2021-02SFC  Edible Austin Leaderboard


Fitzhugh Row

Destination Fitzhugh Road

By Stacey Ingram Kaleh

 

The secret’s out. Fitzhugh Road, nestled between Austin and Dripping Springs, has evolved into a must-visit destination for all those interested in a casual, authentically Texas experience at breweries, wineries, distilleries and more. Ever since Jester King Brewery opened in 2010 and made a statement with its sour farmhouse brews set within sweeping Hill Country vistas on a family-friendly property, the local area’s landscape has significantly shifted and growth has exploded. So much so that it can feel hard to keep up, even for foodies, beer mongers, whiskey connoisseurs and locals. But have no fear! We’ve rounded up a list of new and happening spots not to be missed—that is, until more come around.

 

While you may have visited Jester King or neighbors like Last Stand Brewing, Revolution Spirits and Solaro Estate Vineyards, Fitzhugh Road has many other unexplored gems that make it worth visiting again and again. If your new year resolutions include trying something new, being more intentional when it comes to eating, drinking and supporting local businesses, or taking visitors out for a great socially-distanced time, make plans to spend a day exploring the Fitzhugh trail. And don’t forget to fuel up at some great local restaurants while you’re at it!

 

Beerburg Brewing & Restaurant

Passionate. Intentional. Homegrown. Authentic.

These are all words that come to mind after a conversation with Beerburg Brewing founder and native Austinite Trevor Nearburg. No stranger to the brewery scene, Nearburg is committed to brewing stellar hyper-local beers through sustainable practices and building a customer experience that is intangible and meticulously thought out. “There’s a lot about the energy of a place. I knew I could brew good beer, but I wanted to create a good experience and bring the joy and pride and excitement I feel when I’m brewing to my team and, ultimately, to the customer. Whether it’s perceived or not, I want people to walk away with an emotional connection.”

 

Following a career in international affairs and finance that took him from Austin to stints in India and New York City, Nearburg found his passion for brewing after experimenting with homebrewing with his brother. Quickly realizing that brewing was more than just a hobby and interested in a less traditional career path, he visited as many local craft breweries as possible and fell in love with the creative, counter-culture energy and welcoming spirit of Texas breweries and the brewing community. “It was important to me to create a place that could be a creative outlet, that could be a haven for that culture that really inspired me,” he said. “And the community aspect I observed at other local breweries stood out to me in a huge way—the specific focus on local ingredients, collaborations and community-building.” With a desire to learn hands-on and from the inside-out, he got his first brewery job stacking cases at Real Ale and eventually became head brewer at Uncle Billy’s.

 

Now an established pro, Nearburg has built his dream project on Fitzhugh Road, his ideal location. “I specifically sought out this location. Fitzhugh Road is important to me because it has an Austin address, it’s just across the Travis/Hays County line (in Hays), which means fewer restrictions and less red tape, and the Hill Country view is incredible.” Beerburg Brewing is a sprawling 15-acre property comprising a taproom, farm-to-table scratch kitchen and outdoor beer garden.

 

Working closely with chef Ricardo Gutierrez and brewer Gino Guerrero, Nearburg has intentionally identified seemingly every opportunity for Beerburg to be socially and environmentally conscious, prioritizing quality local ingredients and sustainability in all that they do. They source beef from local farmers, milk and eggs from Vital Farms and the freshest, ethically-grown vegetables from farms in the Rio Grande Valley, close to where Gutierrez grew up. Gutierrez has been in the kitchen since the age of 6, and his specialty is Mexican food, so you won’t want to skip Beerburg’s tacos. “I take pride in making a dish from scratch,” he says, “and it also eliminates a lot of the preservatives and chemicals.” As far as the beer goes, Nearburg and Guerrero use local grains, exclusively Texas malts and local herbs. Beerburg even has a staff position dedicated to local partnerships and sourcing. The brewery itself is located on relatively untouched land and has adopted permaculture principles—design centered on whole systems thinking, simulating and using resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. Guerrero spearheads the brewery sustainability plan and permaculture initiatives for Beerburg, ensuring that their programs conserve existing resources, replenish the aquifer their well draws from and provide nutrients that help flora, fauna and wildlife thrive in addition to native ingredients for the brewery and kitchen. 

