Double Horn, Bear King, Save The World
Marble Falls’ oldest brewery taproom, pitting Save The World to the post by just one year (opening 2011), is located in the Falls’ modest downtown across the road from new kids Bear King. Double Horn has a pubby feel to it with a separate bar complete with plenty of sports screens, a restaurant area, and a shaded patio out back to keep families segregated from the game day, bar-propping crowd. On both our visits, the bar has indeed been propped up by local mug club members settling in for the long haul. Double Horn is showing its age and is rather in need of a scrub and a coat of paint, particularly in its beer garden, although they do have a very shiny new website so this may well be next in the works. The beers are a bit of a mixed bag – I really enjoyed the super-hoppy Pizza Boi IPA, and the Sunny Day IPA also went down well. The majority of Double Horn’s brews are acceptable without being extraordinary, with a few at the weaker end of drinkable. Since our first visit in 2017 they have clearly been expanding their repertoire, with specials including a Coconut Cream Pie Porter and a Habanero Blonde, although I wasn’t super-keen on either (the Blonde was quite vinegary and the Porter too sweet for me). The new Relaunch Imperial Red was better, warm smooth and malty.
Although Double Horn have now taken down the sign that seriously put my back up on our first visit (Amber, I hardly know her…) which may fall on the thinner end of the sexist wedge but is there nonetheless, they have yet to rename their Anyone’s Amber beer which feels to me like a bit of a half-hearted attempt at political correctness. Double Horn advertise themselves as a family-friendly establishment which doesn’t really wash when someone there clearly thought this was a clever, funny beer name. Call me a pedant and say I don’t have a sense of humour but this does not feel like an inclusive environment.
Bear King is just gorgeous. Straight out of the purrty-taproom playbook, this lovely new chic, stylish wood-panelled space is a delight to visit – just across the road from Double Horn but a million miles away in every other respect. Rightly voted as one of the best new Texas breweries of 2019 by Hopalytics (having opened in February of last year), we were warmly received by helpful bar staff and settled with our nicely presented flight in their lovely sunny patio with an excellent view of a glorious Texas sunset. With nine rotating taps covering a wide range of styles, fancied up bar snacks including the likes of truffle fries and Texas poutine (with brisket!) and posh Tex-Mex tacos, Bear King is upscale without being pricey or snobby – very nicely played.
I enjoyed all the beers we tried, but the stand out was the beautiful Barrel-Aged Amberosia, a deliciously honeyed BA amber lager which oozed mouthwatering quality. I get very excited when anyone barrel-ages a lager and this was very impressively delivered. Unfortunately, like most good things in life, it was small-batch only. The Whisper Man Black IPA was also excellent, a style I am such a huge fan of and am so glad to see making a comeback. The Swiggy IPA is smoothly sessionable, while the Jimmy Two Shoes is a very boozy DIPA indeed – all of which saw us through an absolutely stunning sunset. With new beers on tap already since our visit less than a month ago, Bear King are clearly aiming to be competitive and draw in a beer-crowd from Austin and beyond, and I would certainly say it’s worth the trip. This is a classy spot with bags of potential – can’t wait til they throw an event!
Save The World
Our final beer-stop on our Marble Falls adventure was at local legends Save The World. Save The World is a ‘100% philanthropic brewery’ – they give all their profits to charity. Yes, they really do. Husband-and-wife team Dave and Quynh Rathkamp quit their day jobs back in 2012 (and not just any day job – they were only flippin doctors!) to start a non-profit brewery, and that is exactly what they have done. As well as supporting some incredibly important local and international charities and paying their staff a living wages, these guys brew some pretty awesome beer – and you can consume it knowing you’re saving the world – now if that’s not guilt-free drinking I don’t know what is!
Save The World have gone all-out specialising in Belgian beers, keeping quality high and style tight. My particular favourites are the Sol Vinum Belgian Golden Ale, a gloriously potent, tangy vinious delight, and the Vitis Oud Bruin – yes, a Texas Oud Bruin! That said, there is much else to admire here – the Princeps Pacis Belgian Tripel and Humilus Filius Belgian Pale Ale are also delicious and precise. Even when branching out beyond things Belgian, Save The World impress. The Jonah’s Relief pumpkin beer was really well-balanced and nicely spiced, and the Bonus Pastor scotch ale was sweet, malty and moreish. While some of the lighter beers are less to my taste, they are very accessible both in terms of drinkability and being available in and around the ATX area.
Save The World have a cute, cosy taproom just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Marble Falls. They do have very limited opening hours so be sure to plan your trip in advance, and remember, every time you drink a Save The World beer, you are actually saving the world just a little bit!