If the Austin food and drink scene was a farm, and every business type was an animal, then craft beer would be a flock of rabbits. Every month, a new brewery opens its doors to a population thirsty for hops, malt, and yeasty goodness. Grabbing a foothold in this crowded pen can be a challenge. But for the brothers Ziebarth of Oddwood Ales, an underground cult following has grown into a brewpub with big dreams.
With approachable beer, tantalizing food, and a warm, cozy exterior, this brand new east Austin hangout is exactly what the neighborhood ordered.
My first visit to Oddwood Ales was compliments of the brewery. All opinions are my own.
Taylor Ziebarth was head brewer at Adelbert’s when he began formulating the flavor concept of Oddwood Ales. Using Adelbert’s equipment under its brewer development program, Ziebarth began crafting one-off sour ales, exclusively aged in oak wine barrels. Ever been to the Adelbert’s taproom and seen the barrel wall? Many of those were Ziebarth’s creations. These rarities quickly earned a cult following in the Austin beer scene.
But after two years of producing micro batch beers and distributing through Adelbert’s, Ziebarth got the itch to strike out on his own. He reached out to his brother Brett Ziebarth, pooled some money, and–with financial and moral support from family–the two began the process of building the brewpub of their dreams.
New Brewpub Built by Old Friends
Fast forward a few years and Oddwood Ales has become a reality. With Taylor Ziebarth handling the hops out back, Brett Ziebarth takes care of the front of house. But building a simple brewery in a warehouse wasn’t enough for the duo. They wanted something more:
“We were looking to make a brewpub from the beginning, so we wanted something with a smaller, more intimate feel,” shared Brett Ziebarth. “When we found this space, it was a really funky layout. We couldn’t visualize it because they used to be offices. But it had a cool, east Austin vibe we fell in love with.”
The venue has an elegant yet rustic feel, reminiscent of an unpretentious mountain lodge. Deep, rich wood dominates the space, while high top bar tables dot the center of the main bar area. Traditional seating frames the perimeter, well suited to larger parties.
Farther back, there’s a more secluded dining section, while a ’90s-themed game room shoots off the main bar. Equipped with a foosball table, Pac-Man and an old Nintendo 64 playing Mario Kart, the game room is fun for both kids and adults.
Oddwood Ales’ World-class Beer
But what about the beer? Much to the surprise of Oddwood’s longtime fans, Taylor Ziebarth has chosen to start with more accessible styles. After trying several of the brews, I found the unifying characteristic was a remarkable smoothness on the back end. Flavors of seemingly simple lagers and ales all have a harmonious balance that’s complex, yet accessible.
The first beer I tried was the First Day of School pale ale. Both this and the Wolf Shirt Pale have a beautiful body, reminiscent of double IPAs. On the IPA, this depth provides a meaty backbone to the dry, almost piney up-front hop flavor.
The Shady Knoll IPA bursts from the glass with a bright, resiny nose and dank hop bite throughout, while the Atonal Saison blooms with banana and pineapple accented by a mild tartness.
But by the time you read this article, all the above may be gone. Oddwood prides itself on small batch beers that regularly rotate in and out. That’s not to say crowd pleasers like the First Day of School won’t be making regular appearances (don’t fret; it will). But the wall is ever-changing.
This constantly moving tap list will allow Oddwood to spread its wings and create the crazy one-offs fans have come to crave. After listening to Taylor Ziebarth excitedly talk about blending sours, custom-made yeast strains, and other craft beer geekery, it’s clear amazing experiments are on the horizon.
Neighborhood Hangout Fueled by Family
Food is also a major component of the Oddwood taproom. Run by a relocated New Jerseyian, the menu offers a variety of gourmet bruschetta, strombolis, and pizza. While I can’t speak to the stromboli, as a fellow expatriate of the Garden State, pizza is another matter.
During my second visit, I tried standard pepperoni and the aptly-named “Jersey Thing.” The result was exactly how I like it: thin and foldable, with a tasty balance of sweet sauce, mellow cheese, and rich meat. My favorite touch is a toasty cheese-to-the-edge crust. Congrats, Oddwood. Your pie can hang with the best in my home town!
But it all would’ve been impossible without the help of the people the Ziebarth brothers love.
“In the end, this whole thing has been an accumulation of different family members coming together and building it,” shared Taylor Ziebarth. “It’s the core of who we are. It’s the atmosphere we try to bring to this neighborhood. A real cozy, nice little beer spot that we think makes great beer.”
It’s no wonder that when you walk in, take a seat, and grab a beer, you feel like family. With excellent, approachable beer served in a welcoming environment, Oddwood Ales is a credit to the neighborhood it serves. The next time you’re thirsty, elbow past the other rabbits and give these folks a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Oddwood Ales is located at 3108 Manor Road. For tap list, menu, and social media, visit oddwoodales.com.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your favorite Oddwood Ales brew?
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