Welcome to East Austin,
the real Flavortown
Words by Ben Haguewood Photos by Ashley Haguewood
East Austinites are willing to take a chance: on turning an old car repair garage into a neighborhood brewpub, on bringing a lesser-known beer style to open-minded drinkers, on reviving and introducing a distinct style of cider. Each beverage maker chose East Austin for a different reason, but all of them bring a distinctive new flavor to this side of town.
East Austin cidery reviving the original pre-prohibition drink of America for the neighborhood and beyond.
Eastciders is growing up and bringing along friends and neighbors. Austinites familiar with the beverage case at their local grocery or convenience store have no doubt seen the cider maker’s canned Original Dry and Honey ciders in gleaming 16 oz. 4-packs. At nearly three years in their original production facility, the company has welcomed new neighbors to the commercial space on Springdale, including a climbing gym and soon another brewery. The total production staff has grown to nearly 50, and founders Ed Gibson and Mark King are bringing up staff within the company, handing over operations and fermenting to company team members who started from the bottom.
Austin Eastcider’s cider isn’t your average beerophobe’s diabetes threat. Eastciders uses high quality, bittersweet and bittersharp apples, fermented with wine yeast for a dry, crisp bite with just enough natural sweetness to go down smooth. It won’t make you pucker, but it won’t make your teeth hurt either. The packaged offerings now include a hopped cider and a pineapple cider, and the production room walls are stacked with barrel-aged cider for special offerings. Their tasting room is set to open later in 2016, along with another east Austin production facility, so it’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing them around, and you’ll want to get to know them.
Native Knowledge: Keep an eye out for some special limited release barrel aged ciders using Treaty Oak, Dolce Vida and Woodford Reserve barrels.
979 Springdale Rd.
Quality craft beer is closer than you think.
The brewers and co-owners of Zilker Brewing Company know good American beer towns. Brothers Forrest and Patrick Clark and UT classmate Marco Rodriguez traveled to many of the craft beer meccas throughout the West and the Pacific Northwest during breaks from their day jobs as they formed their business plan and plotted their escape. Throughout their travels, they tasted impeccable pales, stouts, lagers, and more but were drawn to the small pubs that served their own neighborhoods. Austin has a growing reputation as a craft beer destination, but the guys at Zilker ultimately wanted to be a mainstay in their favorite neighborhood, and they bring a strong sense of both craft and place to their East 6th location.
Beer brewers–like beer drinkers–can get bored. “Our tastes change too, and our beer is a reflection of our experience and what we want to drink,” said Rodriguez. The brewers at Zilker bring a curiosity and imagination to their beers that surprises even the most restless craft beer drinker. While Zilker can turn out a consistent, satisfying Pale Ale, IPA, or Blonde (available in cans all around town), they also like to experiment with unorthodox combinations of grain, hops, and yeast, yielding a fulfilling take on classics and introducing uncommon beers like their Tafelbier–a light Belgian session ale for summer.
The converted auto shop, across the street from the original owner, is an ideal spot to pull up to the bar for a sampler and a dose of brewing knowledge or just stop by on the way home for a beer. “Really, we just want to be good neighbors.”
Native Knowledge: Follow @ZilkerBeer on Twitter for announcements on neighborhood block parties with local restaurants and food trucks.
1701 E. 6th St.
Hooo Knows Souer Beer?
Blue Owl Brewing Company
Serving up tart, refreshing takes on classic beer styles.
Blue Owl Brewing Company’s beer is in many ways a biography in a can. Owners Susan Shaffer and Jeff Young met going through a tour of another Austin brewery before setting out to find their own, and Blue Owl is a reflection of not only their taste but also their life experiences and cultural influences. The playful staff-designed logos and tasting room are filled with references to their personal backgrounds, favorite artists, and even favorite television show, Twin Peaks. The Blue Owl logo adorns not only the East Cesar Chavez building where they produce and serve their product but also Jeff’s arm.
Under the watchful eye of the Spirit Animal, Blue Owl brews sour-mashed beers for on-site consumption, retail sale in cans, and draught taps all around town. Drawing on his background as a chemist, Young created the Sour Unit (SU) to denote each beer’s acidity–akin to the IBU bitterness rating for hop intensity–which helps ease in those for whom sour beers are a new style. East Austin’s reputation as an adventurous eater and drinker’s neighborhood helped make the decision of where to open up a lot easier, and whether you’re a committed hop-head or have a cellar of pungent barrel-aged sours, this piquant brew will be a fresh experience.
You may think you know sour beer but think again; the beers are not what they seem.
Native Knowledge: The $15 tasting fee gets visitors a generous four full-sized beers.
2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. #300