Sour, hoppy, stout, bright, malty—times have changed since the dark ages of beer, when skunky and flat were the single tasting notes for the cheap varieties we happily swirled. Thankfully, Austin’s bar owners and brewers have simultaneously come of age. While good local beers are available at Austin's best dive bars and pubs (and even a few hotel bars), we’ve found the craft beer bar heavy hitters committed to impressive, always-changing tap lists serving suds from Austin and beyond. Cheers to the much-improved beer boom!
Best craft beer bars in Austin
For 50 years, Draught House has been the neighborhood watering hole for folks in the Rosedale and Hyde Park neighborhoods. In a city that is changing every day, this bar is untouched and looks like an old world English pub; the dark interior walls and heavy wooden furniture lend a medieval vibe, but the thoughtful and modern beer selection here is second to none. They offer 74 draught beers with a regional and local emphasis, including a handful of beers created by Draught House’s brewers. Pro tip: Arrive early if you want a table in the beer garden or bring a lawn chair and sit with the regulars who aren’t, refreshingly, too trendy. Oh yeah, and there are free bratwursts (until they run out) every Saturday at 5pm!
Hopfields is a bit of a hidden gem; the only reasonable explanation is that the nearby student population is stretching their dollars at the many kebab and burrito eateries. The beer wall at Hopfields is eclectic and faithful to the craft industry (read: no Bud or Miller products), and the kegs rotate almost every day. Thanks to Maya Shabi, Hopfield’s general manager and beer curator, you’re guaranteed to find a broad range of beers like Jolly Pumpkin, Prairie Artisan Ales and Jester King, along with imports such as Brouwerij Alvinne, Brasserie DuPont, Brauerei Fruh and Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf. At Hopfield’s—even with that five-dollar-a-pint local IPA—you can also find wild saisons and special release kegs, like Avery Mephistopholes or the Real Ale Mysterium Verum. It’s an added bonus that the casual French fare here is excellent and their burger consistently tops “Best of” lists. Check out the current tap list and food menu.
At Pinthouse Pizza, it’s common to see rows of communal seating packed with an equal number of college students, families and bearded 30-somethings enjoying beer created by Pinthouse’s brewers along with their pizza. The brewers here are superbly talented at making interesting, drinkable styles while also selecting complementary brews from the likes of Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker and other well-known breweries. Whether you’re drinking Pinthouse’s award-winning Fully Adrift Double IPA, the session-able Calma Muerta or one of the many expertly-curated guest taps, consider yourself in good hands. See the live tap feed here.
East Austin’s Wright Bros. Brew & Brew combines the best of two worlds—coffee and beer—in industrial digs open from 8am to 10pm. In addition to a full espresso bar, they have 38 taps of craft beer (with a focus on local breweries) which are displayed on handwritten chalkboard panels organized into a matrix to help you choose: less hoppy, more hoppy, lighter, darker. Limited runs and seasonal brews from local favorites Austin Beerworks, Jester King, Hops & Grain and Real Ale are served alongside Avery, Oskar Blues, Odell and more.
Banger’s has a lot of beer on tap (104 to be exact!) and another 50 in bottles and cans. But you won’t find Bud or Miller here, just a solid selection of craft beers from Austin and beyond with plenty of sours, IPAs, pale ales and witbiers—aka beers perfect for day drinking at Banger’s relaxed outdoor (and indoor) beer garden on Rainey Street. Overwhelmed by the options? Ask your server to recommend a flight. Check out their current tap list here.
Open since 1986, Whip In is one of Austin’s unique institutions—a former convenience store transformed into a craft beer bar which sells bombers and cans from all over the country, plus a killer wine selection, live music and South Asian/Indian comfort food. With over 70 taps, it’s easy to spend an afternoon here sampling brews while chatting with their informed staff. Pop in for special tappings like (512) Brewing Company’s 2016 Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter and Cabernet Barrel Aged Belgian Tripel as well as limited release large format beers from Prairie Artisan Ales and Austin’s own Jester King.
By serving Texas-only craft breweries, Craft Pride showcases the many styles we do well in the Lone Star State. You’ll find 53 drafts and two beer engines from the likes of Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Friends & Allies, Southern Star Brewing Company and many others. In true Texas fashion, the interior of the bar is made of wood from floor to ceiling, and Via 313 serves their famous Detroit-style pizza on the back patio.
Easy Tiger is the stuff Sunday Fundays are made of—ping pong tables, a bake shop that is open until 2am, rare whiskeys and an impressive beer selection overseen by master sommelier Craig Collins. The permanent taps offer a mix of unique and tried-and-true craft beer from all over the country, like Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA and Blue Owl Spirit Animal sour pale ale. Those who are truly committed to craft consumption can join Easy Tiger’s Mug Club, a rewards program in which members earn points that are redeemable for beers from the bar’s Reserve Beer list. Check out Easy Tiger’s happy hour specials here.
Established in 2015, Waller Creek Pub House is known for its ever-changing selection of craft draft beer, elevated pub fare and friendly neighborhood vibe. Nestled off Sabine and Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Waller Creek Pub House has 30 draft handles that regularly rotate to feature craft beers from coast-to-coast, including small-batch and limited edition brews. Waller Creek also partners with craft breweries from near and far for launch parties and exclusive tasting events on a regular basis. Waller Creek Pub House’s craft beer selection is curated by owner and cicerone certified beer server, Justin Malone. Guests can view the pub’s most updated draft list here.
In a city that loves to support independently-owned businesses, the word “chain” can be a dirty word. But it’s hard not to be in awe of national chain Yard House’s vast craft beer selection, despite now being owned by the same hospitality group as Olive Garden. Located in the Domain North, Yard House has a rotating chalkboard series with seasonal and limited picks, plus over 100 beers from breweries like 4th Tap, North Coast, Odell, Ballast Point and more.