When I was offered a chance to check out ATXcursions, Austin’s newest craft brewery tour company, I jumped at the opportunity. Austin has one of the fastest growing beer scenes in the nation and quality beer is popping up in every corner, so I figured I was bound to have a good time. I love being right.
ATXcursions was created when a pair of friends providing tours for international backpackers traveling through Austin (Jesse and Andrew) developed a relationship with a pair of business owners (Kent and Collin) who had solid ideas of their own to bring to the equation.
The four brought on Talib as their fearless Beer Sherpa to help lead Austin brewery tours, and the team was ready to roll. Though only in their second week of craft brewery tours, the guys from ATXcursions make it look like they’ve been at it for years.
Meeting Up: Craft Pride
My ATXcursions tour started at one of my favorite bars in the city, Craft Pride. Not only are all the beers carefully selected and made in the greatest state (TEXAS), but the barkeeps are friendly. You’ll also find the best deep dish pizza in Austin at a food truck out back called Via 313.
Andrew and Talib (better known as “T”) were there to greet participants upon their arrival. We were given a laid back 10-15 minute window to grab a unique Texas brew to kick off the tour.
First Stop: Jester King Brewery
With Shakey Graves crooning through the speakers and a light mist coming down outside, we all got to know each other on the half hour drive out to Jester King. Andrew and T seemed more like friends than tour guides, and I could tell things were off to a good start.
When we arrived, our group checked in and headed to a table, while Andrew grabbed four beers of varying styles from the tasting room for us to share.
The beers were poured from weakest to strongest, with their ABV ranging from just over four percent to nearly ten percent. T knowledgeably explained each beer and discussed them with the group as we tasted. My wife and I chose to order some Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza – located just across from Jester King – to enjoy while we sipped.
Second Stop: South Austin Brewery
Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles sang us back into the city as we ventured on to South Austin Brewery. Here, we warmed under several heat lamps while listening to local singer-songwriter Craig Marshall rule the stage.
We sampled each of South Austin Brewery’s three selections on tap and chose which brew we liked best to throw in our pint glass.
Andrew and T made sure no one in the group ever had an empty glass and both did a wonderful job making their way to each clique in the group to spend some time. They were also nice enough to grab a souvenir pint glass for each person on the tour as we made our way out.
Third Stop: Austin Beerworks
By now, the chill outside was beginning to fade and smiles were widening as we headed to Austin Beerworks. Here, we pulled up to the bar and tried whatever we wanted before selecting which beer we liked best for our pint.
The group unity had strengthened by this point in the tour and Andrew and T navigated through the crowd to find a spot where all of us could sit together. A few of us tried each others’ beers as we talked and got to know one another a bit more. When we finished our pints, we headed back to Craft Pride where it had all started five hours before. Some of us had one last pint to wrap things up before going our separate ways.
Before we went on the tour, I spoke with Andrew a little bit to understand why they chose Austin for ATXcursions, and how they choose which breweries to work with. “Austin has really built a respectable name for itself on the craft beer front, or at least we think so, and we’d like to prove this to people one sip at a time,” Andrew told me. “It was difficult narrowing our [brewery] options…eventually we’re hoping to have region-specific tours and we’d love to work with every brewery in town.”
I can’t help but be happy for these guys because I think they’ve started a really good thing. There seems to be breweries popping up all over the place and that only gives them more options to choose from and more partners to work with. Austin is a great place to be involved in the ever-expanding beer scene in any capacity, and I think ATXcursions has slid into a niche they can grow alongside.
If you’d like to join Andrew and T for one of their worthwhile adventures, be sure to visit them here. Tours are currently available on Saturday and Sunday for $59 per person.
@mattchampionatx wants to know:
Which Austin breweries would you want to visit during an ATXcursions tour?
Disclosure: ATXcursions invited me to join their tour at no cost for the purpose of writing this article. All opinions are my own.