What makes a great craft brewery? Well to start, the beer has to be the best. Then add a sweet taproom, and since this is Texas, maybe a beer garden. A healthy dose of community activism doesn’t hurt either.
With nearly 40 breweries in the city of Austin, we’re spoiled for choice. From lagers to Schwarzbiers and everything in between, there is a plethora of creative and award-winning options in our fair city. Narrowing it down on this list was no easy feat, but I undertook the challenge...for you.
Hops & Grain got their start in 2009, just as the local craft beer scene was really starting to take off. Their original location in East Austin is still going strong, but they’ve also recently opened a second taproom with more space down in San Marcos.
Beers tend to the hoppy side, with the occasional lager or stout for good measure. Favorites include The One They Call Zoe, a dry-hopped German lager, and A Pale Mosaic, an American-style IPA with Mosaic hops. You can also find limited releases of their Volumes of Funk and Volumes of Oak barrel-aged beers.
Bring your pup to their dog-friendly patio and get some Brew Biscuit dog treats made from spent grains. Plus, drinking at Hops & Grain is good for the community. They donate 1% of annual revenue to local environmental non-profits.
On the outskirts of Austin where real estate is abundant, Jester King is part-brewery and part-sustainable farm on 165 lovely acres. The farm’s fruit tree orchards are still young, but the hope is that the figs, pomegranates, plums, and more will flourish and be used in the kitchen and brewery.
Jester King’s beer niche is farmhouse and barrel-aged wild ales, pushing the envelope on Old World styles. Check out their “Spon” beers, short for spontaneously fermented. Instead of adding controlled yeasts to these beers, the brewers let the fermentation happen naturally from any yeast that’s in the air or on the fruit. The results are unpredictable and unique.
The food here is also top-notch, with snacks like hearth-baked sourdough, lamb kefta meatballs, and pizzas with dough made from local flour and yeast. The farm and brewery leave plenty of space for running around, so you can bring the whole family for the day.
If you’re not familiar with Pinthouse Pizza, you may wonder what a pizza joint is doing on a list of Austin’s best craft breweries. It’s no mistake — this place is as serious about beer as it is about pies. Since opening the first location in 2012, Pinthouse’s brews have become local favorites and national award winners at the Great American Beer Festival, Alpha King Challenge, L.A. International Beer Competition, and more.
Their Electric Jellyfish Hazy IPA has been voted Austin’s Best Overall Beer four years in a row from 2016 to 2019. And the pizza’s not too bad either, with everything made in-house from scratch. Big family-style tables and a vintage nautical theme are fun and family-friendly. Pinthouse has three great Austin locations - Burnet Road, South Lamar and Round Rock.
What happens when a very hip pastor decides to start a brewery? Maybe it gets named after a saint and decorated with stained glass. Lazarus Brewing on E. 6th Street is a house of worship dedicated to three things — beer, coffee, and Mexican food.
Beers in this cozy taproom include options like the 40 Days & 40 Nights American IPA, Walks on Water American IPA, and Holy Mother of God Belgian barleywine...are you sensing a pattern here? But if you want to sample them, you’ll have to stay a while. Lazarus is a zero-distribution brewery.
They also roast their own coffee beans for their full espresso bar, and serve street tacos all day long. Sit on one of the two patios, including one beneath a beautiful pergola with a custom stained glass roof. Live music most Fridays, plus — brace yourself — 30 parking spaces! Hallelujah!
Perched 400 ft above Lake Travis, Oasis Texas Brewing Co is producing iconic, rustic session beer. The brewery sits lakeside with the best sunset views in Texas. There's epic views indoor & outdoor space, live music, brewery tours and tastings, great food and lots of fun events.
Many breweries have chosen to lean into the current craze for hops and bitterness. But Blue Owl Brewing on E. Cesar Chavez has dedicated their craft to the sour beer styles. Introducing wild bacteria into the wort creates a tart lactic acid that gives these beers their signature pucker.
The sourness of the beers at Blue Owl ranges from balanced and approachable, like the Little Boss Sour Session Wheat, to tongue-twistingly tart, like the Professor Black Sour Chery Stout. Enjoy your beer on their sunny patio, painted in bright shades of turquoise and blue.
As strange as it may seem to us now, craft beer wasn’t always a thing in the U.S. But way back in 1992, a Belgian immigrant named Pierre Celis moved to Austin and decided to open Austin’s first craft brewery. (Prior to this, he’d created a recipe for a little witbier in a place called Hoegaarden — maybe you’ve heard of it.)
The original Celis Brewing was sold and closed in 2001, but his daughter, Christine, and granddaughter, Daytona, have resurrected the brand. The new Celis Brewing has an old-world feel, centered around the original Celis Brewery’s hand-beaten copper kettle from the early 1900s. They have a more focused tap wall that includes their “cores” of White, Pale Bock, Juicy IPA, and their famous “legacy seasonals” Raspberry & Grand Cru. Plus 10-12 different rotating seasonals from Stouts to Sours.
St. Elmo Brewing
Located in The Yard mixed-use development in South Austin, St. Elmo Brewing brings a wide variety of beer styles to their taproom and beer garden. IPA, lager, stout, Kolsch, sour, and more are all available on their rotating wall.
The beer garden here is simple, creating a backdrop for frequent live music. Make sure to try the Carl Kolsch, voted “Best Overall Beer” by the Austin Beer Guide. And pick up a snack from the Soursop food truck in the beer garden.
Keep an eye on their events. Past parties have been held to benefits HAAM and the Central Texas Bluegrass Association.
One of the youngest breweries on our list, Zilker Brewing has made a big splash in a few short years. Voted “Best Brewery Taproom” by Austin Beer Guide editors, this East 6th Street “Urban Brewery” looks like it’s been there for ages, seamlessly integrated into what used to be a mechanic’s garage.
There are plenty of seasonal beers in rotation here, but you can usually find their light, crisp Honey Blonde, bready Marco IPA, and creamy Coffee Milk Stout. For food, get some fried chicken from the Spicy Boys food truck. And check their event calendar for events like their Kid’s Book Drive or Pours for Pups benefitting Happy Hearts Dog Rescue.
Where: 1701 E. 6th Street
Phone: (512) 712-5590
Austin Beerworks is a staple of Austin beer. Their “Core Four” brews — Pearl-Snap, Peacemaker, Fire Eagle, and Flavor Country— are well-known to anyone who knows anything about local beer.
They also boast an impressive rotation of seasonals, like their citrusy and hoppy Bloodwork Orange IPA, and the beloved Sputnik. This Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout is only available in December and January, and it gets its very own release party every winter.
Austin Beer Guide’s readers have voted ABW both the "Best Brewery" and "Best Brewery Taproom," and who am I to argue?
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company (ABGB)
Although it’s only been open since 2013, the ABGB feels like an Austin institution. Their warehouse-turned-brewery and taproom is spacious and comfortable. Plus, live music on their big stage keeps the party going night after night.
Or maybe it’s the beer. Great American Beer Fest medal winners like Hell Yes Helles, Industry Pilsner, and Rocket 100 Pre-Prohibition-Style Pilsner help the locals to cool down on hot summer days. They also won the Brewpub of the Year category in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
You can feel good about drinking here. 5% of their profits go to their “Hell Yes Project” partners — local non-profits like Austin Pets Alive!, Friends of Barton Springs Pool, Austin Habitat for Humanity, and more.