The first rule about Bull Creek Brewing is that you don’t talk about Bull Creek Brewing.
I joke with y’all not. We came across Liberty Hill’s best kept secret while beer-scouting on our way to see the Marble Falls Christmas Lights. Not a peep nor a whisper had we heard about this Hill Country gem on our ATX beer travels, and when we arrived, we discovered why.
After a very warm welcome, during which we were identified as both Londoners and Austinites, we were told ‘Shhh – don’t mention us down there, they don’t know about us!’ and indeed they do not. Even their community membership scheme is named the Secret Sippers, with the emphasis on the secret. Now, I don’t feel guilty about letting the cat out of the proverbial bag as I doubt enough folks will be reading this to carve a dent in the landscape as they storm up north in search of this rather fabulous taproom, but if you do go on my recommendation, don’t tell them. Or anyone else.
Just 14 miles west of Georgetown, Liberty Hill is quite a different animal to its touristy, college-town neighbour, much smaller but no less pretty or friendly. We were advised that it isn’t especially safe in some areas after dark, but on a brisk but bright Sunday afternoon in November, Liberty Hill seemed quaint and peaceful. Bull Creek Brewing lies nestled in the hillside, away from major highways and is accessed via some beautiful country roads giving it a proper rural feel, much like Vista or 5 Stones. On arrival, we were immediately impressed by the lovely wooden outdoor furniture, lovingly fashioned from old wheels and barrels, which unfortunately it was a little too chilly to fully enjoy! We were greeted most enthusiastically in a cosy polished-wood tap room that had also been designed with great care – a glass counter paved with pennies, local art work on display and taps with the names of the core range beers carved into them. This was, indeed, a serious operation. With 12 taps, including four core range, there was also plenty of beer to choose from. Bull Creek specialise in Stouts and Porters, with half the beers on offer being one or the other. Their flagship Iron Balls imperial Stout was a hugely impressive beast – big, roasty, smooth and savoury, and terrifyingly moreish at over 9%! Both the Salted Caramel Porter and Coconut Stout (Fuzzy Balls) were sweet without being cloying, and the Champs Saison was a nicely full farmhouse-style beer that was more soft than sour. My other favourite was the Tommy Raj English IPA. We were told that they had taken inspiration from Fuller’s and indeed I was delighted to find an authentic taste of home out in the Texas countryside. Of course, ours rarely clock in at over 7%, but that’s the added local touch.
As with Austin’s Blue Owl and Houston’s Back Pew, Bull Creek’s tasting room operates on a token system where you pay for a glass five pours of a certain size which you can use on separate visits. We opted for the rather lovely engraved 12oz (although stuck with 7oz pours to ensure a modicum of sobriety!) with the full intention of having a couple and returning on another occasion, but we were just having too much fun to leave, so whiled away the afternoon chatting with staff and locals and quaffing some rather fine beers. Bull Creek is a great example of a proper Texas community pub, supporting local artists, musicians and food vendors and providing a hub for regulars to meet and hang out, as well as exuding traditional Texas hospitality to visitors like us. Their taproom is open from noon to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays, with special events posted on their Facebook page.
If you go out to Bull Creek, you may not want to leave. But please, please – don’t tell anyone!