Austin has all the elements that give the city its well-earned reputation for delivering a laid-back good time: food trucks, live music, epic BBQ. And while its pace is decidedly slower than its fellow boomtowns and Millennial meccas, the city is exploding with so many brewery and distillery openings that even the locals sometimes can’t keep up.
Known as much for its creativity and do-it-yourself attitude as for its mid-afternoon micheladas and Mexican martinis, the heart of the Lone Star State is no stranger to the perfect cocktail pairing. So it’s no surprise that so many local distilleries and breweries have cropped up over the years, opening their doors to curious patrons who want to take a peek inside.
Here, take a glimpse at some of the best tours and tastings for thirsty Texans and travelers alike.
Zilker Brewing Co., 1701 E 6th St
Set apart from the pack by both its walkable distance from Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown – University and its focus on American Belgo-style beer, Zilker Brewing Co. gives beer lovers an urban brewery experience right in the heart of East Austin. The craft brewery and taproom offers a wide array of interesting and classic beers, combining Trappist yeast strains with American brewing techniques. Founded by a handful of corporate-types-turned-brewers, this austere but cozy neighborhood spot is dog-friendly and BYO-food-friendly, too, thanks to neighboring food trucks.
Pinthouse Pizza, 4729 Burnet Rd and 4236 S Lamar Blvd
Few things go together better than pizza and beer. Knowing this, the good folks of Pinthouse Pizza serve up pies and pints to the hungry masses at two brewpubs, each just north or south of downtown. Beer flights help patrons find the perfect pairings for classic and specialty pies, with more than 40 made-in-house and local partner craft beers from which to choose. The best part: If you find a brew you love, you can take home a 64 oz. growler filled to the brim with your new favorite beverage.
Oasis Texas Brewing Company, 6550 Comanche Trail
Those who prefer their Hill Country sunsets with a glass of crisp, cold beer consider the brewery at Oasis Texas Village to be something of a mandatory experience. Towering above Lake Austin, the brewing company’s taproom hours run Thursday through Sunday, and its special-events space upstairs, The Mansfield, offers the highest vantage point over the water with a stunning view from its extended glass balcony. A quick 20 minutes from downtown, the scenic drive there and back (handled by a designated driver, of course) is half the fun in and of itself.
Treaty Oak Distillery, 16604 Fitzhugh Rd
Variety is very much the spice of life at Treaty Oak Distillery in Dripping Springs, where no fewer than four different types of spirits are made every day. From its rum and whiskey to its vodka and gin, Treaty Oak’s outlaw attitude runs strong throughout its packaging, its décor and its forward flavor. And its swagger is symbolic, too: The rough-and-tumble brand is named for a well-known tree in Austin that’s managed to thrive despite all sorts of disasters over the decades. Its tours, tasting room, cocktail bar, restaurant and gift shop are open on weekends only, when a downtown shuttle transports guests safely to and from the Hill Country ranch.
(512) Brewing, 407 Radam Ln
Named after Austin’s area code, this popular beer maker uses local, organic ingredients, reflecting the ethos of the city’s many locavores and GMO-free foodies. Known for both its “core four” (wit, pale, pecan porter and IPA) and seasonal beers, the brewery’s small handcrafted batches are a popular choice at local bars. Tasting tours run twice midday almost every Saturday, offering an up-close look at (512)’s inner workings. Since space is tight, spots are limited, so buying an advance ticket is a definite must.
Deep Eddy Vodka, 2250 E HWY 290
Beloved for tongue-in-cheek retro branding and an ever-expanding array of flavored vodkas, Deep Eddy’s distillery tours are as easy on the wallet as they are on the palate. All it takes to visit the distillery is $25 and a quick hop aboard a shuttle downtown; tours include a complimentary cocktail served in a mason jar, a guided walk through the distillery floor complete with history lesson, and discounts on brand merchandise. Complimentary rounds of lawn games onsite complete the Texan experience before the bus heads back downtown.