Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#117: Hops and Grain Brewery

The Bar


Hops and Grain Brewery. 507 Calles St #101, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 8:30pm.

The Drink



Hops and Grain Dispensary IPA. $5.

Yup, that's a pretty lousy pour - not exactly the beer I wanted this quest to end on. But you take life as it comes, and even the substandard volume and egregious head (I totally disagree with the "head is good" school of thought) in this pour couldn't ruin a good beer. I had just enjoyed the Dispensary IPA at Hi Hat, and it was much the same here - a hoppy IPA with a solid bite to it, a high-ABV beer that goes down easier than it probably should. And so, as tends to happen, I was less upset with the pour the more I drank. Beer is a powerful vehicle for forgiveness, and I'm a firm believer in the idea that most beer is good beer, and the best beer is the one you're about to have. In that spirit, that the final beer of the journey left me thirsty for more is all too-fitting. Sixth Street may have ended, but I'm still not done!

The Crew


Aaron, Rome, Vince, Travis, Hannah.


Notes


Tucked away in a shopping center right where Sixth Street ends, Hops and Grain is a great brewery that has only continued to improve over time. Its origin story involves an amusing anecdote about founder Josh Hare's dog, and indeed six years later you can still buy those very same grain treats today, as befits a brewery that focuses so much on sustainability. I'm well past the brewery tour phase of my drinking career (there's only so many times you can be impressed at the size of a fermentation chamber), so these days when I go to a brewery I'm more interested in their beer consumption setup rather than their beer production setup: Hops and Grain has a decent indoor space, with rows of picnic tables in the air conditioning that seat a few dozen people, and also some more space outside in the sunshine, for those weekend days where you want to drink with friends outdoors and munch on some food trailer snacks. They converted their old "pay $10 for a glass and three beer tokens" model to a more reasonable "pay by the pint" taproom model (which is great, since I have far too many pint glasses already), and they're also planning to move to a brewpub model that allows them to sell beer to go. Anything that helps them distribute their excellent beer more widely is fine by me!

Friday, September 22, 2017

#116: Chicon

The Bar


Chicon. 1914 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 7:30pm.

The Drink



Chi-lada. ​Rum, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger. $9.

Out of all of the intriguing high-end cocktails on the Originals portion of the menu, I thought the bartender made one of the most intriguing picks. Based on the name, you might think that it was a home-rolled variant of a michelada, but instead it's almost closer to an alcoholic version of a Thai soup broth without the sour and spice, if that makes sense (probably not - just work with me here). The coconut milk is the primary flavor here, so it's very smooth, and the ginger adds a little kick. You really can't taste the rum at all, although there was a solid pour, so you're just left with a pleasant cocktail that leaves you ready to tackle the next drink. The rest of their cocktails run the full gamut of liquors from seemingly all over the world: the expected vodka, gin, bourbon, and tequila being joined by the rarer scotch, pisco, mezcal, and even Becherovka, a Czech herbal liqueur I'd never heard of before. We tried a fair sampling and they were all good, so if a rum cocktail isn't exotic enough for you (or for some strange reason a drink that reminds you of tom kha doesn't sound appetizing) you can still order with confidence.

The Crew


Vince, Rome, Aaron, Travis, Hannah.


Notes


I've never been to Contigo, the upscale restaurant which eventually spun off this successor, but it maintains a high-enough standard that I bet its most famous progenitor is also pretty nice. When we visited it seemed like most people were here for the happy hour, to score some cheap snacks, selected cocktails, whiskeys, and most of all wine - judging by the legions of drained glasses on the tables around us it seemed like every group but ours was on a mission to drink Chicon clean out of rosé. I really liked the interior: clean wood panels, exposed lights, a white ceiling floating like a big cloud over blue walls.... As far the food is concerned, we didn't try any, but what we saw looked appetizing. They seem to be going for more of a neighborhood hangout concept as opposed to a high-end destination restaurant concept, although I looked at a menu and a $15 fried chicken sandwich had better be pretty spectacular. The crowd was mostly young professional women (hence all the rosé), so if that's your demographic, either member-of or looking-for, you could do worse than Chicon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#115: Cuvée Coffee

The Bar


Cuvée Coffee. 2000 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 7pm.

