The second week of the Smithsonian’s Beer Gazetteer 2008 was Live Oak Brewing Co. out of Austin, TX. The Smithsonian’s description: “Founder Chip McElroy makes German- and Czech-style beers, including a HefeWeizen (unfiltered wheat beer) that the Web site BeerAdvocate.com named one of the top 25 brews on the planet.”
Live Oak was established in 1997. Chip McElroy reminded me of one of my parents’ friends, Tom. They had the same voice and mannerisms. It set a nice tone.
At first I was a little concerned that we were only trying 4 beers. Unibroue was the week before, and we tried many (all clocking in at 7-10% ABV). I am very happy to report that not only were Live Oak’s brews pretty amazing, but I found an IPA I liked! Sadly, they have a very small distribution area, as they are a keg only operation. If you’re in Texas, and are looking for a good, solid beer. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Hefeweizen – 5% ABV, Bavarian-style
50% wheat malt and uses Bavarian-style yeast. Light in color. I tasted banana, cloves, cinnamon, pear and vanilla notes. It was very refreshing.
Big Bark – 4-5% ABV, Vienna-style Lager
It’s their #1 selling beer, selling over 4000 barrels per year. Hoppy, but very low in bitterness. Sweet smelling. It used to be called Oaktoberfest, but had more ABV then. Interestingly, the first sip tasted very different from the rest of the sips. There was also a different flavor from taking big sips.
Pilz – 4-5% ABV, Pilsner
Malt from the Czech Republic. This beer started the brewery. Very golden in color. Smooth.
IPA – 6.5% ABV
50 IBU (International Bitterness Units). They use Columbus hops. It has a very buttery flavor, with a hint of citrus. I am HIGHLY surprised and happy to report that I loved it! I normally hate IPAs. It’s worth a try if you think, like me, you don’t like IPAs.
Give Live Oak a try if you’re in at fine restaurants and bars in any of these Texas locations: Alpine, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marathon, San Marcos and San Antonio. Sadly, that’s it.