Just look at the results of the recent recent Great American Beer festival. Austin breweries are increasingly being recognized for their amazing craft, but there are still a few fine breweries that we feel deserve a little more love. From an East Austin brewery specializing in niche sours to a Belgian-style maker up north, here’s our list of local brewers that deserve a little more fuss.
Although they have been around since 2011, and their distinctive bottles are stocked all over town, Adelbert’s somehow doesn’t get all the buzz of some of the newer breweries. It’s certainly not because of the beers. Their hibiscus saison is one of the most refreshing brews on the market, perfect for Austin’s eternal summer. And their eclectic, art-filled taproom offers one of the best deals in town. For $14, you get a souvenir glass, six half pours, and a tour of the operation — all of which get very high marks in our book.
Blue Owl Brewing
Like a sudsy version of Girl Talk, Blue Owl Brewing is dedicated to the art of sour-mashing your favorite beer styles into new experiences. Little Boss, a light session wheat, is a good starter for sour neophytes. But the East Austin brewery is constantly experimenting with everything from Scotch ales to imperial oatmeal stouts. As a bonus, their tasting room is more like a community hub, offering everything from terrarium workshops to a monthly Mad Skills Night where you can talk to experts about everything from buying a home to how to tie a bow tie.
Hi Sign Brewing
This small operation, owned by Marine Corps veteran Mark Phillippe, debuted earlier this year with just four brews: a pale ale, a blonde, a Northeastern-style IPA, and a coffee stout. That list has since shifted to include several seasonals and a clean Irish red ale, but we recently fell back in love with one of the OGs. The Ubuntu coffee stout, made with blood orange and Allegro coffee, is a perfect transition to the chillier nights ahead.
Live Oak Brewing Company
It may seem odd to label this Austin classic as underrated, especially when the brewery’s hefeweizen is internationally recognized. But just like Meryl Streep can never get enough Oscars, Live Oak can never get enough attention. The new(ish) facility — with a spacious taproom, a shady biergarten, expanded production, and a canning operation — has made them even stronger. We especially like that we can now take that famous hefe with us when we tube.
If there is a better IPA program in town, we’d like to see it. Under the direction of director of brewing Joe Mohrfeld, both locations keep turning out hit after hit. Electric Jellyfish, a hoppy but mildly bitter Northeastern-style IPA, is the breakout star, but there’s plenty of other attractions — all of which can be canned up for you in crowlers onsite. That there’s also really good pizza is just the icing on the cake.
St. Elmo Brewing Co.
We know that for some Austinites, making the trip to South Austin can be difficult. But what’s a little traffic when the destination is this fun? We especially like the beer descriptions, which pokes a little fun at the language of beer tasting with nonsensical notes (for example, McCaffe — a coffee double IPA — has characteristics of “lawsuit” and “ooooweee”). The special events like Grassy Tuesday (dedicated to bluegrass) and the onsite Soursop food truck make us smile, too.
What are Houston's most underrated breweries? Send you selections to CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler at firstname.lastname@example.org