Brewery Travels (aka Joel Geier) pays a visit to Central Texas
A native of Milwaukee WI, beer writer and full-time dad, Geier has become well-known in the beer community for his intrepid adventures across the US, so far encompassing 41 states (plus DC), 276 cities and a mighty 674 breweries, although this number continues to grow apace. Geier’s signature posts, including flight details, favorite brews, and comments on taproom design and atmosphere, have amassed Geier over 3,000 Twitter followers, living vicariously through his adventures as he crosses the country with his young family.
Geier began his taproom journey back in 2015. “I was in my senior year of college and visited SingleSpeed Brewery in Cedar Falls, Iowa” he recounts, “But it was at my 56th brewery in May 2017, R’Noggin Brewing in Kenohsa, WI, when I started taking notes and making sure I recorded all the beers I tried and my taproom experience.” From this point, Geier’s social media presence began to grow, and he launched his website in March 2020.
So, how does Geier judge and compare breweries with so many under his belt? “That is very difficult,” he tells me, “It often is not about the taproom itself, but the people from the brewery I meet. Some of my best experiences include New Glarus Brewing (New Glarus, WI), Central Waters Brewing (Amherst, WI), Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, CA), Prairie Street Brewing (Rockford, IL), Altitude Brewing (Laramie, WY), Imagine Nation Brewing (Missoula, MT), Home Brewing (San Diego, CA), Lazarus Brewing (Austin, TX), Queen City Brewing (Burlington, VT), Blacklist Brewing (Duluth, MN).” He caveats “I always feel bad doing these lists because I’ve had so many awesome experiences and I’m leaving so many wonderful breweries off!” – understandable after over 600 taproom visits!
Geier’s wife Rosa’s job as a traveling nurse has enabled the family to live on the move, giving Geier the opportunity to visit such an impressive number of taprooms. Having had his plans to visit Austin shelved by the pandemic, we were top of Geier’s list once travel re-opened, and he arrived into town with an action-packed itinerary. Geier and his father Greg made it to a mighty 27 breweries during their four-day visit, and happily, our beer scene did not disappoint.
This was Geier’s first long-distance beer journey since the pandemic, which has given it a special resonance, as did the opportunity to travel with his father. “We’ve visited lots of breweries together on family holidays but this is our first out-of-state beer trip together,” Greg tells me. Greg’s love of beer has clearly been an inspiration to Geier too. “In the early 90s I read an article about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and I bought some,” says Greg. “I thought – this is what it’s supposed to taste like! After that I always had this and Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark Lager in the house – they were my favorites, and Joel grew up with these around!”
Originally a Sour-aficionado, Geier’s newfound taste for Lagers was well satiated during his stay. “My top Lager picks would have to be the ABGB’s Hell Yes Helles, Live Oak’s Grodziskie and Lazarus’ Prodigal Pils, along with Infamous Brewing’s Sally Skull IPL and Southern Heights’ Dunkel Rico – there have been so many great Lagers to choose from.”
Our spacious and well-designed taprooms also scored highly with Geier. “Meanwhile has a lovely outdoor space,” he tells me “As does Nomadic, where I really enjoyed the Peak Season.” Perennial favorite Jester King was also a big hit. “I loved the whole experience, especially baby goats!” Geier enthuses. “The grounds are beautiful. My favorite beers there were the Less Dots Farmhouse Ale with spent blackcurrant and the Ol’ Oi Barrel-aged Brown Ale.”
Geier was very positive about our taproom food too. “The tacos at Lazarus and pizza at Pinthouse were particular highlights, but we loved all the food we tried,” Geier tells me, “It’s great to visit somewhere where great breweries have great food, especially as this isn’t always the case” he adds.
As a full-time dad, Geier is very attuned to how welcoming to families taprooms are, and he was impressed with what he found in Austin. “A lot of breweries in ATX have changing tables in the men’s restrooms which is really important,” he says, “The scene is really family-friendly and equality-positive, also really dog-friendly, which is fantastic.”
Geier indulged his ongoing love for Sours at Blue Owl, “It’s one of the best Sour breweries I’ve been to” he enthuses. “My favorites were the Jubilberry and the Plum de Plume, but I really enjoyed the Spirit Animal and Professor Black too.” Other taprooms that made an impression on Geier included St Elmo, “We really liked the Coffee Cream Ale,” and Kunstler in San Antonio, “The Blackcurrant Grisette, Vienna Lager and Texas Tube Float IPA were all delicious!”
Overall both Geier and his father Greg were tremendously positive about Austin as a beer city. “The ATX beer scene is right up there in my top five!” Geier ventures, sitting in the balmy shade of Live Oak’s leafy beer garden as his trip drew to a close. “I would put it up there with San Diego, Portland, Denver, and the Twin Cities” – high praise indeed from a beer fan so well-traveled.
Geier is about to hit the road again soon, with a move to Baltimore coming up. “I haven’t been to any breweries in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, or West Virginia, so I’m very excited to be living in that region for a bit” he says. As well as a return to traveling, Geier is also planning to start his own Brewery Travels podcast with other beer travelers in mind. “My plan would be to do episodes on individual cities where I interview local experts (writers, bloggers, brewers, etc) about their respective craft brewery scene” Geier explains, “It would hopefully be something that will help people who are visiting the city and want to try local beer, as well as a way for people who live there to learn more about their local breweries.” With Geier’s adventures already a much-loved feature of the online beer scene, this new venture is sure to be a success.