The Drink



Black and Brew. 512 Pecan Porter, cold brew coffee. $5.50.

There's a lot of great beer at Cuvée, more than you'd expect to find at a traditional coffee shop but right in keeping with combo coffee/bar joints like Radio, Cherrywood, and Thunderbird (RIP Strange Brew) that like to cater to a wide audience. Cuvée does really great coffee, though I'm far enough from a coffee snob that I couldn't pretend to offer an expert opinion. You can find plenty of pieces calling cold brew a garbage disposal for extra beans and the like, but I found this union of beer and coffee to be excellent. The Black and Brew is a play on the Black and Blue, their nitro cold brew coffee, which they mix in with a porter. They can change up which porter is paired with the coffee, but luckily this time I was given the 512 Pecan Porter, which has been my favorite porter ever since I first tried it. It's a little bit sweeter than most porters, but that actually goes really well with the nuttiness of pecans. And then when you add the smooth flavor of their coffee - oh man! Refreshing and delicious.

The Crew


Vince, Aaron, Rome, Travis (not pictured), Hannah (not pictured).


Notes


The term cuvée means "blend" or "batch" in French, typically and it refers to a particular run of a product, typically wine. The name makes sense given Cuvée's origins as a roaster of several varieties of high-end coffees. They moved to this location about three years ago, which gave them much more room for their operations as well as a little café space that reminds me of a brewery. They have a solid beer selection on their tapwall, as well as some wine and other more exotic concoctions like brewchata. I appreciate that they have locally sourced food like pastries and Tacodeli breakfast tacos to go with their other products - a warehouse generally doesn't emit the kind of inviting coffee shop vibes that you're accustomed to (and I expect that the café is fairly ancillary to their main wholesale operations), so every little bit of attraction helps, even if they're already fairly well-known around the city for the quality of their coffee and their ubiquitous cans of cold brew. However, even if their coffee was terrible (which it definitely isn't), they deserve plenty of fame as well for heroically defending common sense beer distribution, when their crowler machine was seized by those spoilsports at the TABC and they prevailed in court. Next time you fill up a crowler, thank these guys for standing up for beer drinkers everywhere.

Monday, September 18, 2017

#114: ​Mezcalería Tobalá

The Bar


Mezcalería Tobalá. 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 11pm.

The Drink



Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal. $10.

My recent acquired taste for smoky liquors has given me a newfound appreciation for mezcal, but it's still hard for me to give detailed tasting notes. I can tell you that Chichicapa, which like many of distillery's products is named after the small Oaxacan village where it's made, has a slightly sweet aftertaste to it that balances out the smokiness, and that it was full of all kinds of complex flavors that I would quite frankly be throwing darts at if I attempted to enumerate. Does "smoky, yet smooth" actually communicate anything? A few years ago the NY Times rated it #1 in their sample, and while I am still but a neophyte mezcal drinker it certainly was some of the best I've had so far. I am extremely impressed by the amount of info provided about the mezcal on the distiller's site; if you thought that a simple description of terroir was a bit much, then you will smile at least a little bit at discovering that Chichicapa is made with well water, and milled with a horse and wheel. By the way, that "San Judas Tadeo" votive candle is referring to Jude the Apostle, the patron saint of lost causes who has a special significance in Mexico, not the infamous Judas. I wouldn't want to pay 30 pieces of silver for a little terra cotta bowl of mezcal either.

The Crew


Misty, Aaron, Nick, Ryan (not pictured).


Notes


On Fridays and Saturdays only, the structure above the stone chapel of Whisler's opens up to the public in order that they might make the procession up the staircase to consume portions of mezcal according to their desires. It's a mezcalería, the kind of niche bar that not too long ago would not have been economical in Austin, but has now become possible thanks to this city's increasing affluence, neophilia, and sophistication of taste. As far as I know Techo on Manor, which is just a few years old, is the only other mezcalería in the city, so get to either of these establishments quick so you can brag that you were in on the crest of this mezcal wave. The owners of Whisler's/Mezcalería Tobalá have a genuine passion for mezcal and the drinking experience that surrounds it, so expect a singular decor - inside the small boxy room it's crammed full of stuffed heads, votive candles, and other bric-à-brac that encourages you to sit down and stay a while, soaking in the vibe. Soaking in the sweat, too: there's not a ton of seating because of the small proportions, so watch out for how sweltering it can get on those hot summer nights, when it more resembles a sweat lodge than a mezcalería. Come on in and get friendly!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#113: Hi Hat Public House

The Bar


Hi Hat Public House. 2121 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink




Hops and Grain Dispensary IPA. $6.

