Craft Beer Austin Year in Review | 2021 Edition
We all had high hopes for 2021, and life did return to a slightly normal state where we could sit inside again at our favorite breweries. However, the effects of the pandemic changed the beer scene in many ways.
Openings and Expansions
Despite the pandemic, there were several brewery openings and expansions in 2020. That trend continued in 2021 with new breweries and expansions popping up throughout the area. For these small businesses, plans were already underway when the pandemic hit, and they all had to make quick adjustments to adapt to the new environment to open their doors. Here is who opened their doors in 2021: Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery, Ghost Note Brewing, Fitzhugh Brewing, Vacancy Brewing, Slackers Brewing, Koko’s Bavarian Brewery and Biergarten. South Austin got a new beer focused dog park with The Watering Bowl and Lockhart got a new brewery Hawkins Farmhouse Ales.
Several area breweries also expanded during the year: Red Horn Brewpub expanded with a Cedar Park location, and Pinthouse Brewery opened in South Austin. Celis Brewery expanded it’s footprint with a new beer garden and additional taproom and Easy Tiger expanded to two new locations. In other news, New Braunfels Brewing Co. changed ownership, Adelbert’s updated their look, and Hops and Grain beers made a triumphant return.
Look for these breweries to open their doors in 2022: 5th Element Brewing, Prost Ale House, Fast Friends Beer Co. Lago Vista Brewing Co., Starbase Brewery, and for these planned expansions: Lazarus Brewing is expanding to the east side, Circle Brewing is expanding to Elgin, and Whitestone Brewery is expanding to Liberty Hill.
Beer-to-go arrived just in time to help #SaveTexasBreweries during the height of the pandemic; however, several breweries were still forced to close their doors in 2020. Unfortunately, that trend continued into 2021 with another round of brewery closures:
- Compadre Brewing closed their doors in mid-May due to repeated taproom closures during the pandemic.
- Orf Brewing closed in late May with the owner sighting competitive market challenges as the reason for closure. The space is expected to become the new Starbase Brewery in 2022.
- Southpaw Brewing opened during the pandemic and was permanently closed a little over a year later.
- Craft Pride closed it’s Rainey St. location and is planning to relocate outside of downtown.
- Boerne Brewery closed in September due to the pandemic.
Editor’s note: last year we reported that the status of Flix Brewhouse was unknown. We are happy to announce that the theater is back up and running and is still brewing beer.
Women in Beer
This was a difficult year for women in the beer industry, a single question via an Instagram story: “Have you ever experienced sexism in the beer industry?” opened the floodgates unexpectedly with personal stories exposing the pervasive nature of the industry’s deep-seated misogyny, harassment, racism, and sexual assault. What followed was all encompassing reckoning in beer and a chance for breweries to make positive changes throughout their operations. Brave Noise, a collaboration brewing initiative, emerged as a catalyst for change. Austin breweries participated this year including St. Elmo, Austin Beerworks, Jester King, and Whitestone Brewery.
The Austin chapter of Pink Boots Society yet again brewed up a record number of Pink Boots Brew Days, a fundraiser for scholarships in beer education. And of course, we will continue to highlight the fabulous, hard-working women that bring you those delicious local beers.
Black is Beautiful
Weathered Soul’s Black is Beautiful beer initiative continued throughout 2021 and staff writer Melanie Ross compiled a comprehensive list of local releases via a part I, part II, and part III series. To move the initiative forward, Marvis Dixon led the charge literally and figuratively.
The opening season for the Austin FC finally arrived and local breweries – especially those closest to the stadium – got on board. Austin Beerworks released a collector can series for each home game, and craft beer spots all over town hosted watch parties. However, the craft beer selection and the prices at the stadium disappointed many.