Guest article by James Lipari
A short day trip to Texas Hill Country is always a good idea, and one of my absolute favorite destinations is Vista Brewing. The big, rolling property is perfect for a family outing. Here’s why.
Thank you to Vista Brewing for allowing me to try their beers at no cost for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.
The Perfect Day Trip
At Vista Brewing, the kiddos and doggos get a great place to play, and the mommies and daddies get to drink some truly great beers (more on that later). Everyone wins.
You can take a tour of the brew house and get a quick glimpse into how beer is made. You can also take a farm tour and learn farm things (in my defense for lack of better phrasing here, I did learn things about a farm on a farm, and that makes “farm things” a thing).
There’s also a grill making scratch-made recipes, some of which use ingredients grown right on the farm. Talk about “farm to table,” where your table is actually on the farm, so those dots are super easy to connect.
Winter Bottle Releases
One very important thing to know about Vista is its beers are completely on point. Master/Barrel Master Pat Korn brings 25 years of brewing and barreling experience, including a long-term stint at San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company.
Below are the amazing beers that he, along with owners Karen and Kent Killough, are offering this season:
- Lambic-style ale
- Notes of Italian plum
- 6.8% ABV
There simply aren’t, in my opinion, enough local breweries making this style of beer.
The brewery mentions “Brett notes” in this beer’s description online. Brett is short for brettanomyces, which is a type of wild yeast whose flavor contributions can range from fruity to horse blanket funky, depending on age. This one doesn’t taste like kissing a horse’s butt, which is usually best.
Lambic is a Belgian style of beer that involves a unique brewing process and barrel aging that utilizes wild yeast and bacteria. Bacteria? Ew, that sounds gross. But certain bacteria impart pretty great flavors. Have a favorite Greek yogurt? Okay. Then you like bacteria, and good on ya.
Why are Lambics so rare? Because they’re very time-consuming (most Lambics are aged for at least one year); time is money; and a good barrel program takes up a good bit of real estate in the brew house (square footage is money). But when all these considerations are foregone, a superior liquid can emerge from all of that effort. Grato doesn’t disappoint.
Case in point, I gave a bottle of this to my sister who “really doesn’t drink beer” and she loved it. There truly is a beer for everyone, and if you’re a wine drinker like she is, then you may find a beer you love in this one.
2/ Golden Grove
- Texas wild ale
- Notes of blood orange and tangerine
- 8.0% ABV
When higher ABV is met with a smooth, wonderfully delicious flavor, you go ahead and mark it as “dangerous.” While this isn’t a beer to be afraid of, just know you should pop this bottle while you’re raking leaves and maybe not while you’re operating a lawnmower.
If you love a wild beer, then you definitely want to try this one. Perhaps it’s best to wait until that yard work is done, start a fire in the fireplace, and sip on some of its goodness.
3/ Desert Skies
- Sotol-aged black pilsner collaboration with Desert Door and The Fairmont
- Notes of cocoa and vanilla
- 7.5% ABV
This is THE FIRST SOTOL BARREL AGED BEER. To be the first in anything in the wildly experimental field of craft beer is nothing short of impressive.
If you’re not familiar with sotol, you can learn more in our article about Desert Door. In a nutshell, it’s a plant similar to agave (from which tequila is made) that’s indigenous to West Texas.
With Vista being neighbors with nearby distilleries and wineries, it can get its barrels while they’re still wet, and not the ones that have been sitting out in the sun turning into cool things to put plants in. As you might expect, this makes a difference for the flavors that develop in said barrels.
- Imperial stout
- Notes of Mexican hot chocolate and spices
- 8.2% ABV
This brew was named after Lorenzo de Zavala, the first Vice President of Texas, who dedicated his life to democracy and fighting oppression.
Drinking a tribute to a historical figure is great. But really, you had me at Mexican hot chocolate. You’re a Texan, so I don’t have to expound on the supreme deliciousness of a proper hot chocolate. Now, combine those exquisite flavors with a beer? Come on, I’m definitely in!
This beer pours with a decadent dark opaque goodness, and pairs well with chicken mole, good conversation, and a righteous fire pit.
Bonus Release at Vista Brewing
Hye & Wild
- 100% spontaneous farmhouse ale
- Barrel Club exclusive release
- Collaboration with William Chris Vineyards
This is the first spontaneous ale made at Vista. Spontaneous ales involve an age-old process of extracting wild yeast and bacteria from the air, all of which are specific to that area giving a sense of terroir. (Note: Terroir is a French term commonly found in wine descriptions that takes into account the climate, soil, and other environmental considerations that make its products unique to their geographical location. Wild yeast is exactly that, wild, even to the point of being unpredictable).
The key takeaway is that making spontaneously fermented beverages is difficult, and wild things do what wild things do. Sometimes it’s terrible. But thankfully, this beer is the exact opposite. I seriously could not get enough of this one. Hye & Wild is only available if you’re a member of the barrel club.
Vista Brewing is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m., making it a great little getaway. The team takes bookings for private events from Monday through Wednesday. Book yours here.
13551 FM 150, Driftwood, Texas – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you been to Vista Brewing yet?
James Lipari is a Certified Cicerone®, an avid homebrewer, and lover of all things beer. You can find him in brewery taprooms and beer bars around Austin, and across the country.