This article marks my three-year anniversary of writing for The Austinot. In my role as Contributing Blogger and now Lead Blogger, I’m proud to represent this unique blog and contribute to its mission of celebrating everything I love about this fine city. Looking forward to many more years of good eats, great music, and diving into the heart of Austin entertainment. As always, thanks for reading.
To stand out in Austin’s beer scene, you need to be different. Far too many breweries jump out of the gate with the standard “core four:” light beer, ale, IPA, porter. Five years ago, the strategy made sense. But with new competition popping up every month, up-and-coming brew masters need to bring something special to the table.
By peppering its tap list with a blend of left-of-center styles and traditional brews, Hi Sign Brewing has managed to make a quick, positive impression on the local beer scene. If you’re looking for something accessible yet different, this brand new spot is sure to satisfy beer lovers of every taste.
Hi Sign Brewing’s Dream Realized
While Hi Sign is a relative newbie, owner Mark Phillippe is a seasoned veteran–just not in the world of beer. Phillippe is retired Marine Corps. As his service concluded, he found himself looking to the next stage of his life. Inspired by the lifestyle and work of his friends Tito Beveridge (founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka) and Clayton Christopher (founder of Sweet Leaf Tea), Phillippe decided to follow his passion and open a brewery.
His first task was to find a world class brewer to bring his vision to life. After months of searching, he recruited Andrew Shelton to helm his beer program. With experience at breweries like Revolver and Cigar City, Shelton brings a unique style and perspective to the craft.
The second vital component was a name. Inspiration came from Phillippe’s memories of time with his father in a remote cabin outside Lincoln, Mont. To help mark the road, another camper created a makeshift sign out of an old barrel top, painted it white, and spelt “Hi” in reflective tape. Hi Sign road was born.
Rustic, Relaxing Vibe
Despite being situated in an industrial area, a stone’s throw away from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Hi Sign mirrors Phillippe’s love of the outdoors and all things rustic. Inside, the tap room is divided into two sections: the main bar area and a TV area that’s perfect for watching sports. Long picnic tables provide ample seating. Coupled with a variety of games like cornhole and adult-sized Connect Four, it feels like a lively backyard party.
The brewery also boasts a spacious, inviting patio designed for outdoor hangs. It isn’t clear whether live music is in the Hi Sign forecast, but it should be. With clever elements like a giant chalkboard and TV showing the flight paths of every plane passing over the airport, Hi Sign’s environment is as unique as its beers.
Diverse, Interesting Beer
But beer nuts aren’t about the ambiance. Hi Sign made a name for itself in the Austin beer scene by delivering high-quality brew the minute it opened. The flagship beer is The Astronaut, a smooth and velvety double IPA. Massive hits of grapefruit and mango dominate the nose and taste, while the beefy malt backbone lingers on the palate. Naming a beer this big as your flagship is a bold move, but the flavors rise to the challenge.
Aside from The Astronaut, other everyday offerings include Shamus, a rich, malty Irish red ale, and Christie the American, a light, refreshing blonde ale. Up until recently, the brewery also had a deliciously decadent beer entitled Blood Orange Ubuntu Coffee Stout. Essentially a chocolate orange candy in a glass–subtle hints of orangey citrus playing beautifully with a bitter coffee finish. It shouldn’t work, but it does! NOTE: As of this article, Hi Sign has one keg left. So it may be gone when you visit.
Unlike many new breweries, Hi Sign has more one-off beers than mainstays. My flight had a blueberry-infused version of Christie, and a dry, true-to-style Octoberfest marzen. Of all the specials, the Futureman East Coast IPA was my favorite on my last visit. One of craft beer’s newest trends, this hazy IPA dials down the hop bite in favor of fruity juiciness. The flavor profile is a pineapple nose that gives way to mango and other citrus during the sip.
➡️ Keep reading: “Tip Back a Glass of Our 8 Must-try Austin IPAs”
Hi Sign’s Bright Future
And the innovation isn’t stopping there. In the corner of the TV room, two barrels are aging Ubuntu Stout, while several other styles are currently in the works. Hi Sign started canning the Shamus Irish Red and Christie blond earlier this year, with plans to expand to the West Coast IPA and (to my eternal delight) The Astronaut.
When a brewery arrives on the scene with a clear vision and out-of-the-gate quality, it can be something special. Hi Sign has delivered on both fronts, with a relaxed tap room and impressive selection. The next time your flight is delayed and you’re en route to the airport, stop at Hi Sign to while away the time. You won’t be disappointed.
1201 Bastrop Hwy – Website
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your favorite brewery in the Austin beer scene?
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