BMD on Tour: Austin/Cedar Park, TX (Blue Owl, 4th Tap, Circle, Whitestone, & RedHorn)

austinba

A few months ago my wife and I had concert tickets to go see Bryan Adams at the Cedar Park Convention Center. Trust me, it’s a long story, but Bryan Adams holds a special place in our relationship and we always said we would see him live when he performed close to us. We found ourselves traveling to Cedar Park, TX, which is just less than 30 minutes north of Austin, TX. As we usually do when we travel out of town, we left early in the morning cause I had a line-up of brewery visits in the plans!

As we reach Austin, our first stop on this adventure is Blue Owl Brewing Company, a brewery focused on Sour beers. They brew beers by using a Sour-mashing technique, which is inoculating the wort with naturally occurring bacteria and wild yeast, and after a few more steps, the beer is boiled, hopped, and then fermented. They attempt and conquer retaining much of the characters of the original beer style. These guys/girls at Blue Owl have been in business only a few years, but have quickly become a favorite among the Texas Craft Beer drinkers.

I have had a few of their beers before this visit, but what better way to enjoy a locally crafted beer, than right from the source, you know? Upon this visit I enjoyed…

  • Little Boss, their sour session wheat ale. This one clocks in at 3.8% only. It is a light, easy drinking sour wheat beer. This one could easily be a gateway beer into the world of sours. My Rating: 4.25/5
  • Spirit Animal, their sour pale ale. This 5.1% sour beer is dry-hopped to give a crisp hop profile mixed with the sourness. I bet without the addition of the sour bacteria, this would be an amazing Pale Ale. My Rating: 4/5

At Blue Owl, they do not offer flights. In fact, a glass and tokens had to be purchased due to their TABC license restricting them from selling on premise. They were out of one beer, so I ended up with a second glass of Little Boss, which I did bot complain about, trust me.

Our next stop was going to be Circle Brewing Company, but while driving there, we came across 4th Tap Brewing Co-Op. I have had the pleasure of having their beers before, but of course, nothing beats getting beer right at the brewery itself. As you can see from the photos, they are located within an industrial building. Their logo is painted right on a loading garage door. There is definitely nothing special about the outside of this place, but that’s not the reason we are here. I will say this though, the inside of the brewery’s tap room is real nice, and they were showing The Princess Bride on their big screen. Awesome!

4th Tap offered flights of their beer, so away we fly…

  • Highwind Pale Ale, their American Pale Ale that is brewed with orange and coriander. Pretty fruity Pale Ale My Rating: 4/5
  • Sun Eater, this is a really interesting beer. Labeled as a Gruit or Ancient Herbed Ale. I have not had many beers in this style. This one is brewed with sorghum cane juice, brown sugar, rosemary, and dried lemon peel. Tons of fruit flavors. My Rating: 4.25/5
  • Renewal, a wheat ale brewed with tamarind. Crisp, clean, refreshing wheat ale with tamarind adding a little tartness. Good beer. My Rating: 4/5
  • Long Walk, a grapefruit IPA. Wow, the grapefruit is strong in this beer. Total fruit bomb! My Rating: 4.5/5
  • Mega Citrus One, this one is Long Walk’s bigger brother. This double IPA has an extra dose of Glacier and Cascade hops. This one also has a good malty backbone, but the citrus fruit notes are high in this beer. My Rating: 4.5/5

Once we left 4th Tap, we drove to our actual next destination stop, Circle Brewing Company. I have been drinking beers by this brewery for a while now, so I was really excited to visit their brew house. As with most production breweries, Circle Brewing Company is located within an industrial park. Picnic tables outside under some canopies attached to a big grain silo with their logo painted on the side. The loading garage door was wide open with wooden stairs leading into their brewery. It was one big open room with the taps being on side of the building. Nice little bar area, but it seems that when this place is packed, people have to stand around the actual brewery. Well, this was a pretty disappointing visit. We were the only people there, and the one girl that was working there was not very talkative. She was standing away from us, and just reading shit on her phone.

