November 2017 – November 2018, 9th and 10th anniversary parties
It didn’t take long after arriving in ATX to spot the popularity of (512) Brewing. Proudly bearing the Austin dialling code, (512) are among Austin’s original craft breweries, now a mighty decade old, and have a certain elder-statesman status rightly upon them. Their flagship IPA and Pecan Porter are among the easiest craft brews to get hold of in town and their popularity is well-deserved. The (512) IPA is one of those beers that’s deceptively simple, you don’t quite grasp how brilliant it is at first because you’re so busy drinking it, and it’s certainly on my list of top IPAs in the city.
Back in Autumn 2017, (512) didn’t open their South Austin taproom to the public except on special occasions, so we were very excited for their ninth birthday party which took place just a few weeks after our arrival (enough time for me to become a huge fan already!). This was one of the first brewery parties we attended and it set the bar incredibly high – superbly organised with four separate bars offering a huge range of specials, rarities and core range, some with rotating taps. I was absolutely delighted to be trying beautiful, creative beers like the knock-your-socks-off-spicy Thai Pantry IPA, the lusciously rich Cabernet Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout and the super-fusion Lambicus IPA, all for an absolute snip at $20 for ten 5oz pours. (512) have an ample event space, setting up bars and seating inside and between their brewery buildings, and queues were short, even for the very popular beers. It’s an incredibly friendly party and every time we stood or sat somewhere we got chatting with our neighbours, with everyone swaying along to the live bands who played throughout the day. At about 6.30pm, they haul a huge pumpkin into the air on a winch and drop it, a custom we’d not previously encountered but enjoyed watching, and festivities wrapped up at a civilised 8pm. Having started at midday, the party gave everyone time and space to hang out, rather than having to cram all our beers into a shorter stint, and availability was never an issue which came as a welcome surprise to us coming fresh from London!
We did, in fact, have so much fun that we couldn’t wait for this year’s event and were quick to pick up tickets in eager anticipation. T’was another sunny November day and (512) was looking resplendent with shiny new seating to accommodate their new Saturday opening hours, stylish party signage and a lovely new stage surrounded artistically by bourbon barrels. This year it was all about the whiskey barrels, and I was super-psyched to get my mitts on three different version of their classic Whiskey Barrel-Aged Pecan Porter (known affectionately as WBAPP), including a pumpkin version, this year’s, and best of all one served straight from the barrel that was absolute velvety heaven. I’m also completely all over their brilliant Wild Bear Dark Sour, full of cherry, fig and sherry goodness. There was some top-notch live music, including Austin brass band Boss Street rockin’ the house. Despite significant competition on what was a busy day in the Austin craft beer calendar, it was happily busy and once again super-friendly. These are classy beers, from the classic to the innovative, and I’m really glad (512) are opening on Saturdays so that more folks can visit, I certainly intend to be back again soon.