Texas Destination Breweries: Unsurpassed Craft Beer & Slow Living

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Destination breweries, farm breweries, and bucket list breweries are all often one and the same, especially in Texas Hill Country.

Texas Hill country is very broadly defined as the hilly terrain west of Austin and north of San Antonio, making it quite difficult to narrow down Hill Country breweries versus Austin and its surrounding breweries. But nothing ever fits neatly into one category, especially these three Texas Hill Country destination breweries (and one runner-up).

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The perfect place to slow down – Roughhouse Brewing

Jester King, Vista, and Roughhouse are craft breweries that focus on creating unsurpassed extraordinary craft beers, while further defining their craft with their space. Walking onto the property of one of these breweries is an experience in itself. They are places that encourage meandering, lingering, and just being in the moment. You are invited to hang out for hours, to sit back within the scenery without feeling the rush of the next table needing to come in. Breweries with exceptional beer and handcrafted food, but more importantly with a focus on slow living. Here, you are a guest welcomed onto the land, beer in hand to sit under oak trees, or pick wildflowers, or watch the bees hard at work.

These are the breweries you would travel to no matter the distance. Jester King, Vista, and Roughhouse are not only some of the best Texas Hill Country breweries, but they are also some of the best in the world.

Jester King Brewery

“Jester King was born on the idea of creating a union of time, place, and people.” (Jester King Brewery)

Destination brewery isn’t yet a grizzled worn out phrase. Only recently have these two words come into fruition with the advent of beercations and city and regional brewery tours. It is well fitting then, that Jester King, far from being grizzled and worn out, yet far from being a rookie, can lay claim to being one of the first breweries known as a destination brewery.

Jester King’s ingenuity and unique take on crafting beers has them known around the world. Renowned for their mixed culture and spontaneous ales, their copper coolship and just being innovative AF, Jester King is one of the OG’s in creating beer that is actually art with exquisite flavors that match exactly what they are labeled to be.

Brief History of Jester King

But they weren’t always as spontaneous as they are now. When the idea for a brewery first came to fruition to owners and brothers Jeffrey Stuffings and Michael Steffing, and Jester King opened in 2010, some of their first beers were made using pure culture techniques. Abandoning that idea soon after, Jester King adopted a mixed culture fermentation process in 2013. It was then that Jester King first used a coolship to bring about 100% spontaneously fermented beer using airborne yeast and bacteria or a mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria cultured from the local flora.  

But what goes around comes around, and in 2020, Jester King brewed once again a pure cultured beer, and their first ever Pale Lager…and in a can, no less. But don’t worry, the Jester King that we have come to know and love isn’t going anywhere soon.

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The coolship at Jester King

The Jester King Experience

Incorporating Hill Country well water, Texas grown barley and wheat, local fruits and vegetables, foraged plants, native yeast and bacteria, fresh and barn-aged hops, Jester King ensures that their beer is as much a part of the experience as the land they create their craft on. And their food is just as uniquely made. The pizza dough here isn’t just any pizza dough. It’s leavened with indigenous yeast and bacteria from the land you have just wandered onto.

So whether you decide to walk the trails on the 165-acre ranch, explore the vineyard or vegetable gardens, take a tour to experience their unique brewing process, or just sit back under a tree without a care in the world, this Texas Hill Country destination brewery is one of the first of its kind and is worth a visit or two or three.

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Jester King entrance

The Jester King Inn

Nothing says destination brewery quite like a place to stay the night when you get there. Welcome to the Jester King Inn where you can choose between several cozy, rustic, and comfortable cabins to make your experience a true destination. If you’d rather get a bit closer to nature, like their beer does, there are also several tent sites available. When you head out to this Texas Hill Country destination brewery, don’t forget your camping gear. But with only five cabins and four tent sites, you better get busy booking your reservation; I imagine these fill up fast.

Visit Jester King

Jester King Brewery
13187 Fitzhugh Rd.
Austin, TX

Breweries Close to Jester King

Vista Brewing

“Our mission is to positively influence the way that people live their daily lives.” (Kent Killough, co-founder)

Built around an idea of a journey, Kent and Karen Killough, Vista Brewing’s co-founders have created a 21-acre getaway just outside of Driftwood, Texas. A place to rediscover what it means to slow down and smell the flowers. A place to sit back or wander while enjoying traditionally focused and artistically crafted beer recipes including their love of saisons and Kölschs, along with Belgian Lambics.

