Close your eyes and imagine the following scenario. You’re at a bar in Austin, TX with more than 50 taps on its wall. You’re looking at the menu and it’s divided into two categories: “Local Craft Beer” and “The Regular Shizzle.” You don’t know much about craft beer, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. You’re tempted to stick with a commercial beer you recognize, a beer you’ve seen on the shelves of almost every grocery store and gas station, a beer that has a taste you’re familiar with, but at the same time you don’t want to diss your local bar brethren who are all about dem craftitties. You think you should give a local beer a chance, but you have no idea where to start. Your waiter, who is a pink llama with the voice of Don Knotts continues to implore you, “WeeeeEEEeell, what’ll it be, stranger?”

Now open your eyes and wipe the tears away. Breath deeply and stop sobbing. I know what you’re thinking. Aside from MAYBE the llama part, this is a very real and very scary situation that people find themselves in every day. We all know there are plenty of folks out there who understand absolutely nothing about the craft beer world. Worse, there are those who think they understand, but they’ve got it all wrong, and they’ll recommend Blue Moon at the drop of a dirty beanie. I call those people, “assholes.” Don’t worry, though. Assholes aside, I believe that if a person is open to drinking any beer at all, somewhere deep inside of them, there’s a genuine craft beer nerd.

Finding this inner craft beer enthusiast is just a matter of choosing the appropriate gateway beer. A beer that opens the door to all of the craft beers around you and gives you a reason to appreciate your local selection of ales and lagers. A beer that lets you look Don Knotts llama square in his hideous, pink face and select, with confidence and certainty, a very delicious drink. I’m sure many of you remember which beer was your gateway into the land of malt and honey that is the craft beer scene. If you do remember, leave me a comment about the beer that started it all for you.

What? You haven’t found your gateway beer yet?! Then you’re welcome in advance that I’ve done the legwork in figuring out the perfect beer to help you spread your clumsy, drunken wings. Below is an outline of commercial beers you think you want vs. the Texas beers you actually want. These beers should all be relatively easy to find in the Austin area, so no excuses and no turning back now…


To those who have never tried a microbrew before, best of luck losing your craft beer virginity! Unlike when you maybe actually lost your virginity, this will be fun. To those of you who are already familiar with the above suds, pick a favorite and show it how appreciative you are by placing it gently into your belly prison.

Auf Beer-dersehen!

Links to the aforementioned great Texas breweries: Real Ale, Austin Beerworks, Twisted X, Karbach, Live Oak, (512), Community, Lakewood, Independence, Pinthouse Pizza, Southern Star