There’s just so much to be excited for, as one of Austin’s favorite festivals is now less than a month away. There’s the food, the vendors, and of course the reason why we all flock to Zilker Park for three straight days, the music. But what’s an outdoor music festival without a few cold ones? For beer fans, particularly craft beer fans, The Barton Springs Beer Hall is the place to snag all of your alcoholic beverages for the fest. Taps include Texas breweries like Real Ale and Adelbert’s, as well as brews from as far away as Alaska. You’ll even find a few ciders mixed in for those who aren’t beer fans.
And if you’re looking for Austin City Limits Festival pro tips, here is the biggest one that we can offer: stick to the craft beer tent! You’re going to get more bang for your buck from beers with a higher ABV (most are over 5%), they taste great, there are fans and football games on in the beer tent, the lines move quickly, and it’s covered so you can grab some shade while enjoying a nice IPA. Just whatever you do, don’t forget to tip your bartender.
The City of Austin has temporarily banned public gatherings. Please stay home. The Austin.com calendar is only for live digital events at this time.
Rather than waste any precious time that you could be listening to music, here’s a handy guide to know before you go. We’ve included tasting notes, ABV, and suggestions for music pairings so you can make smart choices early on.
Beer: Real Ale Firemans #4
Description: This refreshing blonde ale strikes a perfect balance between the smoothness of the malt, the subtle fruitiness of their house ale yeast, and zesty citrus notes from Crystal hops. Firemans #4 is a great way to beat the heat – enjoy it on a Texas summer day, or pair it with spicy foods to help put out the fire.
Drink While Listening To: Asleep at the Wheel. This quintessential Austin band and ACL staple, led by Ray Benson, is the epitome of a great Texas band. Firemans #4 is a great Texas beer. Firemans is so easy drinking and delicious it’s the perfect thirst quencher for a noonish country set.
Beer: Real Ale Hans Pils
Description: The great pilsner beers of Germany, specifically Northern Germany, are the inspiration for Real Ale’s second lager – Hans’ Pils. These beers are known for being hoppier than the average pilsner and this one is no exception.
Drink While Listening To: Awolnation. The folks over at Real Ale Brewery are big fans of heavy metal, and while Awolnation isn’t quite metal, they’ll still do a pretty great job of melting your face off, especially if you’re close to those giant festival speakers. Sipping on the Hans Pils while listening to Awolnation will help ensure that your face doesn’t melt completely off.
Beer: Real Ale Oktoberfest
Description: Brewed with the highest quality German malt, hops, and yeast using traditional Bavarian brewing methods. The Munich and Vienna malts are the real stars of this smooth, copper-colored, medium-bodied brew. Well balanced and satisfying, Real Ale’s first lager is the perfect compliment to your fall festivities. Prosit!!!!
Drink While Listening To: DJ Mustard. Oktoberfest brews aren’t quite the same without a mustard slathered bratwurst. Since you probably won’t find a traditional german sausage at the festival, let one of America’s most popular DJ/producers put mustard on the beat while you enjoy your Oktoberfest.
Beer: Real Ale Devil’s Backbone
Description: Named for the scenic ridge that runs between Blanco and Wimberley, Devil’s Backbone is a Belgian-style tripel. Czech Saaz hops and Belgian yeast give this ale its distinctive flavor and aroma. Candy sugar made in-house at the brewery adds strength without increasing heaviness. The result is a deceptively strong, pale golden ale.
Drink While Listening To: Keeper. This trio of Austin vocalists is very similar to this tripel — sweet like candy sugar, yet deceptively strong vocals and lyrics. If you’re not familiar with this local group or this (kind of) local beer, you need to be.
Beer: Ace Pineapple Cider
Description: The original pineapple cider made anywhere in the world! We add pineapple juices to our fermented apple base to produce a cider that has a great pineapple nose and a semi-sweet initial taste with a tart finish. It is extremely refreshing and very quaffable for cider, beer, or wine drinkers.
Drink While Listening To: Major Lazer. Drink this crisp, light tropical cider while dancing your ass off to bass-heavy dancehall/reggaeton/moombahton. Close your eyes and you’ll basically be in Jamaica.
Beer: Adelbert’s Hibiscus Saison
Description: This saison’s vibrant pink color inspired us to give a percentage of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Resource Center. Brewed with hibiscus flowers and dry hopped with Citra, this ale blends a hint of tartness with tropical fruit and citrus notes.
Drink While Listening To: Kacey Musgrave. Musgrave is fairly well known for a performance at the Grand Ole Opry where she helped Women Rock for the Cure raise funds for breast cancer research. Raise a glass to her generous spirit and that of Adelbert’s as they donate a portion of proceeds from the saison to Breast Cancer Resource Center.
Beer: Alaskan White
Description: Brewed with coriander, bitter orange peel and malted wheat, Alaskan White Ale has a light and crisp body pleasant tartness followed by slightly spicy aftertaste. The malted wheat gives the beer a more full and lightly malty mouthfeel. There is an aroma and flavor of wheat and coriander, with a dry and refreshingly carbonated finish.
Drink While Listening To: Haim. Light, crisp, tart, and spicy all serve well to describe both the Alaskan White Ale and pop styling of Haim. Try out both if you’re looking for a fun evening where you don’t take yourself too seriously.
