Opening a bar in Austin is like entering the Thunderdome: two bars enter, one bar leaves. I have watched them come and go through the years. Themed bars, dives, sports bars, college bars – many pop up, trying to dominate their niches, but few have have staying power. Personally, no bar has held my attention long enough to make me a regular. All save one: Draught House Pub and Brewery.
The Draught House is my go-to tavern. It’s my watering hole, my place where everybody knows my name. I didn’t quite understand why, though, for a long time. I’ve been showing up to this pub for years without analyzing what made it so special.
But I’ve figured it out. I now know why Draught House is my favorite bar in Austin.
Draught House does simple things simply well. Most of the bars I had in mind while composing the first paragraph of this article sacrifice quality in the name of their respective niches. They want to be the frat bar in Austin, for example. Draught House chooses the opposite approach. Its owners cast a wide net and cater to those who love good beer and comfortable atmospheres.
Is Draught House a cool bar? I don’t know, and I don’t care. More importantly, I hope the people running Draught House don’t care either.
Simply Good Beer
You don’t buy bad fish. You don’t fly in bad airplanes or try on bad clothes, so why drink bad beer? It’s a simple thing, and we live in a wonderful time for craft beer and the breweries that support them.
The main thing that keeps me coming back to Draught House is the wide selection of craft beer on tap. There are dozens on dozens of beers to choose from. As an avid craft beer fan, I am always surprised to find a beer I’ve never had waiting for me at Draught House. Recently, they installed large LED screens above the bar, breaking down each beer on the menu.
It’s a simple thing, but those are what matter. You begin realizing this when you graduate and leave the stumbling horde on Sixth behind.
The architecture and design of Draught House seems like something you would sprinkle Sno-Caps on and eat during Christmas. Its old-world feel gives it a lot of charm. Traditionally, pubs have been venues for community engagement and revelry. Barefoot children ran across the sawdusted floors while adults of the town laughed and talked. The local pub had a secure place in the Western community. Today, in Austin, pubs are largely places where people get hammered and make bad choices. The Internet takes care of the rest.
Not so at the Draught House. It feels like a comfortable gathering point for the North Austin community. I arrive on a Friday night and see old friends clap each other on the back. They grab beers and sit at a round wooden table. The sounds of happy Austinites fill the room and spill into the large outdoor area. This place is a common ground. It is straightforward and brings the city together. Draught House Pub and Brewery is old school.
No. It’s olde school.
I am not saying that Draught House is a stuffy place filled with tweed suits. That isn’t the case at all. Spend a night drinking with some friends here, and you’re likely to make friends with a group across the aisle from you. This sense of easygoing inclusion sets this bar apart from its competition. You can spark up a conversation with somebody you’ve never met like it’s nothing. To me, that’s much more enjoyable than screaming over Jay-Z in a here-today-gone-tomorrow club downtown.
Draught House is located at 4112 Medical Pkwy.
Have you had the pleasure of visiting Draught House? Are there any other pubs in town that you’d recommend?
Photos courtesy of Paul Navaez.