Each ingredient placed into the beer, the food, and the land has a story that crafts greatness.

Brief History of Vista Brewing

Living in England for awhile, Kent and Karen’s love of exploring the British countryside pubs created a vision to open something similar in Texas. A place that promoted slow food, beverages, and views. Coming across ranch land that once belonged to Willam Barrett Travis, the founding father of Texas, Vista Brewing was born in 2018.

Kent and Karen worked hard to create their vision around 657 historic trees and a 19th century stone wall to honor the natural beauty that surrounded the land. The few trees that were cut down were reborn and transformed into tap handles, tables, benches, and other parts throughout the ranch and the buildings.

Whether you are sitting in the taproom with their expansive windows bringing the outside in or outside under one of the majestic Live Oaks, you’ll always feel the comforts of nature here.

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Trails to wander at Vista

The Vista Experience

From the moment you pull into the parking lot, you’ll know you’re at a special place. The time spent here is time well spent indeed with hyper-local food sources, farm to table vegetables, and beer that is crafted to highlight the Texas Hill Country terroir. From a saison to a Kölsch to an IPA to whatever beer is being artfully crafted, all are made from the ranch’s very own limestone-filtered water well.

Cultivating sustainability and growth for both the business and the land, Vista Brewing has always been about more than just their extraordinary beer and food. This is why they also focus on their fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and their 16-hive apiary. And while here, you can wander the land to experience it all. That’s a focus worth building on.

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Bringing the outdoors in at Vista

Vista Brewing Tiny Homes

And building for the future is what this couple is doing. Being a destination brewery, they want their guests to fully experience the beauty of the place without rushing to do so. Future plans include having tiny homes dotted throughout the property, making Vista Brewing a true Texas Hill Country destination brewery.

Visit Vista Brewing

Vista Brewing
13551 FM 150
Driftwood, TX

Breweries close to Vista Brewing

Roughhouse Brewing

“Roughhouse represents the playful and loving familial aspect of our lives coupled with the old, rustic qualities of home and our history. It’s a drive to do meaningful work that brought us closer to our land, ourselves, and our community.” (Roughhouse Brewing)

Located on the family farm and with a name that resonated family, the 50-acre ranch in San Marcos, Texas, quickly found its true calling. You’ll immediately feel the welcoming taste of country living as you make your way to the entrance down a short gravel road. With a barn-style taproom complete with an old rusty truck at the entrance, visiting Roughhouse feels like you’ve finally come home.

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A welcoming setting at Roughhouse

Brief History of Roughhouse Brewing

During the construction process, two business partners, Davy and Alex, who also happen to be husband and wife, were goofing around. Alex fondly told her husband, Davy, to stop roughhousing. Realizing this was a playful and familial word that matched them and their family well, including their other business partner, Andy, who happens to be Davy’s brother, their brewery had a name. And in 2019, Roughhouse opened its doors.

But not before something magical was discovered. Ok, a cave might not be magical, but when you’re opening a brewery on a farm and your past history involves working at Jester King, discovering a hole in the ground is a brewer’s dream. And not just any hole in the ground, a natural limestone cave. Spontaneous fermentation was a given! Taking over a year to excavate, digging out this hidden gem was not an easy task, but having a natural cellar when done, was well worth all the effort. Collaborating with Jester King was also a given, and Roughhouse Brewery’s Cave-Aged beer program was born.

The Roughhouse Experience

Focusing on farmhouse ales that utilize yeast harvested from the family ranch and high quality water direct from their on-site well, the beers here are truly made with passion and creativity. And the same can be said for their food, as Roughhouse partners up with local food artisans to bring their guests some of the most mouth-watering tacos, nachos, baked goods, and more this side of Texas.

Local artisenal food and beer that is truly innovative. It doesn’t stop there. The beer garden here is one that encourages relaxation. Whether you’re soaking up the warm Texas sunshine or snoozing in the shade listening to local musicians, or maybe even you’ve propped up your cowboy boots on the spacious farmhouse patio, it doesn’t matter. Because you have nowhere else to be but here.

