April – June 2018, including 22nd Birthday Party, April 21st
Real Ale is the original Texas Hill Country brewery, dating all the way back to 1996. Based in Blanco TX, just an hour outside of Austin, it has become a state-wide institution, and with good reason. Their beers are absolutely phenomenal.
I was straight in with the sampling soon after arriving in Austin and the tropical citrus genius of their Axis IPA swiftly became a go-to, helped in part by its excellent city-wide availability and a must on every visit to Emo’s! One of the things that makes Real Ale special is their stable of a joyous 15 core beers, all of which are bloody great – and yes, I have tried them. From the cheekily sweet and boozy Devil’s Backbone Belgian-style Tripel to the crisp, refreshing Gose that’s a dream by the pool, this is a range of beers with something for everyone where quality is never compromised, and you can grab them at the supermarket. How brilliant is that?! Fill up your car, suitcase or anything else to hand with bombers of the delectable Commissar Russian Imperial Stout, gorgeously bitter-sweet Red King Imperial Red or the super-hoppy, bright and chewy Three Lions Imperial IPA if you’re from out of state as these beauties are only available in Texas and you really, really want to try them. Plus you’ll be very popular when you get home.
Of course as these guys have been brewing for over 22 years they have plenty more tricks up their beery sleeve, and the best place to get stuck in is, of course, at their taproom. Situated just outside the lovely, historic town of Blanco, the shiny new Real Ale taproom, freshly opened in 2015, is stunning in both size and the scenery. We first visited to attend their 22nd birthday party – an event which had been massively hyped by pretty much everyone we’d spoken to about it, and our very high expectations were not disappointed. These guys really know how to throw a party. The seamless organisation of over 2,000 beer drinkers with minimal fuss or queuing, beers – even the rare and popular ones – in strong supply, plenty of seating and great live music was hugely impressive. Entry was a very reasonable $20, which included four beers (one of which could be swapped out for a cocktail) and soft drinks were provided free of charge for children and designated drivers. Oh, and the beer selection was fantastic. We were able to try anniversary beers from previous years ( I really enjoyed the 14th and 20th) as well as highlights from their brilliant, experimental Mysterium Verum series – the Magnum Trux Sour Quad with Blackcurrent was the highlight of my day, an ingeniously perfect beast, and the Four Horsemen Belgian Quad was also excellent. It was a superb day out with a great crowd coming in from surrounding towns and cities, a full-on party vibe that was also family friendly and top class beers. Book next year’s in your diary now.
If you can’t get to the party, Real Ale’s taproom is most certainly still worth a visit, both for its aesthetic charm and obviously the beers. Flights come in fours, and you can also sample their new and very tasty range of spirits. Open from Wednesday through Sunday with tours at the weekends (check the website for timings), Real Ale is a great day trip from Austin or San Antonio, and make sure you check out Blanco’s lovely town square while you’re there. I would also recommend tag-teaming with a trip to exciting nearby newbies Rough Diamond Brewery.