As I might have mentioned once or twice before (ahem), the lush rolling hills of Dripping Springs are no longer solely the preserve of our wine-making friends. Breweries and distilleries are popping up all over the scenic byways surrounding the slightly sprawling ATX suburb, which is becoming a veritable hotbed of high quality alcohol production, and indeed consumption.
12 Fox is the latest craft brewery taproom to open in the area, and at the time of writing is just shy of eight weeks old. Despite keeping (or trying to keep) my finger on the local beer pulse, we didn’t hear about 12 Fox until our recent visit to their neighbours at Last Stand, and of course we journeyed out to investigate at the first available opportunity. With excellent signage in both directions, locating 12 Fox didn’t involve the usual Hill Country confused-GPS-needle-in-a-haystack drama, and clearly we were not the only folks to benefit from their diligence as we arrived to find the taproom happily buzzing.
And what a taproom! Like many of the newer out-of-town breweries, 12 Fox have created a space that’s welcoming, family-friendly, and pleasingly rustic – working the aesthetic of the surrounding countryside into the space to create somewhere that feels like a home from home. There’s a children’s playground, delicate flowerbeds, a small stage and neat covered deck, as well as shaded picnic tables among the trees. The effect is just superb. We were warmly greeted by co-founder and head brewer Aaron who gave us a quick run-down on the brewery’s origins and direction. Having met co-founder Joe during their time serving as combat engineers in the army, they decided to name the brewery after their military occupational service code – the cute, furry-tailed animals in question are just an added bonus. Serving two years in Germany gave Aaron and Joe the opportunity to sample a wide range of European beers, Belgian Trappist styles, German Wheat Beers and Lagers and French Saisons, that weren’t easily available in the US at the time and changed their tastes and palates as well as their approach to brewing and drinking beer. Fast forward to now and the 12 Fox beer menu reflects these influences, European styles with an American touch, including the use of single-source malt from Oregon. We tried all five of the 12 Fox beers on tap during our visit and were impressed with the stylistic care taken, the quality and drinkability across the board. My favourite was the Bettie Belgian Dubbel, not the easiest of styles to get right but this was superbly balanced with just the right banoffee-pie sweetness to make it moreish rather than cloying while smoothly wearing its 8.14%. I also really enjoyed the rich, malty Negro Sombrero Vienna Lager and the honeyed Julie Belgian Tripel.
Because Aaron is currently brewing with a single barrel system, beer turnover at 12 Fox is high, providing an excellent beer-nerd incentive for regular visits – get it before it’s gone! As if that wasn’t enough, there are two food trucks (waffles and tacos) on site and enormous, mouthwatering charcuterie boards available, and a bakery is also in the works. We were also lucky enough to catch a rather brilliant folk trio performing – what a treat. I should also mention guest taps from awesome ATX brewery Lazarus, whose beers rarely appear outside their own taproom, as well as a lovely cider from Hye and an absolutely killer Raspberry Mead from Rohan Meadery – it really was very difficult to leave! Locally, word has clearly gotten around, so if you want to beat the crowds from Austin whom I’m sure will follow, I’d get down to 12 Fox post-haste – a new Dripping Springs don’t-miss!