Lone Star Libations
The best local beer and wine
Shiner Bock: Spoetzl Brewery, in tiny Shiner, Texas, has been making German-style beer since the early 20th century. Now available nationwide, it can be found for cheap at almost any Austin bar and pairs well with Mexican food, thanks to its sweetness and lack of bitterness from hops.
Real Ale Fireman’s No. 4 Blonde Ale: Brewed in Blanco, about 50 miles outside of Austin, this excellent beer has a clean, refreshing smoothness and a slightly bitter finish. It’s best enjoyed on a hot day.
Saint Arnold Brown Ale: Based in Houston, Saint Arnold bills itself as Texas’s oldest craft brewery at 12 1/2 years old. They make an extensive line of beers, all worth trying. The brown ale is malty and full bodied, with a toasty caramel aroma and hints of chocolate.
Live Oak Pilz: Live Oak makes mostly Czech-style beers in its East Austin brewery, and serves them on tap only in central Texas and Houston. Spicy, citrusy hops combine with a light caramel malt flavor for a well-balanced drinking experience.
Yes, there really are wines made in Texas, and some good ones at that. The Hill Country west of Austin is home to at least 20 vineyards. Here are three of the best:
Fall Creek Vineyards Caché 2005: Made from a blend of six varietals, this white has notes of apple, pear, peach, and melon, with a crisp, refreshing acidity.
Becker Vineyards 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon: With a dark chocolate, currant, and licorice nose, and notes of cherries and raspberries, this balanced cab is so good the White House serves it at state dinners.
Spicewood Vineyards 2005 Sauvignon Blanc: Light and clean, this grapefruit-scented wine delivers pear and vanilla notes, with a nice, lingering finish.