So with all these new breweries available we had options and picked two breweries that are not entirely new but are new for us plus a new location on an old brewery that I think is worth discussing a little if only to compare the quality of the new location versus the old.
Infamous Brewing Co.Infamous Brewing has actually been operating since 2013 but has grown itself from a small handbuilt 1BBL brewing system to a brewery that sells in Austin, Houston and Dallas and is contracting to brew beer at a Dallas area brewery to help service our market. Infamous is located in the northwest side of Austin near Lake Travis which is a sleepier and less urbanized area of the Austin metro. The brewery itself is wedged into a small industrial park in a space that seems entirely too small for a brewery pushing as much product as it does. The brewing space seems to ooze out of every door into the parking lot and exterior walkways. The taproom is small but space is well used. The brewery provides a grill for customers to use to make their own food which is a fun idea. As a whole it is probably not a must-see brewery experience in Austin but likely does very well serving the local community around their corner of the lake.
I would definitely go back to Infamous and spend some more time drinking their beers. They probably aren't wowing anybody with their lineup of easy drinking beers but the beers are solid and this could easily be a neighborhood brewery almost anywhere in the country.
Oasis Brewing Co.You might know Oasis as the brewery that faced off against New Belgium over the name "Slow Ride" but it's location is probably even more well known. Oasis Brewing is set in the Shops at the Oasis in northwest Austin (close to Infamous) which has been the site of The Oasis on Lake Travis since 1982 and is an iconic landmark in Austin. The site began as a little restaurant perched above Lake Travis and has since grown to a moderate sized multi-use shopping and dining enclave with spectacular views of the lake and a number of decks taking advantage of the view. Oasis Brewing (and we'll just call it Oasis now) has a two story taproom with two outdoor areas that face out to the lake. It's a really cool location. It's a place you want to go to drink beer and let's talk about those beers.
Most of Oasis's lineup are the kind of beers you would classify as lake beers: light and easy to drink. They even market themselves as focusing on session beers. The core beers share no particular commonality except their all, well, session beers. My wife liked London Homesick Ale, an ESB, that I didn't particularly like because it had a dirty hop taste to it that I would describe in the way many people describe Fuggles, although this beer uses challenger. I was more a fan of Luchesa Lager, an unfiltered Czech pils. They also had some Belgian beers that I felt didn't really fit their session beer focus and weren't particularly great but these are taproom only to my knowledge.
As a whole the beer lineup isn't bad but isn't memorable either. They are making the right styles (in the core lineup) for the brewery location but they also can for retail and those beers are going into a tough regional market where there are already plenty of excellent competition. I can't say I would grab Oasis beers over many of their direct local competitors but it's hard not to want to go out to the brewery and enjoy the atmosphere and a iconic location.
Live Oak Brewing
The new location couldn't be more different. I was too excited to drink beer to take pictures (sorry) but my wife caught one that shows the ceilings are mold-free.
With the new location they have the space to package their once draft-only beers which means you can get their wondrous hefeweizen and pils in cans (in Austin). The new site not only expands capacity but expands the consumer's experience. In the old site you could only drink by taking the tour in which you bought a glass and received a whirlwind of beer. Here Live Oak has a full taproom with long biergarten type seating inside and a huge outdoor space with smaller wooden tables. The interior seating area is nice but the weather was unseasonably warm so we sat outside. The seating outside is in a sunken area beneath oak trees with open green space beyond. There was a lot of security outdoors which was weird. I wasn't sure whether they were afraid the crowd would get out of control on grand opening weekend or if they are required to provide a certain level of security because the new location is right behind the Austin airport. I didn't see them harassing anybody and sometimes were chatting with patrons so no big deal.
The beer is still delicious as always. The taproom has a full line of Live Oak offerings from the staple core beers through seasonals and other limited releases. It's one of the few places you can find a grodziskie or lichtenhainer beyond homebrewing circles and both are tasty. I'm particularly partial to the hefeweizen and pils. Wifey loves the IPA. Prices on the beers are extremely reasonable at $4 pints for most beers and they will give you half pints as much as you want at half price.
Definitely going on the list of must-stops in Austin.