November 2017-May 2018, Updated January 2019
We’ve visited Austin’s other brewery co-op, 4th Tap, a couple of times since arriving in ATX. Part of the North Austin beer circuit, 4th Tap has been going since 2015 and has produced close to 100 beers in that time according to Untappd, which is nothing to sneeze at. The taproom offers 10 taps, covering core and rotating seasonals and flights are served in five 5oz pours. Their website indicates that flights comprise of three core beers and two seasonal choices, but this must be a new innovation as on both our visits we selected five beers of our choice, all of which came with lovely laminated tasting note cards – more breweries should do this!
We had some high quality beers on both visits – the double-espresso brilliance of the Lawgiver Russian Imperial Stout and Highland Scoundrel Scotch Ale with its hint of toasted marshmallow were the highlights of our first flight, although the Renewal Tamarind Pale was also very interesting. On our second visit, the gently raspberried Bat Country Stout and juicy Kung Fu Robot IPA were both great too. That said, not all their experiments were as successful – the Buried Head pumpkin beer was disappointingly watery. Still, with a strong oeuvre of beers, I would expect to be more enthused about 4th Tap than I’m able to be, and I think that may be because of their taproom which we found to be both literally and metaphorically rather on the cold side.
Located right on Metric Boulevard, 4th Tap has very limited unshaded outdoor seating and is rather dark and air-conditioned inside, which isn’t ideal in standard ATX weather as your options are either freezing or roasting. Setting this aside, we didn’t find 4th Tap to be a particularly chatty place, unlike a lot of ATX breweries, and the vibe felt more reserved than forthcoming. We’ve not attended any events or parties at 4th Tap, although they do hold regular community events, and have only visited during the day, so maybe it’s time to change that up a little.
Watch this space – if we have an epiphany you’ll be the first to know.
Update: January 2019
After returning to Austin and relocating to Hyde Park, once the boxes were unpacked a swift gander round the breweries of North Austin was an obvious next step. As 4th Tap was one of our least travelled spots, we were sure to make time for a flight, which was fortunate as we’d forgotten quite how substantial their flights are – five 6oz pours, no less! This does set you back a rather hefty $15, but you can’t say you’re not getting your money’s worth. The voluminous selection of board games shelved by the entrance ensured that we had plenty to occupy us as we worked through all the beers, and although there was no live music during our visit, the dinky little stage is one we’ll be watching for future events.
On the beer front, we tried all four of the new seasonals on offer (rounding off the flight with the ever-excellent Kung Fu Robot IPA), including a cask variant on the Bat Country Stout – the Cask Collective #45 Batch, which is coffee-less and aged in whisky barrels, a combination that makes it rather sweeter than the original – not my preferred version but always good to get a cask beer over here! The Brut of All Evil IPA was dry and crisp, but the lingering bitterness in the finish spoiled the champagne effect for me – an issue that seems to affect quite a few Brut IPAs. The Beyond Thunderbolt Cherry Sour was a completely different matter – bright, zingy and super-puckering, this was a winner, the crisp, fresh cherry ensuring that JB and I had a bit of a tug of war over it! The rather spectacular Supernaught Imperial Stout is a reason to hit up 4th Tap all by itself – a dreamy, creamy Imperial Stout that honestly puts this year’s KCBC to shame. Not a trace of 12% about it at all, just a beautiful, velvety texture, and luscious, lightly sweet, deep flavour that I could probably have drunk a pint of. May have to go back. If you’re in Austin, head up north and grab some while the going is good.
Also a massive thumbs up to 4th Tap for their support for Austin Pets Alive, my favourite local charity and all round good folks. If you make it to 4th Tap do check out APA’s awesomely bargainous thrift store on Burnet Road (or indeed their equally fab branch on W Oltorf)!
The taproom is open seven days a week, hours are day-dependent, and 4th Tap beers are available in cans around the city.