After reading an inspiring article in the Austin Chronicle, we were very keen to get on the road and experience the beery delights that Boerne, Texas has to offer. Boerne is a cute smallish Hill Country town of prominent German heritage just 30 miles or so north-west of San Antonio. Though comparisons to architecturally similar Fredricksburg are inevitable, Boerne (pronounced Bernie) is happily minus the busloads of wine and heritage tourists, although it is certainly comfortably bustling. Situated along the pretty banks of Cibola Creek, Boerne manages to be both charmingly rustic and a little hip, with the obligatory array of vintage stores nestled between coffee shops, bars and an impressive total of three craft breweries.
Sadly, Boerne Brewing Co was closed on the lovely bright Sunday afternoon we chose to visit, but we more than made do with trips to the Dodging Duck Brewhaus, Cibolo Creek Brewing and Random Beer Garden, all of which get a big thumbs up.
The Dodging Duck Brewhaus
Across the road from the creek, the Dodging Duck offers the ultimate Texas-German fusion experience, with a super-eclectic food menu and beers brewed in-house. We were sold as soon as we saw the exotic meats on the menu (including bison, quail and axis), and were lucky enough to get a table in the sun at the front of the traditional-style beer garden. Beers come in flights of four, an absolute snip at just $7, although there are only six to choose from at any one time the turnover seems to be pretty high – we just missed out on some very exciting-sounding coconut porter! Our flight included a smooth, dark-malt Alright, Alright DIPA which went down very easily indeed and a light, roasty Sir Francis Drake Porter.
I was, as ever, delighted to find a cask beer available, and even more so when I tasted the Guava IPA that was so sweet, fresh and moreish it was very hard to resist the temptation to order a whole pint! The Pilsner we had was nice but bore more resemblance to a Pale Ale – it still disappeared very quickly, mind. Our burgers (we both went with the axis) were gorgeous, juicy and cooked perfectly to order, and I can’t recommend the Bavarian potato salad enough. We were even treated to live folk music from the purpose-built outdoor stage. The Dodging Duck successfully runs the gamut between Olde Worlde and up-to-date, offering tourist-friendly charm without compromising on quality. Nicely done.
Cibolo Creek Brewing Co
After a gentle stroll along the creek and a peek into one or two antique shops, we made our way to the Cibolo Creek taproom, just a few minutes around the corner on Main Street. If the Dodging Duck is Boerne’s tourist-friendly taproom, then Cibolo is its hipster hangout, a trendy dark-wood, clean-lined space that could have been transported straight from Austin. Cibolo Creek have eight taps, including a guest beer and cider, and $13 will get you a flight of five of their own beers. We took ours out to the busy backyard beer garden to enjoy a rather excellent country-folk duo playing on their cosy, shaded stage.
This was another high quality flight, with Cibolo Creek showing off an impressive core range. The Creekside IPA was superb – smooth West Coast-style hops that had a really classic, go-to quality. The Boerne Blonde was a bit of a revelation as I’m not known for my appreciation of Blondes in general. However, the full honey-hop flavour and light, quaffable texture combined to win me over. While the Three Sisters Stout didn’t really do it for me (an odd aniseed quality), I enjoyed the slightly murky, golden Thesis Amber, and was really glad we got to try the seasonal Be My Valentine Strawberry Milk Stout – it really was like a beery strawberry milkshake! Cibolo Creek also serve food, and like the Dodging Duck, lots of folks were settling in for a comfy afternoon of beer, brunch and music. We’d have been happy to do the same, but the sun was starting to go down, and we didn’t want to miss our final stop.
Random Beer Garden
Situated just outside the centre of Boerne, down a quiet country road, Random Beer Garden is one of those fantastic Texas surprises that make me love this state more than any other. Where else would you find a super-cool, ultra-hip, family-friendly, craft-beer-specialising live music venue with a giant monster-bounce (trampoline to you and me) in kind-of the middle of nowhere? And there are horses. Actual horses.
If you’re not sold already, I’m happy to inform you that Random have a crackin’ beer selection from Texas and beyond. We just had time to sit out and watch the sun set over a fabulous Ommegang Game of Thrones King Of The North Imperial Stout (if only the TV show was this good!) and Community Funnel Cake Ale (JB’s, not mine. Ahem). And if only the children had vacated the monster bounce I could have had a good old jump around! Random is both super-local and super-friendly, we were made incredibly welcome and loved the relaxed-but-jolly atmosphere where families were eating, drinking and hanging out, armed with a beer selection to rival most trendy city haunts. Staff were ever so helpful, allowing us to sample beers and order half-pours, and exuding that famous Texas hospitality. Can’t recommend this place highly enough, and am already looking forward to a return visit!