Austin's craft brew market is booming: Here are 5 breweries to try


Beer, Wine & Spirits

Austin's craft brew market is booming: Here are 5 breweries to try

Austin, Texas
Davel5957 | Getty Images

For beer lovers, long holiday weekends can be an ideal time to visit Austin, Texas. Owing to Austin’s status as both a home for young professionals and an entrepreneurial city, the craft beer scene is booming, with new breweries and tasting rooms appearing on a regular basis.

With the summer in full swing after the July 4 holiday, pub-crawlers have a plethora of choices in and around Austin to sample high quality craft beer, including the following four relatively new establishments.

  • Vista Brewing: The beer, the view, the experience

    Hidden away on several shady acres on Route 150 in Driftwood, Texas, Vista Brewing is not just a place to imbibe high-quality craft beers – it’s a destination. In addition to beer, Vista offers live music and a farm-to-table restaurant with produce grown on Vista’s onsite farm, orchard and apiary. Plans for an onsite hotel are also on the drawing board.

    In the taproom, brewmaster Josh Watterson combines European brewing techniques with local Texas flavors and foraged ingredients. Offerings include Destination IPA, Le Saison Farmhouse Ale, Shallow Roots Table Bier, and Dark Skies Black Pilsner. The Collaboration Series focuses on women in brewing with an emphasis on local Texas artisans, while the Barrel Program offers beer with locally- sourced ingredients.

    Vista 3
    Source: Mark Adams Photography
  • Celis Brewery: Authentic Belgium, deep in the heart of Texas

    Austin’s first craft brewery has roots in the small Belgian town of Hoegaarden, where a young Pierre Celis began his brewing apprenticeship at the age of 17 in 1942. Pierre opened his own brewery in 1965, and after nearly three decades of growth and success, he relocated to the USA with daughter Christine, who recently re-acquired the brand after nearly 20 years.

    Celis Brewery specializes in crafting traditional Belgian-style beers for increasingly sophisticated American beer drinkers. Their mainstay is Celis White, a Belgian Witbier nearly identical to Pierre’s original recipe. Also on-tap regularly in the tasting room are a range of exotic flavors like Celis Raspberry Fruit Beer, Grand Cru Tripel Ale, Dark Odyssey Oatmeal Stout and Citrus Grandis IPA. Celis also encourages patrons to experiment with beer combinations, especially those using Celis Raspberry.

    Source: Gavin Valle 
  • Skull Mechanix Brewing: Brains, brawn, and beer

    Founded by Jeff Willis, family-owned Skull Mechanix Brewing first opened their doors in February 2018. The unusual name actually has two distinct meanings: One pays homage to the industrial neighborhood surrounding the brewery and tap room, while the other signifies the “mechanics of the skull,” the full sensory experience of drinking fine, craft beer.

    Dedicated to “working class beer for working class folks,” Willis and Head Brewer Michael Waters strive for good tasting, traditional beers made from high-quality ingredients over trendy styles and flavors. “We love all kinds of beer and like to experiment, but our focus is on substance, not form,” says Willis. “We’re putting our own unique twist on tried-and-true brewing.” Skull Mechanix brews 11 different beers, while actively marketing seven in the tap-room.

    Skull Mechanix Brewery
    Source: Skull Mechanix Brewery
  • 512 Brewery: It’s all about Texas

    Kevin Brand graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in mechanical engineering, and in late 2007 left a career in medical devices to start his own craft brewery: 512 Brewing Co. Named after Austin’s area code, the brewery is deeply embedded in the Austin scene.

    The 512 brand is self-distributed, only available on draft, and uses organic malted barley as the base for all of their beers. With a strong focus on IPA’s and Porters, they typically offer 5 year-round beers in their tasting room, with 15 seasonal brews and several other limited run beers.

    “Our team is comprised of local experts with a keen sense of what good beer tastes like and the desire to make something authentic. When we design a beer, we look at what’s close at hand – pecans, for example, or chilies – and build around them,” Brand told CNBC.

    512 Brewing
    Source: 512 Brewing
  • Hi Sign Brewing: A sign from Montana becomes a bar

    Mark Phillippe, a former Marine Corps Infantry Officer who served in Afghanistan, developed his interest in brewing while drinking local craft beers around the fire at his family’s cabin in Montana, on Hi Sign Road. He turned his interest into a passion, and then a reality. In early 2017, Phillippe added Hi Sign Brewing Company to Austin’s booming indie brew scene.

    Hi Sign Brewing actively markets three core beers: West Coast IPA Wooderson, Shamus the Fiddler Irish Red, and Christie the American Blonde Ale. These are available in the tap-room, and at select retail outlets around Austin. Later this summer, Hi Sign will introduce Violet, the Blueberry Blonde. At least seven different beers are always available in the tap-room, along with a few seasonal ales.

    Hi Sign Brewing
    Source: Hi Sign Brewing