 

As we sit outside in the beer garden, wearing our masks on a warm and sunny November day, we take in a view of beautiful rolling hills and, as we discuss what’s on tap and what’s on the menu, Nearburg points all around us to the native plants and trees on the property. From the cedar and juniper trees to persimmons, agarita and more, elements from the surrounding environment are infused into the beer, so that when you drink a pint glass of the Juniper IPA or Mugwort ESB, you are literally experiencing the native landscape. What’s more, Nearburg is a trained herbalist. He gets excited about this “wildcraft” approach and finds ways to use some often overlooked and underused plants that grow right in our backyards. 

 

The taproom was open just one month before it was shut down due to the pandemic. But it is ready to welcome visitors and family groups of all ages when it is safe to do so. Nearburg values inclusion, and his brewery manifests that value at every turn. Entering the tap room, the first thing you notice is an expansive mural by local artist Fabian Rey, whose artwork also adorns Beerburg’s cans, featuring two hands of different colors “cheers-ing” with the words, “Better Together” and “Come As You Are." There are options on both the beer and food menus for customers with any dietary restriction, including vegan, gluten-free and low-hops. 

 

“Instead of putting money into equipment and distribution, we invest more in our people, the experience of the place and creating a real destination. This being a specifically Austin and Hill Country brewery, I wanted it to be very much that. I want you to come out, experience the energy of the plants and the land, because when these are growing and thriving, you feel that. I think people pick up on that positive energy of a place where things are in balance with nature, and everything is a little brighter and happier. There’s nothing more local than Beerburg and you can see it, feel it and taste it.”

 

Although COVID-19 has undoubtedly put a damper on Beerburg’s opening, Nearburg and Gutierrez both remain cautiously optimistic and have big plans for the future. “If anything, it’s helped us to stay focused on our core values. We will always put our people first,” said Nearburg. He’s put many precautions in place to make the brewery as safe as possible for both his staff and customers. “If even one person on staff were to be affected and have reduced lung capacity … no amount of business or money would ever be worth that.” This focus on his team is one Nearburg takes pride in. He knows that a happy staff provides a happy customer experience—one that is authentic, one you can feel

 

For Gutierrez, COVID-19 has inspired him to innovate the menu. “It’s forced us to think more creatively. Early on, we put together to-go six packs, crowlers, ventured into making ice cream, and started focusing on to-go dishes that travel well.” 

 

Looking ahead, Nearburg and Gutierrez hope to see families and groups of friends in their beer garden, their spacious and vibrant taproom open to the views of the brew tanks and kitchen, people enjoying their obsession-worthy seasonal tacos, kids playing in their outdoor play space, dogs running around their dog park, and a continued  expansion of  their sustainability efforts, with an eye on adding solar panels and rainwater collection to the property. Beerburg is not just a brewery, it’s a community.

 

With that said, schedule a visit early this year! Pair the Mexican Lager, a refreshing yet complex and textured brew, with carnitas tacos on flour tortillas made in-house from Gutierrez’s grandmother’s recipe. Or, try the Wildcraft Mugwort ESB (Extra Special Bitter) for more herbal notes and order a signature, baked-in-house Bavarian pretzel. Looking for something sweet? Explore a wide assortment of inventive and delectable house-made ice creams, ranging from orange creamsicle to caramel apple. Come ready to try something new, something authentically Texan and have a good time. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, advance reservations are requested for the outdoor beer garden. Online ordering and curbside pickup are also available.

13476 Fitzhugh Road, Austin 78736

beerburgbrewing.com

 

C.L. Butaud and Wine for the People Tasting Room

Two beloved boutique Texas winemakers have joined together to offer a unique tasting experience just off of Fitzhugh Road at the former location of Argus Cidery. After meeting at the Slate Mill Wine Collective wine incubator in Fredericksburg, Wine for the People founder Rae Wilson and the co-founders of C.L. Butaud, Brooke and Randy Hester, made the decision to team up for an outpost in the Austin area. While you may have picked up a bottle of Wine for the People’s Dandy Rosé or Grower Project Albariño at Central Market, or added a bottle of C.L. Butaud’s ‘Pa Pa Frenchy red to your cheese order at Antonelli’s, the new tasting room is an experiential must. Although Wilson and the Hesters have distinct winemaking styles, they share a vision to cultivate education and promote a connection to Texas wines made from 100 percent Texas grapes. Make a reservation to try some of the most inventive and delicious Texas wines—you can choose a flight of C.L. Butaud wines, Wine for the People’s lineup, or a mix of both! 

