This list isn't just for beer drinkers -- it's for beer, ahem, connoisseurs. So put down your Pabst, and stick that pinky out.
Live Oak's Hefeweizen is a local favorite, but to form your own opinion, head out to the east side for a free tour of Live Oak's brewery, and sample to your heart's (or mouth's) content. Another great way to sample: Their annual anniversary party, which offers free entry, live music, and usually a moon bounce for kiddos.
Too damn good for microbrews, are ya? Austin Homebrew Supply lets you tailor your own sipping experience, DIY-style. If you're a first-time brewer, let the staff at AHS talk you through the grains, the yeast, the hop varietals (tip: they can order fresh hops for you). Before you go, you may even want to dip into the helpful forums HomeBrewTalk.com to get ideas for recipes.
A totally beloved Austin institution, the Draught House is a cross between a tailgate party and, as another tipster put it, a "Bavarian hoffbrauhaus and a Tudor-era British inn." Here, it is legal to drink one of 50 on-tap beers in the parking lot, it is expected that you'll eat dinner from one of the accompanying food trucks, and it is normal to encounter a line at the bar. But that's ok; the atmosphere is so boisterous that you'll toast your new line friends by the time you all get served.
Billy Forrester is like Austin's benevolent Godfather of Beer. The former owner of Dog & Duck and Waterloo Ice House, Billy also operates Billy's on Burnet and -- object of this tip -- Uncle Billy's. Craft-brewed beer options here tend toward the wheaty, lighter side, and since you're drinking this with BBQ, we recommend the citrusy Agave Wit to cut through all that (delicious) gristle.
A husband and wife team opened Independence eight years ago, and since then, this southeast Austin microbrewery has gained a fierce following -- owing in part to their dog-friendly First Saturday parties, their creamy Oatmeal Stout, and their seasonal beers on tap. Try their springtime, 9.3% abv "Jasperilla," named after the couple's dog, and boasting six-month-aged smoothness.
Two words: Pecan Porter. 512 Brewing is one of Austin's newer breweries, and prepares a wide variety of special beers throughout the year, but the Pecan Porter is available ALL year. Good thing, too -- our cravings for its chocolatey, roasted pecan quality isn't relegated to season. And don't even get us started on the (seasonal special) Whiskey Barrel-Aged Pecan Porter.
Just across from The Music Lab, it's easy to pop into South Austin Brewery for a sample on Groovy Sundays, when they invite local musicians and food trucks to entertain you while you sip. South Austin Brewery just opened this year, and while it doesn't offer an enormous selection (yet), it focuses instead on perfecting dangerously good Belgian-style ales, like the Saison D'Austin.
Situated at one of the metrorail train stops, community-owned Black Star Co-Op makes for a terribly fun date night. The fancy pub food and beer flights are truly excellent, but what makes Black Star most interesting is its radical backstory: After fundraising for nearly four years, Black Star opened its current location in September 2010 after raising $600,000 from members, eschewing venture captial. Today, members can join for as little at $40, and when there's profit, it goes back out to all the members. We'll cheers to that.