meet the tastemakers
Austin's many local breweries know exactly how to capture the spirit of the city, whether they've been part of the industry for decades or they've made their debuts in recent years. (We also salute some of our fallen favorites this year.)
Every brewery on this list has its own innovative way to improve Austin's beer scene, which keeps us on our toes when we search for Brewery of the Year nominees for the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
We're giving our snaps and claps to every nominee, but only one can walk away with the coveted trophy at our Tastemaker Awards ceremony and signature tasting event April 11 at Distribution Hall. Read up on the 10 contenders below, then plan a few visits to sample their brews firsthand.
A limited number of Early Bird tickets are on sale now at discounted rates of $60 for general admission and $99 for VIP (includes early access to the event, valet, and a dedicated bar). Prices will increase March 1. Grab your tickets now, because this party will sell out — just like it does every year.
Cheers to our nominees for Brewery of the Year 2024 in Austin:
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (ABGB)
What started as a homebrew passion project nearly two decades ago has now become a beloved South Austin warehouse brewery and live music venue. The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. has several year-round brews alongside their seasonal concoctions, but its the German styles like the Industry Pilsner, Crispy Deee-Lite Lager, and Hell Yes Helles that keep us coming back for more.
If beer buffs are looking for a brewery with a sparkling reputation, Austin Beerworks is the place to be. This North Austin brewery has a beer for every occasion, from its classic Peacemaker Anytime Ale to the bold Fire Eagle American IPA. And you can't go wrong with a nice can of hop water, which takes the hoppy notes from Austin Beerworks' Hazy IPAs, but without the alcohol.
This North Austin brewery is known for its Belgian specialties and casual hangs — both on the back lawn and in a tiny circular hall that feels intimate and old-fashioned. Visitors also praise the range of food trucks that are ready to serve up tacos and more. Celis Brewery has a storied history leading back to the work of famous brewer Pierre Celis, but new management is taking over the business side.
Family Business Beer Co.
Dripping Springs has many well-known and hidden-gem breweries, and Family Business Beer Co. is one of the most famous, with a variety of citrus-forward sours, seltzers, and IPAs. This family-owned business is spearheaded by Jensen and Danneel Ackles, with co-owner Gino Graul and head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino working together to manage the operations and develop the next best brews.
Jester King Brewery
Also located in Dripping Springs, Jester King Brewery is a Hill Country treasure sitting on 41 acres of beautiful ranch land. It's a great place to relax and explore different beers, like the Demi-tone Farmhouse Ale, or perhaps a darker brew like the Black Metal Russian Imperial Stout. Its sprawling compound also makes for a fun country visit.
As one of the younger breweries in town, Oddwood is an ode to the grooviness prevalent within Austin's beer scene. The brewpub is led by Taylor Ziebarth, the former brewmaster at Adelbert's (R.I.P.), and his brother, Brett Ziebarth. Oddwood also offers a diverse wine list and a classic pizzeria menu, so it's a good place to bring friends who aren't beer-drinkers.
If there's one brewery that knows how to keep things fresh and innovative, that's Pinthouse. Austin has long sung the praises of the Electric Jellyfish IPA, but we're excited for the newly revamped Fresh Hop Electric Jellyfish, developed in the brewery's new R&D facility. The Old Beluga Amber Ale is another must-try, with notes of cherry and a malt-forward flavor profile.
St Elmo Brewing Co.
St. Elmo won CultureMap's Brewery of the Year award in 2018, and has kept making leaps with its ever-changing offerings. Its lively atmosphere and frequent events, coupled with its prime location in South Austin, has created the ultimate everyday hangout spot. Variety is the name of the game at St. Elmo, with more than 15 different brews on tap for every type of beer devotee.
Vista Brewing's cofounders Karen and Kent Killough bought a dreamy 21 acres of land in Driftwood and went to work creating the ideal getaway for Austinites and beyond. In collaboration with Beerburg Brewing, Vista most recently debuted a tart, light-bodied margarita-inspired gose. But you can't go wrong with a fan-favorite like the Middle Trinity Belgian-Style Tripel.
Zilker Brewing Company
It's hard to imagine a better way to spend a warm day in Austin than sitting outside a cold beer in hand — and the Zilker Brewing patio is a strong contender. On those hot summer days, try the Icy Boys Lager and or the Parcs & Rec Pale Ale. In the winter, folks may gravitate to the rich flavors of the Coffee Milk Stout. To use a Zilker Brewing beer title, the brewery really is "All That and a Bag of Hops."