Hi Hat has a wide selection of craft beer, and my bartender was one of those bemused souls who wasn't quite sure how to respond to my spiel spiel about having him pick for me, so after several rounds of "what do you like? what you do you recommend? well it depends", I backed him into a corner and he poured me this beer. It's another American IPA, but in contrast to the milder ones I've had on this quest like from 512, Zilker, or Lazarus, this one is much hoppier, probably because it's dry-hopped. I can handle the stronger bite of high-IBU beers, and at 60 IBUs it's not even that hoppy as far as these go, but as I get older and my palate gets lamer I start to agree more and more with the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery:

“I find the term ‘extreme beer’ irredeemably pejorative,” Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, told me recently. “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life - are you man enough to drink it?,’ it’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had - are you man enough to eat it?’ ”

Should you decide to drink it though, it is a great beer, and at 6.7%, just a few should give you a good buzz. They also have a decent wine selection, in case craft beer isn't your thing.

The Crew


Karen, Haley, Hannah, Travis, Philip, Aaron, Tristan, Amanda, Davis, Kelly, Ryan, Alexis, Nick, Brent, Jackie, Misty, Kason, Cody.


Notes


As the influx of new people into East Austin steadily transforms it, one challenge for those new residents trying to get their bearings is finding a good local bar to call their own. Since only a few venerable institutions like La Perla date back more than a decade or so, and many of those newer joints are more upscale or designed to attract tourists and Austinites from across the city, there are not as many choices for a good neighborhood bar for East Sixth locals as it might seem. So into the breach steps Hi Hat, which opened a few years ago right next to a bunch of the new apartment complexes sprouting on the street and has quickly become a mainstay. It offers craft beer, wine, coffee, upscale bar food (though opinions differ on their tacos), a jazz brunch option, outdoor patio seating for nice days, and also a stage for live music. Something for just about everyone. While Hi Hat might not currently have quite the old-school cachet of some of the more long-standing venues on this street, amidst the disputes and concerns about gentrification it's easy to forget that every old bar was once a new bar, and should Hi Hat stick around for a few decades to serve generations of Austinites both old and new, eventually people will forget that it was ever any other way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

#112: Tamale House East

The Bar


Tamale House East. 1707 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 9:30pm.

The Drink



Prickly Pear margarita. Agave tequila, simple syrup, lime, OJ, prickly pear purée, muddled jalapeños, house made chili salt. $8.50.

The first three quarters of the recommendation here were excellent, but it's a shame about the home stretch. Another aspect of frozen drinks I dislike that I haven't talked about much - besides the dulling of flavor and the potential for brain freeze if you try to drink at your own pace like a normal person - is the way that frozen drinks change flavor as you get to the end. Just as no one likes the ice cream soup left over from an over-filled bowl of it, the tepid watery remnants of even the most well-crafted frozen cocktail are almost guaranteed to disappoint. At the beginning, this was an excellent blend of sweet prickly pear (props on using that ingredient) and spicy jalapeño with chili salt (double props on that intriguing mixture of salt and spice). Even into the mid-drink phase, when we were standing around chatting, it remained a really tasty and boozy margarita. But 20 minutes later, the tequila had separated from the purée and syrup, leaving a film of liquor over a sickly-sweet stickiness, becoming more drinkable just as it become less appetizing. That's not the drink's fault: it's not bad, it's just mixed that way, and I bet if it had been made on the rocks I would have loved it to the end. If you can drink this faster than I can you will love it more, and their non-frozen drinks do not suffer from any of these flaws.

