Before there was the Brewer’s Table, there was Live Oak. These guys love lager, particularly German-style lager, and they have been brewing it in Austin since 1997, a considerable pedigree. When I first arrived in Austin, I couldn’t really get my head around why an American brewery would be so keen to emulate a traditional style of European lager, especially when Mexican lager is so great, and so much more local, but Central Texas is hugely proud of its German history and heritage, and brewing is clearly a crucial part of that (see also Altstadt Brewing, Fredricksburg Brewing, Rentsch Brewing).
Just eight miles out of Central Austin in Del Valle TX, Live Oak has a large, spacious taproom laid out with a bierkeller feel to it and a huge beer garden shaded by a multitude of Spanish Oaks. They only have eight beers on draft at any one time (four core and four seasonal) which seems a bit limited considering the size of the facility, and flights come in four 200ml pours (yes, they are really that European!). My favourite thing about Live Oak is that they like their smoked beers, as do I. The traditional Polish Grodziskie may only be 3% but it’s smokey and flavorful enough to carry it off. I’m not familiar with the Polish variety but would love to see how it compares. The Heller Rauch is a German version of the same, not quite as fully smoked but it does settle after a while. Their flagship HefeWeizen is by-the-book, albeit a little generic, and their Liberation IPA surprisingly successful as their only beer not originating in mainland Europe, and makes a nice contrast in a flight.
While Live Oak beers are available all over Austin, if Lager, Pilsner et all are your schtick, it’s worth the shortish drive out to Live Oak, especially if you like a nice ruralesque beer garden but don’t have time to get out to Vista or 5 Stone. It was very quiet when we visited, on a rather chilly November evening, and I’d definitely advise going when it’s a little warmer in order to make the most of the lovely outdoor space. They are open seven days a week (hours day dependent) and have the Black Forest food truck on site.