November 2017-October 2018
At the far end of East 6th, Hops and Grain have staked out a decent sized territory for their popular taproom. The space has an industrial no-frills feel with little decoration, and a lack of windows inside the venue adds atmosphere at their huge annual Halloween party! Fortunately there is outside seating for the more claustrophobic, myself included, which even affords a reasonable view of the lovely Austin sunset. Hops and Grain are all about IPAs and they know exactly what to do with them. Like contemporaries Pinthouse, Hops and Grain are masters in creating toe-curlingly tasty variants on a very successful big-hops-n-juice theme, and new batches are usually showcased in the taproom before wider roll-out. Flights come in pours of four, but are not available at special events (although half-pours usually are) and beers are beyond reasonably priced, with most pints costing a very user-friendly $5.
Hops and Grain’s highly quaffable flagship lager The One They Call Zoe is available all over the city, and their deliciously dank core DIPA Haze County also has a pretty strong local roll-out, both of which are solid go-tos when you’re out and about in Austin, depending on one’s mood. Other favourites of mine include the Lupulin Rodeo IPA – what a name, and it tastes as good as it sounds, the perfectly balance sweet-hoppy Texas Honey IPA and crackin’ new kid on the block Terpene Tendency IPA. They are also successfully branching out style-wise with their excellent Volumes of Funk hybrid series including Magic Coffee Saison, a collaboration with the local Spokesman coffee roastery, that successfully combined two very contradictory flavours, and the heavenly Saison de Carlita made with sourdough yeast. All our visits to Hops and Grain have been great, and brewing-wise it feels like a very exciting place to be right now. Their parties are also great fun, attracting a young, lively 6th Street crowd, but pop along any time (10am-10pm every day but Sunday, which has a 5pm close) for a taste of what’s fresh, cool and dynamic in Austin brewing – an absolute must-visit. Word on the street is they’re also planning to open a new facility down in San Marcos – I say bring it on!