A craft brewery taproom opening in downtown Austin, on the west side of the highway, no less, is obviously big news in our fair city. As a regular visitor to the likes of Easy Tiger and the Waller Creek Pub, both of which are usually heaving, it’s not news to me that in amongst the free shots and the Bud Lites of Dirty Sixth, there’s a hefty demand for good quality beer downtown, and both locals and tourists will benefit from the arrival of Central District. The bar opened to the public approximately two months ago, with their official grand opening featuring the unveiling of their very own brews a mere three weeks hence. We may have missed the big event, but were sure to get down to their extremely swanky taproom at the first available opportunity, and my goodness, this is a beautifully designed space. Running with a hanging plant theme with smooth wood and trendy breeze blocks, Central District more than fulfils the role of super-hip, ultra-accessible drinking hole. Although Central District misses out on any outdoor space, the lush tropical interior is more garden than a lot of Austin gardens – this is somewhere relaxed enough to take your parents, smart enough to go with work colleagues and cool enough to visit with friends – in other words, perfect for downtown.
Central District have a thoughtfully curated range of local beers, many from breweries based further out of town who sell mostly on-site, making this an easy stop for visitors who want to try a range of Austin beers but may not have the time to trek round too many far-flung brewery taprooms. This fills a handy gap in the market that simultaneously supports the city’s visitors and local breweries – we’ve seen a rise in similar establishments in London and Austin is certainly approaching both big-city and beer-city status! With flights at a very affordable $10 for four, you can test out a great range of beer styles from the likes of Southern Heights, Vista, Roughhouse and The Brewtorium as well as trying their very own beers brewed on site. We tried all three of the Central District beers available during our visit, a light Hoegaardenesque Wit-Tington Belgian Wit, bright, citrusy Fan Fare French Saison and warm caramel-malt Bonne Chance Belgian Pale. All were good quality, accessible and tasty and fall nicely into the Austin’s strong European-style beer scene. With this being early brewing days for Central District I’ll be looking out for new releases, but with their strong tap list there is more than enough to keep most palates satiated this summer. Central District offers a well-appointed craft-beer-injection into the downtown scene, and it’s delivered with both style and substance. I look forward to future visits.