Friday marks the official start of the fifth edition of Austin Beer Week, an event proven so successful that programming now runs for 11 days. You'll find well over 100 events ranging from fancy pairing dinners at Dai Due and Odd Duck to special tappings to fill up your growlers at area Whole Foods Markets. Whether you're grabbing a pint after work or planning your weekend around the parties at Craft Pride and Draught House, there's an event on the calendar for you.
Austin Beer Week co-founder Joanne Marino is most excited for the beer dinners. "An amazing dovetail between craft beer and Austin's foodie scene has emerged in the five years since ABW launched," she says. "Pairings are getting better and better, and interest in the cross-section of beer and food continues to grow."
After careful review of the many worthy events, we've selected a dozen or so to recommend. The suggestions range from an hour out with your dog to a 56-tap Texan beer bonanza. Read on to find your personal favorite.
Best work-week finish
Craft Pride ABW kickoff party — October 24
JT and Brandy Egli made a bold bet with their all-Texas tap wall on Rainey Street, so it's only fitting that they host the kickoff of Austin Beer Week. With a selection of 56 beers including 12 special tappings, there will be something for everyone. Special taps include the beloved Austin Beerworks Einhorn, Hops & Grain's just-released PorterCulture, Twisted X's Senor Viejo and Austin Beerworks' Choco Leche.
Best family outing
North by Northwest Oktoberfest — October 25-26
A long-running classic, NXNW Oktoberfest is a weekend-long bash filled with oompah bands, bratwurst, sauerkraut, pretzels and general German food and beer goodness. NXNW brews an Oktoberfest beer for the event, and the $2 entry fee (food and drink are extra) is donated to a collection of local charities. Family fun includes bounce houses, face painting, balloon artists and a dog costume contest (Sunday only).
Best dog-friendly outing
Whole Foods Domain Yappy Hour — October 30
If the dog costume contest wasn't enough beer-and-puppy for you, there will be another dog costume contest at Whole Foods during the Lagunitas Yappy Hour. This pairs with the reasonably priced and well-made beers from the NorCal brewer. We recommend the Lagunitas Sucks or Hop Stoopid among their many offerings. Essentially: beers will be discounted, live music will happen and many dogs will be nuzzled.
Best Halloween adventure
Micklethwait Craft Meats and Austin Eastciders brisket cider, sausage and cannibal movie night — October 31
This event was a must to include because it's simply so out there. The new — and quite good — Austin Eastciders will debut a brisket cider at the event. Before you scoff, the ABW site notes that, "back in the day, cider makers fed beef to their ferments to nourish the yeast," and that Austin Eastciders will be tapping a unique cider fermented in the traditional style with Micklethwait brisket.
After sampling the cider, you can hang at Micklethwait to order dinner, feast on free sausage samples and watch the strange 1989 Randy Quaid comedy Parents, which features Quaid as a suburban dad who is also a cannibal. Score one for eclecticism.
Best place to nerd out
ABGB's Fermentation Fest and German Sparkle party — October 25
This afternoon event is described as "A Celebration of Live Culture and Everything Fermented," and as such, it isn't limited to beer. Booths from Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Argus Cidery, Buddha's Brew Kombucha, Oh Kimchi Austin, Duchman Family Winery, Fine Southern Gentlemen, SoCo Homebrew and Good Seed will be on hand to showcase fermentation in a variety of ways. If you decide to stay late, the ABGB will bring back the "uber fancy dancey band" Froetzel to rock you German-style into the evening. Admission is free.
Best date night with beer
drink.well's Jester King beer dinner and Hopfields farmhouse beer dinner — October 26, 27
Both of these events show that ABW is stepping up its food game. On Sunday, Jester King's Ron Extract will lead a tasting of a half-dozen Jester King beers paired with thoughtful drink.well dishes like coffee-rubbed tenderloin with blackberry chutney and pecan-smoked salmon with pickled mustard seed.
The next evening, Jester King also features along with Mikkeller and Jolly Pumpkin in a five-course dinner at Hopfields. Dish highlights: miso-glazed butterscotch pork belly, chocolate stout braised goat with sauteed Swiss chard and dried cherries, and charred Oyster mushrooms. The prices of both events are reasonable ($65-$75), making these great splashy nights out.
Best loud — and bearded — way to spend a Monday
Real Ale's Metal Monday at Craft Pride — October 27
Real Ale's Erik Orgershok really likes his metal, and on Monday, he takes the reins of both the taps and the music at Craft Pride for a metal meltdown. Over the course of the evening, 20 Real Ale beers will be available, including 16 limited taps like Real Heavy, Devil's Share, Highlander and Scots Gone Wild. The first rare beers hit the taps at 6 pm, and a backyard screening of Metal: A Headbanger's Journey happens at 9 pm. The Austin Facial Hair Club will also be on hand to showcase their rad beards. This is a lot to take in on a Monday night: it'll be like Lovejoy's, only better.
Best moment of Texas/Oklahoma harmony
Easy Tiger's Prairie Ales and Balcones Distilling night — October 28
Oklahoma's Prairie Artisan Ales have quickly become one of the most beloved craft brands available in Texas. The farmhouse brewer does traditional styles like the hoppy farmhouse ale, Prairie Standard, but also goes esoteric for offerings like the recent Funky Gold Mosaic dry-hopped sour. Easy Tiger's event will feature a flight of Prairie Bomb! (a monster imperial stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chiles), a Balcones Brimstone whiskey and a special Prairie/Balcones collaboration ale. Prairie brewer Chase Healey and Balcones Distilling manager Jared Himstedt will be on hand to talk to patrons about the project.
Best bargain outing
Contigo's $1 Fried Chicken and Free Ox Tongue Slider nights — October 29-30
Take advantage of Contigo's generosity by grabbing a free slider and happy hour beer pricing on October 29 from 5-6 pm, or wait until October 30 and partake in $1 Dewberry Hills chicken drumsticks (until sold out) paired with Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery Belgian IPA. Show up early and eat well — and on the cheap — on this perennially packed patio.