Another early mornin’ out of Odessa, Texas with bellies still full with Asado from the night before. The drive to Austin was not bad – a mere 332 miles, which meant just over 5 hours. Not being hungry at all, we set out quickly, and arrived at Jester King Brewery a little past noon-time! This was the most beautiful trip by far. Besides the fracking reservoirs, the land was lush, and cattle were everywhere. We were swept through rolling hills, wild-flower covered shoulders, and rustic log fences. It. Was. Beautiful.
By the time we got to Jester King, we were super hungry! We met one of our beer buddies from our Facebook Craft Beer Lovers group there, and he gave us a proper low-down on what we needed to drink and what we needed to see.
Here’s the low-down on Jester King: They are known for their sour beers. Sour, sour soooouuuuurrrr! I am known for being anti-sour anything. Beer, candy, it doesn’t matter, I do not like sour. That being said, I still ordered just as much beer as I would have at any other place, and I actually enjoyed it after I was past the initial super-pucker face!
This brewery prides itself on natural and locally sourced ingredients. They source everything as local as they can. They get their honey from a local farm, and rely on wild yeast to get the fermentation process going. Wild yeast is everywhere. It’s around you right now. You could theoretically capture your own yeast, and make beer with it! Rad, eh?
We took the tour, and got educated on their beer making process. Since they specialize in sours, and use wild yeasts, sometimes their finished product isn’t what they expect. Sometimes they dump full barrels of stuff that didn’t turn out the way they wanted. In order to get a consistent product though, they rely on the blending of barrels. I thought that was pretty cool!
Sour beer isn’t for everybody, and they definitely realize that, yet they do NOT apologize about it. They make beer that excites them, and if others like it, then RAD! Even though I’m not a fan of sour beer, I can certainly appreciate that they like their METAL! They have a Black Metal Imperial Stout that is actually my favorite from them (not sour!), and they have a Funk Metal that is sour, but delightful! They certainly represent!
The grounds of Jester King are awesome. They sport one main building, but offer plenty of outside seating in the form of picnic tables. There are plenty of tall trees that provide ample shade.
On the same property resides Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, that serves exquisite food. We got the garlic knots, a caprese salad, and a pizza, of course! All were absolutely fantastic. Their seating hosts picnic tables that are over one, large barn roof with exposed trusses. The wood is absolutely beautiful. At one end they have a stage for live music, which we were fortunate enough to witness!
Later on in the evening, some friends had invited us to another local brewery, Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company. They have a clam pizza that is to DIE for (they say – we didn’t actually have any), and at the time we were there, it was crawfish season. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a crawfish, but the plates of them looked massive and sooo appetizing! We were maxxed out from Stanley’s, so we passed, but boy did we have the beer. And the beer was GOOD!
The high ceilings are great, and the furnishings are hip and swanky. We parked ourselves outside on their high pub-tables, because we got there when it was BUSY. It’s definitely a place where the locals go. That was it for day 1 of Austin, we moseyed on back to our studio apartment (thanks AirBnB!)
– End Scene –
Austin, Day 2
We wake up late – after all, we are on vacation, and we want to be able to actually enjoy it! My mother calls, and is worried about us. There were major thunderstorms in “hurricane alley,” during the time we were down there – the end of April. We were headed to New Orleans, but we thought it was just too risky, so we decided not to go. Yes, we opted out of New Orleans because of the weather. Booooo! This meant that we had to alter portions of our trip, because we had reservations already in Denver, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because we ended up adding a night to each one of those places! We’ll have to plan a trip especially for New Orleans one day. One day…..
We finish making our plans, and we’re off to explore Austin! Up until this point, we had been overloading on carbs, so with the help of Yelp, we found Juiceland!! I got a green smoothie, and the hubs got a spicy, orange number. The employees were absolute dolls, and guided us in the right direction.
One can only eat and drink so much, so I had The Rowing Dock in my back pocket. It didn’t take much convincing, and before long, we were in a kayak, rowing our way up river.
