Editor’s Note: Austin Brew Bus is no longer in business.
How much do you know about the breweries across Austin? Whether it’s a lot or a little, the Austin Brew Bus is the perfect tour for anybody interested in craft beer.
It’s a simple – yet genius – idea. Gather a bunch of beer lovers, sit them in an air-conditioned tour bus, and explore the inner workings of Austin’s favorite local breweries…With many glasses filled along the way!
The Bus and Its Mission
The guy on the left is Derek. He’s the man when it comes to Austin brewery tours. He’s basically the Alton Brown of craft breweries, sans the black-rimmed glasses and bow tie.
He leads the Austin Brew Bus, which is part history lesson, part science class and all fascinating.
To start the tour, Derek gave his passengers the rundown regarding America’s current place in the global brewery scene. He believes that, through the many microbreweries across the country, America has some of the best beer in the world.
He summed it up like this. America is notorious for watery and weak beers like Budweiser and Miller Light. Before Prohibition, however, America was a hub for craft beer. Currently, many cities like Austin are fighting to reclaim America’s position among the best brewing countries in the world. The Austin Brew Bus walked us through every facet of American brewing, while we traveled between three local breweries.
Our first stop was Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Restaurant in South Austin. We sampled every shade of beer that Uncle Billy’s brews on site, from the crisp pilsners to the tongue-destroying Hop Zombie IPA. Through a masterful blending of humor, personality and sheer knowledge, Derek and the employees at Uncle Billy’s entertained beer lovers and novices alike.
Our second stop was Jester King Brewery. Operating from an abandoned farmhouse east of Austin, Jester King was a sight to behold. We toured its tasting rooms before following the brewers into the actual brewing rooms! The brewers stood on filled wooden casks and explained their special method of “farmhouse brewing.” After many questions were answered, we left the brewing rooms and wandered Jester King’s beautiful grounds while sipping their many styles of beer.
Our third brewery was Hops & Grain in East Austin. We walked through the brewery and got up close and personal with the company’s environmentally sustainable business model. We learned about the whole process, from fermentation to canning. The brewers themselves took the time to answer our burning questions, like how they make their Brew Biscuit dog treats out of used beer ingredients.
Austin Brew Bus Tours
- The Standard Tour: This tour focuses mainly on the history of beer in Austin and America, while exploring both famous and smaller Austin breweries. This tour taught me more than I could ever hope to learn by attending Austin brewery tours by myself. Every stop raises questions and topics to discuss, and it’s great to have Derek around to talk to. Plus, I had a chance to meet other craft beer lovers. I guarantee that you’ll make new friends if you try out the tour (especially after you’re a couple of breweries in).
- The Microbrewery Tour: This tour focuses on smaller craft breweries around Austin. You’ll have the chance to sample meticulously crafted beers that are made in small batches to preserve quality. This is perfect for any serious craft brewery buff. The amount of craft breweries in Austin grows yearly, so there are always new unheard of beers to taste.
The Austin Brew Bus is a blast, no matter what tour you go on. It would make the perfect birthday gift or bachelor party. Or if you’re looking for a fun day out of the the house. I appreciated how the tour remained fun and casual without turning into a wild party bus. Everybody laughed and talked about the things they had learned throughout the tours.
Personally, there’s just something about drinking draught beer in its own fermentation room that pleases my inner beer nerd.
Check out the Austin Brew Bus’s website for tickets and tour dates. You’ll experience different breweries on different tours, so check to see if your favorite brewery is coming up!
What’s your favorite craft brewery in Austin?
Photos courtesy of Haleigh Burger. Slider photo via Flickr CC, courtesy of Adam Barhan.