MEET THE TASTEMAKERS
Austin's 7 best breweries tap into the spirit of the city
Few local businesses perfectly capture the spirit of Austin like its many vital and crafty breweries, some of which have been impressing discerning beer buffs with the sudsy stuff for decades, while others have bubbled up in more recent times, with the flourishing city acting as its saucy muse.
Regardless of when they were established, these seven Capital City beer peddlers consistently brew and serve up Austin’s favorite brewskies — with a chaser of community allegiance and bold innovation.
We’ll honor these applause-worthy Austin breweries at our upcoming annual Tastemaker Awards, where local libation lovers can wet their whistles while celebrating the best of the city’s food and beverage scene.
Read about this year’s Tastemaker nominees for Brewery of the Year below, then join us and drink to their continued success at our signature tasting event and awards program, the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, on Thursday, April 28 at Fair Market. Tickets are available now.
Central Machine Works
Central Machine Works, opened in late 2019 in a historic structure that housed a parts-building machine shop in the 1940s, takes its Austin heritage seriously. That’s why the folks at this east side fermentation station emphasize preservation and community connection as much as the brewery and beer garden’s many local draft and canned offerings. The sprawling venue, with oodles of indoor and outdoor seating, was specifically fabricated as a welcoming neighborhood watering hole where lounging with friends is encouraged and acquiring bites and sips for all that “ales” you is an official way of life.
Friends and Allies Brewing
This friendly and contemporarily adorned brewery, tasting room, patio, and beer garden was opened in 2015 by two beer-industry vets and quickly became a top draft pick for imbibing Austinites. Friends and Allies, which serves draft and canned beer that’s made onsite, specializes in crafting saisons and Belgian-style ales, as well as seasonal brews, stouts, crushable Pilsners, fruit-forward beers, and an inviting line of IPAs, including the must-have Noisy Cricket, a hoppy brew with a relatively low alcohol percentage that makes it an ideal spring afternoon sipper. Located in a thriving East Austin locale that’s quickly becoming a destination for locally made elixirs, Friends and Allies is ripe for even more popularity as its surrounding Govalle neighborhood continues to blossom.
Hold Out Brewing
If the challenges of recent years have left you holding out for a super cool spot to sip an intoxicating array of draft beers, ciders, local wines, and succulent sangrias, look no further than this award-winning Austin brewery from the minds behind neighboring hot spot Better Half. In addition to a weighty food menu that includes tons of bites perfect for pairing up with your beverage of choice — from burgers, dogs, and sandwiches to wings, salads, sides, and even weekend brunch — Hold Out Brewing features an impressive selection of house-brewed and out-of-town drafts and exclusive local-collaboration beers that will definitely have you hopping downtown more often to soak up the suds at this quirky Quonset hut turned drinks depot.
Lazarus Brewing Company
This local brewery is on a mission not to change the world, but to change the Austin community for the better — through beer, coffee, and tacos, aka the Capital City’s tastiest trifecta. And while Lazarus Brewing’s East Sixth Street spot has been delighting passionate beer lovers since its Christmastime 2016 opening, it’s the brewing biz’s latest venture that has Austinites buzzing. Later this summer, Lazarus will resurrect the space that formerly housed beloved local establishment I Luv Video, bringing an indoor/outdoor brewery, onsite brewing, and a robust food menu to its new Airport Boulevard location. In the meantime, beer disciples can keep the faith at the Sixth Street spot by indulging in some miraculously spectacular brews, including a variety of Pilsners, lagers, hefeweizens, Belgian ales and saisons, porters, and stouts.
Live Oak Brewing Company
Founded in 1997, Live Oak Brewing Company, located in Del Valle near the Austin airport, boasts the lauded distinction of being one of the longest continuously operating microbreweries in all of Texas. And with that kind of history, you can bet your brew that Live Oak is crafting some of your favorite lagers and ales. In fact, any beer connoisseur who’s been in Austin for more than a minute has likely slugged back one of Live Oak’s luscious libations, brewed in an Old World European style. Highlights of Live Oak’s sudsy offerings include hefeweizens, Pilsners, lagers, a Polish-style Grodziskie, the malty Oaktoberfest, limited-edition beer varieties, and a tempting selection of traditional-style smoke beers. Spend a stimulating afternoon at Live Oak’s 22-acre taproom and biergarten, where you can take in a game of disc golf (with beer in hand, of course) or simply laze in the shade with your favorite brew.
Meanwhile Brewing Co.
This community-oriented South Austin brewery and taproom debuted in the Capital City in late 2020, and despite having its roots in the Portland beer realm, Meanwhile has entrenched itself in the Austin scene, becoming a go-to spot for locals seeking a world-class beer to swig among a sweeping outdoor space that includes a stage and events venue, a soccer field, and plenty of cozy, shady spots to kick back with a few friends and a pint of IPA, ale, or lager. Indeed, the Meanwhile taproom features a selection of 20 rotating beers, wines, and low-proof cocktails, so there’s always the chance to check out a new favorite. Meanwhile’s coffee and bites from several onsite food trucks add to the allure. Fair warning: It’s extraordinarily easy to while away an afternoon here, so cancel your evening plans and stay awhile.
Zilker Brewing Co.
This “urban brewery,” located east of downtown in a continuously evolving bar and brewing district, features an industrial-style taproom that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes perspective of Zilker Brewing Co.’s beer-making process. Building on the foundation of community, drink, food, conversation, art, and music, Zilker Brewing takes great pains to ensure every last pint is crafted to perfection. For a business that began in 2008 as a garage hobby, this brewery and taproom, opened to the public in 2015, continues to emphasize quality beer and community. Mainstay brews include IPAs, milk stouts, light lagers, hazy juicers, and citrusy offerings like the ever-popular Parks & Rec, but don’t discount Zilker’s seasonal beers, which often include collaborations with other local breweries and restaurants, and are delicious reminders that Austin’s brewing scene is pretty dang stout.