The Crew


Kason, Misty, Hannah, Nick, Travis, Aaron, Amanda, Haley, Kelly, Philip, Brent, Karen, Cody (not pictured), Jackie (not pictured).


Notes


The original Tamale House was one of those long-standing local joints that left a large shadow when it closed, as did its other descendants. In just one of the many ways I have failed to uphold the required cranky old Austinite standard, I failed to visit the mother restaurant when it was still in business, but maybe visiting the daughter counts as a penance, even if I neglected to try any of their legendarily massive tacos during my visit. The current incarnation of the Tamale House spirit is a surprisingly large restaurant with an even more surprising amount of parking out front - it might be the single largest property on East Sixth that I've visited so far. When we visited on a Saturday night there were a few other couples in some of the side tables, but we were able to command the central area (and center stage) no problem. They have a patio as well, but we were in more of an air conditioning mood. Though it is more of a restaurant than a bar, they have enough space to host events and act as the anchor for the Tamale House lineage into the future.

Monday, September 11, 2017

#111: Lazarus Brewing

The Bar


Lazarus Brewing. 1902 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink



Lazarus 40 Days & 40 Nights. $5.50.

Our bartender was really enthusiastic about this beer, and I can see why. It's an American IPA, but like the similar 512 IPA it is not very hoppy, with hardly a hops bite to be felt at all, and a generally light body. It was great, not to mention strong: 7.5% ABV is not to be trifled with. I had thought that the name referred to the 40 days of the Easter season between the Resurrection and the Ascension, but evidently the phrase is not literal, and 40 days and nights is just a Biblical euphemism for a long time. You should check this beer out sooner rather than later, however.

The Crew


Vince, Aaron.


Notes


Another brewery, another warehouse. Lazarus has sited themselves in the classic converted warehouse so common to breweries who find old industrial neighborhoods a perfect fit for their business model and price point. This particular warehouse has been transformed into something akin to a beer shrine, with just about everything around reflecting some aspect of the religious theme. There's a big stained glass mural of Jesus and Mary on the patio, half the beers have religious names, the beautiful cut crystal glasses that look like chalices for the "patron saints" who invest in the brewery, and so on. It's a neat way to stand out in an increasingly crowded market, since let's face it - most breweries look pretty similar on the inside, and anything different is appreciated. An aspect of Lazarus we didn't experience but maybe we should have was the food: many people around us were snacking on tacos and some truly immense tortas, and if we weren't still full of food we would have dove in. By day they have more of a large coffeeshop atmosphere, so they're one of those places committed to attracting people all day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

#110: Whisler's

The Bar


Whisler's. 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 9:30pm.

The Drink



Old-Fashioned. Rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, demerara syrup, cherries. $10.

Each time I think I've gushed about Old-Fashioneds enough, and that the well of superlatives has been utterly drained of any new dashes of praise for this oldest of cocktails, I strike a fount of new approbations for them, and the fact that these revelations usually happen in close proximity to the consumption of another Old-Fashioned is probably not a coincidence. Whisler's makes a damn good Old-Fashioned - and chilled, too. A simple drink done well is a thing of beauty, and though their other cocktails are quite nice, I would recommend making this your introduction to Whisler's if you've never been there before. I asked for dealer's choice on the whiskey and failed to capture exactly what it was, but it it was a rye that delivered on everything that has given rye such a colorful history. This was the first time I'd seen demerara syrup; it's made out of demerara sugar, which is a type of cane sugar that when processed into the syrup lends a pleasant caramel-ish taste to the drink. Not recommended if you like yours less sweet, but since this used rye instead of bourbon, it made for a great balance between the two. The cherries were great as well.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Whisler's has a genuinely cool setup inside its building, conveying the atmosphere of an indoor chapel to dedicated to the god of whiskey and all the other liquors. There is not much space indoors, but what there is feels intimate, both for good and ill - a few candlelit round tables the corner is one thing, but ordering at the bar can get a bit cramped. There's a high vaulted ceiling with a chandelier that contributes to the dim, cozy, boozy atmosphere, and I can tell you from experience that once you get a few people ensconced in one of those corner tables, it's hard to stop ordering more rounds and hunkering down for the night. Outside is much more seating, where you can also hear live music when they've got it, and the stairs lead up to the hidden mezcal bar, about which I will have more to say later.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

#109: COLLiDE atx

The Bar


COLLiDE atx. 1802 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink



Mai Tai. Plantation pineapple rum, Flor de Caña rum, orgeat syrup, lime. $9.