Beer: Deep Ellum IPA
Description: We like hops, but we like American hops most of all. Here we use some of our absolute favorites. However, they might not be used like you may expect, by using varieties with high alpha acid contents (which means more potential for bitterness) and using them in ways that emphasize the flavor and aroma we can render a rather bitter ale with over the top tropical fruit, citrus, pine, floral and more hop derived aroma and flavor.
Drink While Listening To: Cage the Elephant. This Dallas brewery loves its rock n roll, and Cage the Elephant runs the rock spectrum from garage to punk to blues to indie rock. Bitter may be the most forward of flavors in this IPA, but once those guitars start wailing you’ll be glad you have that flashy orange and yellow can in your hand.
Beer: Founders All Day IPA
Description: The beer you’ve been waiting for. Keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp. An all-day IPA naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish. The perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures.
Drink While Listening To: Mumford & Sons. An IPA that you can drink all day is as much of a treasure as a band whose catalog you can listen to all day, and for Mumford & Sons fans indulging in the two is the perfect way to end the festival and still be able to get up for work the next morning.
Beer: Harpoon UFO White
Description: Light, crisp, refreshing UFO White follows in the tradition of spiced wheat beers that have been brewed in Belgium for well over 300 years. Brewed with orange peel and a unique blend of spices, UFO White is the perfect choice for a summer’s barbecue, a night out with friends or any time you¹re thirsting for something a little different.
Drink While Listening To: LCD Soundsystem. Harpoon is one of those brands that reminds you of being at a really fun adult summer camp, and what’s necessary to have at a really fun summer camp? Beer and a giant dance party, of course, and no one throws a giant dance party like recently-reunited LCD Soundsystem. So grab a cup of UFO White and have fun getting down with all your friends.
Beer: Lagunitas IPA
Description: This IPA recipe was formulated with malt and hops working together to balance it all out on your taste buds so you can knock back more than one without wearing yourself out. Big on the aroma with a hoppy-sweet finish that will leave you wanting another sip.
Drink While Listening To: Kendrick Lamar. Finding the perfect balance between key ingredients is no easy task, and like this IPA, Kendrick Lamar has managed to find the magic spot between commercial success and representing his community with thought-provoking, socially conscious lyrics.
Beer: Oasis Metamodern
Description: Citra and Mosaic cosmically coalesce in this juicy, transcendent beer thanks to a special technique called “hop-bursting.”
Drink While Listening To: Flying Lotus. This session IPA brings a bit of enlightenment to the beer choices at the fest, pairing perfectly with Flying Lotus’ trippy experimental electronic music. Listening to songs like ‘Zodiac Shit’ and ‘Do the Astral Plane’ while sipping on your Metamodern may just take you to places you never expected to go.
Beer: Odell Drumroll American Pale Ale
Description: Drumroll is an unfiltered American Pale Ale. A bold, juicy, citrus-inspired and tropically hop forward APA that looks and tastes like pineapple, orange, mango, and grapefruit. The complex fruit character is the result of the careful combination of our favorite current crop year hops with no fruit or juice addition necessary.
Drink While Listening To: Radiohead. Whether it’s Philip selway’s slow, steady beat behind the self-deprecating words that make the classic ‘Creep’ so haunting or the punctuation marks that percuss their way throughout 2016’s ‘Burn the Witch,’ you’ll enjoy celebrating drummers while sipping on the Odell Drumroll Pale Ale.
Beer: Original Sin Hard Cider
Description: Dry Traditional cider, fermented with two types of Champagne yeast. Gluten-free and contains no artificial colors or flavor. The light and clean taste allows the natural flavor of the apple to speak for itself.
Drink While Listening To: Melanie Martinez. Original Sin isn’t afraid to embrace the naughtier sides of life, gladly accepting customer confessions on their website while evoking the power and beauty of the classic pinup girl. Similarly, Melanie Martinez likes to play with the current standards of female beauty while singing very personal lyrics that are dark, honest, and somewhat confessional. Just be careful you don’t end up telling all of your secrets to your friends at the fest when combining the two.
Beer: Sierra Nevada Otra Vez
Description: On our search for the perfect warm weather beer, we wanted something light bodied and thirst quenching, yet filled with complex and interesting flavors. We stumbled across the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, native to California. This tangy fruit is a great complement to the tart and refreshing traditional gose style beer. Otra Vez combines prickly pear cactus with a hint of grapefruit for a refreshing beer that will have you calling for round after round. Otra Vez! Special note: This is the first time a gose style beer will be offered at the Barton Springs Beer Tent, so be sure to check it out.
Drink While Listening To: LL Cool J. Go back to Cali with the prickly pear cactus that is highlighted in the Otra Vez. It’s also a lighter, refreshing beer that will keep your thirst quenched while you’re shadow boxing to ‘Mama Said Knock You Out.’
Beer: Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
Description: A bold and extremely aggressive American Strong Ale with hints of candied fruit and a dry finish.
Drink While Listening To: Die Antwoord. If any artists on the lineup have the same ‘fuck you’ attitude as this beer, it’s the over this over the top South African duo. They hate us, we love them, it all kind of works.
Beer: SweetWater 420 Pale Ale
Description: A tasty west coast style extra pale ale accentuated with a stimulating hop character.
Drink While Listening To: Willie Nelson. Duh. With a tagline of “don’t float the mainstream” and a beer with ‘420’ in its name, you’ve got to drink this light pale ale while singing along to classics from Austin’s favorite stoner rebel.