Austin’s Best Breweries
Published July 2018; updated June 2021
What's on tap: Tasty Texas Suds + sips
If you’re looking for barrels of fun the next time you’re in Austin, you’re in luck: The city is overflowing with more than 50 breweries, most of which offer tastings and tours. So whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or prefer to sample the best bets for Texas brews, you’ll be able to peruse this preferred list of Austin’s best breweries and pick your perfect poison.
Designated driver: WTF Party Bus
First things first: Beers seem to taste even better when someone else has the keys. Let We Transport Fun (WTF) Party Bus be your designated driver. They’ll coordinate a tour of Austin’s best breweries; you choose from one of three vehicles for your comfy ride (up to 12 – 14 guests).
Austin Beerworks focuses solely on producing canned (not bottled) beer: Core beers (on tap), plus seasonals, big bottles from their Killer Strains series and new RAD Lab beers (exclusive to the taproom). Stop by for a tour and enjoy a cold one at the walk-up bar or super-cool, dog-friendly patio. Complement your brew with good grub from Can-tina, its food truck. Expect excellent service by the friendly staff and purchase bold merch with attitude: shirts, headware, fanny packs (yes, indeed), bolo ties, Eagle River tube and the wildly popular “Photorealistic Unicorn” original art, hand-drawn by Austin Beerworks staff members.
The first Texas craft brewery, Celis Brewery, was opened in 1992 by Belgian Pierre Celis (largely considered the Father of Wit Beer). His daughter and granddaughter keep his traditions alive in North Austin’s Brewery District. Visit the Copper Kettle Taproom, take a tour and try the core Celis beers — White, Juicy IPA and Pale Bock — or the rotating seasonal selections. Backdraft Pizzeria is the food truck of choice, serving specialty 12-inch pizzas and fresh salads. Bring your pup and have fun at its off-leash dog park. Come for Tuesdays on the Half Shell, Thursday Trivia Night, Chicken Sh*t Bingo the last Saturday of each month and Crawfish Sundays.
Southern Heights Brewing Co.
Southern Heights Brewing Co. is a small Austin brewery that focuses on having the best and freshest beers available on tap. The taproom features core, seasonal and exclusive beers. A sampling of pours includes the Tahitian Dreamin’ (a lush tropical IPA), Where’s My Flannel (a bodacious pub ale), Hoodie Weather (a Russian imperial stout), Jam Session (a kettle sour with raspberry), Samoan Joe’s (an English porter) and I Just Want a Pils (a Czech pilsner) — something for everyone. And yes, there’s an alfresco patio to enjoy a cold one.
Just north of Lady Bird Lake in the historic district of Rainey Street lies one fo Austin’s best breweries, Craft Pride — a wildly popular beer bar with more than 50 taps featuring Texas craft beers. The bar’s design, construction and decor underscore its allegiance to local businesses and belief in fostering an environment of sustainability. Serving Texas drafts, bottles, cans and wines Craft Pride has a Sunday brunch with signature beer cocktail offerings that go down perfectly alongside food truck Via 313’s Detroit-style pizza. A myriad of crowd-pleasing events (music, movies, trivia) fill the calendar at this locals’ favorite.
Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
Voted the brewpub of the year by the Great American Beer Festival three years running, Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. believes that “beer makes it better.” It’s a warehouse-like beer garden that matches house microbrews with pub bites, such as pizza, muffuletta sandwiches and salads. About half of the menu depends on what’s locally fresh and how the chef chooses to contrast the flavors just so. Wine and cider are also on the menu, and they’ve been known to serve up a clean, bright, citrusy sour beer. Guests enjoy live music throughout the week (check their calendar for lineups), and the patio is dog-friendly.
Independence Brewing Co.
Independence Brewing Co. has grown from a small mom-pop-dog shop in southeast Austin to a team of 30 people producing more than 20 thousand barrels a year with distribution throughout Texas. Serving up year-round favorite brews, seasonal and limited releases and exclusive beers is the specialty of this laid-back taproom; try the Stash IPA, Austin Amber, Native Texan Pilsner or Nailed It Chocolate Cake Stout. Then check out the cool merchandise, including beer soaps, shirts and groovy bandanas. The brewery showcases live original music and special food events. Don’t forget to take a brewery tour.
Lazarus Brewing Co.
“Coffee. Beer. Tacos. Joy!” A cozy brewery with a 10-barrel system, taproom and spacious patio complete with fans, misters and shade, Lazarus Brewing Co. offers house beers sold only on-premise, plus root beer, kombucha, coffee drinks and house tacos, tortas, rice bowls and a rajas quesadilla. Best-seller brews include 40 Days & 40 Nights, an American IPA, and the GABF Gold Medal winner Amandus, a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. Lazarus is family-friendly and welcomes well-behaved dogs on the patio.
St. Elmo Brewing Co.
The taproom and festooned beer garden at St. Elmo Brewing Co. have plenty of seating and great service. Their darker beers have a loyal following, and beer to go is available. Events include standup, live music, crawfish boils and (the most popular) the family-friendly Grassy Thursdays — featuring bluegrass bands in the beer garden; tables are first come, first served, so giddyup.
Zilker Brewing Co.
In the heart of East Austin, Zilker Brewing Co. is focused on providing quality beer, fostering community and ensuring craft beer accessibility. Whether you stop by for beer to go or spend time on the patio, you’ll no doubt enjoy their mainstay selection of beers: the balanced and bready Marco IPA, hazy and juicy Heavenly Daze, bright and popular Parks & Rec pale, refreshing and dry Icy Boys rice lagern and the creamy, robust Coffee Milk Stout. Or try the varied seasonal selections — Taco Tour is a Mexican lager that’s light, crushable and delicious alongside fresh tacos.
Jester King Brewery
A short drive southwest of Archer Hotel Austin is Jester King Brewery — a world-renowned farmhouse brewery set on the outskirts of town in Texas Hill Country. With a hop yard, a 3-acre vineyard, a walking trail and a herd of goats, Jester King grows a variety of fruits and vegetables for fermentation, as well as for sharing with the community. A sampling of more than 50 house beers includes Spon Grapefruit, Astral Reflections (a DDH double hazy IPA, collab with Celestial Beerworks) and Less Dots (a farmhouse ale with spent black currants). This family- and dog-friendly outdoor brewery serves handcrafted, artisan pizzas and appetizers.
When in Austin, what makes sipping and savoring a few delicious cold ones all the better? Why, music, of course. Head over to Archer’s blog post Austin’s Best Live Venues to plan the rest of your evening after your craft brewery tour. Whether you’re ready for some great honky-tonk, poetry slams, comedic gems, impromptu jam sessions or an authentic Austin City Limits experience, you’ll find the perfect place to get your groove on. Three cheers — and several bottoms up — for Austin's best breweries!