Since it was a lonely visit to this brewery, we only had 1 beer there. I had their newest beer at the time…

  • Archetype, classified as an English-style IPA, but the brewery calls this one a Historical IPA. They recreated a style of beer that was made popular in the 1700’s. They Recreated the Burton White Malt, using only British East Kent Golding hops and mirroring hopping rates, aging four months in white oak barrels, and finally inoculating with Brettanomyces. A very unique beer, and I really enjoyed it. My Rating: 4.25/5

I do really hope that next time I visit Circle that it is a lot more lively. It is not a bad brewery, and they make excellent beer that I drink a lot of. I just think I may have gone on a bad day.

After our stop at Circle, we went to our hotel to check in and unload our stuff. This ended up turning into a few hour nap for us, which worked out great in the end. We woke up with about an hour to spare before the concert, so we wanted to squeeze in one more brewery. We went to Whitestone Brewery, which was actually located across the street from our hotel, so it was perfect. Whitestone is located in a shopping center, surrounded by small businesses and restaurants. They had a nice brewpub feel with the brewing equipment behind the bar & tap wall, and the floor was filled with dining tables, and a lounge area by a fireplace.  They don’t actually have a kitchen, so they have thr best in the local food trucks parked right outside near their patio area on the weekend and during events.

We were very happy to have stopped here, and they offered flights, so away we go…

  • Siesta Saison, a very true to style Saison. This one was fruity, tart, and dry. Just the way I like them! My Rating: 4.5/5
  • Lovely Day IPA, a very good IPA. The hops were dominant in the flavor with a mild maltiness in the background. My Rating: 4/5
  • Porch Daddy Baltic Porter, a dark, sweet, chocolate, coffee, and light caramel flavored beer. Very tasty. My Rating: 4/5
  • Boondoggle Brown, this one is just a typical Brown Ale. Not a bad thing, though, as they make this one true to style. My Rating: 3.75/5

I can not wait to visit this brewery again, and next time, have a longer stay to chat with the workers a bit.

OK, so here were are on the last day of our trip. The concert was great. Bryan Adams put on a really good show and really shocked me when he was talking a bout stories of when he was the opening band for Ozzy Osbourne back in the 80’s. I never would have thought those two would play together, but I guess they did. What a great night.

Before heading back to San Antonio, I wanted to make one final brewery stop. We ended up hitting Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Co. They are located in a shopping center. They aren’t facing the street, but damn what a gem of a find if you are ever in their area.

They have 33 taps on their wall. On my visit there they had eight of their own beers, one cold coffee tap, and the rest are guest taps from local Texas breweries. They also have a nice deli/cafe style menu, and amazing coffee options as well. This is like a jacked up Starbucks on steroids and Craft Beer. Excellent vibe in this place. They offered flights, so the wife and I got a flight each, so we could try every one of their own beers. What a way to begin the day, since this was before noon.

  • Trailrunner Golden Ale, a nice take on the Golden Ale style. Crisp, and refreshing. My Rating: 3.5/5
  • Drink Well Red Ale, a rich and malty red ale with the right amount of hops. Excellent beer. My Rating: 3.75/5
  • HapSlappy IPA, earthy, piney, and citrus hops combined with a nice malty backbone. My Rating: 4/5
  • Brushy Creek Brown Ale, a malty, earthy, medium bodied brown ale. My Rating: 3.75/5
  • House United Coffee Stout, My favorite of their beers. This one was super smooth. It had a sweet milk, and robust coffee flavor. It seemed like a nitro beer, but not on nitro. Excellent beer! My Rating: 4.75/5
  • Grizz ESB, Not everybody is a fan of this style, but I do enjoy a good ESB. This one was toasty, a bit sweet, definitely bitter. My Rating: 3.75/5
  • Road Work Rye, Now after this beer, I have a new favorite. I love Rye beers. This one was perfectly balanced with malts, hops, and of course the addition of rye. Nice dry finish. My Rating: 4.75/5
  • Beach Bear Pale Ale, The last of the samples of the two flights, and the end of my beer journey this day. This was a nice finish. A decent Pale Ale. Nice and sweet with a good hop profile. My Rating: 3.5/5

This weekend getaway was a perfect one for us. The concert was great, and the main reason we even went out there, even though I kept saying that it was the perfect cover up to the real reason I went; the breweries. I love visiting breweries, and right now there are so many in the great state of Texas that I am still trying to make it out to all of them before I venture out of this state to visit others. All of these breweries I visited were excellent, and will definitely drink more of their beer to support their businesses. I believe you should do the same.

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