Local and Loco at Native ATX
There was a time in the past when brewery tours were a novelty. Now, every tourist city worth its salt has a good brewery tour, or at least a cool pub crawl to satisfy those alcohol connoisseurs on tour (or at least those folks who just want a good night out with great stories). But despite these tours being commonplace, time and again a good genre twist happens. Such is the case of Austin’s Native Experience tour. We know Texas to have a good craft beer scene, and now we have a chance to take an inside look at the quirkiness this microcosm has to offer.
Austin, on its own, is a very fun city. People are friendly, the culture is cool, and there are lots of good places to visit. During the tour, we were able to see some of these attractions, and the guides also told us about the interesting places we could check out afterwards. We even talked about some of the under-the-radar wineries that produce great stuff.
But the highlight of the tour was, of course, the breweries themselves! Set to the city’s awesome tunes, we boarded our super comfortable luxury vehicle and set off on the tour.
Stopping by St. Elmo
The first on our tour was St. Elmo, a brewery that started in 2016 on its namesake E. St. Elmo Road. It has a very different approach to the whole beer concept. Instead of focusing on and touting a specific kind of beer, St. Elmo’s considers itself a melting pot of sorts for all types of beers. Yes, they brew a myriad of beer types, and you can find a great collection in their beer garden. The 15 bbl brewery itself has a menu that changes from day to day, giving you a reason to come back just so you can try new fresh brews.
St. Elmo’s is also just as concerned with the people behind the beer, whether brewer or consumer. The whole place is open, and encourages conversation. After all, nothing goes better with beer than some good talk! There’s also an Asian food truck within the premises to give you the beer match you need. The place is complete with other beverages, too.
With Friends and Allies
While St. Elmo was a great place, we missed the chance to get really intimate with the whole brewery process. Instead, we got a taste of that at our second stop, Friends and Allies. Founded in 2015 on Springdale Road, the brewery takes pride in its vibrant Austin setting and supplies the city with its unique take on beer. They have different products with varying styles, and there are even seasonal stuff! Pretty cool for a local brewery.
Here we got our curiosities satiated about what goes on behind a fresh brew. We were told about the technical aspects, such as how much the success of brewing depends on keeping everything bacteria-free, and how some quick temperature changes in the early stages could help bring about the best beer taste.
East Cider on the East Side
True to the theme of weirdness that Native ATX emphasizes, the last stop on the tour is East Cider, founded in 2012. Yes, this choice would spark the great “beer or cider” debate among purists, but none of those in our tour group cared, really! At this leg of the tour, we got to try different types of cider, which was a new experience for many of us. The spiced cider was particularly interesting, and it grew to be my favorite of the bunch! Coincidentally, I met this same brew the day after when I was at the Austin Eats food tour. Everyone loved it. “The best cider,” East Cider boasts, “comes from Texas.” Judging by the tour, everyone agrees.
The whole Native ATX was a fun, easygoing tour with just enough tidbits and beer trivia to keep everyone interested. It’s perfect for the beer enthusiast, and also offers a good overview of the city culture (of which beer plays a great part). Of course, it’s also perfect for getting in touch with the heart of the city.
How do I book?
Booking can be easily done online through the Native ATX website. The three-hour tour is priced at $60 per participant, and the booking process allows you to choose a timeslot. There are limited slots per hour of the tour, so book early to get the best options!
Note that despite the tour being a brewery tour, you shouldn’t expect any free-flowing beer here. Don’t be let down, though — all the fun talk amidst the blaring live tunes of South Congress is enough to give you that famous buzz!
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