Ooooh where to start with Wild Bunch?! While our numerous and relatively exhaustive Hill Country beer-adventures have taken us to many lovely small towns and down the odd dirt road or two, our visit to Wild Bunch proved to be our deepest incursion off the beaten path to date – and it was an absolute joy. This was our first visit to Red Rock, TX, a tiny town just south of Bastrop where traffic is scarce and the roads are narrow, and we did begin to ponder if we could possibly be in the right location for a brewery taproom as we drove past scattered houses and farmland. Of course, when searching for beer persistence is key, and despite the inevitable wrong manoeuvres from our slightly ropey GPS we soon found ourselves outside an appreciatively large handwritten sign welcoming us to Wild Bunch.
The Wild Bunch taproom, open on Saturdays and Sundays from 3-9pm, is a cosy Hill Country farmhouse with an old stove and bellows decorating the inside and cute dogs running around outside. The wooden bar is just large enough to seat four, and we were offered a warm welcome by bartender Jeff who gave us a rundown on the beers and the brewery, which has been open since 2017. Wild Bunch brew 100% unfiltered beers, using an open propane flame throughout the mashing and boiling process – a traditional method of small-batch brewing that yields richer, more intense flavours and colours, something we were able to appreciate immediately as we began to try the beers.
Wild Bunch had an impressive seven beers on draft in their cosy taproom, and of course we felt obligated to try them all, especially once we discovered how tasty they were. We initially chose pints (in adorable jam jars!) of the Red Rock Wild IPA and Strawberry Blonde – both of which were absolutely delicious. The IPA was boldly piney with a strong malty backbone, full of flavour at just 5.3% and unafraid of its residual bitterness – it reminded me of the best English IPAs I’ve had, but with a richer texture – really excellent stuff. The Blonde too was superb – made with crushed fresh strawberries it had a thick, pulpy texture that offered a fresh, authentic sweetness that totally washed away my hangover from the night before. What more can anyone ask for?
Sitting in the Wild Bunch beer garden is absolutely blissful, cars rarely pass by so you get a real sense of being completely ‘away from it all’, as travel salespeople used to say. The surrounding countryside is just stunning, with rolling hills as far as the eye can see, birds of prey flying low overhead and crickets chirping in the breeze – it’s like being in your very own beery utopia. We also enjoyed a pint of the beautifully smooth, caramelly Oktoberfest which had delicious hints of burnt orange – another Wild Bunch win. The roasty, dry and liquoricy Back Porter is another one to look out for – Wild Bunch’s booziest beer at 6.8% but just as quaffable as the others. When another vehicle pulled up next to ours we discovered that serendipitously Wild Bunch’s only other visitors were fellow Austinites and beer enthusiasts who live around the corner from us, which needless to say called for more brews and sparked a happy and lengthy discussion about all things beer-related – my absolute favourite type of taproom experience! Wild Bunch have plans to expand their space and add in more seating and a stage, but I would recommend getting out there as soon as possible and tasting some of the freshest, most flavoursome beers in the Hill Country and indulging in the peace and quiet.