The Mai Tai is an interesting drink, and like all interesting drinks its history is a tangle of lies. It was unquestionably invented somewhere in California, which is about all that's definitively known: who first crafted it, at which bar, and using which ingredients are all under heavy dispute. It seems like history has deemed the Trader Vic's version the official winner, and so by cocktail cladistics every subsequent Mai Tai can trace its heritage to that humble tiki restaurant in Oakland. Collide's version uses Plantation for its dark rum and Flor de Caña for its light rum, but I didn't find out if they made their own orgeat syrup. Fun orgeat facts: the word "orgeat" is not pronounced "oar-geet", but "oar-zhay" in the French manner, and is cognate to the Spanish "horchata", although orgeat is primarily almond-based and not based on rice like its Hispanic cousin. An official Mai Tai should probably have curaçao in it as well, but I either forgot to record it or they declined to include it, and I don't recall tasting any; regardless, it was quite nice, and well worth the price.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Collide (enough of this "wacky" branded capitalization) is another project from Dunlap ATX, the people who brought you half of Rainey Street. It replaced Burn Pizza very recently with a lot of different things at once: a co-working space, an art gallery, a restaurant, a live music venue, and oh yeah - a bar as well. They were in the latter two modes when we visited on a Wednesday night, hosting an acoustic guitar musician in the open space to the right of the entrance, with a number of patrons listening attentively around him and everyone else sprinkled throughout the interior or gathered outside on the picnic tables. I have to say that even if they do have a conceptual identity crisis it still works for them; we enjoyed our drinks, had some great conversation with fellow patrons, and even dug the tunes. Lots of bars try to firmly brand themselves as one or another of the basic bar archetypes - sports bar, college bar, etc - but there's value in trying to appeal to wide audiences as well. To put it in the kind of highbrow literary terms my readers have come to endure, some bars are foxes and some are hedgehogs, and while any individual bar might do better sticking to one strategy or the other, both foxes and hedgehogs coexist in nature just fine. Collide's flexibility and high quality should let it last in the rapidly evolving East Sixth ecological biome just fine.

#108: Bird's Barbershop

The Bar


Bird's Barbershop. 1107 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 8:30pm.

The Drink



Independence Power & Light. $0.

When we asked the hairdresser to put down her scissors and put on her bartending hat for a moment to recommend us a beer, out of the two available options she picked the Power & Light over the Shiner Bock. Great choice: I've loved Power & Light ever since it came out, and I even remember when I first bought it, on a sunny day in late 2014 at the now-closed Crestview Minimax IGA in order to have something to drink alongside some phenomenal pizza at Little Deli, when the sun was shining and the food right out of the oven....

Self-indulgent memories aside, Power & Light has remained a staple in my fridge ever since. It's a pale ale, so it's not too hoppy, it has a smooth flavor that's enjoyable without ever being too malty, and at 5.5% I can pace myself fairly easily. It seems to go with just about everything, though like I said it's particularly good with pizza. Best of all, it's fairly cheap, and I often see deals for $7.something per sixer at local grocery stores. Also, in a neat tribute to Austin's history its spiffy can art reflects the Seaholm Power Plant, to this day a big part of the city's face on Town Lake. Like I said, a great choice. Of course, ordering it was not quite as easy as it seems....