12345 Pauls Valley Road, Austin 78737

clbutaud.com

wineforthepeople.com

 

Fitzhugh Brewing

Driving along the Hill Country road, Fitzhugh Brewing appears like an oasis—its bright and inviting farmhouse tasting room appearing from the road. Embodying its motto, “Everything Casual. Nothing Careless.,” the brewery expresses its core value of inclusion, welcoming newbies and aficionados alike. Co-owner and General Manager Kerbey Smith has been working with her family at Pecan Springs Ranch, a Hill Country wedding venue, for the past six years. Inspired by Magnolia Market in Waco, Smith wanted to offer a similar experience in the Austin brewery space, with a focus on warmth, beauty and space for the entire family. Head Brewer Nathan Rice, known for his recipe design and experimentation, is on a mission to bring back “forgotten beers” with origins in Australia, Africa and Eastern Europe while embracing the Texas Hill Country spirit. On the menu you’ll find brews such as a Sparkling Australian Ale, Luthuanian Farmhouse Ale and Wee Scottish with malt-influenced flavors.

 

Partner PEJ Kitchens (a Poke-e-Jo’s company) offers a variety of comfort food onsite, from gluten-free backyard pork ribs and smokehouse nachos to a Hill Country dip sandwich made with Texas Wagyu sirloin, and more.  

15435 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs 78620

fitzhughbrewing.com

 

12 Fox Beer Co.

Former army combat engineers and friends Joe Hogge and Aaron Luelling bring their love of family, country and great beer to Dripping Springs. After being stationed in Bamberg, Germany, and enjoying the local craft beers there, they followed their passion for master-crafted European style beer. Venture into 12 Fox Beer Co. to see what’s rotating on their 12 taps of small-batch, single-sourced malt brews. Ask for the German Hefeweizen, a medium-bodied pale, fruity wheat ale, or the Bettie, a complex Belgian Dubbel on Oak with notes of clove, spice, caramel and whiskey. And if you’re craving something other than beer, try their mead or gluten-free cider.

4700 W Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs 78620

12foxbeer.com

 

Treaty Oak Distilling

Named after the famous 500-year-old tree in Austin, under which Stephen F. Austin signed agreements defining the borders of Texas, Treaty Oak Distilling values the rich history of the Texas Hill Country. While they may not be the newest addition to Fitzhugh Road, they remain true to the “Pursuit of the Curious” which adorns every bottle and means they are constantly refining their offerings—from their whiskey and gin production to craft cocktails to delicious Texas barbeque, and more. 

 

Founder and CEO Daniel Barnes grew up in West Texas and was inspired by his parents who owned a restaurant and motel. Treaty Oak originally opened in North Austin in 2006 as the fourth distillery operating in Texas, but Barnes moved to Dripping Springs, which he appreciated for its history of community gatherings, in 2016. In the spirit of this history, Barnes prioritizes community and partnerships, working with family-run Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky to supply American oak barrels that provide a toasty caramel profile to his brews; Barton Springs Mill for locally sourced, non-GMO heirloom grains (James Brown and the Barton Springs Mill team have a mill, malting floor and bakery onsite); and nonprofit One Tree Planted to donate $1 for every dumped barrel that can no longer be used. Treaty Oak also facilitates partnerships with other Central Texas nonprofits for its featured “Charity of the Month” program, where a portion of proceeds each month are donated to a local cause. 

 

Plan a visit to try their award-winning estate Ghost Hill Bourbon, which is made onsite in Dripping Springs with local heirloom grains from Barton Springs Mill. An authentic grain-to-glass bourbon, it is mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled and aged two years. A fan of gin? Ask for a Waterloo gin cocktail. And be sure to bring your appetite because you won’t want to pass by Alice’s Restaurant, which features barbeque and comfort food staples that are crafted to pair perfectly with whiskey. There’s plenty of space on their sprawling property to socially distance and spread out beneath the giant live oaks. If you’re missing the bar experience these days, take home a bottle of their premixed Old Fashioned, ready to pour over ice and enjoy at your living room bar. Break out your vinyl and spin a record while you’re at it, and you can imagine the smoky and sultry ambiance of your favorite dive, all wrapped up in a bottle.

