost exclusively of hoppy ales and lagers (traditional, corn, rice, fruited), this three-year-old brewpub has cultivated a fast following (and has plenty of parking).

Day 3 | Oddwood Brewing

3108 Manor Rd, East Austin

If your preferred pre-flight plan includes vintage arcade games and strombolis served alongside an eclectic assortment of lagers, IPAs, and sour ales, this five-year-old brewpub is right up your alley.

Brandon Hernández is an award-winning San Diego-based beer and travel journalist who has authored a pair of guides to the county’s brewery-owned venues. He has covered the brewing industry for 16 years, contributing thousands of articles to newspapers, magazines, and online outlets, and spent nearly a decade working for craft breweries. He is currently the executive editor for San Diego Beer News, an on-air correspondent for FOX 5 San Diego, beer industry contributor for The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the food-and-beverage editor for luxury publication Ranch & Coast Magazine. is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.