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Here's a helpful ordering hint: you can't actually order any beer at Bird's. You can receive a beer alongside your haircut, the service at which Bird's excels, but you can't simply walk up to the counter and exchange money in exchange for a beer, no matter how hard you try. Does this make it a bar? Under the strictest, most literal, most exactingly Jesuitical definition of the word, no. Actually, under pretty much any definition the answer is still clearly no: this is a barbershop that happens to provide beer to its paying customers, plain and simple. So including this is a bit misleading, especially since we didn't even get haircuts, we just showed up 30 minutes before closing time and threw ourselves at the mercy of the staff. But because they were kind enough to help me in my quest, I will give them a shoutout on this extremely influential, universally-read blog. Had I been in need of a trim, there are far worse places I could have gone: they have an Asteroid machine, a nice layout, and $25 is not bad at all for a short haircut, if I had needed one. Some people get blackout drunk and wake up with a tattoo, and though I didn't wake up with a new style (perhaps a hungover trim should be a "haircut of the dog"?), who's to say what might happen on some future bar crawling night?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

#107: Gelateria Gemelli

The Bar


Gelateria Gemelli. 1009 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 8pm.

The Drink



Amaro flight. Sibilla, Cynar, Meletti. $20.

Getting more familiar with drink ingredients like amaro has been one of the great pleasures of this journey, so imagine my delight when I learned that there's a gelato joint that actually specializes in different varieties of the Italian liqueur. Requesting dealer's choice at this location got us not one, not two, but three separate amari, each with its own distinct character:


  • Sibilla: Strong flavor of anise (though I learned it's actually honey), low sweetness, and a harsh aftertaste.
  • Cynar: Sweeter than Sibilla, very herbal but smooth, I didn't guess that it was an artichoke flavor at the time but it totally makes sense after the fact.
  • Meletti: A slight bit of a medicinal bitterness at first, with more complex flavors later on.


The Meletti has been much appreciated whenever it's shown up in my cocktails, and I would rank the Cynar up there as well. You can get individual amari as well as cocktails, but I'm glad I got the flight. The more options, the better! Additionally, the combination of the liqueurs and the gelato that I got worked really well together; I joked at the time that it was a very romantic pairing, and I bet that this has made a solid date stop for a lot of people.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


2015 must have been a banner year for development on East Sixth, because it seems like every other bar in the area is a bit over two years old. Gelateria Gemelli has a can't-miss concept - booze and ice cream go well together (see Prohibition Creamery just a few blocks up on Seventh Street), and given that gelato is essentially just better ice cream, this merging of the two traditions could not have been more welcome. We had the fernet stracciatella and lemon gelato flavors, which were both excellent, and although neither of their products are exactly cheap (I have no idea how much they would go for in Italy but here a small gelato is $4 and a pint runs about $9), like all artisanal experiences you're paying for the novelty and the higher quality. I can only dream of the kind of lifestyle I would be leading where Gelateria Gemelli would be my neighborhood bar / ice cream shop, but for a single stop it was excellent.

Friday, September 1, 2017

#106: Zilker Brewing

The Bar


Zilker Brewing. 1701 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 12am.

The Drink



Zilker Marco IPA. $6.

I like American IPAs - they're hoppy enough to have a good bite to them to them, yet are smooth enough that I don't get sick of them after one or two, plus there's usually some other interesting flavors going on. Zilker's entry in the famous category that played such a big role in the craft beer movement is no exception, with enough hops to be noticeable but not overwhelming, and a good malt background. My favorite IPA is still 512's superb edition, but this hangs right in there with it, and at 7%, it's nearly as alcoholic as 512's 7.2% contender. Plus they advertise it as being burnt orange in color, and while it might not be up to Pantone standards, as a shameless Longhorns fan I can't help but be charmed by such open pandering.

The Crew


James, Aaron, Rome, Wolf, Anthony.


Notes


If you've been to one brewery you've been to nearly all of them - big gleaming fermenters, spools of tubing, harsh fluorescent lighting over unadorned concrete floors, hastily scribbled-on chalkboards, long wooden picnic tables, and (most importantly) a row of taps for the beers. Zilker's layout checks off just about every one of those boxes, so don't go in expecting some kind of ornate, elaborate Settecento architecture. The focus is on the beer, as it should be. The brewery itself has been open for a bit over two years, although it feels like I've seen their beer around for longer than that. Has it really only been since 2015 since we've had the Coffee Milk Stout and the Parks and Rec Pale Ale? False beer memories aside, they've become a great meeting place on that stretch of East Sixth, a worthy place to grab a beer and wait for the rest of your party to show up before you go elsewhere. Or, in our case, a great place to end the night on.