Visit Roughhouse Brewing

Roughhouse Brewing
680 Oakwood Loop
San Marcos, TX

Breweries close to Roughhouse

Destination Breweries are Subjective

What may be just a brewery to one, could be a destination brewery to another. For us, a prime example of this is Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge, Colorado. Most people would not drive to Breckenridge just for the brewery. It is a highly popular skiing and snowboarding destination. A quaint, picture-perfect mountain town, but we find ourselves driving quite often from Denver to Breckenridge just for the brewery itself. Granted, we will hit up other small mountain town breweries along the way, but isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

On that note, I am including Beerburg Brewing in this list of Texas Hill Country destination breweries, as well. Located within minutes of Jester King, you simply have to visit both. But what qualifies them as a possible destination brewery on their own is that Beerburg is also on a farm, a Harvest Host, and painstakingly hones their craft with as much love, passion, and creativity that Jester King, Roughhouse, and Vista are known for.

Beerburg Brewing

“I’m trying to create beers with a sense of place.” (Trevor Nearburg, founder and herbalist)

Family owned and operated, Beerburg Brewing is dedicated to community, land conservation, sustainability projects, local ingredients, and artistic endeavors in all of the above.

Trevor Nearburg is not only the founder, he is also an herbalist, and his relationship with nature is seen in his vision for Beerburg Brewing. From traditional beers to their wildcraft series, Texas’ beauty shines through in the ingredients as well as the scenery.

Brief History of Beerburg Brewing

Opening its doors in 2020, the team at Beerburg Brewing came together because of Trevor’s love of nature. After being in the craft beer industry for seven years, he decided it was time to embark upon an adventure of his own. Experimenting with native plants foraged from all over Texas and utilizing as much local ingredients as possible, including yeast harvested from the farm, Beerburg is making a name in the craft beer world with their small-batch wild series.

But they don’t stop there. They have a working relationship with their 15 acres of land. It’s not just a place to build a brewery and set up tables. It’s land that is a partnership to maintain wildlife habitats, build upon local ecology, promote sustainability, and enjoy together with respect and reverence.

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Beautiful day for a beer outside at Beerburg

The Beerburg Experience

When you first enter Beerburg’s spacious taphouse and brewery, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. But take a moment to let your eyes wander and breathe in the aromas of homemade salsas. The long community tables and oversized windows will slowly begin to feel more comfortable, easier to manage. This is, after all, a place to create community. And that it does with its space for all, including a beer garden under the trees with many places to choose from.

Ironically, the spaces that truly encourage slowing down here are two spaces not meant for adults. One is the uniquely crafted wooden climbing and play area for the pure enjoyment of the kids. The other is the naturally designed dog park for the pure enjoyment of the dogs. When the dogs and the kids are happy, and the adults have authentic ethically sourced food, and immensely drinkable beers made from the local flora, all is right in the world.

And if you are so inclined to learn more about the herbs located on property, Trevor has been known to take his guests on Friday Herb Walks. Maybe you can be a part of creating the next Wild Ale.

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It’s a bit wild at Beerburg!

Beerburg Brewing is a Harvest Host

You may never want to leave Beerburg if your kids and dogs are happy. And if you have a fully self-contained vehicle, meaning an RV or a camper van, you don’t have to leave just yet. Adding to its draw of becoming a Texas Hill Country destination brewery, Beerburg is also a Harvest Host. We’d be happy to tell you all about that, so click here to learn more about how you could spend the night here under the Texas sky.

Visit Beerburg Brewing

Beerburg Brewing
13476 Fitzhugh Rd.
Austin, TX

Breweries close to Beerburg

Destination Breweries Create Space to Slow Down

For the beer lovers out there, it may be hard to slow down when it comes to experiencing new breweries, but there are times when slowing down is quite necessary. And I can’t think of a better way to slow down than to grab an exceptional beer that pairs well with an exceptional meal and sit back amongst nature for a few long, slow, leisurely hours. Maybe add some music to that mix, too. That pairs well with slow living.

Thank you, Zephyr Conferences, for hosting the 2021 BeerNow Conference in Austin, Texas, and Visit San Marcos, for partnering up with them for a pre-conference excursion. Not only did we have a blast speaking at the conference, but you made it possible for us to experience these phenomenal breweries.

Want More?

Austin Beer and Travel Guide

If you’re experiencing Texas Hill Country destination breweries, but have more time, don’t miss out on Austin’s vibrant beer, music, and food scene. We’ve got you covered with our Austin Beer and Travel Guide.

Learn More about Harvest Hosts

Interested in becoming a host to get more business to your brewery? How about becoming a member to get overnight stays at breweries? Click here for more information about the Harvest Hosts program.

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