16604 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs 78620

treatyoakdistilling.com

 

One Shot Distillery & Brewery

Look for the giant Texas flag painted on the side of a giant red barn to find One Shot, a Veteran-owned distillery and brewery on Ranch Road 12, just off the intersection at Fitzhugh Road. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Phil Waldron wanted to combine his passion for supporting fellow veterans and first responders with his love of world class beer and spirits. He’s on a mission to craft great products and support great people, and is committed to using Texas Agricultural ingredients. One Shot’s flagship brand is “Three Volley Vodka,” distilled three times and filtered seven times. Named after the three volleys of seven fired at memorial services for fallen heroes, it’s designed for toasting past and present comrades. However, the selection doesn’t stop with vodka. They also offer rum and a dynamic mix of beer, from the Route Irish Red to Panzer IPA. Visit for mixed drinks, or place an order online to pick up growlers to-go. 

31610 Ranch Road. 12, Dripping Springs 78620

oneshotdripping.square.site

 

Off-the-beaten Path:

Wine lovers, don’t miss these local favorites just a few minutes off the main road!

 

Hawk’s Shadow Estate Winery

In search of a breathtaking Hill Country view? It doesn’t get better than the view at Hawk’s Shadow Winery with its hillside tasting room. From bold reds to complex white wines to refreshing dry rosés, family-owned Hawk’s Shadow offers a dynamic selection of varietals handcrafted with 100% Texas grapes. Don’t skip the HSV Estate Red, a Rhône-style blend from their low-producing estate vines with notes of plum and chocolate, or one of their signature dry Orange Muscats for a tantalizing palate experience unlike any other in the region. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, advance reservations are requested.

7500 McGregor Lane, Dripping Springs 78620

hawksshadow.com

 

Sidecar Tasting Room by Bell Springs Winery

Take a slight detour to Old Fitzhugh for some prohibition-inspired ambiance at Sidecar Tasting Room, a special bar experience curated by the owners of Bell Springs Winery. Order a flight combination of red and white wines, take in the sounds of live piano (when safe to do so), or try a specialty wine cocktail for something unique. 

Sidecar is currently accepting online to-go orders only due to COVID-19.

501 Old Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs 78620

sidecartastingroom.com

 

Where to Pit Stop Along the Way:

Don’t forget to visit these other local picks for good times, great food and stunning views in between tastings.

 

Route 12 Filling Station

 

From wood-fired pizza to hand breaded chicken fried steak to seared ahi tuna, everyone in your group is sure to find something satisfying at Route 12 Filling Station, where every dish is prepared using a book of family recipes. They even have a splashpad and playscape if the kids need to get out the wiggles!

31560 Ranch Road 12 #214, Dripping Springs 78620

route12fillingstation.com

 

Texas Hill Country Olive Company

Make a reservation to enjoy farm-to-table salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads at the Orchard Bistro, or make a quick stop by their Tuscan style tasting room to grab some of their award-winning locally produced olive oils, balsamic vinegars and spreads.

2530 W Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs 78620 

texashillcountryoliveco.com

 

The Addison Grove

With exposed wood beams and stunning chandeliers, this 6,000 square foot barn-style venue offers enchanting views of Texas wildlife, pasturelands and the sweeping Texas Hill Country. Guests can wander the expansive grounds or step out on the patio to enjoy large oak trees, Longhorns, wildflowers and more. And don’t miss the new floral design studio, Native Bloom, opening in January.

11903 Fitzhugh Road, Austin 78736

Theaddisongrove.com; nativebloomfloral.com

 

Rambling Rose

Visit this enchanting event space and working ranch. Catch a glimpse of horses, goats, chickens and more in this picture-perfect setting with gardens, towering trees and rolling hills. 

1104 Fitzhugh Road, Austin 78736

Ramblingroseranch.com

 

Del Sol Yoga and Kung Fu

Find your inner strength and power when you visit Del Sol Yoga & Kung Fu on their bucolic Hill Country property. This community-centered space has classes for beginners, pros and everyone in between. 

13118 Fitzhugh, Austin 78736

Delsolaustin.com

 

Packit Gourmet

This is a shop for campers, hikers and outdoor lovers alike. Enjoy their convenient and delicious on-the-go meals and grocery items. Browse their many varieties of just-add-water meals, trail favorites and other food items perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. 

14466 Fitzhugh Road, Austin 78736

Packitgourmet.com

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