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I Like Beer arrives at Oasis Texas Brewing Company. Photo via Facebook/Oasis Brewing
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Texas Beer Run Pt. 2

This spring, I reached another must-visit beer destination: Austin, Texas. Over the course of a week, I visited breweries big and small, including several iconic Texas Beer venues.

There were too many amazing people, breweries, beers and stories to fit into this article, but I wanted to share a few highlights. This is part two of my Texas Beer Run. I owe a Texas-sized thank you to Jordan Golembeski, founder of the Austin Ale Trail Passport, who helped me plan the week. If you’re headed to Texas, check out the Austin Ale Trail at atxaletrail.com.

Pinthouse Brewing has established itself as a pillar of the Austin beer community. Their flagship IPA, Electric Jellyfish, can be found anywhere and everywhere. This “new school hazy” is full of hopped-up citrus flavors, with the orange and mango notes being most prevalent.

I Like Beer team arrives at Pinthouse Brewing in Texas. Photo by Jeff Spanier
The I Like Beer team arrives at Pinthouse Brewing in Texas. Photo by Jeff Spanier

After touring the Pinthouse main brewing facility with Jacob Passey (director of brewing) and Tom Fischer (director of brewer quality), I enjoyed a pint of Electric Jellyfish and heard a little about their story.

ILB: Where did Pinthouse get its start?

Passey: Pinthouse was started by six friends as we entered the parenthood phase of adulthood, and realized we didn’t have anywhere to go with our kids in a town that was then sort of a beer desert.

ILB: What’s unique about your beer?

Fischer: Our beers are regional. These beers might not work in other regions, but they work for our time and place. [Our beers] are a little dryer, a little snappier and a little crisper than the thick beers out there.

ILB: Was the plan to have multiple locations?

Passey: We started off as just a single brewpub, but it snowballed from there. Every three years, we added a new facility, and 12 years later, we have four facilities. Twelve years later, I still like our beer just as much, maybe even more, and that’s a good thing!

Altstadt Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Altstadt Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Jazz Lounge at Altstadt Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Jazz Lounge at Altstadt Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier

My favorite was the Old Beluga Amber Ale, which blends the classic English ESB with the American Amber Ale style to create a malt-forward, easy-drinking beer with cherry and herbal notes.

A jaw-dropping brewery awaited me just outside of Austin in Hill Country. Driving down the US-290 alongside miles of pastures and wineries, there appears to be a Bavarian castle. This is Altstadt Brewery.

Altstadt Brewery may answer, “What if you could build a brewery and the price was not a concern?” If they spared a penny, I was hard pressed to see where.

Replete with a German-style Bierhall, steakhouse, jazz lounge and concert venue, Altstadt Brewery is a spectacle. General manager Manny Ramirez toured our team, pointing out the craftsmanship and details at each turn. Every door knob, carved piece of wood and painting work to teleport the visitor to Old World Germany.

Among the expenses not spared was the hiring of head brewer Craig Rowan (formerly with Abita Brewing). The beers were on point classic German styles. The Schwarzbier impressed, but it was actually Quinlan’s Irish Red that stole the show. Named for Rowan’s mother’s family, it is a blend of Irish, American and German ingredients that blend perfectly to create a malty, slightly toasted ale.

Boots up at Oasis Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Boots up at Oasis Brewing. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Jeff Riccitelli and Jeff Spanier arrive at Oasis Texas Brewing Company. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Jeff Riccitelli and Jeff Spanier arrive at Oasis Texas Brewing Company. Photo by Jeff Spanier
eff Riccitelli, Dylan Byerly, Mark Norman and Jeff Spanier. Photo by Jeff Spanier
Pictured from left to right: Jeff Riccitelli, Dylan Byerly, Mark Norman and Jeff Spanier. Photo by Jeff Spanier

The trip ended with the solar eclipse at a brewery, which had not been on my list at first. But thanks to the Austin Ale Trail, traffic snarls and fate, I found myself with family and friends at Lago Vista Brewing Company near Lake Travis.

Mark Norman and Dylan Byerly, co-owners, were gracious hosts on the morning of the eclipse. Despite the busy day ahead, they were game to join me for a beer and an interview.

ILB: Thanks for joining me for a beer. What are we drinking?

Norman: This is Bronco Blonde Ale and has turned into our flagship beer. It gets really, really hot here in Texas, and most people want a good, clean, easy-drinking beer. There are very few hops in this beer, so you don’t get much bitterness from the malty sweetness.

ILB: This is an amazing location. How did you end up here?

Byerly: It’s been a journey. This is our community. We saw it growing and decided if we would open a brewery, now’s the time. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. This was originally a retirement community, so there are a lot of people who’ve been drinking Coors Light their whole life. So, we’ve made approachable beers.

Like most breweries I visited, Lago Vista Brewing had lots of room. They threw a fantastic eclipse party with perfectly curated music. Despite the warning of a passing storm, the clouds parted, and the sky cleared just in time. Cheers to great timing and a great time!

Jeff Spanier is the co-host of I Like Beer the Podcast. For the entire interview with Pinthouse, Lago Vista and Altstadt Brewing take a listen wherever you get podcasts. Follow Spanier’s adventures on Instagram @ilikebeerthepodcast.

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