The Rowing Dock’s prices were very reasonable ($15/hr for a double kayak M-Th), the employees gave us great advice, and it was a great way to see what the locals are into. I really want to try that stand-up (Sup) paddle board stuff – it looks so calming! Besides the kayak’s and sup’s, they also have canoe’s and paddle boats. They even have special events, like full moon paddles, and I believe that they sometimes have guided tours to watch the bats fly out from under the Congress Bridge. Yes, Austin has the largest urban bat colony in North America! We weren’t able to see them, but if you get a chance, make sure you do!
Our hour was up, and we had worked up an appetite. Through watching the Food Network, I had my sights set on some real Texas BBQ that they featured at The Salt Lick.
Look at that massive PIT! It was amazing, and it was also really hot right there where I was standing to take that photo! This place is like a compound. It hosts grapevines for their winery that is on the premesis, and they have all kinds of nooks and crannies where you can plant your fanny and enjoy yourself. The wine bar is a separate building that hosts wine tastings, but they also sell some local craft beer. The Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant does not serve any alcohol at all, but the best part? You can bring your own!! Totally rad.
We both got the Thurman’s Choice plate – complete with brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. It also came with beans, bread, and coleslaw. The smoke ring on the brisket was AMAZING, and the flavor of everything was simply astounding. I can say, without a doubt, that we had some serious Texas BBQ!
Full bellies (again), but we had a hankering for some craft beer, so to Yelp we went! I swear, Yelp was a life-saver on this trip. One day, I’m going to go in and review all of these places. We ended up at 512 Brewing!
512 Brewing (named after the Austin area code no doubt), is more of a distribution brewery. They don’t have a taproom where patrons can sit to enjoy this beer, and there’s no food to be found anywhere. They DO have taps, though, and they’ll do growler fills for people they know. They have a large facility that houses a crap-ton of kegs, and they even have a formidable barrel room. They can’t technically serve anybody, but one of raddest employees ever gave us a couple sips of some stuff, and gave us the grand tour! Check out the gallery for all the photos. OH, and their beer is BOMB too! The Pecan Porter was my favorite. They even divulge the organic percentage of their beer. Gotta love that!!
As if we hadn’t had enough beer already, we were invited by our Austin host to a beer event of epic proportions! A Ballast Point Representative was having his going-away party at Pinthouse Pizza, where they had may Ballast Point special releases. The star of the night was “Victory at Cereal,” a spin off of their “Victory at Sea,” which is an Imperial Porter with strong vanilla and coffee notes. They took this base beer, and dry hopped it with Cap’n Crunch! I don’t know if it was because we had so much beer already that day, but I couldn’t taste the cereal. It was a great beer regardless though! Pinthouse was packed to the brim that day, but we managed to have more pizza. I mean, you can’t go to a Pizza place, and not get any pizza, right?! We had what our gracious guide suggested: I believe it was the Armadillo, that had olive oil, cheese, artisan sausage, poblano peppers, ricotta and cilantro. I think that was the one! I also had to get some greens in, so I had the Pinthouse Salad with baby spinach, dried cranberries, red onions, blue cheese, candied pecans, poppy seed dressing. Fantastic!
The sun was setting on our last day in Austin, but we were in dire need of special, local bottles to bring back to California. Our guide told us about this bottle shop turned deli/small gig venue called the Whip In. It’s very un-assuming, and right next to the freeway. We walk in, and the place is just charming! Even better, they have coolers and coolers of bottles. On our Texas trip, we were really interested in trying to find Southern Tier. We found a couple, but the real gem was a Crème brûlée that was purposely hidden behind other non-related bottles. It pays to really LOOK! We love this beer, and are happy to have it. You may even find some of it in a recipe on here one day!
Ohhhh Austin. I wish we had more time with you! The rest of our journey awaits us, though, along with spectacular views, and awe-inspiring moments. Next stop – Ft. Worth, Texas!!
The map of places we went:
View Austin, TX in a larger map
- Jester King Brewery
- Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza
- Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company
- The Rowing Dock
- The Salt Lick
- 512 Brewing
- Pinthouse Pizza
- Whip In Bottle Shop
Whew! There are lots of photos on this one. I hope you enjoyed them!
From Beer To Eternity,
Ministry – From Beer To Eternity