Craft Beer Road Trip Season 

click to enlarge You’ve got a three-hour window for tastings at Real Ale - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • You’ve got a three-hour window for tastings at Real Ale

Sometimes, the only thing that can get you through the Monday through Thursday workday slog is a well-deserved “sick day” on Friday. C’mon, you’ve earned it (we assume). Plus, that’s when most out-of-town breweries open their doors to the sample-sipping masses. With a little forethought and planning you can hit up several back roads and breweries while shirking your responsibilities instead of just wasting a precious sick day binge watching the cable drama du jour. With your equally delinquent, yet sober, designated driver in tow, it is time to head out.

Routes 1 and 2:

The good news is regardless of your chosen loop, Real Ale Brewing Co. (231 San Saba, (830) 833-2534), north on US Highway 281 in Blanco, will be your first stop. Real Ale is arguably the best brewery in Texas. Always on the forefront, it’s a task to keep up with all Real Ale’s offerings. From their regular lineup and seasonal rotations, to their cask conditioning and barrel-aging programs, there is always something exceptional to try. Open hours at Real Ale’s tasting room are Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. with tours of the impressive facility every hour.

Route 1:

Start heading east across Highway 32—perhaps nicknamed “Devil’s Backbone” in honor of Real Ale’s Belgian-style ale. Middleton Brewing (101 Oakwood Loop, (512) 847-3435) recently ditched its old digs at the junction of Highway 32 and RR 12 for a bigger and better location just down the road on Oakwood Loop, and will now be better equipped to provide their brand of Belgian- and West Coast-inspired beers to thirsty Texans. In addition to tasty house beers, Dennis and Kim Middleton also curate a remarkable selection of guest beers from palatable powerhouses. Make sure to check their website for updates on their soft opening date.

You survived the Devil’s Backbone, so now it’s time to cross Purgatory (Road) to Highway 306 and into New Braunfels. Guadalupe Brewing Co. (1580 Wald, Ste 1, (512) 878-9214)—not to be confused with New Braunfels Brewing—is an up-and-comer with a growing lineup of offerings including its Texas Honey Ale and Scotch Ale. Because consistent brew expansion has made tight quarters even tighter, Anna and Keith Kilker of Guadalupe Brewing ask that all brewery stops be scheduled in advance. So, as much as you like to be the hop-head who just pops in, call ahead to make sure they are available.

If you are tuckered out and need to take a nap before finishing your journey, you can stop at the Faust Hotel (240 S Seguin, (830) 625-7791), which boasts an onsite brewery, open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, noon to midnight Friday through Sunday and noon to 1 a.m. Saturday. In addition to house-made and guest beers, Faust offers a full bar.

Route 2:

From Real Ale Brewing, continue north on 281 until you get to Johnson City. On the town square you will find Pecan Street Brewing (106 E Pecan, (830) 868-2500). In addition to the laidback atmosphere of the bar and dining area, Pecan Street has a beer hall and game area where you can enjoy a pint of their in-house concoctions. The bar is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday though Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Next, head west across US 290 into Fredericksburg. Here you will be able to hit up both longtime staple Fredericksburg Brewing Co. (245 E Main, (830) 997-1646), open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday; and relative newcomer Pedernales Brewing (97 Hitchin’ Post Trail, (830) 998-7486), open 3 to 5 p.m. Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. After sampling the wares at the breweries, grab a roadie and enjoy the ability to drink openly (while walking, not driving) on the streets of Fredericksburg. If your DD wants to enjoy Fredericksburg’s freewheelin’ spirit, too, check into one of 11 guestrooms at Fredericksburg Brewing for a “Bed and Brew” experience.

South on Highway 87 will put you on I-10 and into Boerne where there’s a new production brewery, Boerne Brewery (9 Hill View), open 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, as well as a stalwart of a brewpub, The Dodging Duck (402 River Road, (830) 248-3825) open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. Just remember, they call it the Dodging Duck for a reason, so don’t let a jaywalking duck ruin your thus far successful beer tour; keep it slow through Boerne.

Beer tastings and accidentally extended weekends are what “sick” days were made for … just remember to keep the photos and check-ins off Facebook– you want to make sure you have a job to go back to after you’re done sipping your way through Hill Country breweries.

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